Our 25 Best Recipes Ever

25 years, 25 dishes. We're going back in time to count down our best of the best, from 2011 to 1987.

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Our Best Recipes Ever

Our recipe archivists, who also monitor online ratings, reckon that these 25 dishes were the standouts of their respective years. From last year to our first year in 1987, find the recipes we named our best ever these past 25 years.

2011: Fantastic Bourbon Smoked Chicken

Photo: Levi Brown

2011: Fantastic Bourbon Smoked Chicken

After Steven Raichlen sent us this recipe in 2011, we declared it the most beautiful and best-tasting chicken we’d ever had. To reinforce the whiskey flavor in the brine and basting butter, Steve says to use Jack Daniel's whiskey barrel chips for smoking—widely available in grill and gourmet shops. This bird is so wonderfully moist and flavorful, it doesn't need added embellishment.

View Recipe: Fantastic Bourbon Smoked Chicken

2010: Fried Catfish with Hush Puppies and Tartar Sauce

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

2010: Fried Catfish with Hush Puppies and Tartar Sauce

Proof that you can get fried food to fit into a healthy diet. Coat the fillets and prepare the batter for hush puppies while you wait for the oil to come up to temperature. You can also make the tartar sauce up to two days ahead and keep it refrigerated. If you don't like catfish, use halibut, tilapia, or another flaky white fish.

View Recipe: Fried Catfish with Hush Puppies and Tartar Sauce

2009: Bucatini with Mushrooms

Photo: Randy Mayor

2009: Bucatini with Mushrooms

A large assortment of mushrooms, including luxurious dried porcinis, is the key to the huge earthy flavor of this dish. It's meatless, but you'd never know it with all the savory flavor of mushrooms, Parmesan, and truffle oil. A generous splash of cream gives the sauce its luscious texture.

View Recipe: Bucatini with Mushrooms

2008: Chocolate-Mint Bars

Photo: Randy Mayor

2008: Chocolate-Mint Bars

You’ll love these if you’re a big fan of the thin chocolate mint Girl Scout cookies. The dense base layer is like a rich, fudgy brownie, so don’t overcook it or the dessert bars will be dry. Refrigerating the mint bars allows the chocolaty top layer to set properly. You can make the dessert up to one day ahead. For a more grown-up taste, you can also use dark chocolate chips for some or all of the semisweet chocolate chips in the glaze.

View Recipe: Chocolate-Mint Bars

2007: Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

2007: Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

Everything you crave in a cinnamon roll, in a vastly lighter version. Brown sugar sweetens the filling of this breakfast treat, and powdered sugar dissolves into a milky glaze that's drizzled over the top of these delicious and good for you cinnamon rolls. Whole-wheat flour adds a healthy dimension to these tasty rolls.

View Recipe: Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

2006: Beef Carnitas Tacos

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

2006: Beef Carnitas Tacos

These simple tacos are an ideal showcase for tender Beef Carnitas—tender, slowly cooked, inexpensive beef stew meat that won us over for its great flavor and versatility. You can warm the tortillas in a nonstick skillet just until lightly browned.

View Recipe: Beef Carnitas Tacos

2005: Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone

Photo: Randy Mayor

2005: Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone

A dollop of mascarpone, a buttery-rich Italian cheese, gives this risotto its luxurious creamy consistency. Porcini mushrooms have a smooth, meaty texture when hydrated; their pungent, woodsy taste gives an extraordinary depth to this dish.

View Recipe: Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone

2004: Beef Daube Provençal

Photo: Randy Mayor

2004: Beef Daube Provençal

This classic French braised beef, red wine, and vegetable stew is simple and delicious. This recipe ran in a Thanksgiving weekend package and the stew was perfect for that Wednesday night before Thanksgiving when you have guests arriving, but really need to focus on prepping food for the next day. This perfectly balanced dish found its way into our regular rotation.

View Recipe: Beef Daube Provençal

2003: Chicken Tetrazzini

Photo: Randy Mayor

2003: Chicken Tetrazzini

A classic that makes great use of leftover turkey or chicken. It’s so creamy and comforting that you’ll be glad it makes two casseroles—one for now and one for later.

View Recipe: Chicken Tetrazzini

2002: Anticuchos (Peruvian Beef Kebabs)

Photo: Randy Mayor

2002: Anticuchos (Peruvian Beef Kebabs)

Hot, spicy, vibrant in color and flavor. These kebabs taught us to love the spice aji amarillo and Peruvian food after tasting what their cuisine had to offer.

View Recipe: Anticuchos (Peruvian Beef Kebabs)

2001: Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallots

Photo: Randy Mayor

2001: Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallots

Nutty cheese with caramelized roasted shallots and squash get just the right hint of herbs from sage. Serving over elegant pappardelle pasta gives it an elegant look and perfect bite to match the delicately roasted topping.

View Recipe: Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallots

2000: Texas Sheet Cake

Photo: Randy Mayor

2000: Texas Sheet Cake
1999: Toffee Dip with Apples

2000: A big, flat classic. Toasty nuts and fudgy cake get topped with a thin, crackly glaze. It’s easy and since it first appeared in the magazine in 2000, it's been a staff and reader favorite.

View Recipe: Texas Sheet Cake

1999: Crunchy toffee bits stirred into a creamy dip make this impossible to stop eating. It’s kid and adult friendly. Coating the apples with pineapple juice prevent them from browning. Unlike today, we haven't always photographed every recipe. Unfortunately, this is one that we didn't capture.

