2021 was the year we took cooking to the next level. The comfort foods we needed in 2020 continued to nourish our bodies and souls in the new year. And as cooking burnout bubbled up, home cooks found new ways to make their favorite meals in less time and with less effort.
It’s no surprise this year’s roundup of the most-loved, new, 5-star reviewed recipes include quick and flavorful one-pot dinners, restaurant-level hibachi at home, and an easy tropical icebox cake that makes us excited to start traveling again.
This recipe delivers warm and cozy vibes in just 30 minutes, and it all cooks in one pot. The sauce thickens thanks to the starches of the potato gnocchi instead of relying on heavy cream. And reviewers did double or even triple the bacon, because as one reviewer wisely noted, “It’s hard to go wrong adding more bacon to anything.”
For Sunday dinner vibes in a snap, look no further than these simple, familiar flavors. This chicken dinner is a crowd-pleaser for all ages and flexible enough for a variety of preferences by changing the type of pasta or the seasoning. And cleaning only one pan sealed the deal for many fans.
This new BFF for your morning coffee gives you the flavor of coffee cake in a grab-and-go muffin. The shredded carrot and apples, along with raisins and nuts, make it a satisfying morning meal or the hero of your 3 p.m. snack attack. It’s easy to swap in your favorite fruits, veggies, and nuts, too.
We first developed this recipe for our TasteBuds subscribers, and it was such a hit we had to share it with the world. TasteBuds delivers seasonings, recipes, exclusive tips, and online content every month and is a great way to liven up weekly menu planning. Jesse from Michigan said the recipe was “So easy and fast to make! I thought the tanginess of the sauce was such a nice complement to the salmon and something different that I hadn’t tried before.”
Fans of this one-pot wonder loved how it tasted like a restaurant-level meal, but it was flexible for different dietary needs. You can easily make it without meat. You can even set aside a portion for non-dairy folks before adding cheese. Others easily swapped spinach for the kale. No matter the changes, everyone agreed, it’s easy and delicious.
This cake was the hit dessert of the summer when it was easiest to be social outside. Making it in the Rectangular Cool & Serve made it easy to keep chilled for summer picnics and overdue family reunions. The cake’s light tropical flavors made each bite feel like a mini tropical escape, and the fact it’s a no-bake cake didn’t hurt either.
This 30-minute dish shook up the weeknight doldrums and made any old weeknight feel like a trip to a hibachi-style restaurant. People also found it easy to grill up shrimp, chicken, or beef and add whatever veggies they had on hand. The spicy (but not too spicy) Yum-Yum was a hit and was easy for people to dial in their personal spice preference. Desiree from Oregon said it best, “I kept saying, ‘ridiculous’ out loud as I was eating it because it’s ridiculously good. And easy! That yum-yum sauce stole the show. Wow!”
This flavorful and creamy sauce takes a standard chicken and veggie dish to the next level. The biggest challenge customers had with this recipe was not having any leftovers. Some people loved that you could finish this dish in the microwave, while others found it easier to pop it in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for about 15 minutes. “I don’t think I have ever heard ‘Thank you, Mom,’ so many times during a meal!” said Charlotte from Alberta, Canada. “This recipe is a keeper.”
Our Deluxe Air Fryer was so popular in 2020 that we couldn’t keep them stocked. Now home cooks are looking for new, creative ways to use this versatile small appliance. What? Homemade air-fried beignets in 30 minutes, you say? With just five ingredients and a little help from our Hand Pie & Pocket Maker, people discovered an easy cooking activity with the kids or just a tasty new snack to celebrate anytime.
The common theme for people reviewing this recipe was “Can’t stop eating it.” It’s that good. It’s also another quick, weeknight dish that’s easy to modify, so it feels fresh and new each time you make it. People tried out different kinds of pasta like penne or shells. Others added in proteins like grilled chicken and shrimp or served the fresh, lemony pasta as a side with salmon.
What were some of your favorite recipes of 2021 and why?