New recipes

These Celebrities Really Shouldn’t Have Written Cookbooks

These Celebrities Really Shouldn’t Have Written Cookbooks

Some celebrities should stick to their day job

These Celebrities Really Shouldn’t Have Written Cookbooks

Wikimedia Commons

Whatever the reason, plenty of celebrities have released cookbooks, and some of them really shouldn’t have.

Al Roker

Weatherman Al Roker has actually published a handful of books, including a few murder mysteries and memoirs. But he’s also published two cookbooks, Al Roker’s Big Bad Book of Barbecue and Al Roker’s Hassle-Free Holiday Cookbook. The barbecue book, published in 2002, contains 100 recipes and covers all the grilling basics, and the holiday book, published the following year, contains recipes ranging from “sweet potato poon” to crown pork roast with fruit stuffing. We’re particularly intrigued by his recipe for “Groundhog Day Weatherman’s Meal,” whatever that may be.

Boy George

Apparently none other than the Karma Chameleon himself, Boy George, is a fan of macrobiotic cuisine, so much so that in 2001 he published a cookbook with the help of his “macrobiotic mentor,” Dragana Brown, called Karma Cookbook: Great Tasting Dishes to Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul. “Among the delights are Creamy Carrot Soup, Sizzling Soba, Crunchy Filo Parcels, Watercress and Shiitake Salad, and Apricots with Vanilla Custard,” the description reads. Sadly, it’s out of print.

Dawn Wells

Wikimedia Commons

If the name Dawn Wells doesn’t ring a bell, her most famous character will: Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island. In 1993 the actress published Mary Ann’s Gilligan’s Island Cookbook, full of tropical-inspired recipes that she developed over the years (including Castaway Casserole and Ginger’s Snaps) as well as ones contributed by fellow cast members and a smattering of memories and anecdotes. A must-have for anyone who’s way too obsessed with Gilligan’s Island.

Kate Gosselin

This reality TV star has published several books in a continued attempt to cash in on having eight children, and in 2013 she even published a cookbook called Love Is in the Mix, which “shares the Gosselin family's favorite recipes for every day and entertaining, a very important ingredient when creating special family time,” whatever that means. Apparently those family favorites include items like pizza meatballs, something called K8 Salad, sausage bean bake, buffalo pretzels, and “edible dough for play.”

Kris Jenner

iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If you’d prefer to eat like a Kardashian instead of a Gosselin, then head over to In the Kitchen with Kris: A Kollection [sic] of Kardashian-Jenner Family Favorites, written by none other than “America’s favorite momager” herself and published in October 2014. It contains “nearly 70 favorite recipes that have become the centerpiece of Kardashian-Jenner family traditions” as well as tone-deaf gems like “My children all know how obsessed I am with table settings and I’ve received several sets of Hermès dishes from my daughters. Table settings. Napkins and napkin rings. Baccarat crystal glasses and vases. Candles and candle holders. I’m obsessed with it all.” Forty-six out of the 77 Amazon reviewers gave it one star.

Olivia Newton-John

iStockPhoto/ Thinkstock

In 2012, the Grease star published a cookbook called Livwise: Easy Recipes for a Healthy, Happy Life. “Assembled using Olivia's own experience in the kitchen and with the help of nutritionists, friends, and chefs from Gaia, her Australian health retreat and spa,” she’s compiled a collection of healthy recipes, from chickpea patties and carrot salad to trout with cauliflower puree. It’s been a while since we heard anything from Newton-John, and we certainly didn’t expect her to stage a comeback-via-cookbook.

Ron Paul

More a promotional pamphlet than cookbook, the Ron Paul Family Cookbook is full of Paul family recipes that must date back more than 50 years, including cholesterol bombs like Oreo cake and shrimp casserole. Aside from some very interesting comment threads, all this book seems to be good for is a bad case of heartburn.

