These Are Our Editors' Favorite Recipes of 2018
These Are Our Editors' Favorite Recipes of 2018
These Are Our Favorite Recipes of the Year
We're about two weeks away from the end of 2018—which means it's list-making season. And if there's one thing we make more than lists at Cooking Light, it's the recipes that fill them. Day in and day out, editors toil away in Cooking Light's test kitchens (and, more often than not, in the middle of their own home kitchens) to find new, exciting ways to make healthy-yet-delicious meals for you.
We made a lot of food this year in cutting-edge new appliances like the Instant Pot and Air Fryer. We’ve also come up with delicious sheet pan dinners and made full meals in 20 minutes or less. All of that to say, we’ve been busy this year.
Our print issues offered up hundreds of recipes for busy home cooks and tackled topics like gut health, a healthy 3-day detox, 95 ways to eat more veggies, and genius hacks for prepping your meals way in advance. Online, we got to create healthy takes on popular recipes that many home cooks are searching for—like this French Onion Grilled Cheese, a fun, rich take on the classic grilled cheese sandwich.
More of our "best" recipes:
- These Are Reader's Top 20 Favorite Recipes from the Last 30 Years
- The Most Popular Cooking Light Recipes of 2018
- These Are the Cooking Light Editors' Favorite Recipes of All Time
While we're gearing up to transition from regular issues to special editions on newsstands in 2019, Cooking Light editors are taking a moment to reflect on the inspiration we had in our kitchens each day this year. We took some time to discover the recipes that our readers loved the most in 2018, so we'd thought it'd be fun to ask staff, too.
These are our favorite recipes that we won't stop making in the new year—and for good reason:
Loaded Cauliflower Soup
"This is like a warm hug in a bowl! I love it." — Grace Guffin, Editorial Assistant
If you love the flavors of a loaded baked potato—think cheddar cheese, crisp bacon, and the bright bite of chives—but are on a low-carb diet, then this soup is for you. We swap out the spuds for cauliflower and swirl the whole thing into a soup that has just 12g of carbs per serving—not bad for a hearty meal.
Vegan Smoked Tempeh BLT
"The 'bacon' is great to make in batches for all sorts of meals, and I love seeing the surprise on my guest's face when they end up loving the sandwich." — Lauren Wicks, CookingLight.com Editorial Fellow
To make the smoked tempeh, you’ll need a disposable foil pan plus some small wood chips. Look for small wood chips labeled specifically as “smoking chips” at some supermarkets and most hardware stores near the grilling supplies. For the best tomato flavor, go for a perfectly ripe heirloom tomato.
Almond-Coconut Chicken Satay
"You can make these skewers with a refreshing cucumber and pepper salad they're pictured with, but they're also simple enough to pair with whatever basic salad stuff you have on hand. Or leftovers!" — Katie Akin, Cooking Light Editorial Fellow
We switch up the peanut butter in a classic satay sauce for almond butter and add Thai red curry paste, a powerhouse condiment made up of nearly 14 ingredients including fresh ginger, lemongrass, and chiles. Don’t worry about the extra coconut milk in the can; you’ll use it up in the following recipe. Soaking the skewers for 10 to 20 minutes will keep them from burning on the grill pan. You can also use metal skewers.
Crispy Cauliflower with Chili-Tahini Sauce and Farro Pilaf
"This crispy cauliflower with chili-tahini sauce and farro is an amazing plant-based meal that is also fun to riff on—I make it all the time." — Kaylee Hammonds, Social Media Editor
We like to think of cauliflower as a blank-canvas brassica; diverse enough to be blended into a creamy sauce or soup, or blitzed into “rice” as a lower-carb alternative to grains. Roasting brings out its sweeter side, though it takes on just about any flavor profile you throw its way.
"This is such a creative way to makeover a typically unhealthy snack. Making the chips with corn tortillas is super smart, plus I could drizzle the tomatillo-avocado sauce over pretty much everything." — Elizabeth Laseter, SEO Writer
Notorious for being a calorie-and-sodium bomb, we gave these nachos a virtuous spin, slashing both calories and sodium by 40% without sacrificing their indulgent nature. Mexican chorizo packs a big flavor punch, helping a little meat go a long way here. Look for it in the butcher’s case next to the other fresh sausage.
A Healthy "Light" Russian
"I really needed a drink in 2018. So I'm happy Jamie Vespa and I found a way to slash sugar, fat, and calories in half in this deliciously indulgent cocktail that I ended up drinking all year long." -- Zee Krstic, Assistant Editor
A classic White Russian packs a whopping 33g of sugar in a single glass—ours? Just 4g. And it tastes delicious.
