At The Takeout, our motto is “Food is Delicious.” We want you to wring maximum enjoyment out of every meal, whether it’s purchased at a drive-thru or painstakingly created in your own kitchen. This year, everyone spent a whole lot more time thinking about what they eat, and for good reason: supply chain issues, grocery shortages, and shuttered restaurants gave us newfound appreciation for the food on our plates. In this most atypical year, we aimed to provide the types of recipes that meet every home cook where they are. No matter the level of skill, income, or commitment, there’s something in our recipe box for everyone. Here are the top 15 recipes readers loved best in 2020.
15. Rice Pudding Cheesecake Pie
This recipe began, as all great culinary feats do, with an entry in a vintage community cookbook found in a Rhode Island thrift shop. It’s a spin on classic “rice custard pie,” but mashed up with three more old-school diner staples: rice pudding, NYC-style cheesecake, and coffee cake. The result is Rice Pudding Cheesecake Pie, a delicious beast of a dessert that pleases a crowd and pairs well with a cup of black coffee. Here’s the recipe.
14. Wacky Cake
It’s no wonder that Wacky Cake was one of our most beloved recipes of 2020: it’s a baking project you can do with the whole family. This kid-friendly process requires no specialized tools and uses few dishes for easy cleanup. It’s also a great cake for satisfying chocolate cravings when you’ve got very few ingredients on hand: it’s an egg-free, dairy-free treat that still comes out of the oven tasting rich and moist. Plus, decorations are optional! Here’s the recipe.
13. Fettuccine Alfredo
You probably already know what makes fettuccine Alfredo a great pasta dish: the presence of cream, butter, and cheese. This unique spin on Alfredo ramps up the garlic and intentionally uses the cheapest supermarket noodles to create a champion of continental Italian-American dining. It’s not elegant, but it’s exactly what you want to eat for dinner tonight. Here’s the recipe.
12. Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine
This recipe for Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine was developed with the thrifty home chef in mind—and maybe even the unwilling home chef. It’s easy and cheap, using simple ingredients that keep for a long time. In fact, green cabbage is the best “quarantine produce” there is, given its versatility and long shelf life. Put some sliced-up cabbage over medium-low heat with a stick of butter, add cheese and pasta, and we guarantee you’ll never want to eat anything else. Here’s the recipe.
11. Zucchini Casserole
Lancaster County in Pennsylvania features several all-you-can-eat smorgasbords. This Zucchini Casserole recipe is a recreation of one of the best dishes in the region, found at the Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant—and Takeout readers have made it clear that they are 100% here for its cheesy, buttery flavors. Vegetables have never been given such a tasty spotlight. Get the recipe here.
This was another “quarantine cooking” hit, because we can all relate to the situation of having way too many potatoes on hand and too little time to use them all up. Tartiflette is a French gratin traditionally made with potatoes, bacon, onion, and semi-soft Reblochon cheese. Our version takes a few liberties, swapping in some ingredients that are easier to find in an American supermarket. Gruyere and Fontina cheese, plus a little Sriracha, make this an unorthodox but otherwise perfect dinner. Get the recipe here.
9. Instant Pot Vegetable Sambar
There’s no question that the Instant Pot can make cooking easier. But in some cases, the all-in-one appliance can also connect reluctant cooks to the cuisines they grew up with. Akhila Kolisetty writes, “When I visited my parents, I’d jot down notes as Mom cooked. Later, I’d try making those dishes using the Instant Pot... For the first time, I wasn’t shying away from the challenge of Indian cooking; I was meeting it head-on.” Case in point: Vegetable Sambar, adapted from multiple cookbooks to become a manageable weeknight meal made entirely in the Instant Pot. Get the recipe here.
8. Bee Sting Cake
Just take one look at this Bee Sting Cake, and it’s clear why it was one of our most popular recipes this year. This stunning and not-too-sweet dessert is surprisingly simple to make, consisting of a yeast dough enriched with butter and eggs like brioche. The cake is baked with a topping of almonds tossed in honey and butter, then split in two and filled with vanilla bean custard—in other words, it’s not an ultra-decadent dessert, which makes it a perfectly respectable breakfast, too. Get the recipe here.
7. French Toast Grilled Cheese
This is admittedly more of a life hack than a recipe—but our readers connected deeply with this cozy comfort food. French Toast Grilled Cheese takes a classic breakfast staple and combines it with the magic of Kraft Singles for a gooey, nostalgic treat. Do yourself a favor and serve it the most adolescent way imaginable: sliced into four tiny triangles. Get the recipe here.
6. Spatchcocked Hawaiian Grilled Chicken
Ever tried brining a whole chicken in coconut milk? It’s a Hawaiian method that takes grilled meat to an entirely new level, and our Spatchcocked Hawaiian Grilled Chicken is the perfect inspiration for anyone in a barbecue rut. If you’re intimidated by the prospect of spatchcocking the bird, you can always just use this brine recipe on chicken parts as well (try the thighs!). No matter how you use it, this simple mixture results in a juicy, flavorful meal every time. Here’s the recipe.
5. City Chicken Nuggets
Let’s get one thing out of the way: “City Chicken” is actually fried pork, and these City Chicken Nuggets are tender little air-fried pork nuggets crusted in Ritz cracker crumbs. Do we have your attention yet? Find out why this was The Takeout’s fifth most popular recipe of the year, and be sure to try these decadent morsels for yourself. Here’s the recipe.
4. Portuguese Egg Tarts
We feature many simple and straightforward recipes on The Takeout, but sometimes it’s clear that readers are looking for a project: a recipe to while away a gloomy weekend, or a showstopper recipe to wow friends and family. When that’s what you want, look no further than Portuguese Egg Tarts, a.k.a. pastel de nata. Even if you’re not a baker, do yourself a favor and attempt to make these tarts. If they’re a disaster the first time around, you’ll just want to eat the failures and try your hand at them again. And again. And again. Get the recipe here.
3. Air Fryer Bomboloni Doughnuts
Readers flocked to our air fryer recipes this year, and it’s clear why: this handy little kitchen appliance produces crispy, golden results in a fraction of the time, minus the risk of scalding yourself with hot oil. A perfect example of air fryer convenience are these Bomboloni Doughnuts, puffy little yeast-risen doughnut holes coated in a thin cinnamon-sugar crust. Pair with Nutella, preserves, lemon curd, you name it—just make sure to eat them while they’re still warm, for maximum comfort and indulgence. Get the recipe here.
2. Ramen Noodle Salad
Who knew that one of The Takeout’s most beloved recipes would be for... a salad? Then again, when it comes to eating your greens, Ramen Noodle Salad is a world apart. This tangy, retro concoction can function as a side or a main, and it’s beyond easy to whip up for a crowd. You’ve never had a salad that leaves you feeling this satisfied. Get the recipe here.
1. Grilled Watermelon Burgers
As watermelon sits directly over an open flame, the most miraculous things happen to its flavor and texture—indescribable things. And that is why these Grilled Watermelon Burgers with Goat Cheese and Charred Orange-Fennel Gremolata were The Takeout’s most beloved recipe of the year. Readers were confounded by our decision to call a slab of grilled fruit a “burger,” but we stand by it, and apologize for nothing. “I fully expect this recipe to be met with skepticism,” writes Allison Robicelli. “I want you to eat this because I want to eat this, and once you try it, you’ll want to tell everyone you know to make it too.” Hear, hear. Get the recipe here.