Sheryl Crow

Yes, Sheryl Crow wrote a cookbook, and yes, she named it after one of her songs. If It Makes You Healthy, published in 2011, is actually a collection of recipes (categorized by season) developed by her personal chef, Chuck White, and, needless to say, they’re all pretty healthy. The book includes recipes served to her crew on the road, like mojito-braised pork, as well as home-cooked ones like basil and apple-marinated chicken, and can maybe also serve as a guidebook for personal chefs to the rich and famous.

Smash Mouth

Remember Smash Mouth? That 90s band with hits like “All Star” and “Walkin’ on the Sun”? For some reason, they decided to write a nearly 400-page cookbook, Recipes from the Road: A Rock 'n' Roll Cookbook, full of their own recipes as well as guest recipes from folks like rocker Sammy Hagar and Guy Fieri (of course). If you’re like us and didn’t even know that this band still existed, well, the band that cooks together stays together, apparently.

Teresa Guidice

Tony Danza

Tony Danza has done everything from hosting his own talk show and starring on Broadway to teaching English class on a reality show, so it makes sense that he’d throw a cookbook into the mix. Published in 2008, Don't Fill Up on the Antipasto: Tony Danza's Father-Son Cookbook is as much of a tour of the Danza family as it is their recipes, which include Uncle John's Pasta with Prosciutto Sauce, Mother's Lasagna, and “a fabulous tomato sauce that's fast, easy, and sure to help you impress the ladies.” If you’re interested in learning the names of all of Tony Danza’s cousins, this book’s for you.


Stop shaming recipe bloggers for writing a lot

Every so often, someone will act very angry online because a recipe they clicked on has "too much text." They wanted to make mushroom ravioli, but instead had to scroll through a bunch of words about what mushroom ravioli means to a blogger's family. Boring!

It's true that many (if not most) food bloggers write long narratives preceding their recipes. Sometimes, they explain how they developed the recipe. Other times, they share why they chose to post this particular food, or explain the modifications they've made to accommodate family members with dietary restrictions. They might share a story about the dish providing them comfort in a difficult time, or how cooking the dish with a loved one healed a broken relationship. Food is personal, after all it comes with stories.

So why do so many people rush to mock them?

Cadry Nelson, a food blogger who runs the vegan website Cadry's Kitchen, includes narratives with her recipes regularly. (She's also written an essay about recipe narratives.) This is partially because she wanted to document her transition to veganism, the context in which she developed much of her work. In doing so, she'd create a reference point for readers curious about going vegan themselves.

"I was trying a lot of produce I’d never had before, as well as re-creating old familiar flavors but without meat, dairy, and eggs," she explained in an interview. "I didn’t have many other friends who were vegan at that point."

Sharing this information doesn't just benefit her readers, either. It also helps her secure a place in the saturated food blog realm. "Through these posts, I’ve gotten to know bloggers’ flavor preferences too," Nelson said. By sharing stories on blogs, people get to know the types of foods [and] flavors that specific recipe creators enjoy. You figure out who is a good match for your own palate."

So why do people have such an issue with people writing about their own food? It seems to come down to convenience. Generally, perturbed readers complain that it takes too long for them to scroll down to the recipe itself.

Historian Kevin Kruse, for example, tweeted his disdain for recipe narratives last weekend: "Hey, cooking websites?" he wrote. "I don't really need a thousand words about how you discovered the recipe or the feelings it evoked for you . I'm trying to feed my family. No need to curate the experience for me."

"GIMME THE RECIPE HON MY SCROLL FINGER HURTS," tweeted Chelsea Peretti last November.

Admittedly, it is irritating when anything is difficult to find on the internet, especially when we've come to expect an easy-as-pie user experience from every app and every website. It can feel like a slog to scroll through paragraphs of text when all you want is a list of ingredients.

But the thing to interrogate here isn't necessarily whether blocks of text are annoying — it's why people think these particular blocks of text don't deserve to exist.

