Readers’ favorite recipes, simple and full of comfort

Posted December 13, 2017 12:34 a.m. EST

Just as they did last year, NYT Cooking readers proved that fancy desserts and fussy dinners are nice to look at, but when it comes to cooking and eating, simplicity and comfort win out. Here are the most popular new recipes of 2017, determined by how many times readers saved them to their online recipe boxes. The complete list of our 25 most popular recipes can be found at

Best Black Bean Soup

“Black bean soup recipes have a tendency to turn out sludgy or bland, but the trick here is to season generously, and purée sparingly,” wrote Julia Moskin, the author of our most popular recipe of the year. The more you purée, the more starch is released, resulting in a gluey mess. To counter blandness, red wine and marinated chipotle peppers are added. “I give a hundred stars to the depth of flavors here,” one reader wrote.

Baked Chicken Tenders

Adults and kids alike loved this oven-baked version of the deep-fried fast-food favorite from Alison Roman. A creamy yogurt sauce with chives, dill and parsley makes for a sophisticated dip, but traditional ketchup or honey mustard are great, too. Some readers substituted crushed cornflakes or rice cereal for the breadcrumbs, while others found that chicken breast and thigh meat worked equally well.

Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake

This tender lemon-butter cake from British chef Yotam Ottolenghi is made with a combination of regular and almond flours and dotted with fresh blueberries (a few of our readers had happy results using fresh raspberries, cherries, apricots and plums). A glistening glaze of lemon juice and powdered sugar is poured on top. It’s a practically perfect cake for any time of day.

Spicy Roasted Broccoli Pasta

This quick weeknight meal from Melissa Clark is a sheet-pan version of the classic cheese-covered Sunday pasta. Because the pasta, broccoli, ricotta and breadcrumbs are spread out and roasted on a sheet pan, not piled into a casserole dish, you get plenty of those addictive, caramelized edges. Cumin, red pepper and lemon zest keep the flavors bright.

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk

This unique recipe, from British chef Jamie Oliver, is based on the traditional Italian recipe for roast pork with milk. It’s a simple recipe that calls for roasting a whole chicken in a slurry of milk, lemon peel, sage, garlic and cinnamon. The result is a supremely tender chicken with a deeply satisfying, flavorful sauce. “It is the sort of meal you might cook once a month for a good long while and reminisce about for years,” Sam Sifton wrote.


Best Black Bean Soup

Yield: 10 servings

Total time: About 2 hours

For the soup:

1 small (7-ounce) can chipotle chilies in adobo

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 onions, peeled and chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup red wine

2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped

1 pound dry black beans (do not soak)

2 quarts mild vegetable or chicken stock

1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Red wine vinegar, to taste

For the pickled onions and garnishes (optional):

1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes


Sour cream or Mexican crema

Whole cilantro leaves

Thinly sliced fresh chiles

Sliced avocado

1. Empty the can of chilies into a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth, scrape into a container, and set aside. Put on a teakettle of water to boil, and keep hot.

2. In a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add carrots, onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 5 to 8 minutes.

3. Pour in wine and let simmer until pan is almost dry and vegetables are coated. Add jalapeños and cook, stirring, just until softened, 2 minutes. Push the vegetables out to the edges of the pot and dollop 2 teaspoons of chipotle purée in the center. Let fry for a minute and then stir together with the vegetables.

4. Add beans, stock, oregano and bay leaves. Stir, bring to a boil, and let boil 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partly covered, stirring occasionally and adding hot water as needed to keep the soup liquid and runny, not sludgy. Continue cooking until beans are just softened and fragrant, 1 to 2 hours. Add salt and pepper and keep cooking until beans are soft.

5. Meanwhile, make the pickled onions, if using: In a bowl, combine sliced onions, lime juice and a sprinkling of salt. Let soften at room temperature until crunchy and tart, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze dry in paper towels and refrigerate until ready to serve. If desired, chop coarsely before serving.

6. Adjust the texture of the soup: The goal is to combine whole beans, soft chunks and a velvety broth. Some beans release enough starch while cooking to produce a thick broth without puréeing. If soup seems thin, use an immersion blender or blender to purée a small amount of the beans until smooth, then stir back in. Continue until desired texture is reached, keeping in mind that the soup will continue to thicken as it sits.

7. Heat the soup through, taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, drops of red wine vinegar and dabs of chipotle purée.

8. Serve in deep bowls, garnishing each serving with sour cream, pickled onions, cilantro leaves, sliced chilies and avocado as desired.

