Recipe Spotlight

The Most Popular America's Test Kitchen Recipes of 2019

Did your favorite make the cut?

Published Dec. 30, 2019.

In 2019, our test cooks developed lots of recipes, our viewers watched the cast make lots of recipes, and perhaps most importantly, our members made lots of recipes. The top six most-viewed recipes are rounded out by a go-to steak recipe, the most perfect biscuits you'll ever eat, a pair of delectable potato dishes, and two beloved desserts.

It was a wonderful year in the test kitchen, and it seems like it was a good year in your kitchen, too. Get inspired for 2020 by finding out what our top six recipes are, and then check out the rest of top 25 in this collection.

25 Most Popular Recipes of 2019

Curious what other recipes our members viewed in 2019? Check out the rest in our Top 25 collection.  
Get Cooking

1. Cast Iron Steaks with Herb Butter

To pan-sear a thick-cut steak, we turned to a cast-iron skillet since its heat-retention properties are ideal for a perfect sear. We chose the moderately expensive boneless strip steak for its big, beefy flavor. But when we tried preheating the skillet on the stovetop, cast iron’s uneven heat distribution properties created an equally uneven sear on our steaks. As a result, we ended up preheating the skillet in the oven. To get a perfectly even sear, we used quite a large amount (2 tablespoons) of oil, since this meant that the steaks’ surfaces remained in contact with the heat even as the steaks unevenly contracted during cooking. We started out flipping our steaks only once, halfway through cooking. But we found that flipping the steaks more often led to a shorter cooking time and a smaller gray band of dry, overcooked meat just under the surface of the steaks. After testing different flipping techniques and heating levels, we found that flipping the steaks every 2 minutes and transitioning from medium-high to medium-low heat partway through cooking resulted in a perfectly browned, crisp crust and a juicy, evenly cooked interior every time. [GET THE RECIPE]

2. Ultimate Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

For the ultimate flaky biscuits, we grate the butter so that it’s evenly distributed in the flour mixture, which is key for flakiness. Freezing the butter prior to grating ensures that it stays in individual pieces throughout the mixing and shaping process. Using a higher-protein all-purpose flour (such as King Arthur) provides the right amount of structure for flakiness (rather than fluffiness, which you’d get with a lower-protein flour) without toughness, while buttermilk gives the biscuits tang and sugar lends complexity. To produce the maximum number of layers, we roll out and fold the dough like a letter five times. Cutting the biscuits into squares is easy and avoids any wasted scraps (or tough rerolls). And finally, we learned that letting the dough rest for 30 minutes and trimming away the edges ensures that the biscuits rise up tall and true in the oven. [GET THE RECIPE]

3. Thick-Cut Oven Fries

When traditional French fries are fried, water is rapidly driven out of the starch cells at the surface of the potato, leaving behind tiny cavities. It’s these cavities that create a delicate, crispy crust. Since oven fries don’t heat fast enough for air pockets to form, we instead coat the potatoes in a cornstarch slurry that crisps up like a deep-fried fry would. We arranged the coated planks on a rimmed baking sheet that we coated with both vegetable oil spray and vegetable oil; the former contains a surfactant called lecithin, which prevents the oil from pooling and, in turn, prevents the potatoes from sticking. Using the oil spray also allowed us to use only 3 tablespoons of oil, just enough to evenly coat the fries. Covering the baking sheet with aluminum foil for the first half of cooking ensures that the potatoes are fully tender by the time they are browned. [GET THE RECIPE]

4. Duchess Potato Casserole

Pommes duchesse is a classic French preparation of piped individual mounds of egg-enriched mashed potatoes. They can be made in advance, they look festive, and they taste great with a variety of entrées; however, they are rather fussy to prepare. To make this dish easier to pull off, we skipped the piping and baked the mashed potatoes in a baking dish. Our mashed potatoes, made from buttery Yukon Golds, are enhanced with butter, egg yolks, half-and-half, and nutmeg. To give the casserole a crisp, golden brown, attractive finish, we coated the top with a mixture of butter and egg whites and then scored the surface with a paring knife before baking. [GET THE RECIPE]

5. Best Lemon Bars

For lemon bars with sweet-tart flavor and a crisp, well-browned crust, we started at the bottom. Our pat-in-the-pan crust is made with melted—not cold—butter and can therefore be stirred together instead of requiring a food processor. For a truly crisp texture, we used granulated sugar instead of the usual confectioners’ sugar and baked the crust until it was dark golden brown to ensure that it retained its crispness even after we topped it with the lemon filling.

We cooked our lemon filling on the stove to shorten the oven time and keep it from curdling or browning at the edges when it baked. The combination of lemon juice and lemon zest provides complex flavor, and a couple teaspoons of cream of tartar (tartaric acid) give it a bright, lingering finish. [GET THE RECIPE]

6. Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Our perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe had to produce a cookie that would be moist and chewy on the inside and crisp at the edges, with deep notes of toffee and butterscotch to balance its sweetness. Melting the butter gave us the chewiness we were looking for. Cutting back on the flour and eliminating an egg white also improved texture and brought the brown sugar flavor to the fore. To give our chooalte chip cookie recipe the crisp edges and toffee flavor we wanted, we let the sugar dissolve in the batter for 10 minutes, then baked the cookies at a high temperature so the edges darkened while the centers stayed soft. [GET THE RECIPE]

Want to see the rest of our top 25? Check out our Most Popular America's Test Kitchen Recipes of 2019 collection. And view these recipe collections to see which recipes were popular in the months of 2019.

This is a members' feature.