Nelson thinks there's an element of sexism to the critiques she sees about recipe writing. Home cooking is still a deeply gendered pursuit, and writers whose work centers on home cooking are still perceived as less professional, less valuable, and less worthy voices. "The feeling seems to be that they don't think these writers have something of value to offer," Nelson said.

There's been high-profile backlash to the backlash against recipe narratives. After Kruse's tweet, Smitten Kitchen creator Deb Perelman tweeted a thread on the matter, encouraging recipe writers to "write as long and as in-depth as your heart desires about recipes and anything else they drum up in your mind and ignore anyone who says you shouldn't."

1. These websites are free to read and free to not read. /3

— deb perelman (@debperelman) February 16, 2019

2. It's mostly women telling these stories. Congratulations, you've found a new, not particularly original, way to say "shut up and cook." [I just don't see don't see the same pushback when male chefs write about their wild days or basically anything. Do you?] /4

— deb perelman (@debperelman) February 16, 2019

3. Not that you asked, but I love context, both in the recipe's development and the way it knits into your life. I wish more people who cooked got to tell their stories. /5

— deb perelman (@debperelman) February 16, 2019

Like Nelson, she also called out detractors' casual sexism. "Congratulations, you've found a new, not particularly original, way to say 'shut up and cook,'" she tweeted. "I just don't see don't see the same pushback when male chefs write about their wild days or basically anything. Do you?"

"I wish more people who cooked got to tell their stories," she added.

There's also a more technical element at play where recipe narratives are concerned: search engine optimization (SEO). Recipe bloggers want to catch the attention of the illusive Google algorithm — and, ideally, land their recipe on the coveted first page — so they must demonstrate "authority" in their field. This means more comprehensive content, which is really hard to pull off with a concise recipe alone. (Tons of people will be using the phrase "apple crumble," for example, but only you can write your own story about it.)

"When I’m writing, I try to tell a story that has a hook as well as please[s] the Google algorithm," Nelson said. "I do keyword research . I see what kinds of questions people have around the topic, and look for ways to anticipate their problems, and answer their questions, so that they will have a successful cooking experience. Lately, I’ve been adding more step-by-step pictures of how to make dishes, as well as videos, because Google says that readers want that."

'I wish more people who cooked got to tell their stories.'

Even though she's noticed people criticizing lengthy posts, Nelson maintains that writing a lot — authoritatively, of course — is what's going to get eyes on her recipes. "People say they want shorter posts, but Google values information," she said. "It’s hard to give information without using some words along the way."

SEO and marketing experts agree that Nelson's approach is a smart one, especially in such a saturated landscape. "Because a recipe usually consists of a listing of ingredients and steps, it’s often very difficult for a search engine to discern what this article is trying to convey," Pete Herrnreiter, who is the VP of digital strategy at The Motion Agency, explained via email. "By developing a richer upfront with background on the dish . it [helps to] define the post."

Content strategist Abby Sanders, who works for Von Mack Agency, also emphasized the advantages of differentiating one's recipe from the pack. "These days, search engines are pretty effective at determining whether a page can serve as an 'expert source' on a specific query," she said. "So any additional content that includes certain keywords, as long as it's coherent and well-written, will improve that page's ranking."


The Pretty-Much-Every-Recipe-Ever Workhorse

The Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition

By Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker. Scribner.

There are lots of offerings in the all-purpose category, and many of them are great. Standouts include How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, a slew of titles from the gang at America's Test Kitchen, and Julia Child's The Way to Cook. But for our go-to, we went with the OG encyclopedic volume. After all, The Joy of Cooking has to be doing something right to stay in print for almost 85 years now.

The edition here is important. This 2006 publication is an updated version of the Rombauer family-approved 1975 edition—it preserves a lot of the voice that was lost in the 1997 edition. For more on the differences between editions, check out The New York Times on the subject in 2006, but for the purpose of the canon, just know that the 2006 version is Epi-approved. Of course, if you prefer a family heirloom edition with your grandmother's handwritten notes, who are we to argue?


