Our Most Popular Recipes of 2021
A countdown of the delicious dishes our readers viewed the most this year.
By Margaux Laskey Published Dec. 3, 2021 Updated Dec. 5, 2021
Phew, it’s been a wild year, but New York Times Cooking readers still found their way into their kitchens. (Cooking is a great escape, and, despite the news, you do have to eat.) Simple, quick dishes like Ali Slagle’s five-ingredient cucumber-avocado salad and Hetty McKinnon’s cauliflower piccata dominated our list of most popular recipes, but project recipes like Claire Saffitz’s croissants and Josef Centeno’s birria de res also made an appearance. Below is a list of the 20 most popular new recipes on New York Times Cooking this year. (View our top 50 recipes here.) Scroll down to see our No. 1 recipe of 2021. It’s a good one.
“Rich and savory, great for a cold fall evening, and quite versatile.”
Hetty McKinnon’s vegan take on tantanmen, the Japanese version of dan dan noodles, a Sichuan dish of noodles and pork bathed in a spicy sesame broth, was a big reader favorite.
“My new favorite curry recipe!”
Rich with coconut milk, curry powder, turmeric and paprika, Genevieve Ko adapted this weeknight recipe from “Burma Superstar” by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy. It gets better after a rest in the fridge, so make it on a Monday, and you’ll be set for lunch until Thursday.
Recipe: Coconut Chicken Curry
“Gosh. This is about the most delicious bean dish I’ve made.”
White beans never get old, do they? Here, Lidey Heuck simmers them with fennel, rosemary and greens, then stirs in mozzarella and Parmesan for a quick and hearty weeknight meal.
“This is my third time making it, and it has gotten rave reviews!”
Roasted cauliflower gets the lemony piccata treatment in this easy vegetarian recipe from Hetty McKinnon. Add chickpeas, or a jammy egg on top, for a more complete meal.
Recipe: Cauliflower Piccata
“Outstanding and easy! And the aroma while it cooked? So lovely.”
Readers loved this sheet-pan dinner from Melissa Clark for its ease and versatility. Some readers used boneless thighs, while others sprinkled the finished dish with a little feta for a creamy-tangy punch.
“This was indulgent and scrumptious with spring asparagus and just as good with thinly sliced bok choy.”
In this 30-minute recipe, Eric Kim combines two types of seaweed, fresh asparagus and heavy cream with pasta for a truly special umami-rich dish. For a heartier meal, top with a few ribbons of smoked salmon as one reader did.
Recipe: Creamy Asparagus Pasta
“Incredibly delicious! Will make again and again.”
Eric Kim harnesses the tenderizing powers of pineapple enzymes in this tangy-sweet chicken breast dish. A brief, not lengthy, marinade is the key to perfectly tender, not gluey, chicken.
“Cooked this last night. Absolutely stunning.”
Lemon and chicken are always a winning combination, and, here, Yotam Ottolenghi doubles the citrus with a combination of lemon zest and “cheater’s” preserved lemon paste made by simmering fresh lemon, juice and salt, then blitzing it all in a food processor.
Recipe: Double Lemon Chicken
“Like everyone in the past year, I woke up one morning and thought, ‘If there was ever a time to learn to make croissants, this is it.’ And, I did and they were incredible and I have earned much love and admiration because of it.”
“My husband and 6-year-old son ask for this dish every weekend.”
Gently roasted salmon is tossed with grapefruit, oranges, radishes, avocado, ginger and dill in this lively, textured dish from Ali Slagle. If you like, add baby greens, thinly sliced cucumbers or fennel, roasted beets, soba noodles, tostadas, furikake or chile oil. (Watch Ali make this dish on YouTube.)
Recipe: Ginger-Dill Salmon
10. Birria de Res
“This is really good!!!! Kids went bonkers over it.”
Tejal Rao adapted this recipe for birria de res, a complexly seasoned Mexican meat stew, from the chef Josef Centeno. Use the leftover braise for quesabirria tacos and the leftover consomé for birria ramen.
Recipe: Birria de Res
“Holy cow was this good.”
Eric Kim refashions bibimbap, the Korean mixed rice dish, for the sheet pan in this adaptable recipe. Use any vegetables you have, but be sure to reduce cook times for delicate options such as spinach, scallions or asparagus. (Watch Eric make this recipe on YouTube.)
Recipe: Sheet-Pan Bibimbap
“I cannot stop eating this salad.”
You need only five ingredients — cucumber, avocado, scallions, lemon juice and red-pepper flakes — for this delightfully refreshing recipe from Ali Slagle. Add mint, dill or cilantro, and maybe a handful of halved cherry tomatoes if you’re feeling it.
Recipe: Cucumber-Avocado Salad
“THIS WAS SO GOOD. 10/10 Will make again.”
After being stuck inside for months, many readers were excited to get outside and grill something. Melissa Clark’s garlicky, herby chicken was a big winner. If you don’t have a grill, you can broil it for 5 to 8 minutes on each side in the oven.
“Every loaf is gorgeous.”
When Mark Bittman adapted Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread for The New York Times in 2006, readers went wild. This year, J. Kenji López-Alt tweaked the recipe slightly “for the sake of precision and a touch of acid to improve dough strength.”
Recipe: Updated No-Knead Bread
“This is truly one of the most delicious dishes I have ever made from NYT Cooking.”
Hetty McKinnon created this hard-to-stop-eating cold soba and vegetable salad dressed with spicy peanut sauce. Use any crunchy vegetables you like, and if you don’t have peanut butter on hand (or you’re allergic), use any nut or seed butter, like cashew, almond, sunflower or even tahini.
“Oh wow. This was outstanding. And best of all, totally simple.”
Ali Slagle’s five-star (over 3,760 ratings and counting!) pan-fried gnocchi dish is like a faster version of baked pasta: It gives you the same warm and fuzzy feeling in just 25 minutes. Use cherry tomatoes if you can, since they are more flavorful year-round than larger, more watery varieties.
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“This has NO BUSINESS being so good!”
Plenty of lemon, fresh herbs, cumin, ginger and garlic make this vibrant one-pot soup from Melissa Clark brightly flavored and delightfully satisfying. Make it your own by tossing in whatever vegetables you have on hand.
“I was a Stouffer’s mac ‘n’ cheese child through and through. This recipe is PERFECTION. Just made this tonight and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Eric Kim achieved superhero status when he created a copycat version of Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese. The secret? Velveeta. (Watch Eric make this recipe on YouTube.)
Recipe: Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese
“Truly. These are the holy grail of creamy scrambled eggs, and so fast and easy.”
You probably thought you knew how to make scrambled eggs. Well, you were wrong. J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe calls for adding a little potato starch, tapioca starch or cornstarch (a technique he learned from Mandy Lee of the food blog Lady & Pups) and plenty of butter for supremely fluffy and creamy eggs.
Recipe: Extra-Creamy Scrambled Eggs