The 25 Foods Everybody Wants to Cook Slideshow
October 4, 2011
The recipes people search for most, from lasagna to guacamole
2. Hummus Recipe
A thick, creamy, and delicious mash of chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, and oil, hummus is a popular and healthy alternative to chips and dip. Chickpeas are high in protein, making this legume and the Middle Eastern dish it's made into good for vegetarians. It may surprise many that when tahini, a sesame seed paste, is added to hummus, the name changes to hummus bi tahina. Some people are aware of this variation because out of the recipes searched for hummus, 1,300 were for "hummus recipe with tahini" and 590 were for "hummus recipe without tahini."
However you like to make your hummus, try serving it with homemade pita chips or cut vegetables and feel free to play around with variations at home, adding roasted red peppers, toasted pine nuts, or a coating of paprika to the recipe.
3. Banana Bread Recipe
What to do with overripe bananas? Make banana bread of course. This comforting recipe comes in many forms: filled with nuts, chunks of bananas, chocolate chips, or healthier versions that are low-fat or gluten-free (pictured left). Making the perfect banana bread, one that's moist, light, and flavorful, can be a trying task, but once you find a recipe that hits the mark, you'll never look back.
Try toasting a slice and topping it with a thin (or thick) layer of butter for a quick and delicious breakfast or snack.
4. Meatloaf Recipe
A classic comfort food, meatloaf gained popularity with home cooks because of its simplicity and low maintenance. Typically made with ground meat and a mixture of various seasonings like herbs, vegetables, or spices, meatloaf is bound with eggs or breadcrumbs, similar to meatballs, and then baked in a loaf pan. Alternatively, you can try cooking it in a rimmed baking sheet so that more of the surface browns.
Also, like meatballs, it's important not to overhandle the meat or it will toughen the final product. After cooking, run a knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan and let it stand for about 10 to 15 minutes so that the meat sets. For serving, it is often topped with a layer of ketchup, glaze, cheese, or sauce, and leftovers can also be used for sandwiches.
5. Chili Recipe
Chili con Carne, Spanish for ground meat with chili, originated in Texas in the early 19th century and is affectionately referred to as a bowl of red by Lone Star natives. Though Texans stand by the belief that beans have no place in the dish (neither do tomatoes), in other parts of the country, chili can be found filled with beans, made solely of beans (vegetarian or three-bean chili), tomato-based, or flavored with cinnamon (courtesy of Cincinnati chili), and made with ground turkey or chicken for a white chili.
The more popular types of chili that were searched? Breaking down chili recipe showed that chicken chili recipe (approx. 3,600), white chicken chili recipe (approx. 3,600), white chili recipe (approx. 3,600), turkey chili recipe (approx. 2,900), and vegetarian chili recipe (approx. 2,900) were the variations most searched for after chili recipe. For a quick dinner, we like to make the 15-Minute Beef Chili Recipe pictured at left.
6. Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
In what may or may not come as a surprise, it seems that chocolate chip cookies are Americans' favorite type of cookie. What's not to like about that rich, buttery scent wafting through the air from freshly baked cookies? And let's not even get started on the melting chocolate. Though the perfect cookie means something different to each person, whether you fall on the crispy or chewy side, it seems that chocolate chip is a fan favorite.
After chocolate, the numbers slim down a bit to reveal sugar cookie recipe at approx. 14,800 searches and peanut butter cookie recipe and oatmeal cookie recipe both surfacing at approximately 12,100. This chocolate chip recipe comes from famed West Village bakery Milk & Cookies and errs on the chewy side (pictured left).
7. Chicken Breast Recipe
Though chicken is the number one most searched recipe, chicken breasts are not far behind with 40,500 searches and are a testament to America's love for this poultry meat. Leaner and healthier than dark meat, chicken breast is a great source of protein with a lower amount of cholesterol and saturated fat than other meats. Boneless chicken breasts make an easy weeknight dinner and can be baked, sautéed, stir-fried, grilled, broiled, or stuffed. Experiment with different seasonings, herbs, and aromatics so that dishes don't get repetitive. Marinades are also an excellent way of imparting flavor and can often be made the night before. The chicken breast recipe pictured calls for chard, but substitute whatever seasonal winter greens are at the market.
8. Rice Krispie Treat Recipe
This no-bake dessert is a favorite at bake sales and a fun treat to prepare with kids at home. Made with Kelloggs Rice Krispies cereal, these crunchy squares are filled with sticky, marshmallow goodness. Kelloggs features the original recipe on their site, but creative home cooks have experimented with adding peanut butter to the marshmallow mixture right after melting it for an even creamier treat.
Other secrets include a dash of salt and a touch of vanilla to take this dish to the next level. Want something spooky for Halloween? Try adding candy corns and chocolate chips to make an orange-and-black dessert. The possibilities are endless! But word to the wise, do not try using margarine or other low-fat substitutes in the recipe; it just won't be the same.
9. Pork Chop Recipe
With countless easy ways to prepare pork chops, it's no wonder that they are the ninth most popular recipe. They can be braised, grilled, breaded (Milanese-style), pan-cooked, or pan-roasted. Serve them simply with salt and pepper or experiment with a glaze or balsamic reduction like in the recipe pictured left. A side of potatoes or green salad never hurts either.
When shopping, look for meat that is pale pink with white (not yellow) fat and cook it within a few days of purchasing. For juicy and tender meat, the chops should be cooked until they have an internal temperature of about 150 to 165 degrees (any higher and they will be tough and chewy).
10. Lasagna Recipe
Lasagna is a popular and comforting Italian-American dish that is baked in the oven with minimal involvement. Though the dish is traditionally made with layers of thick, wide noodles, a mixture of cheeses, and covered in a thick, tomato-based meat sauce, or with a healthy dose of bechamel, it can also be prepared in a variety of different ways, some lighter than others.
Opt out of using the pasta and instead replace it with strips of eggplant or zucchini, or fill the sauce with vegetables, a popular choice that gets around 1,900 searches annually (vegetable lasagna recipe). But if you want a meat-and-cheese-filled recipe, try the one pictured left.
11. Guacamole Recipe
Creamy, slightly nutty, and a gorgeous green color, avocados are an excellent source of unsaturated fat (a healthy fat), vitamin C, and other nutrients. They are often associated with the party favorite guacamole, which happens to be the 11th most searched recipe on this list. While at its most basic level guacamole is often composed of avocados (Hass is preferred), lime juice, chile, onion, salt, and cilantro, the possibilities are endless.
Today, chefs are adding blue cheese, seafood, roasted garlic, mangos, pineapples, and tomatillos to this addictive dip. While a firm chip is usually best for scooping up chunks of mashed avocado, homemade pita chips or raw vegetables offer a healthier alternative. Though these new creations are great, for a classic guacamole, we like to make the recipe featured on the left.
12. Salmon Recipe
Salmon is a favored fish for many reasons, one of which is its numerous health benefits high protein levels, omega-3 oils, and vitamins A and B. Another reason is its versatility; it works well with a variety of flavor pairings and preparations. Some of the more classical combinations include spinach, Swiss chard, asparagus, eggs, and beans. Salmon can also be smoked, grilled, pickled, cured, baked, and broiled. Because of its high-fat content (the good kind of fat), it does not need a lot of extra fat added to it when cooking. This characteristic makes the fish quite tasty when baked en papillote inside foil or parchment paper without any additional fat.
When buying salmon, we recommend shopping for Wild Alaskan salmon because it is the safest fish for you to eat health-wise and the best eco-friendly option as well. For a salmon dish with an Asian twist, try making chef Eric Ripert's recipe that's photographed on the left.
13. Tilapia Recipe
Also known as St. Peter's fish, tilapia is a mild, low-fat fish with a relatively firm texture that lends itself to many cooking methods. It can be baked, broiled, steamed, or pan-cooked. Try cooking it simply with salt and pepper and then topping it with a flavorful salsa, like in the dish pictured at left.
14. Fried Rice Recipe
A popular take-out dish, fried rice is also highly searched on the web, probably because its a low-cost, easy dish that makes a tasty, weeknight meal in no time. Typically, this Asian dish is made with day-old cooked rice thats been refrigerated. It's then quickly cooked with various ingredients, including small pieces of meat, vegetables, and seasonings like spices and soy sauce. Chicken, pork, and shrimp are some of the more popular proteins added to the dish, and often times, an egg is also added, like in this low-cost and quick recipe.
15. French Toast Recipe
Just like french fries are actually Belgian, French toast is actually Roman. Called Roman bread, it was (and still is) an economical way to use stale bread. When the bread is dipped in a mixture of eggs and milk and then fried, yesterday's loaf becomes today's breakfast.
The simple dish offers a lot of ways to improvise by adding spices like cinnamon, or using almond milk instead of regular milk in the dipping mixture. Plus, the possibilities for toppings are limitless — try fresh fruit or chocolate instead of the typical maple syrup. The recipe featured on the left is topped with both almonds and fresh raspberries.
16. Cheesecake Recipe
Do the best cheesecakes really come from New York? More likely, they are coming from the kitchens of the home cooks who are searching for the best cheesecake recipe. This beloved dessert uses soft cream cheese as its main component, and while cakes made with soft cheese like ricotta or cheese curds date back to ancient times, most people identify the modern cheesecake with Philadelphia cream cheese.
Cheesecake is another dish that has endless variations from the crust to the toppings. The classic cheesecake from Juniors in Brooklyn, N.Y., is made with a graham cracker crust and is usually topped with strawberries.
17. Pasta Recipe
Considering that the number 10 most searched recipe was a specific pasta dish, lasagna, Americans seem to always be looking for new ideas for this easy-to-cook ingredient, like the clever Bruschetta Pasta pictured at left. Pasta salad is another highly sought-after recipe, with about 18,100 annual searches. Shrimp scampi (also 18,100 searches) and baked ziti (8,100 searches) seem to be the other popular hot pasta dishes, while pesto (approx. 14, 800 searches) is the second most searched sauce recipe after Alfredo, the number 25 ranked recipe.
