25 Staff-Favorite Recipes
We combed the archives, grilled readers, polled online users, and interrogated staff with one goal in mind: Find the all-time favorite Cooking Light dishes.
The definition of a meaty stew: great today, even better tomorrow. We just love this recipe, and according to the online reviews, so do many of you. It's foolproof, surefire, an absolute winner. We wouldn't change a thing.
When we retested these rolls (originally a recipe makeover) for this story, we were unanimous in our praise: They are perfect as is. Each roll has about 75% fewer calories and 80% less fat than classic brioche rolls, but all the flaky, buttery essence is thankfully still there. An overnight proof in the fridge builds depth and flavor; don't be tempted to skip that step.
Crispy breaded fish is a weeknight favorite, and you can have it without reaching into the freezer case. What we love about this recipe is that you don't even need to pan-fry the fillets; they get breaded and go right under the broiler. Be sure to use a broiler pan; the air vents keep the fish from getting soggy. Our only change was to slightly decrease the amount of salt—it's still fantastic.
Making this recipe is time well spent: You'll be rewarded with lots of smoky-garlicky-peppery sauce, which keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for a couple of months. There are lots of delicious ways to use it: Dip veggies or steamed shrimp in it, use it to flavor omelets, thin it with a little vinegar and water for salad dressing, try it as a sandwich spread, or smear it over pizza dough for a Spanish pie.
This recipe received multiple nominations for its family-friendly appeal. It's lick-your-fingers good, with a sweet-spicy sauce draped over spice-rubbed chicken. We tweaked it just a bit to make it a little less sweet, and we love it even more.
It's amazing how much flavor there is in such a humble (and, by the way, inexpensive) dish. The star of the soup is hominy, with its chewy texture and toasty-corn character; you'll find it with the Latin foods in the supermarket. Updates were minor: We simply omitted some oil and meat drippings for a cleaner broth.
With their cheesy bacon filling, these poppers are addictive. While we didn't want to futz with this recipe, we recognize that jalapeños vary wildly in heat level—sometimes incendiary and sometimes mild. So here's a suggestion: If you'll have guests who are sensitive to heat, try doing half the batch in jalapeños (for the chile-heads) and half in mini sweet peppers. That way, everyone wins!
We adore this drink, with fresh pear juice (easy to make!) lending its unmistakable sweet flavor and fragrance. It still makes us swoon exactly as we first published it.
These pizzas were originally part of a story on Turkish street food, and boy did they steal the show: We talked about them for months. With a crisp-tender crust and savory-tangy topping featuring deliciously salty kasseri cheese, they're simply divine. The recipe makes eight individual pizzas, enough for an interactive cooking party. The original recipe didn't meet our current sodium and calorie guidelines, so we adjusted a few ingredients. Great news: The pizzas are still show-stealers.
In our experience, slow-cooker recipes can sometimes be a little disappointing—flavors a bit exhausted, textures a bit too soft. Not so with this recipe, a standout in every way. It's a classic Brazilian dish (pronounced fay-ZWAH-da) that is pure porky perfection, one we'll happily enjoy whenever we get the chance. Serve over rice, and be sure to spritz with the orange wedge for a fresh, sweet finish.
When we revisited David Bonom's 2010 recipe Chicken and Mushrooms with Marsala Wine Sauce, we loved it but wanted more of the earthy, wine-licked sauce. Our update keeps the soul of the original dish, but with more luscious, 'shroomy goodness. You simply must serve it over mashed potatoes, polenta, or spaghetti to catch all the sauce.
Though we adore the recipe these are based on (David Bonom's Aromatic Slow-Roasted Tomatoes from December 2009), we wanted a faster update. So in place of plum tomatoes went little grape tomatoes, which roast to concentrated sweetness in less than half the time. Serve as they are for a side dish, on crostini with ricotta for an appetizer, or tossed with pasta and oil for a main dish.
We made an important update to this recipe, changing it for sustainability. It originally called for Chilean sea bass—and although you can sometimes find a sustainable type of that fish (longline-caught in the McDonald and Falkland islands), sablefish (also known as black cod) and white sea bass are consistently good choices with a similarly rich, buttery texture. It's worth the tiny bit of effort to toast and grind your own cumin seeds—the flavor payoff is huge.
We took four of the top recipe search categories from our website—chicken, kale, quinoa, and soup—and combined them into one tasty dish that we think will become your new favorite. Rinse the quinoa to ensure that any bitter coating is removed.
For many staffers, this is the go-to make-for-company dish—a sure bet. Once you taste the mix of spicy jalapeño, tangy salsa verde, tender chicken, and luscious cream cheese, you'll be as hooked as we are.
Talk about flavor! Green curry paste (found in the Asian-foods section) and chile paste impart tons of savory-spicy-fragrant hits to ground chicken. Only a tiny tweak to this recipe: Our fritters got a little too browned, so we reduced the cooking temperature from medium-high to medium and cooked them a little longer.
This has been a staff favorite ever since we first tried it 13 years ago. It's rich, savory, and supercreamy, with a nice hit of garlic. We made a few small tweaks—increased the amount of spinach and decreased the mozzarella to lower the sat fat to an acceptable level. Serve with tortilla chips.
Here we've updated Bill and Cheryl Jamison's fantastic Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes from 2002 with a little citrus zest. Allowing the batter to sit before cooking gives the leaveners a chance to work, creating light, fluffy pancakes.
Lemonade Layer Cake, developed by Ann Taylor Pittman as a recipe makeover, has been loved by readers since it debuted in April 2002. When we retested it for this story, we felt we could make big improvements in the texture and flavor. Instead of using a lemonade product, we've made a concentrated fresh lemonade syrup that adds zippy citrus hits to the more-tender cake.
No changes here: We love the combo of deep, rich chocolate and the tingly pinch of cinnamon and red pepper. We also enjoy the ease and forgiving nature of a graham cracker crust, which is less fussy than pastry. If you can't find espresso granules with the coffee, look in the Latin-foods section (that's where we sometimes find them).
We've adored this recipe for more than a decade. Something magical happens when asparagus picks up a little toasty flavor, then gets tossed in nutty browned butter with a splash of sweet balsamic vinegar: The vegetable outshines the entrée.
Give us this any night of the week—two types of spuds blended with cream cheese and crowned with a crispy, cheesy crumb topping. We changed the procedure from using a food mill to a ricer, but you can use either one, or a standard potato masher.
Boy, were we happy to rekindle our affair with this bird. Five ingredients (not counting salt, pepper, and cooking spray), and you have an absolutely delicious, moist, beautiful roast chicken. Fresh tarragon is crucial; don't leave it out. Our only update was to decrease the salt just a bit to bring the sodium within our current nutrition guidelines.