View Recipe: Toffee Dip with Apples

1998: Barbecue Roasted Salmon

Photo: Randy Mayor

1998: Barbecue Roasted Salmon

Sweet and spicy with just the right amount of acidity to make this a winning salmon dish. The spice rub melts into a glaze in the oven. The options for side dishes are endless—mashed potatoes, rice, couscous, asparagus, or sugar snap peas.

View Recipe: Barbecue Roasted Salmon

1997: Jamaican Banana Bread

Photo: Howard L. Puckett

1997: Jamaican Banana Bread
1996: Greek-Style Scampi

1997: Nuts, coconut, lime, and rum give this quick bread a tropical and indulgent feel. It’s an unforgettable recipe with the tangy lime glaze balancing the sweet bread. Give it a try. Don’t let the long ingredient list fool you; many are repeated ingredients that are mixed in the bread and then used to top the bread with a glaze that puts drizzled powdered sugar and milk to shame.

View Recipe: Jamaican Banana Bread

1996: Feta and tomato take Italian scampi in a Greek direction and it’s a good move. Serve over orzo pasta or with pita wedges to soak up the tomato sauce.

View Recipe: Greek-Style Scampi

1995: Chiles Rellenos Casserole

Photo: Howard L. Puckett

1995: Chiles Rellenos Casserole

One of those “wow” dishes. It’s comforting, full of flavor, different than any other casserole you’ve had, and it’s really easy. Could it get anyetter? When corn is in season, by all means, cut off fresh kernels to use instead of frozen.

View Recipe: Chiles Rellenos Casserole

1994: Fettuccine Alfredo

Photo: Howard L. Puckett

1994: Fettuccine Alfredo

Holy calcium! Heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and butter create the regular calorie and fat-filled alfredo sauce. Here, we used olive oil instead of butter, nixed the cream in favor of a thickened milk-based sauce that uses flour and cream cheese to thicken it, leaving plenty of room for a cup of the good stuff—Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese.

We’ve revisited this recipe more than once and made subtle changes to fit into the current eating philosophy and this one always makes the transition smoothly. It’s a solid…and delicious recipe.

View Recipe: Fettuccine Alfredo

1993: Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

Photo: Howard L. Puckett

1993: Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
1992: Soupe A L’Oignon (French Onion Soup)

1993: A meal for two that utilizes the cooktop for browning and the oven for roasting all in one skillet. Sage, rosemary, paprika, and pepper, when added with olives, fennel bulb, shallots, and red pepper make a harmonious combination of seasonings that elevate chicken and potatoes. When you add the vegetables to the skillet it sizzles and loosens the browned bits spreading the yummy concentrated flavor. The combination isn’t common, but it’s easy, delicious, and a definite repeater.

View Recipe: Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

1992: Who doesn’t love French Onion Soup? Who thought it could be modified to lower sodium and saturated fat and still be delicious? Here you go…a few modifications a couple decades later and it’s still a crowd-pleasing dish.

View Recipe: Soupe A L’Oignon (French Onion Soup)

1991: Malaysian Chicken Pizza

Photo: Randy Mayor

1991: Malaysian Chicken Pizza

A pizza with a spicy, sweet, peanut butter and soy sauce-based sauce seemed ahead of its time in 1991 when it first ran. Twenty years later and it’s still a new adventurous pizza for most people. If you like barbecue chicken pizza, you’ll love this.

View Recipe: Malaysian Chicken Pizza

1990: Fresh Orange Sorbet

Photo: Iain Bagwell, Randy Mayor

1990: Fresh Orange Sorbet

This easy sorbet gets rave reviews from our staffers for two reasons. First, it's super easy to make; fresh squeezed orange juice, orange zest, sugar, and water are all you'll need. Plus, the orange flavor, much like French sorbets, is both intense and refreshing.

View Recipe: Fresh Orange Sorbet

1989: Creamy Potato Salad

Photo: Howard L. Puckett

1989: Creamy Potato Salad

True to its name, this is a very creamy and rich traditional-flavored potato salad. Serve at your next cookout and wait for the rave reviews. It's quick to make; the only chopping is potatoes and green onions and you can combine the dressing while the potatoes cook.

View Recipe: Creamy Potato Salad

1988: Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole

Photo: Howard L. Puckett

1988: Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole

Lean ground pork is seasoned to mimic the flavor of sausage, while allowing you to control the sodium. Egg substitute, eggs, and egg whites are combined to provide the desired egg-y texture with less saturated fat than you’d have if it was all eggs. Sharp cheddar cheese instead of mild cheddar makes it taste like there’s more cheese than a couple tablespoons per serving, while keeping saturated fat at a reasonable level. For a super convenient breakfast when you have company, this is assembled the day before and chills in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake it in the morning.

View Recipe: Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole

1987: Tarragon Chicken Salad

Photo: Colleen Duffley

1987: Tarragon Chicken Salad

We love the convenience of the oven bag for this recipe. Crispy, browned skin isn't needed when you remove it before serving, but moist, tender chicken is and that's what you get with the bag keeping the chicken surrounded by steam and juices during cooking. You use a baking pan, but it doesn't get dirty, thanks to the bag. After you put the cooked chicken on the cutting board to cool slightly, dump the cooking liquid in the sink and use the bag to catch the skin and bones removed from the chicken so the bag can provide another use. The dressing has just the right combination of herbs and tanginess for a fresh and bright chicken salad. Make and chill the dressing right after putting the chicken in the oven.

View Recipe: Tarragon Chicken Salad

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