While tried-and-true recipes are the backbone of the home kitchen, finding new, quality recipes is key to not getting stuck in a recipe rut.
And while it’s fun to browse through new recipe ideas, it can be a time-consuming task. Plus, there are a lot of not-so-great recipes out there to weed through. And we all know the disappointment of researching, shopping for, and trying out a new recipe only for it be a complete flop.
On that note, here are tips for finding reliable recipes, as well as some of my favorite sites and books that I turn to again and again and that ALWAYS deliver.
HOW TO FIND GOOD RECIPES:
Read the Comments
Comments are a gold mine of honest feedback on a recipe. That’s why recipes with lots of glowing comments and 5-star reviews hold so much clout. Comments can also give you tips for substitutions or alterations that have worked for other cooks.
Read Through the Ingredients
Not only to make sure you like everything in the recipe and that it all sounds like it would be good together, but also to see how well-written the recipe is. Recipes with specific ingredients listed (“1 medium onion” versus “1 onion”) have probably been more thoroughly tested. And thoroughly tested recipes are much more likely to yield delicious results than recipes that have only been made once!
The ingredients should also list what you can prep ahead of time. (“1 medium onion, chopped”). This will make cooking go much more smoothly.
Read Through the Instructions
There are a few things to look for in the instructions. First, make sure all the ingredients listed are accounted for. It's a sad moment when the instructions completely omit an ingredient listed above.
A well-written recipe should have descriptors in addition to times (cook onions 5-7 minutes, until translucent). It should also tell you what heat and dish size to use (like, medium-high in a large skillet). All of these things will make the recipe easier to follow at home, and signify that the author has tested the recipe several times.
Examine the Source
This is especially important when you’re stumbling upon a new website or book, or if there aren’t many reviews available. Read through the blurb preceding the recipe - it should sound like the author has made the recipe at least several times. It’s also worth checking out the author bio/about page to see what experience they have.
DISCLAIMER: Poorly-written recipes can turn out great, and recipes from major food publishers can be complete disasters. But in an age where it’s easier than ever for anyone to put recipes online for people to make (I should know, I do it!), I think it’s worth exercising some extra caution before spending money on ingredients and time making a recipe. Ultimately, it’s sometimes hard to know whether or not a recipe will turn out well before you try it!
WHERE TO FIND GOOD RECIPES:
We live in an age of abundant food blogs and recipe websites. Most are regularly putting out new recipes, and are so fun to click through for new ideas! Some of my favorites for reliable recipes are:
How Sweet Eats - Jessica has really creative, seasonal recipes that are ALWAYS delicious! I have never made anything bad from her site.
Pioneer Woman - So many good family-style recipes, recipes for entertaining, and how-to’s. And if you love step-by-step photos, you can’t beat Ree.
Smitten Kitchen - Maybe THE original food blog. Deb can make it all, and she makes it approachable and easy to replicate at home.
Sally's Baking Addiction - The online almanac for baking and all things dessert.
Martha Stewart - Her site is a wealth of recipe ideas. You can have a whole week’s worth of meals planned in just a few minutes of perusing. I will say the rating system runs lower than I would expect after having tried many of the recipes, so I tend to ignore the ratings and look at ingredients/directions instead.
There is something so fun about thumbing through a new cookbook. Favorites from my collection include:
How to Cook Everything - Exactly what it says! A guidebook for how to cook everything, with thorough recipes and lots of adaptations listed. You could only own this cookbook and never get tired of the recipes.
The Joy of Cooking - It’s a classic for a reason!
Anything by Ina Garten - My all-time favorite cookbook author. Her recipes are approachable and always, always deliver. Ina can get you through weeknight dinners and holidays all the same.
Cravings - If you like a celebrity cookbook, Chrissy Teigen does not disappoint. Fun photos, fun writing, delicious recipes.
The Food Lab - A very scientific approach to food. If you want to know the why behind cooking, this is definitely worth reading. Lots of good - and really well-tested - recipes.
Friends + Family
One of the very best sources for good recipes are people you know! Recipe swaps are always fun - A true nod to the communal nature of food. And is there any higher praise than being asked for a recipe? A recipe binder or recipe box is helpful to keep recipe cards organized.