What meals are Americans cooking these days? There are a number of ways to answer that question, from finding out what the most searched recipes are to determining the popular food trends of the year. But while we could turn to search engines for help and base our opinions off popular forecast data, we decided to take one, narrow route to create a list of America’s favorite recipes, and it all starts with you.
Read more: America's 25 Favorite Home-Cooked Dishes
This time around, we didn’t want to know which recipes were searched for the most, but which were the ones that were made most often and the most well-liked. To find out, we turned to some of the most popular recipe websites according to Compete.com, which delivers digital intelligence on online consumer behavior. Once we knew which recipe websites people were using the most, we determined which were paying the most attention to their users, based on whether or not they track their users’ behaviors with recipe ratings and reviews.
Once we knew where to find recipe-related user behavior on some of the best recipe websites, it was time to find the recipes. First, we took the top 10 highest rated and most used recipes from websites such as Allrecipes.com, Food Network, and Food.com (to name a few) to get a sense of what America was cooking. From there, we considered the social activity around each recipe. Not only did we want to know how often a user enjoyed the recipe so much as to rate it on the site, but we also wanted to know how many loved it so much that they felt compelled to share it with every single one of their loved ones and friends on Facebook. We also took into consideration each of the recipes' rankings on the sites, because just because it was listed as "number one" on a particular website didn’t mean it had the highest user rating.
From there, each factor that we considered was converted into a score out of 10 to give it equal weight in our rankings. Along with all our other factors, we gave each recipe our own score out of 10 based on our own judgment. Was the recipe versatile in its use and ingredients? Did we find it easy to use? Was it all-around crowd-pleasing and non-polarizing? With outside factors and our own opinions in place, we calculated 50 recipes’ scores and ranked the top 25.
All in all, our list shows us that we as Americans are simple creatures when it comes to cooking — we seek out the most familiar and simple foods that we can find. We certainly like our baked goods, as recipes like chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cake made the list, but we can pinpoint trending tastes in savory recipes as well. Macaroni and cheese appeared not once but twice on our list, and other comfort foods like lasagna, chicken pot pie, and pot roast were on the list, too.
One of the most interesting things we learned when gathering these recipes was the power of social media, and we saw its power in the simplest and (excuse us) simple-minded of recipes: ice cubes. While the recipe was written sarcastically, it garnered the most user ratings and Facebook shares out of the all the popular recipes from Food.com. Although it had us laughing, it inevitably made our list, demonstrating the influence that we have on one another through the Internet and social media, and how powerful that can be.
We didn’t just stop there, though, because once we found out the most popular recipes on the most popular recipe websites, we found varieties of them on our site and have provided you with an alternate version, whether it’s more outrageous, healthier, easier, or just, better. While the "world’s best" lasagna may be the prom king on Allrecipes.com, we think our healthy and gluten-free version is pretty top-notch as well. And hey America, you like that clone of a Cinnabon recipe? Try our make-at-home version, which (we think) is better than the original and has just half the calories. If Tyler Florence’s chicken enchiladas have your mouth salivating, then try our unique version from Recipe editor Will Budiaman, who tops his with a homemade pico de gallo salsa and a green sauce. No matter what recipe you keep going back to over and over again, we have a version that we think you might like, too.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce