50 All-Time Best Sunset Test Kitchen Recipes
This list, which comes from readers and staff, spans great Western ingredients and reflects the fresh, easygoing way we cook today
1 of 50 Peden & Munk
Baja Fried-Fish Tacos
We’ve cooked many a fish taco at Sunset, but this one is unsurpassed—a fresh, crunchy, creamy version of a Western classic. It may be one of our earliest fusion-food hits, too: The light, crisp, tempura-style batter makes it intriguingly different from other Mexican tacos, and some food historians think that Japanese fishermen, who arrived in Baja in the 1920s, played a role in its invention.
Recipe: Baja Fried-Fish Tacos
2 of 50 Peden & Munk
Maybe it's the pop-in-the-mouth size, maybe it's the combination of sharp cheese and briny artichokes—whatever the reason, these party bites are truly irresistible and happen to be one of our favorite artichoke recipes.
Recipe: Artichoke Nibbles
3 of 50 Peden & Munk
Grilled King Salmon with Asparagus, Morels, and Leeks
When we want to treat our dinner guests with a beautiful spring dish, this is the recipe we turn to. It’s fancy but not difficult, and the flavors sing.
4 of 50 Peden & Munk
Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
Like all good New Mexico food, these enchiladas are simple, earthy, and delicious—as an online reader commented, “FUH-lawless.”
Recipe: Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
5 of 50 Peden & Munk
Cracked Crab with Lemongrass, Black Pepper, and Basil
Like impatient kids on a long road trip, we wait and wait all year until crab is in season so we can cook up this recipe. It’s a worthy treatment for one of the West’s best foods.
6 of 50 Peden & Munk
Browned Butter and Hazelnut Mashed Potatoes
Here's our favorite excuse to buy Oregon-grown hazelnuts, which taste so much sweeter and fresher than imports. Toast them deeply in a pan with butter that sizzles and browns to create a version of mashed potatoes that's heads and shoulders above others.
7 of 50 Peden & Munk
Grilled Spareribs with Fennel Seeds and Herbs
The world is full of great rib recipes, but we’ve never found one that was this easy. With its bold, rustic, Italian flavors, it’s wonderful with all the classic summer sides, too.
8 of 50 Peden & Munk
White Wine Coq au Vin
A fresh, herb-laced, Western version of the famous French dish that involves red wine and long braising, this coq au vin is also very pretty. It’s relatively quick and easy to make, too.
Recipe: White Wine Coq au Vin
9 of 50 Peden & Munk
Smoky Beef-and-Bacon Chili
At the end of an epic chili taste-off at Sunset, this spicy, comforting one was the last bowl standing, so to speak. Smoked paprika gives it a deep, complex flavor.
Recipe: Smoky Beef-and-Bacon Chili
10 of 50 Peden & Munk
Crunchy Napa Cabbage Slaw
"Best. Slaw. Ever," proclaimed one staff member. This is a different take on the usual coleslaw, and everyone who eats it tends to request the recipe. Consider it your path to potluck stardom.
Recipe: Crunchy Napa Cabbage Slaw
11 of 50 Peden & Munk
“Great crunch!” said one Sunset staff member of this crab cake. “Yummy and clean-tasting,” said another. The aioli and the fine tousle of Champagne slaw give it an elegant touch.
Recipe: Mendo Crabcakes
12 of 50 Peden & Munk
Asparagus Summer Salad
The combination of fat, juicy stalks of barely cooked asparagus with generous fresh herbs and salty feta cheese makes this one of our favorite ways to use a peak-season ingredient.
Recipe: Asparagus Summer Salad
13 of 50 Peden & Munk
Cashew, Coconut, and Pumpkin Curry
When winter squash are in season, this is our favorite way to cook them, in a rich, aromatic sauce with plenty of spices and deeply browned onions. And it just happens to be vegan.
14 of 50 Peden & Munk
Over the years, we’ve discovered how versatile guacamole can be. It works with sake and soy, and with Indian spices, too. Still, when the margarita is beading up the glass and the chips are fresh and warm, a classic Mexican guacamole beats them all—and this one is the best we’ve had.
Recipe: Gabriel’s Guacamole
15 of 50 Peden & Munk
Grilled Cilantro Chicken with Pickled Tomato and Avocado Salsa
We turn to this extraordinary dish whenever we want to disprove the theory that chicken breasts are boring. It’s simply inspired. Serve it with plenty of rice to soak up the salsa.
16 of 50 Peden & Munk
Halibut Kebabs with Grilled Bread and Pancetta
This recipe is pure genius—a mere three ingredients, transformed by heat into a sublime dinner-on-a-stick. Plus, it takes just half an hour to make, from start to finish. All you need is a green salad on the side.
17 of 50 Peden & Munk
Grilled Corn Poblano Salad with Chipotle Vinaigrette
This is our standby Sunset salad in the summer, when corn is sweet and juicy and peppers pile up in our gardens and markets. It’s easy—just throw the vegetables on the grill and make the salad while the chicken or steak is on the fire.
18 of 50 Peden & Munk
Big Dutch Baby
While it was born in Europe, the West adopted this baby almost a century ago. In the early 1900s, Victor Manca, owner of the restaurant Manca's, put a dainty version of big German pancakes on his menu—hence Dutch (as in Deutsch) Babies. After the restaurant closed in the 1950s, the Baby lived on in various versions in Sunset's pages, but the most popular is the one that took the pancake back to its German roots as a buttery breakfast zeppelin.
Recipe: Big Dutch Baby
19 of 50 Peden & Munk
Ginger Pineapple Punch (Lebouroudjee)
This exciting, super-flavorful drink has us coming back for seconds and thirds each time we make it.
20 of 50 Peden & Munk
Triple-Threat Chocolate Cookies
In the over-the-top category, our tie for best cookie went to these sandwich ones. Everything about them is decadent, from the chocolaty cookies and ganache filling to the "oh-I-couldn't-possibly-eat-a-whole-one" size. (Go ahead. We certainly did.)
Recipe: Triple-Threat Chocolate Cookies
21 of 50 Peden & Munk
In the purist's pick category, our tie for best cookie went to these chewy, ultra-gingery wonders.
Recipe: Mega-Ginger Cookies
22 of 50 Peden & Munk
Powdered Sugar Pound Cake
Like a good black dress, this seemingly simple cake is elegant and delicious served with no other decoration than the thin coating of almonds that clings to the top.
Recipe: Powdered Sugar Pound Cake
23 of 50 Peden & Munk
Molten Chocolate Mousse Cups
Here's our genius dinner party shortcut, a rich and stunning dessert you can make a week ahead and freeze.
Recipe: Molten Chocolate Mousse Cups
24 of 50 Peden & Munk
Anjou Bakery’s Marionberry Pie
Staffers still smile when they talk about sampling what may be the most luscious fruit pie ever to come through our Test Kitchen.
Recipe: Anjou Bakery’s Marionberry Pie
25 of 50 Peden & Munk
Coffee Sundaes with Salted Peanut Butter Caramel
A crazy-good combination, and it takes just a few minutes to put together.
26 of 50 Annabelle Breakey
Complex and fragrant, this classic Malaysian-style noodle soup has fans around the world—us included. Our version is surprisingly simple to make, and basically cooks in just one pot. At the last minute, it’s topped with fresh mint and cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and a spoonful of spicy sambal chili paste.
Recipe: Chicken Laksa
27 of 50 Annabelle Breakey
Coffee-Braised Spoon Lamb
When we food editors first began compiling a list of all-time favorite Sunset dishes, this lamb recipe immediately leapt to mind. The meat is braised long and slow in a heady mixture of coffee, red wine, and caramelized vegetables until it falls apart into succulent hunks.
Recipe: Coffee-Braised Spoon Lamb
28 of 50 Iain Bagwell
Chicken, Quinoa, and Green-Olive Stew
We’re always looking for new ways to make quinoa, the tiny, fluffy, nutritious, and ever more popular grain-like seed, and this Spanish-flavored stew remains a favorite. Readers like it too: One online fan remarked, “This recipe caught my eye because I happened to have all the ingredients in the house. It was quick and easy to make after work, and it tasted divine! All those quirky ingredients in one pot...cumin, coriander, quinoa, chickpeas, and orange zest?? But everything came together like a symphony.”
29 of 50 Alex Farnum
Roasted Cauliflower and Shallots with Chard and Dukkah
A big roasting pan of vegetables seasoned with dukkah, a toasted spice and nut topping, this simple concept has inspired loyal reader comments. "A keeper! The flavor of the veggies with the dukkah is amazing and tastes even better the next day," says one reader. "I was not expecting this to be as delicious as it was. This could be eaten as a meal on its own. Everyone loved it," says another.
30 of 50 Alex Farnum
Chinese Glazed Riblets with Garlic and Thai Basil
These delicious little ribs are dangerously snackable. They require a bit of effort to make, but the marinating can be done a day ahead, and the final cooking just before serving.
31 of 50 Yunhee Kim
Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Tart
Choosing between favorite chocolate desserts is almost like choosing among children. This one has a big fan base among our staff for its dark chocolate cookie crust and layer of homemade Nutella-type spread that's beneath the creamy mousse filling.
Recipe: Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Tart
32 of 50
Classic Tiki Mai Tai
Recipe: Classic Tiki Mai Tai
Invented in the ’40s by Oakland’s Vic Bergeron for his Trader Vic’s restaurants, the original mai tai featured only aged rum, lime juice, and orange liqueur, with a guest appearance by orgeat syrup. This version is true to its roots, with a blend of three kinds of rum for interest.
33 of 50 Annabelle Breakey
Francie's Fruit Salad
Every cook needs a good fruit salad recipe that's easy to make but a big step above ordinary. Here's ours. It's light, refreshing, and has happy colors.
Recipe: Francie's Fruit Salad
34 of 50 Leigh Beisch
Speedy Chicken Posole with Avocado and Lime
Posole, the festive Mexican stew, is typically a long-simmered affair involving pork shoulder. This lively version delivers the deep flavor without requiring the time. “We have made it 4 times in 4 months,” one appreciative reader told us. “This one is in the permanent rotation.”
