Recipe Off-Roading

We Need Your Help Testing Our Most Popular Recipes

April 25, 2019
Photo by Ren Fuller

Welcome to Recipe Off-Roading, where the recipe isn’t in charge—you are. In this series of articles, we’re celebrating how cooks take liberties in the kitchen, whether that’s substituting an ingredient, adapting a technique, or doubling the salt (because you’re wild like that). So buckle up and let’s go for a ride.

We have almost 50,000 recipes on Food52, which is probably why you’re here. Maybe you’re looking for your new favorite dinner (for me, it’s quinoa quiche). Or maybe you’re pulling up that spaghetti you’ve made 17 times. Either way, I have a favor to ask:

Instead of following one of our recipes, I want you to mess with it. And by mess with, I mean just that: Swap out all-purpose flour and use a gluten-free blend instead. Add a pinch of paprika just because. Convert the dish from fried to baked.

Because isn’t this what most of us do anyway?

If we haven’t met—hi, I’m Emma, and I’m a recipe developer at Food52. Which might make you think that I follow recipes to a T. But I don’t.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“It depends on the dish, but yes, I often change around recipes to make them my own. Glad to be of service for your new series, if I can.”
— Jackie D.

Every time I cook or bake something (even my own recipes!), I end up changing this or that. Maybe I forgot to buy sour cream so I use Greek yogurt instead. Or I wish the dish I'm making was a little more acidic so I bump up the lemon juice. Or I don’t have four hours to marinate steak so I say, “Heck with it!” and find out, yep, it’s fine with 30 minutes instead.

Cooks take liberties in the kitchen all the time, for all sorts of reasons. The big one is convenience. A just-as-important other is creativity. By messing with a recipe, you make it your own.

That’s why I need your help. For our new series, Recipe Off-Roading, I’m looking for home cooks (like you!) to make one of our most popular recipes, but take it “off-road” in the process. The only requirement is that you change it somehow—and the more changes, the better. Then, snap a photo of the results, and report your findings back to me. That’s it!

I’ll compile all these testing notes into articles, and we’ll all get a bunch of shiny-new updates to some of our favorite recipes. If you’re interested in participating, just head to this form (it’s only one question!). I can’t wait to hear from you.

Recipes, Get Ready to Be Off-Roaded

Please share this form with your favorite recipe off-roaders!
P.S. We're closing the sign-up on Saturday, 4/27 at noon EST.
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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Angie
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    Linda Donohue
  • carol.chavi
  • requenez.l
  • Goroshek
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Angie May 4, 2023
I would love to be a home test cook if you use them. I was an active tester for a site that has currently stopped using home testers.
Linda D. August 22, 2022
I love the idea of this challenge! Would love to participate if you bring it back!
carol.chavi January 31, 2022
I would absolutely love to help out with this! If it ever happens again I would love to participate :)
requenez.l December 26, 2021
I would love to apply if this opens up again!
Goroshek June 26, 2021
So sad that im also late to this party, but i would also love to participate in something like this in the future!
Dhivya May 12, 2021
I just came across this, I am a recipe developer and would love to do this next time!
LaurenRoseSmith September 1, 2020
I would love to participate in this next time/for a different project! I love and am familiar with your recipes and platform.
Brian G. August 9, 2020
I'd love to try this next time!!
kcrep April 6, 2020
I'd love to participate next time around!
Jocelyn Z. July 15, 2019
Darn just came across this, would love to participate next time around :)
Stephanie B. June 18, 2019
Wish I had gotten in on this.
Heather T. May 12, 2019
Bummer! Missed it. Following.
Christine April 30, 2019
Sorry I missed it!
Katie B. April 30, 2019
please please do this again! So sad I missed it!
Eva April 27, 2019
Sad! Only just saw the post on Instagram, 5.5 hours late. Oh well.
Mark April 27, 2019
Would like to participate next time around!
Carrie B. April 27, 2019
Oh no! I’m late to the party but would love to see this come up again. 😊 Such a great idea! ❤️
TWoo April 27, 2019
Will you do this again with other recipes? This sounds like so much fun, but my schedules don't always coincide with the deadlines! :-( Would love to participate in these!
mrslarkin April 26, 2019
What a fun idea, Emma! I did this with Marcella’s sauce a while ago.
Chris April 26, 2019
ha! i'm even worse because i read recipes like most folks read the newspaper, especially when i'm trying a dish i've never made or don't make that often. as such, i may pull up as many as a dozen recipes and borrow bits and pieces from each to come up with a version of the dish that i think will tickle my taste buds.

so, i might just find a few recipes to try and see what happens!
Smaug April 26, 2019
I find various ways to use recipes- checking multiple recipes is certainly the way to go if you're learning a dish with some history. Sometimes a recipe won't appeal but there will be an idea that I like (like all the arts, virtually everything in cooking is stolen from somewhere else). I would put such nonsense as cauliflower "pizza" in this category. Sometimes something will simply arouse my curiosity and I'll try it to see how it works. Sometimes a new dish will simply look like it's worth trying. In the latter two cases I try to stick to the recipe as closely as possible the first time through, although I tend to waffle when things like excess salt or fat are included- I do, after all plan to eat this stuff.