We started this rolling list of our most popular recipes of the year in February. Then, just a month later, we were in quarantine. The pandemic changed just about everything about daily life, but one small thing stayed the same: our need to cook. Whether for nourishment or pleasure (nothing takes your mind off things like tending to a sourdough loaf), we've cooked more in the past few months than ever.
The tried-and-true classics have made many appearances (I for one have made this pasta puttanesca at least 12 times), but some of our favorites have been new kids on the block—fresh recipes added to our site just this year.
So we're counting down our most popular recipes (meaning the ones you clicked on, saved, and liked the most) of 2020 so far, breaking down the top-five dishes from each month. From a crispy-cheesy pan pizza that took over Instagram to the fudgiest flourless chocolate cake ever, here they are:
Taking our number-one spot in January is this Genius pad Thai from Kris Yenbamroong, chef and owner of Night + Market in Los Angeles. Its popularity might have something to do with the cook time, which is three minutes (seriously). Oh, and all those bright, punchy flavors, too.
This groovy chocolate cake was found in a cookbook from the '70s and passed down through one family ever since. Perfect for special occasions (or no occasion at all!), this recipe's got everything you're looking for in a dessert: rich, tender cake and a very luscious frosting made with a hint of rum extract.
3. Baked Ziti
Say hello to the most extra baked ziti you will probably ever meet. Starring bacon, sausage, crème fraîche, and three types of cheese, this beauty is well worth the effort of making your own tomato sauce from scratch and the pasta's methodical layering process.
Don't let the bright-green hue of this Big Little pasta with broccoli-cheddar sauce put you off. One reviewer wrote, "The greenness of the sauce made it one of the more alarming-looking things I've ever put on a plate, but also one of the most purely, vegetally delicious... A sublime weeknight dinner."
The addition of one ingredient (psst: it's almond flour) solves one of the biggest problems most minimalist pancakes run into (mushiness). Thanks to the little bit of structure and nutty flavor from said secret ingredient, these super-easy pancakes are fluffy, crispy-edged, and don't taste too much like straight-up banana.
Adapted from Toni Tipton-Martin's James Beard Award-winning cookbook, Jubilee, this supremely flavorful, super-speedy Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp landed the number-one spot in February.
A chocolate sheet cake so darn good, it made the top of the list February, too.
There are a zillion ways to use this Genius, jammy sauce that go beyond pasta—from slathering it on grilled bread topped with a fried egg (hello, not-sad lunch) to using it as a base for an umami-packed pizza (more anchovies, please).
A behemoth-size casserole of cozy meats and vegetables, topped with thick swooshes of mashed potatoes? It's pretty much impossible to say no to this hearty shepherd's pie, especially during the freezing-cold first months of the year.
We dream about eating this unreasonably fudgy, wonderfully dense, totally flawless flourless chocolate cake all the time. Luckily, it comes together with help from the Instant Pot, so it's actually fairly easy to pull off.
Even beginners can pull off Samin Nosrat's crispy-golden Persian-ish Rice, a take on traditional tahdig (which can take years to master and hours to make).
We weren't surprised to see this supremely comforting (and leftovers-friendly) dish pop up again in March, when quarantine first began.
This caramelized black pepper chicken from Charles Phan of the Slanted Door Restaurant is heavenly over a bed of fluffy white rice, the ideal vehicle for soaking up that sticky, aromatic sauce.
It's the cult New York Times dish Associate Editor Coral Lee makes for herself (and will make for friends, when she's finally able to) over and over again. Think: low-and-slow, super-tender pork shoulder drizzled with a zingy ginger-scallion sauce.
Consider this käsespätzle like the Austrian relative to macaroni and cheese, with noodle-like spätzle, Gruyere, caramelized onions, and a crispy shallots topping.
Known around these parts as "The Pizza," this crispy-cheesy number quickly took off and became our most popular recipe of the month (and one of our most popular of the year). The only snag we ran into when trying to make it at home: finding yeast.
This banana bread twist from Samantha Seneviratne takes the classic recipe and scone-ifies it. The result: "all the comforts of banana bread, with more crunchy-sweet edges and fluffy, chocolate-spiked middles."
It was love at first sight with this easy stir-and-bake vanilla cake (you just need two bowls!) dolloped with butterscotch whipped cream and a sweet-tart strawberry compote.
When the words "extra-crisp" and "chicken" are in the same sentence, you can pretty much guarantee we're in. Bonus: It calls for just four ingredients—not including salt and pepper (which you probably already have).
"The citrusy bittersweet character of the Campari goes really well with the fragrant olive oil," says Melissa Clark of this unassuming-looking cake that proves it's what's on the inside that counts.
Another plus of this all-star pizza? Baking it in a cast-iron pan makes the crust audibly crunchy.
More banana bread for the win.
3. Tuna Salad
Keep this superlative tuna salad in your lunch rotation all summer long—put in sandwiches, scoop it over top salads, or eat it straight out of the bowl (it's that good).
This Big Little Recipes wonder is all about the marinade: a combo of creamy Greek yogurt, salt, and sumac that renders chicken breast as juicy and flavorful as can be.
There's more than one trick to this weeknight-friendly dinner, but our favorite is "sizzling chickpeas in the spiced, golden fat left in the skillet until they’re ultra-crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside."
Making dried beans is a time-consuming affair no matter what you do, but this Genius technique from Rachel Roddy makes them creamier than all the rest (and requires zero babysitting).
Carla Hall's flaky buttermilk biscuits have several Genius tricks up their sleeve that makes it so anyone can pull them off on the first try.
The dish Zuni Café sous chef, Christian Reynoso, misses most from work: spicy, seeded bread crumbs toasted in olive oil, then popped under the broiler with a cracked egg on top. Trust him when he says, "No need for toast here."
These two-ingredient skillet scallions from the late Southern cooking champion Edna Lewis need no seasoning whatsoever—nope, not even a dash of salt.
If you've got cocoa, sugar, and salt sitting in your cabinets, then you've got everything you need for dessert tonight (and the weeks to come).