35 of 50 Iain Bagwell
Pork Shoulder Roast with Figs, Garlic, and Pinot Noir
This elegant, holiday-worthy roast not only tastes incredible, but costs much less than pricier cuts like crown roast or prime rib. The secret to cooking pork shoulder? Tie up the meat to hold it together, brown it, and then braise it slowly until very tender. We agree with one fan online, who commented, “It looks like you have slaved for hours, but is so easy and inexpensive!”
36 of 50 Leigh Beisch
Sweet-Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Spinach
When we're looking for an impressive, special-occasion vegetarian dish, this is the one we turn to.
37 of 50 James Baigrie
Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Fried Capers
You know those recipes that claim to convert Brussels sprouts phobes into fans? This one really will. We've given the vegetable an Italian treatment with plenty of bright capers and good olive oil.
38 of 50 Annabelle Breakey
Fresh Corn and Avocado Salad
Reader Kathy Kane, of Menlo Park, California, gave us this recipe in 2009, and we have made umpteen bowls of it since. It brings together everything that’s best about summer: Sweet corn, ripe tomatoes, rich avocados, and spicy basil, with a bit of crisp red onion to give it punch.
Recipe: Fresh Corn and Avocado Salad
39 of 50 Annabelle Breakey
Grilled Pastrami, Swiss, and Sweet Onion Marmalade on Rye
The standout from a grilled-cheese recipe contest we ran several years ago, this sandwich takes a little effort, but is so worth it. Every element—the beefy, tangy pastrami, the rich cheese, the caraway in the bread, and the tart-sweet marmalade—come together to make a taste sensation.
40 of 50 Annabelle Breakey
Raspberry Lemon Pudding Cakes
"I'm a novice in the kitchen and made this recipe with no trouble. It's easy enough for a beginner but beautiful enough for a special occasion. And it's delicious—a light and relatively healthy dessert," reported one reader. We couldn't have said it better.
Recipe: Raspberry Lemon Pudding Cakes
41 of 50 Thayer Allyson Gowdy
Caramelized Maui Onion Dip
Grown in rich volcanic soil, juicy, golden yellow Maui onion is sweeter than a regular onion and melt-in-the-mouth tender when it's caramelized and mixed into a sour cream and buttermilk dip.
Recipe: Caramelized Maui Onion Dip
42 of 50 Annabelle Breakey
Longtime former food editor Jerry Di Vecchio created these sumptuous nachos, transforming a snack into dinner.
Recipe: Chorizo-Beef Nachos
43 of 50 Leigh Beisch
Smoky Beef Stew with Blue Cheese and Chives
Blue cheese with beef stew? Yes and yes! It’s an unusual combination that makes this recipe memorable—the cheese melts into and enhances the rich beefiness of the stew. We especially love it with mild, buttery gorgonzola.
44 of 50 Iain Bagwell
Curried Red Kidney Beans and Cauliflower (Rajma Masala)
"This has become comfort food in our house," says Sunset production manager Margaret Sloan. "I love it because it's easy to make and has protein without having to have meat. But but mostly I love it because it's warm and spicy without being hot."
45 of 50
Each June, 20,000 to 25,000 people come to our Menlo Park, California campus for Celebration Weekend, a festival of food, wine, and all things related to the good life in the West. In 2007 we developed this blushed version of a classic margarita to serve at the event and it's been a favorite ever since.
Recipe: Sunset Margarita
46 of 50 Annabelle Breakey
Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Fresh Herbs
For a fancy holiday roast, Western-style, we can think of no better recipe than this one. It’s very easy and yields knockout results—tender beef with a crunchy crust and a garlicky, herbaceous interior. (If you are sensitive to garlic, sauté it before spreading inside the beef—or omit altogether.)
47 of 50 Karen Steffens
Sticky Chile Chicken
A humble-seeming dish with only seven ingredients, this recipe nonetheless inspires rave reviews—and it's easy enough that you could have multiple pans going to feed a crowd. "I essentially catered a backyard dinner party for my mother, starring this chicken dish," reports our managing editor Alan Phinney; "she declared it the best meal she had ever had."
Recipe: Sticky Chile Chicken
48 of 50 Alex Farnum
Ultlimate Crab Cakes
These large, perfect cakes are packed with sweet morsels of crab, and contain no bread whatsoever—just pure seafood. We also love them because they’re easy to shape and make ahead, so that you can brown them at the last minute.
Recipe: Ultlimate Crab Cakes
49 of 50 Dan Goldberg
Split Pea-Squash Stew with Basil and Serrano
If you're more of a soup person than a curry person when it comes to squash, this recipe has a lot of fans. "It is hearty and warm but not unhealthy, it's exotic but not overwhelming, spicy and sweet and absolutely perfect," says one reader.
50 of 50 James Carrier
Turkey Enchilada Casserole
With more online raves than any other recipe on Sunset.com, this homey, comforting casserole summons up the past in the best possible way. Everything about it is familiar and easy: tortillas layered with ground turkey, enchilada sauce, and seasonings, plus lots of cheese. We love it with ground beef, too.
Recipe: Turkey Enchilada Casserole