America’s Test Kitchen’s Most Popular Recipes of 2021

This year, home cooks gravitated towards simple dishes with complex flavors.

Published Dec. 17, 2021.

Our year-end wrap-up is all about the recipes that you enjoyed the most. We compiled the list, but you made the decisions. 

Out of the thousands of recipes on this site, here are the 10 that received the most visits. Join us as we look back on the most popular recipes of 2021. (Not a web member? Start a free trial and gain access to all of these recipes, plus thousands more.)

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1. Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs

Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs

More flavorful and less prone to overcooking than lean breasts, chicken thighs are a perfect weeknight dinner. We cooked the thighs skin-side down on a preheated baking sheet until the skin was browned and rendered. We then flipped the thighs over and put them under the broiler briefly to crisp the skin. The result was chicken thighs with succulent and juicy meat under a sheer layer of crackly crisp, deeply browned skin.

Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs

Britain’s triple-decker combo of buttery cookie, sweet caramel, and dark chocolate makes a perfect holiday gift. But only if every layer is flawless.
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2. Millionaire's Shortbread

Millionaire’s shortbread has a lot going for it: a crunchy shortbread base; a chewy, caramel-like filling; and a shiny, snappy chocolate top. This recipe is a classic, and continues to be a favorite year after year.

Make a quick shortbread with melted butter rather than pulling out the mixer or food processor. Sweetened condensed milk is important to the flavor of the filling, heated both during processing and during the cooking of the filling for a structurally sound center. Melting the chocolate very carefully ensures it never gets too hot and stirring in grated chocolate at the end creates a smooth, firm top layer, which makes a suitably elegant finish for this rich yet refined cookie.

Millionaire's Shortbread

Britain’s triple-decker combo of buttery cookie, sweet caramel, and dark chocolate makes a perfect holiday gift. But only if every layer is flawless.
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3. Cast Iron Pan Pizza

People love this pizza.

Start with a simple stir-together dough. Instead of kneading, let it rest overnight in the refrigerator. During this rest, the dough's gluten strengthens enough for the crust to support the toppings but still have a tender crumb. For the crispy cheese edge known as frico, we pressed shredded Monterey Jack cheese around the edge of the dough and up the sides of the skillet. Baking the pie in a generously oiled cast-iron skillet “fried” the outside of the crust.

We also moved the skillet to the stove for the last few minutes of cooking to crisp up the underside of the crust. Hand-crushing canned whole tomatoes (which are less processed and therefore fresher-tasting than commercial crushed tomatoes) drains some of the juice so the sauce is thick enough to stay put on the pie. It’s then pureed in the food processor with classic seasonings—no cooking required.

Cast Iron Pan Pizza

Allow us to reacquaint you with your favorite pie: thick, plush, crisp, and extra-cheesy. And novice bakers, take note: There's no rolling, stretching, or baking stone required.
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4. Apple Crumble

Making an apple crumble that tastes primarily of apples starts with plenty of fruit. We tossed 4 pounds of apples with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to enhance their bright flavor. Adding just 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to the filling kept the apples from tasting too sweet.

We baked the apples in a covered pan before applying the topping, which allowed them to collapse into a thick layer of filling. Adding nuts to the streusel loosened its consistency so that it didn't bake up dense, and a couple of teaspoons of water hydrated the flour so that the mixture clumped nicely. Applying the topping midway through baking minimized its exposure to the juicy fruit, preventing it from becoming soggy.

Apple Crumble

A rustic dessert such as crumble should show off the fruit's tangy freshness—not bury it in sugar. We rebuilt this classic from the bottom up so that it does right by the apples.
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5. French Silk Chocolate Pie

French Silk Chocolate Pie

We developed a modern, cooked-egg version of Betty Cooper’s 1951 recipe with ramped-up chocolate flavor. Only real eggs would do, but rather than incorporate them raw, we cooked them with sugar on the stovetop, almost like making a custard. Once the egg and sugar mixture was light and thick, we removed it from the heat and continued whipping it until it was fully cooked.

