Photo: Caitlin Bensel

In honor of our 30th anniversary, we've rounded up our all-time favorite recipes. Whether a brilliant makeover or a super fast weeknight winner, these dishes show off what we do best.

Cooking Light
October 11, 2017

It's our anniversary, and we're giving you the gift of this carefully-cultivated collection of top-rated dishes we pulled together by examining top search data and polling staff to arrive at these 20 favorites.

Best Soup Recipe: Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

This hearty vegetarian chili from December 2011 uses quinoa, which adds body, texture, and protein.

Best Steak Recipe: Pan-Seared Strip Steak

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Master techniques stand the test of time, which is why our April 2011 method for grass-fed strip steak (a lean, flavorful cut) remains one of our favorites.

Best Cheesy Recipe: Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

A trio of bold, nutty cheeses and a velvety butternut squash puree helped create our cheesiest mac and cheese in September 2011. The squash trick lets us cut back on cheese overall for an impressive makeover, shaving 500 calories and 30g sat fat.

Best 5-Ingredient Recipe: Pork Medallions with Scallions and Magic Green Sauce

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

This August 2015 dish is way more than the sum of its parts. Green onions do triple duty: in the sauce, with the pork in the pan, and as a curly garnish. Caper brine thins and brightens the sauce, a brilliant second use for the jar.

Best Speedy Chicken Recipe: Chicken Piccata

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Easy and quick (and starring our favorite dinner bird), this January 2012 classic continues to be a weeknight rock star. Serve the chicken with polenta or whole-wheat angel hair pasta to catch all of the lemony, garlicky pan sauce.

Best Last-Minute Recipe: Shrimp and Broccolini Rotini

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Keep pasta in the pantry and shrimp in the freezer, and you've got an easy last-minute meal—which is why the recipe from September 2015 remains a regular go-to for busy weeknights.

Best Fall Comfort Recipe: Fall Vegetable Curry

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

You'll use this staff fave from October 2010 in heavy rotation as the days turn cooler. Madras curry powder is a blend of several fragrant spices and has more depth than regular curry powder; it's the only spice you need here (look for it in specialty stores or online). You can also change it up. Keep the broth, curry, and tomato base, but switch up the vegetables. Try butternut squash and red bell pepper, spinach and eggplant, or lacinato kale and potato.

Best One-Pan Recipe: One-Pot Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

In March 2015, we made pasta night easier by cooking the noodles right in the sauce. This not only saves on cleanup; the stock also infuses the pasta with flavor as it cooks, and the starch helps to thicken the sauce so it clings. When using one pan, it's important to cook in stages so flavors build on each other and every element cooks to just the right doneness by the time you're finished.

Best Sheet-Pan Recipe: Sumac Chicken with Cauliflower and Carrots

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

This sheet-pan dinner made chicken a winner in January 2017, with a ground sumac and brown sugar rub. You can also use sumac on roasted vegetables, stir it into vinaigrette, or try it in our Maple-Sumac Roasted Walnuts recipe.

Best Restaurant-Quality Recipe: Crab Cakes with Spicy Rémoulade

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

These light, tender crab cakes from April 2012 are ready in just 20 minutes, making them an easy, elegant main. Look for fresh lump crabmeat at the fish counter for a sweet, clean flavor. Serve with a salad of mixed greens and fennel.

Best 20-Minute Recipe: 20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

We hacked this Mexican favorite in July 2013 to get it to the table with lightning speed. One richly-spiced sauce doubles as the filling and the topper to save time. And since every element is already cooked, the dish needs just three minutes under the broiler to melt the cheese.

Best Fast Fish Recipe: Dijon-Herb Crusted Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Simple and kid-friendly, this April 2017 main is an easy way to work more fish into your diet. Look for thicket center-cut fillets, which will stay more moist.

Best Makeover Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Traditional versions of this dish can tip the scales at nearly 1,000 calories and 30g sat fat per serving. Our September 2010 makeover cuts that by more than two-thirds and still has plenty of marinara, melty cheese, and crispy baked eggplant.

Best Quick Chinese Recipe: Szechuan Chicken Stir-Fry

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Ginger and sambal oelek, a chile-garlic paste that's now at most supermarkets in the international aisle, made this January 2012 recipe a favorite by providing bold flavor in no time. Have all ingredients ready at the stove so they can go in at just the right moment.

Best Carb-Conscious Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Spinach

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine

This reader favorite from December 2015 has half the carbs of classic lasagna. If you bake the squash ahead, store the squeeze-dried strands in a zip-top bag, and stack the empty squash "boats" between damp paper towels before refrigerating.

Best Get-Together Recipe: Classic Beef Pot Roast

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

This dish is our most popular recipe over. It has kept that distinction since it was first published in October 2006, probably because it's such a crowd-pleaser. To serve, carve the roast into large pieces, ladle the rich broth over the top, and sprinkle with fresh flat-leaf parsley.

Best Mash-Up Recipe: Chicken Potpie Skillet Pizza

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

The genius of this November 2016 recipe is the skillet-seared crust, which gives you a pizzeria-quality pie in less than half the bake time. The potpie-style topper is a fun twist on a white pizza and a great way to pack extra veggies onto each slice. This dish combines two kid favorites in one fast recipe. You get all the creamy goodness from potpie filling with the crisp crust and melty cheese of a pan pizza.

Best Meatless Recipe: Vegetable "Meat" Loaf

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

This umami-rich recipe received our Test Kitchen's highest rating in March 2012 and continues to get raves from both vegetarians and meat lovers. Be sure to tightly pack the mushroom mixture into the pan so the slices hold their shape after baking.

Best Family-Friendly Recipe: Hamburger Steak with Onion Gravy

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

These smothered burger patties from April 2013 are a unanimous family favorite—easy, filling, and fun. Serve with speedy sides like frozen mashed potatoes and microwave-in-bag haricots verts (slender green beans!).

Best Slow Cooker Recipe: Slow Cooker Pork with Peach Barbecue Sauce

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

A generous spice rub and a good sear gave this July 2014 roast the crust and smoke of great barbecue with the hands-off ease of the slow cooker. The sauce alone—thick, smoky, sweet, and tangy—is reason enough to make this dish year-round.