With the wide availability of pasta makers, a handful of people could also be looking for instructions on how to make their own pasta, a process that, with the right tools, is not as difficult as it is time-consuming.
18. Shrimp Recipe
You brought home some beautiful jumbo Gulf shrimp now, what to do with it? It seems that home cooks all over America are looking for delicious ways to cook shrimp. Italian-inspired dishes like shrimp scampi (approx. 18,100 searches) and shrimp pasta (4,400) are both go-to recipes, but coconut shrimp and shrimp salad (both, 2,900 searches) are also popular. We also enjoy making the Shrimp Bouillabaisse that's featured on the left.
It's easy to overcook shrimp, so remove them from the heat once they turn from blue-tinted to pinkish red. Be sure to devein the shrimp before eating, but to really cut down on time, buy them already peeled and deveined.
19. Ground Beef Recipe
A few of the most popular recipes on our list generally call for ground beef, like meatloaf "number four" and chili "number five" but it seems like Americans want to know what else to do with this economical cut. Other favorite recipes that often include ground beef are sloppy Joes (approx. 5,400 searches), empanadas (approx. 4,400 searches), and meatballs (approx. 3,600 searches), which are even taster when served atop spaghetti like in Bobby Flay's recipe (pictured left).
20. Salsa Recipe
With salsa being such a popular recipe, it's safe to assume that chips and salsa have replaced chips and dip as the snack of choice. But who knew so many households prefer to make their own salsa?
Using fresh tomatoes, onions, and chiles as well as other options like garlic, corn, beans, mango, pineapple, or tomatillos, homemade salsa (pictured left) is a simple and healthy kitchen staple. Plus, when you make it at home, you get to control the heat level.
21. Chicken Salad Recipe
A great way to use leftovers, chicken salad is an economical dish that's an easy lunch to serve cold. Though chicken salad evokes the memory of mayonnaise-coated chicken studded with celery and served on a bed of lettuce, it can be prepared in creative ways like the Chicken Tikka Salad featured on the left.
For those with health concerns, substitute the mayo with low-fat plain yogurt, vinaigrette made with lemon juice and olive oil, or an Asian-inspired dressing made with fish sauce, vinegar, and lime juice.
22. Pancake Recipe
It seems as if every type of cuisine has a version of the pancake, whether sweet or savory. For most Americans, however, the pancake is a tried-and-true brunch time favorite, most often drowning in maple syrup. With an entire chain of restaurants dedicated to this one dish, it's no surprise this recipe made the list.
Breakfast pancakes can come in many shapes and sizes, from the small silver dollar pancakes to thick, heavy flapjacks. Try adding different ingredients to the batter, like bacon and chocolate or ricotta and lemon zest, or using different grains like amaranth, oats, or spelt. To make the buttermilk pancakes pictured here, try this easy recipe.
23. Apple Pie Recipe
Theres nothing more American than… actually the apple pie is the descendant of the French tarte tatin, but its a dessert that has become as patriotic as stars and stripes. Though its eaten year-round, apple pie is really a seasonal fall food, and there are more variations of the apple pie than months during which its eaten, from the classic double-crust version with layers of apples to the sour cream filling apple pie.
Some of the best apples to use for baking are Granny Smith, Cortland, Golden Delicious, and Empire. Another thing to think about when choosing an apple pie recipe is what kind of crust you want — a double layer, double layer with a lattice top, crumble crust, single layer, etc. For an award-winning recipe, try the apple pie pictured left.
24. Red Velvet Cake Recipe
Unless it's the artificial food coloring, there's nothing naturally red about red velvet cake. The cake is basically a yellow cake with cocoa powder, but apparently the combination of vinegar and baking soda creates a chemical reaction that gives the cocoa powder a reddish hue, according to Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking.
Once a Southern delicacy, red velvet has been popularized all over the country, with red velvet cupcakes gaining steam along with the cupcake boom.
25. Alfredo Sauce Recipe
Though the components of Alfredo sauce — butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and cream — are atypical of Roman cuisine, the pasta sauce will forever be associated with the restaurant Alfredo in Rome, which popularized it around the turn of the century (though their recipe doesn't include cream).
The unctuous sauce is usually tossed with fettuccine and is often served with vegetables and proteins like chicken and shrimp. In the recipe pictured, a quick Alfredo sauce is turned into a delightful casserole.
1. Chicken Recipe
It's no surprise that chicken is the most searched recipe since it is so widely available today. Though free-range and organic chickens are more expensive because of their larger living space and lack of hormones and antibiotics, the average supermarket chicken comes at a reasonable price and, with the skin removed, is relatively healthy.
Chicken can be prepared in a variety of ways, which perhaps is one of the reasons for its popularity. Breaking down the 60,500 searches for chicken recipes, we found that the following recipes were among the highest searched: chicken salad, number 21 on this list (22,200), baked chicken (14,800), chicken pot pie (14,800), and fried chicken (12,100). One of our favorite ways is to prepare it with mushrooms, like in the recipe pictured at left.