Greatest Hits

The 10 Most Popular Big Little Recipes of 2020

December 29, 2020
Photo by TY MECHAM

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer—not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. This week, we’re sharing this year’s greatest hits.

While I imagine there is very little, if anything, that any of us would like to repeat from 2020, I hope that you also found some recipes to carry into January and beyond. I’m biased, I admit, but this year made me appreciate minimalist cooking and baking more than ever before—those dishes whose ingredient lists ask very, very little of us and never apologize for their simplicity. These are the most popular Big Little Recipes from 2020. Let’s take them with us toward a brand-new year.

10. Olive-Brined Chicken With Garlicky Croutons & Parsley

Don’t pour olive brine—juice, whatever you call it—down the drain. This bonus ingredient is a ready-to-rumble spa where chicken thighs can kick back and consider the meaning of life, only to hop into a sizzling skillet and turn into the happiest dinner you’ve had all week.

9. 3-Ingredient Pancakes

Sugar, milk, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, even all-purpose flour? We don’t need any of that. These three-ingredient pancakes come together like that with just a banana, a couple of eggs, and a scoop of almond flour.

8. Peach Salad With Anchovy Vinaigrette

Sure it’s winter, but you don’t have to wait until summer for this savory fruit salad. Just swap in some juicy citrus segments, say oranges or grapefruit. Even apples, even pears. But don’t you dare mess with the anchovy-hyped vinaigrette.

7. Sweet Potato Yogurt

I’m surprised and touched that you loved this two-ingredient sweet potato yogurt as much as I do. From afar, it looks like baby food, and maybe it could be! Either way, top it with granola, swirl it under sautéed cauliflower, smear it on an avocado sandwich, and don’t stop there.

6. Cream Cheese Omelet With Everything Seasoning

What if a bagel was an omelet? What if an omelet was a bagel? These are the sort of thoughtful questions my husband is used to me hollering out from the shower. And the answer is this: a gooey, creamy-cheesy omelet generously freckled with seedy everything seasoning. Serve with a bagel if you’re wild.

5. Spicy Noodles With Peanut Butter & Kimchi

Blitz together peanut butter and kimchi—two hardworking staples that are never not in my fridge—and you get a spicy, tangy, creamy sauce to slick whatever noodle is nearby. For the colder months, I have a hunch this would slap spooned over roasted broccoli too.

4. Grandma’s Mushroom Puffs

This one goes out to you, Grandma! With a shattering pastry shell and mushroom-soupy belly, these puffs are always number-one in my heart. In the Before Times, they were a staple at holidays and parties, but don’t let that stop you from making a batch all for yourself.

3. Brown Sugar–Brined Pork Chops With Hot & Sour Peppers

Who wouldn’t love to be rubbed down with brown sugar? These savory-sweet, extra-juicy, pan-seared pork chops can attest to the results. Sauteed peppers, teamed up with vinegary pepperoncini, turn it into a meal.

2. Salted Almond Butter Cookies

Sure, I could talk about how these cookies need only three ingredients, how their edges are crackly, how their middles are fudgy. But what I really want to talk about is how you can freeze the dough blobs or the baked cookies for a sweet treat on the fly.

1. Sumac Chicken With Yogurty Cucumber Salad

Winner winner chicken dinner! Some yogurt is a marinade, more yogurt is a salad dressing. Some onions are sauteed, more onions are simply slivered. Make the most of what you have indeed.

Big Little FYI!

I’ll see you in 2021, but not as soon as you might think: We’re taking a brief intermission from the column to dust off and polish up—and come back bigger and littler and better than ever. Talk soon!

What was your favorite Big Little Recipe of 2020? Did it make the list?
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sara
  • Linda Miner
    Linda Miner
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
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.


Sara May 26, 2021
I absolutely adore the chocolate granita! The technique to make it is so fun. The recipe is refreshing, manages to be rich yet light, and the opportunities for delicious toppings are endless. A forever favorite!
Linda M. December 29, 2020
Thank you, thank you for the Salted Almond Butter Cookies! I love that the recipe doesn't make a lot (just enough for two people over a few days). The first time I made them, my husband gave them his ultimate (for him) approval -- "You can make these any time." That little hit of salt - perfection! Thanks again.
Emma L. December 30, 2020
Thanks Linda—so happy you and your husband enjoyed the cookies!