The silky satin texture was achieved with one stick of softened butter. Bittersweet chocolate folded into the cooled egg and sugar mixture boosted the chocolate flavor better than other varieties we tested. Whipped cream folded into the filling made the final result light and silky, but rich, thick, and chocolaty.

French Silk Chocolate Pie

Once an award-winning recipe, this no-bake chocolate pie has an incredible light and fluffy texture-but we wanted to amplify the chocolate flavor.
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6. Murgh Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

Lots of onion, garlic, ginger, and chile sauteed in butter followed by aromatic spices such as garam masala, coriander, cumin, and black pepper are the backbone of this dish.

A hefty portion of tomato paste and water lends the sauce bright acidity, punch, and deep color without making it too liquid-y. Add a full cup of cream for body, and finish it by whisking in a couple more tablespoons of solid butter for extra richness.

To imitate the deep charring produced by a tandoor oven, we broiled chicken thighs coated in yogurt (its milk proteins and lactose brown quickly and deeply) before cutting them into chunks and stirring them into the sauce. Butter chicken (murgh makhani) should taste rich and creamy but also vibrant and complex.

Murgh Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

Of course it should be rich and creamy. But for a version of this restaurant classic that’s vibrant and complex, there’s more to consider than the namesake ingredient.  
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7. Best Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes with an evenly fluffy interior have an ideal doneness temperature: 205 degrees. Season the skin by coating the potatoes in salty water before baking, then crisp the skin by painting it with vegetable oil once the potatoes are cooked through. Note: attend to these spuds right out of the oven rather than resting them, but once you see that crispy skin you’ll want to eat them right away.

Best Baked Potatoes

We wanted a uniformly fluffy interior encased in thin, crisp skin—and we baked nearly 200 pounds of potatoes to get it.
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8. Chile Verde con Cerdo (Green Chili with Pork)

Chile Verde Con Cerdo (Green Chili with Pork)

We’ll show you the steps to make a meaty, vibrant chile verde by salting, braising, and browning the pork, ensuring that the meat cooks up well-seasoned and juicy without drying out its surface. Broiling the tomatillos, poblanos, jalapeño, and garlic concentrates their flavors and imbues them with a touch of smokiness.

Seasoning the chili with warm spices and sugar softens its acidity and heat. Omitting broth and/or water minimizes the amount of liquid in the pot, so that the salsa—the only source of liquid—reduces to a tight, flavorful sauce.

Chile Verde con Cerdo (Green Chili with Pork)

Our new-school approach to making stew brings every element of this tangy, fragrant, meaty Mexican classic to its full potential.
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9. Chicken Under a Brick with Herb-Roasted Potatoes

Produce a perfectly cooked butterflied chicken with crisp skin that could be on the table—with some roasted potatoes—in less than an hour. Finishing the chicken in the skillet in a very hot oven made it easy to include a flavorful marinade. For the potatoes, we simply threw them into the pan underneath the chicken before it went into the oven.

Chicken Under a Brick with Herb-Roasted Potatoes

In Tuscany, whole chicken is often spatchcocked (that is, the backbone is removed and the bird is opened and flattened) and then grilled al mattone , or “under a brick.” The term refers to the beautifully made terra-cotta tiles from Imprunta, a town near Florence, that were originally used for this technique.
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10. Shrimp Scampi

Delicious shrimp scampi can be achieved without sauteing, if you can believe it. Instead, they’re poached in wine for even cooking. We then imparted more shrimp flavor by making a 5-minute stock from the shrimp shells. And for potent garlic flavor, we use a generous amount of sliced garlic—too much minced garlic made the sauce grainy. Finally, to keep the sauce silky and emulsified, we added a teaspoon of cornstarch. Emulsifying with cornstarch means that we can use a little less butter, so the sauce isn’t overly rich.

Shrimp Scampi

By using a few Test Kitchen tricks (like poaching our shrimp in wine), we created a restaurant-quality scampi with perfectly cooked seafood and a garlicky sauce.
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