Portobello French Dip Sandwiches
"I'm definitely not vegetarian, but I don't miss the meat at all in this sandwich. It tastes like the real deal, and hits all the right umami notes." -- Jaime Ritter, Associate Editor
To create a healthier handheld without forfeiting its meaty character, we use toothsome mushrooms to mimic meat’s heft and enrich the sandwich with noteworthy umami. A blanket of caramelized onions offer the perfect alchemy of sweetness and added complexity.
Gluten-Free Chicken Schnitzel With Grapefruit-Celery Slaw
"The texture of this dish is off the charts—it's so refreshing and satisfactory at the same time, so it was definitely my favorite thing to shoot in 2018." — Tori Katherman, Photo Director
Grapefruit isn't just a breakfast food. The nutty almond flour keeps this crispy chicken gluten free; make your own by pulsing 1/4 cup almonds in a food processor until finely ground.
Beet and Citrus Salad with Almond Gremolata
"This is such an elevated take on salad—salt-crusting the beets makes them so tender and full of flavor, and the combo of salty-sweet-creamy makes it this plant-forward recipe worthy of being a main dish." -- Jessica Campbell-Salley, Copy Director
To offset all those deep rich flavors typically found in holiday food, you want something bright and fresh, with enough flavor to cut through those other dishes. This salad is like a breath of fresh air at any table: The tangy yogurt and bold citrus will ensure it quickly becomes a favorite.
Big Batch Oven-Braised Pot Roast
"This one-pot recipe is simple, hearty, nutritious, and family-friendly—and the best part is, the meat stretches to create two more meals in the same week. Love, love, love!" — Caitlin Miller, Managing Editor
Make this meal on a Sunday and you'll have three dinners taken care of! The recipe yields enough for both Roast Beef Hash on Monday, and Pot Roast Tacos With Chimichurri on Tuesday. That it's just 284 calories per serving doesn't hurt either.
Braised Chicken with Olives, Capers, and Prunes
"I love how delicious—and inexpensive—chicken thighs are. And the combo of salty and sweet is really delightful. They're adult-ready and yet still kid-friendly: my three-year-old daughter calls capers 'sour peas.'" — Christopher Michel, Editor, CookingLight.com.
This recipe for a braised chicken with olives, capers, and prunes is inspired by Chicken Marbella, the recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook that went “viral” in the 1980s. It’s been updated with far less added sugar (the original recipe calls for a cup of brown sugar) and the welcome addition of citrus.
Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos
"I love the flavors of a classic mole sauce, especially in the winter, and getting to make this easy version for busy home cooks was so satisfying." — Josh Miller, Food Editor
We’ve streamlined this dish and made it almost entirely hands off by using a blender to bring the components together and a slow cooker to do the simmering. The recipe yields about 2 cups additional mole sauce; use this for enchiladas, as a topper for pork chops, or as a phenomenal stir-in for chili.
Protein-Rich PB&J Smoothie
"Breakfast on the go is a must between a workout, getting to work, and dropping kids to school, which is why I'm obsessed with these delicious peanut-butter-and-jelly smoothies. A must have!" -- Brierley Horton, MS, RD, Nutrition Director
This two-toned smoothie is incredibly filling thanks to substantial servings of protein and fiber.
Spicy Serrano and Blackberry-Orange Margarita
"I spent a lot of my time this year inventing cocktails from scratch—but this was my all time favorite." — Jamie Vespa, MS, RD, Assistant Nutrition Editor
This fruity sipper has sweet-tart flavor with a subtle burn from the serrano-infused tequila. Tender-tongued? This drink is equally delicious without the chile. Blackberries are fiber-packed and contain antioxidants called polyphenols that might ward off cognitive decline and keep your heart healthy.
Strawberry, Basil, and Balsamic “Slablova”
"Because we work so far ahead (it published this April), I was able to make it for my family for Christmas last year. My mom immediately requested that I make it again this Christmas! It’s just dreamy—gorgeous soft, fluffy meringue (not hard and crunchy) topped with real whipped cream and balsamic-enhanced strawberries. It is perfection!" — Ann Taylor Pittman, Executive Editor
The meringue slowly bakes to achieve a crackly crust and an irresistibly soft, melt-in-your-mouth interior texture somewhere between a marshmallow and angel food cake. We like the look of white balsamic in the berry topping, but red balsamic will taste just as delicious (it will just have a darker color).