Social media isn’t all gooey cheese and molten cookies. To be clear, there’s no shortage of either of those things on the NYT Cooking Instagram account (or on this list), but our most-viewed posts tell a fuller story about how our readers have been cooking this past year. The recipes they have loved range from achievable one-pot dinners to aspirational layer cakes, and, rarely but thrillingly, include some viral runaway hits.
1. World’s Best Chocolate Cake
Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
The crowd goes wild for this Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh number, which quickly comes together in one large bowl. Serve it as is or maybe with a light dusting of cocoa powder. Or dress it up with a layer of ganache for a full-glam moment.
Recipe: World’s Best Chocolate Cake
2. French Onion Grilled Cheese
A classic grilled cheese sandwich is already close to perfection. But for those seeking something slightly fancier, this version from Ali Slagle features rich caramelized onions, nutty Gruyère and plenty of butter for a crisp exterior.
Recipe: French Onion Grilled Cheese
3. Earl Grey Tea Cake With Dark Chocolate and Orange Zest
This cake from Samantha Seneviratne is a decidedly adult dessert. Loose-leaf Earl Grey tea lends the crumb and the frosting a delicate floral flavor, alongside bittersweet dark chocolate and bright orange zest.
Recipe: Earl Grey Tea Cake With Dark Chocolate and Orange Zest
4. Southern Caramel Cake
Watching Millie Peartree make a traditional Southern cake is like sitting front row at a magic show. Her batter comes together in minutes, and while the cake bakes, there’s just enough time to make the glossy, caramelized buttermilk icing.
Recipe: Southern Caramel Cake
5. Cheesy White Bean-Tomato Bake
Here is an endlessly adaptable vegetarian dinner from Ali Slagle, with only a few steps: Fry garlic and tomato paste in oil, add canned beans, cover with cheese and bake. Readers have added leafy greens, sautéed mushrooms, even browned Italian sausage. And what’s more charming than a dinner served straight out of a cast iron pan?
Recipe: Cheesy White Bean-Tomato Bake
6. Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake
An astonishing number of users share their renditions of this Yotam Ottolenghi cake every week on Instagram. Some forgo the icing and others swap the fresh blueberries for frozen, but each version is perfect in its own way.
Recipe: Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake
7. Extra-Creamy Scrambled Eggs
J. Kenji López-Alt has two secrets for making impossible-to-overcook scrambled eggs: a cornstarch slurry — a tip he picked up from Mandy Lee of the food blog Lady & Pups — and whisking cubes of butter in with the raw eggs. Even die-hard low-and-slow scramblers have been converted by this take on the classic breakfast recipe.
Recipe: Extra-Creamy Scrambled Eggs
8. Crispy Sour Cream and Onion Chicken
Ali Slagle has cracked the code on how to make an internet sensation out of boneless, skinless chicken breasts: Coat them in a simple onion taban and panko bread crumbs, then shallow fry them until golden brown.
Recipe: Crispy Sour Cream and Onion Chicken
9. Avocado Salad With Herbs and Capers
The rumors are true: Instagram loves avocados. But not just on toast. This simple, herbaceous salad from Melissa Clark uses ripe avocados for creaminess, capers for a briny punch and a jalapeño for some heat. The result is a crave-worthy salad that, yes, would be great with a piece of toast.
Recipe: Avocado Salad With Herbs and Capers
10. Vegan Caesar Salad With Crisp Chickpeas
The corner of social media that follows a plant-based diet adores this kale and Romaine Caesar salad with creamy cashew dressing and crunchy roasted chickpeas. And “nooch,” of course. Lots of “nooch.”
Recipe:Vegan Caesar Salad With Crisp Chickpeas
11. Thai-Inspired Chicken Meatball Soup
For this recipe from Ali Slagle, chicken meatballs are browned in a Dutch oven and set aside, and the soup comes together in the same pot in about 10 minutes. Talk about weeknight genius.
Recipe: Thai-Inspired Chicken Meatball Soup
12. Lamb Biryani
This Sindhi-style biryani from Tejal Rao is one of the most rewarding weekend projects on NYT Cooking. Layers of rich, braised lamb; perfumed rice; saffron-infused milk and fresh herbs make this as stunningly delicious as it is beautiful.
Recipe: Lamb Biryani
13. Bittersweet Brownie Shortbread
For indecisive people, these double-decker brownies from Melissa Clark are the answer to your dessert dithering. The flaky sea salt on top is not optional — that’s the rule on Instagram.
Recipe: Bittersweet Brownie Shortbread
14. Pierogi Ruskie (Potato and Cheese Pierogi)
A pillowy, potato-stuffed pierogi on the feed will snap you out of a doomscrolling trance every time. This recipe, adapted by Amelia Nierenberg from a dish found at Bar Prasowy in Warsaw, will bring you a brief moment of carb-forward calm.
Recipe: Pierogi Ruskie (Potato and Cheese Pierogi)
15. Creamy Chickpea Pasta With Spinach and Rosemary
This is peak pantry cooking, courtesy of Alexa Weibel. Canned garbanzos and dried pasta are the stars, upgraded with heavy cream and any leafy greens you have on hand.
Recipe: Creamy Chickpea Pasta With Spinach and Rosemary
16. Giant Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookies
It’s not an Instagram roundup without a chocolate chip cookie. These wrinkled cookies from Sarah Kieffer went viral years ago for the unique (and loud) pan-banging technique that creates those gorgeous ripples. And, yes, they really are giant — only four of them can fit on a half sheet pan.
Recipe: Giant Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookies
17. Greek Lemon Potatoes
They’re crispy, golden, roasted potatoes flecked with salt. What’s not to like? This recipe from Ali Slagle is a hit every time we share it.
Recipe: Greek Lemon Potatoes
18. Homemade Hamburger Helper
Who among us has not searched for comfort this year? Priya Krishna adapted this luxurious take on a weeknight classic from Mark Rosati, the culinary director of Shake Shack. Bacon and heavy cream push it to the brink, but the white wine and chives deftly cut through that richness.
Recipe: Homemade Hamburger Helper
19. Lemon Sweet Rolls With Cream Cheese Icing
This photo shows you exactly what you’re in for: a delicate, citrusy yeasted dough with cream cheese frosting on top. Imagine these, warm from the oven, greeting you in the morning. Yossy Arefi’s recipe can make that happen.
Recipe: Lemon Sweet Rolls With Cream Cheese Icing
20. One-Pan Crispy Spaghetti and Chicken
This simple and smart pasta dish from Yotam Ottolenghi has crisp bits around the edges, soft pasta in the middle and Parmesan-laced bread crumbs on top. The approach is unorthodox, perhaps, but delicious all the same.
Recipe: One-Pan Crispy Spaghetti and Chicken
21. Dolester Miles’s Coconut Pecan Cake
It shouldn’t have been a big year for layer cakes. What good does a party centerpiece serve in a lockdown? But the proof is right here: Readers gravitated toward the joy — and the thick layers of coconut frosting — in this image of a special-occasion cake.
Recipe: Dolester Miles’s Coconut Pecan Cake
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