Baked Chicken Tenders

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 45 minutes

For the dip:

1 1/2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt, labneh or sour cream

1/4 cup finely chopped chives

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 small garlic clove, finely grated or chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the chicken:

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 large eggs, beaten to blend

2 cups breadcrumbs (preferably panko or other coarse breadcrumbs)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Make the dip: Mix yogurt, chives, parsley, dill, lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl; season with salt and plenty of pepper. Set aside.

2. Prepare the chicken: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut chicken breasts lengthwise into about 1 1/4-inch-wide strips. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

3. Mix together flour and paprika in a medium bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Place eggs in a large bowl and whisk with 1 teaspoon water. Season with salt and pepper. Put breadcrumbs in a large bowl or shallow baking dish, and season with salt and pepper.

4. Working with few pieces at a time, toss the chicken in the flour mixture, making sure it’s evenly coated. Shake off excess flour, and dip into egg wash. Shake off any excess.

5. Dip chicken into breadcrumb mixture a few pieces at a time, pressing to adhere as many breadcrumbs as possible. Shake off any excess, and set chicken aside on a large plate.

6. Place breaded chicken strips on a foil- or parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and bake until one side is beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Using tongs or a spatula, flip chicken and continue to cook until the other side is golden brown and crisp, another 6 to 8 minutes. Serve with herbed yogurt dip.

Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake

Time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling

Yield: 8 servings

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons (150 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan

1 scant cup (190 grams) granulated or superfine sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or more juice as needed)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs, beaten

2/3 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup (110 grams) almond flour

1 1/2 cups (200 grams) fresh blueberries

2/3 cup (70 grams) powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9- or 8-inch loaf pan with butter, line it with a parchment paper sling and butter the paper. Set the pan aside.

2. Place butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until light, then lower speed to medium. Add eggs in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times as necessary. The mix may split a little but don’t worry: It’ll come back together once you add the dry ingredients.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and almond flour. With the stand mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in three additions, mixing just until no white specks remain. Fold in about 3/4 of the blueberries by hand, then scoop batter into the prepared loaf pan.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top of the cake. Return to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, until cake is golden brown but still uncooked. Cover loosely with foil and continue to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes (less for a 9-inch pan, more for an 8-inch pan), or until risen and cooked, and a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside in its pan to cool for 10 minutes before removing cake from pan and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

5. When cake is cool, make the icing: Add lemon juice and icing sugar to a bowl and whisk together until smooth, adding a bit more juice if necessary, just until the icing moves when you tilt the bowl. Pour over the cake and gently spread out. The blueberries on the top of the cake may bleed into the icing a little, but this will add to the look. Let icing set (about 30 minutes), slice and serve.

Spicy Roasted Broccoli Pasta

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes

2 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into bite-size florets

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed

1 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

12 ounces chiocciole or other tube-shaped pasta

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces best quality, whole milk ricotta

Fresh lemon juice, for serving (optional)

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together broccoli, oil, cumin (if using), 3/4 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes. Roast until tender and browned at the edges, 18 to 25 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from oven and set oven to broil.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

3. In a small bowl, stir together Parmesan, panko, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the black pepper.

4. Toss cooked pasta with broccoli on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then dollop with ricotta. Sprinkle with Parmesan mix, drizzle generously with oil, and broil until topping is crisped and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice to taste, and serve.

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 2 hours

1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small cinnamon stick

10 cloves garlic, skins left on

2 1/2 cups whole milk

1 handful of fresh sage, leaves picked — around 15 to 20 leaves

2 lemons

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Season the chicken aggressively with the salt and pepper. Place a pot that will fit the chicken snugly over medium-high heat on the stove, and add to it the butter and olive oil. When the butter has melted and is starting to foam, add the chicken to the pot and fry it, turning every few minutes, until it has browned all over. Turn the heat down to low, remove the chicken from the pot and place it onto a plate, then drain off all but a few tablespoons of the fat from the pot.

2. Add the cinnamon stick and garlic to the pot, and allow them to sizzle in the oil for a minute or 2, then return the chicken to the pot along with the milk and sage leaves. Use a vegetable peeler to cut wide strips of skin off the two lemons, and add them to the pot as well. Slide the pot into the oven, and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours, basting the chicken occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and tender and the sauce has reduced into a thick, curdled sauce. (If the sauce is reducing too quickly, put a cover halfway onto the pot.)

3. To serve, use a spoon to divide the chicken onto plates. Spoon sauce over each serving. Goes well with sautéed greens, pasta, rice, potatoes or bread.