The Best Recipe

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Boston Common Press
  • Founded in 1980, Cook's Illustrated (formerly Cook's Magazine) has emerged as "America's Test Kitchen," renowned for its near-obsessive dedication to finding the best methods of American home cooking. Over the years, we've tested 80 recipes for chocolate chip cookies, more than 70 recipes for gumbo, 40 versions of the peanut butter cookie, and more than 20 versions of such simple recipes as coleslaw, roast chicken, and hash brown potatoes. The Best Recipe is a collection of the editors' picks from the pages of Cook's Illustrated. The recipes have been edited, organized, and annotated with in-depth descriptions of how we developed the "best" recipe. And they appear alongside dozens of equipment ratings and taste tests of supermarket foods, as well as more than 200 illustrations demonstrating the most efficient food preparation methods. In The Best Recipe, we invite you into our test kitchen, where you will stand at our elbow as we try to develop the best macaroni and cheese or the best split pea soup. You'll discover how to make a foolproof yellow cake, a perfectly cooked prime rib roast, and homemade bread in under two hours. You'll find out how to solve the problem of watery coleslaw, overcooked turkey breast, acidic salad dressing, dull tomato sauce, sticky white rice, dry turkey burgers, tough scrambled eggs, and sunken birthday cakes. You will also find the secret to bakery-style high-rise muffins and the way to make that restaurant favorite, warm, fallen chocolate cake, at home, with only a few minutes of preparation. The Best Recipe also gives you useful tips on purchasing cookware (based on extensive test kitchen evaluations), including pie plates, food processors, standing mixers, chef's knives, skillets, vegetable peelers, and Dutch ovens. We also explain the science of cooking (how to cream butter and why, how baking powder works, the difference between semisweet and bittersweet chocolate) and offer tips on purchasing canned chicken stock, canned tomatoes, flour, butter, and dried pasta. The editors of Cook's Illustrated have performed thousands of hours of kitchen testing to bring you a cookbook that not only provides the best recipes but also tells you how they came to be that way. Let The Best Recipe become your one-stop cooking school and your favorite kitchen reference.
  • Author:
    Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine
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    Boston Common Press
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    Boston Common Press
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    Boston Common Press
    Boston Common Press
    The Best Recipe

Recent User Reviews

  1. cbayne245
    "Excellent Book for the Beginner Cook"
    Purchase Date:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Purchase Price:
    Pros - Huge list of recipes and very detailed explanations
    Cons - Many duplicate recipes from other books in the series
    This is a great reference cookbook for the basic home cook and especially for the beginner.  There are a lot of recipes with very detailed instructions on each recipe.  I've made about 15 of the recipes from the book and have not been disappointed yet.  I highly recommend this for the cook who needs to follow a recipe.
  2. phatch
    "Worthwhile, but limited"
    Pros - Good information and advice on cooking many delicious things
    Cons - Not always the best
    I have the older copy. They gave my cooking a lift when i had hit a plateau. They give good successful recipes for many dishes.

    They are, however, generalists, and their tasting panel doesn't match up to my tastes in many things. Most of their recipes will please the average eater. But they tend to lose ground against more specialized recipes. They make an OK French Onion soup for example, but they shortcut the browning of the onions and their stocks. Their barbecue spice mixes are off in my opinion.

    I own a bunch of their books and I frequently reference them as background information for the dish and as a baseline for the dish.  But more and more as I become a better cook, they are not the recipes I actually cook from.
  3. nicko
    "Truly the "Best" recipe"
    Pros - Well written, interesting and comprehensive
    Cons - Difficult at times to locate what your looking for (index not the best)
     The Best Recipe is quite simply one of the best (and most enjoyable) cookbooks I have read in a while. Although it sports a rather lofty title that I am sure many would challenge, I found the book to be an excellent resource on cooking. One of the better features of this book is that the editors of Cooks Illustrated (the authors) talk about the testing process that each recipe went through in order to make their list, and why they choose a certain method or ingredient. It is clear from the first pages that The Best Recipe is a worthy cookbook for any food lover's shelf. 
    As I made my way through the book I found myself fascinated with the detailed explanations that accompany most all of the recipes. Written much in the same manner a group of scientists might write when taking notes during the experimentation process, the notes and explanations are straightforward and easy to read (no science degree needed). It is in reading the explanations that you will find out just how they were able to develop a very flavorful chicken stock recipe that (according to writers) only takes twenty minutes. Of the recipes that I tested from the book (tomato sauce, white rice) I found them to be very flavorful and easy to prepare. Whether they are the best recipes I will leave to you to decide, but they were without a doubt extremely flavorful. It is interesting that on more than one occasion I found that it wasn't some complicated mix of spices or exotic ingredient that was the secret, but rather the actual technique that they use for making a particular dish. For perfect white rice they recommend toasting the rice grains, and when adding the cooking liquid it should be swirled in, not stirred with a spoon.

    The Best Recipe is over 500 pages in length, and has 700 recipes. Starting off with the most basic the book covers all the bases of cooking from soups and stocks, to salads, vegetables, meat, poultry, and breads and pastries. Going above and beyond, the authors take the time to explain a particular ingredient and how it should be handled if needed. Some recommended ingredients were not so easy to find, but there are suitable substitutes from the authors. 

    If you are looking for an excellent all around cookbook that will give you a good base of recipes then I highly recommend The Best Recipe. I mean, who in the world would test 38 different versions creme caramel just to get it right? Only Cook's Illustrated would. 


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