The Epicurious Test Kitchen created over a hundred recipes this year. Our site director probably shouldn’t pick favorites. But what do you want from him? He’s human!
First, please understand this: the best Epicurious recipes of the year are all the Epicurious recipes of the year. Our kitchen put out roughly 100 original dinners, snacks, drinks, and desserts in 2019 (most of them developed by our food editor, Anna Stockwell), and they all deserve love and attention. All children do.
But parents have favorites. And when it came time to write this list, I found that picking those favorites was pretty easy: all I had to do was think of the recipes I’ve made (or dreamed about) the most. So are these the absolute best recipes Epi developed this year? No. They’re just my favorites. You’ll either be with me or against me, and either way is fine—but you’ll never know where you stand until you read the list. (And get cooking.) So let’s get started.
A Vegetarian’s Dream Sweet Potato Dinner
This was my last year of meat (I went pescatarian over the summer), which was a scary decision for one reason: I was terrified I’d never feel full ever again. Anna’s dinner, which is packed with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, lentils, and feta, laid those fears to rest.
Grilled Whole Eggplant with Harissa Vinaigrette
I have no problem admitting that I love this recipe because of its looks. (If you make this and don’t throw it on Instagram, have you even really made it?) But I also have always loved the soft flesh of a slow-roasted eggplant, which Anna really upgraded with her fiery dressing.
Savory Dutch Baby for Two
I’ve already written a love letter to this recipe (read it here), so here’s the TLDR: This is a very cute recipe to make for somebody you’re just getting to know, and also for somebody you’ve known for a long time. And not to get all Oprah on you or anything, but that somebody just may be yourself.
Green Rice with Tomatoes, Eggs, and Almonds
When I say this recipe was born out of obsession, I mean that literally: I walked around New York one meltingly-hot week over the summer and could not stop thinking about how green rice would cool me down. So I finally made some, and realized that it was a perfect complement to peak-season tomatoes. It’s also a good partner to roasted squash, crispy-skinned fish, paneer, and, of course, fried eggs. (It does not, however, do that much to cool you down.)
Glazed Cinnamon-Cardamom Buns
The first time I saw Circus Bakery’s cardamom buns pop up on my Instagram feed, all I felt was envy (and a little bit of regret that I don’t live in Paris). By the fifth or sixth time I saw them, I started feeling desperate—how was I going to get my hands on these things? The answer was to hire a writer to hang out at the bakery, find out all of the buns’ secrets (which, because the folks at Circus Bakery are so generous, was easy), and develop a copycat recipe in the Epi Test Kitchen. The resulting buns are soft, sticky, robustly spiced, perfectly sweet, and a little tangy thanks to an overnight proof. And they taste exactly like the real thing—I know that now, because a couple of weeks ago an Epicurious staffer finally went to Paris and carried a few Circus Bakery buns back with her.
Spring Pea Fish Chowder
When I was a kid, my favorite restaurant was a seafood joint that served extremely thick New England-style clam chowder, which I ate with package after package of oyster crackers. (It will shock you to know that I was a “stocky” twelve-year-old.) Now that I’m an adult and don’t enjoying consuming a quart of hot cream for dinner, I’m mainlining this chowder instead.
Black Bottom Hazelnut Pie
For years, Certified Pie Ninja Rhoda Boone developed Epi’s Thanksgiving pies, and this year, she came roaring back with this twist on pecan pie. All of the molassesy stickiness of pecan pie is here, but the buttery pecans have been swapped out for, um, nuttier hazelnuts. The difference is striking—way more savory and complex than the pecan version. And I like that. (I also like the layer of bittersweet chocolate, which gives the pie an additional shot of complexity.)
Smashed Green Bean Salad with Crispy Shallots
I learned two things about green beans this year: they’re amazing when you cook them for hours and hours and hours, and they’re amazing when you keep them raw, as they are here in Anna’s twist on a classic Thanksgiving side dish. I’ll be honest with you, when I made these for Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ago, I went the extra mile and made the crispy shallots myself. But you don’t have to be like me. You can be extra in a million different ways. Find a way to be extra that works for you.
Olive Oil Apple Cake with Spiced Sugar
In an attempt to eat less dairy but still maintain my very serious cake habit, I turned to olive oil cake. Simple enough, right? But this cake caused deep divisions in the Epicurious Test Kitchen. Some of us thought that the cake had to be made in an electric stand mixer; others (me) thought that simply whisking the batter would suffice. The debate required eating a lot of olive oil cake, which meant that, in the end, we were all winners. (Except not really: whisking is totally better, so I won.)