When we say our recipes work, it’s because they have been tested by real home cooks (40,000 and counting!) of all skill levels before they appear in our magazines, websites, or books or on our television shows. All are welcome! Learn more about the one-of-a-kind program and sign up to join below.
Join Our Community of Recipe Testers
Published Mar. 22, 2023.
How It Works
Every America's Test Kitchen recipe starts in our test kitchen. After weeks or months of research and recipe development—which means testing and tweaking a recipe dozens of times so that it checks all the boxes: delicious, easy to follow, and failproof—we pass it on to our volunteer at-home recipe testers for their feedback.
As a recipe tester, you will be emailed in-development recipes. Recipe testers will receive one recipe per month on average. You can choose what to test; you are not required to test any or every recipe (but we hope you’ll want to!). When you test a recipe, please take the survey that accompanies it to tell us what you think. We will ask you questions about ingredient substitutions, recipe clarity, yields, and timing. And you get to rate the recipe.
Occasionally, we’ll ask you to help us check ingredient availability at your local grocery store. We do this to ensure that the recipes we develop use ingredients that are widely available to all of our readers.
In order to be published, recipes have to achieve an 80% “make-again score.” That’s right! Four out of five cooks who prepare a dish have to tell us they want to make it again. If not, the recipe goes back into the test kitchen for further work.
Want to see this program in action? Check out this video from CBS' Sunday Morning.
How to Join
Complete the form below to become one of our recipe testers.
All fields are required.
You don't! We welcome anyone to become a home recipe tester.
No. You may hear from us several times a month. Please note, the recipes you’ll be testing are for future publications and may call for ingredients that are not in season. If you aren’t interested in a particular recipe or do not have access to the ingredients it calls for, or if it doesn’t meet your or your family’s dietary needs or preferences, feel free to skip it. You will still remain in our pool of testers for future recipes.
In addition to sneak peeks of in-development recipes and being a vital part of our mission to make our recipes failproof for home cooks, all volunteer recipe testers who complete our recipe tests and surveys receive a small gift as a token of our appreciation. Previous gifts have included coupons to be used for cookbooks, merch, or any other product in the ATK Shop.
We ask our testers to first make the recipe exactly as written and then fill out a brief survey. We are looking to learn if any of the instructions were confusing or unclear, whether you would make the recipe again, and if the results met your expectations. The survey takes no more than 5–10 minutes to complete. If you’re unable to make the recipe exactly as written (if you need to substitute ingredients or use different equipment), please note this as well as your result in the survey.
As our recipes are under development, we respectfully ask that you do not post the working recipe, pictures, or commentary on the recipe online or in any other media until the final recipe has been published.
We do. Our home recipe testers are the surrogates for our readers and TV viewers. If it doesn't pass muster with them, it doesn't get published.
Our testers have two weeks to complete both the recipe and the survey. If you don’t have time within the two weeks, feel free to skip the recipe. You will still remain in our pool of testers for future recipes.
It can take America's Test Kitchen's test cooks months to develop a single recipe, and our network of home cooks is a key step in that process.
We start the process of testing a recipe with a complete lack of preconceptions, which means that we accept no claim, no technique, and no recipe at face value. We simply assemble as many variations as possible, test a half dozen of the most promising, and taste the results. We then construct our own recipe and continue to test it, varying ingredients, techniques, and cooking times until we reach a consensus. After that, we pass it off to our recipe testers and wait for their feedback. Only after we get recipe approval from at least 80% of these home cooks do we consider a recipe done.
It costs us an average of $10,000 to develop a single recipe, which includes cooking up to 40 versions before finalizing the recipe.
We have wrapped up our Kids and Families Recipe Tester program and published nearly 200 recipes that are all kid tested and kid approved. Get all our content for kids here.
Thank you for your interest in America’s Test Kitchen and our one-of-a-kind recipe tester program! We hope you join our family of at-home testers. Let us know if you have any questions about the program.