The Best Cookbooks of 2020

The African elephant holds the earthly record for the longest gestation period, a whopping six hundred and forty-five days of pregnancy, or just a few months shy of two years. This happens also to be the approximate time it takes for an average cookbook to go from pitch to publication. With schedules set so far in advance, each year’s crop of cookbooks serves as something of a time capsule: the trends, hopes, celebrities, and big ideas of a few years ago land on our kitchen counters, their fates tied to the staying power of their central conceits.

Who could have foreseen a worldwide pandemic coming and throwing everything—including the world of cookbooks—into chaotic, extraordinary realignment? (Besides, of course, all the folks who very clearly saw it coming.) Major titles set to publish this past spring were postponed—some to the fall, some to next year, some indefinitely—and others were delayed as the spread of COVID-19 put printing and shipping infrastructures on pause. The books that did come out on time, or maybe a little late, were born into a world where the usual promotional parade of bookstore events and in-person cook-alongs were replaced by Zoom events and Instagram Lives, and had to fight against a relentless litany of crises to get even a little space in the popular consciousness.

Still, despite it all, 2020 turned out to be a hell of a year for cookbooks. Incidentally—almost eerily—many of the volumes released addressed the conundrums of quarantine cooking head on: roadmaps to D.I.Y. bread baking and bean simmering inspiration for pantry fatigue ersatz replacements for beloved, out-of-reach restaurant dishes (plus, for restaurants selling their own books, ways to help boost their free-fall bottom lines). Cookbooks are always marvelous vehicles for armchair journeys, though from our current vantage the travel they facilitate is less geographic than chronological, conjuring a now-remote era of dinner parties, weekend jaunts, raucous celebrations, and crowded marketplaces.

New Yorker writers reflect on the year’s highs and lows.

Cookbooks have never been our only source of culinary guidance, and this year’s explosion in Instagram Live broadcasts, TikTok cooking demos, and cook-along Zoom sessions served as a reminder that recipes aren’t defined by their medium. But there’s a particular beauty of scale to the best cookbooks, which, between front cover and back, have space for greater narrative arcs and can explore places and people and techniques in greater detail than a single video or blog post possibly can. (Not to mention that, after eight or nine hours of staring at, talking into, and being talked at by a screen, one is relieved to turn one’s eyes to the relative tranquility of the paper page.) Like so many people, I cooked at home this year more than I ever have before, and haven’t exactly loved every minute of it. But one of the few reliable ways to coax back a spark of the old excitement was the pleasure of a new cookbook.

A note that the year’s crop of food writing included many marvelous drinks books and non-cookbooks (such as John deBary’s razor-sharp “Drink What You Want” and Marcia Chatelain’s stunning “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America”), which aren’t included here in this wholly subjective, completely personal, undoubtedly incomplete list, ordered alphabetically by author.

“Red Sands,” by Caroline Eden

In a sprawling, journalistic first-person travelogue through Central Asia—punctuated with alluring and approachable recipes—Eden, who is based in Edinburgh, captures both the beauty and unease of travel with uncanny precision, accounting for small moments, great histories, and political tensions with a literary voice that often brushes against the sublime. “We left Aktau’s shoreline and its clinging marine air, driving through the scrappy outskirts of the city, travelling into the desert interior, a vast untamed spiritual geography,” she writes of her entry into the great sweep of western Kazakhstan. From there, she traces a journey through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, a cluster of nations precariously balanced between Russia and China, following paths set by pilgrims, farmers, and oil convoys, eating all the while: jewel-like fruits, pillowy pilafs, dense yogurt cheeses, and buttery dumplings.

“New World Sourdough,” by Bryan Ford

This guidebook to all things sourdough, published in June, was perfectly timed to the pandemic-fuelled obsession with naturally leavened bread. Ford, who made his name as a baking blogger, urges those of us in thrall to our starters to think beyond the boule: pretzel buns, masa focaccia, Puerto Rican mallorcas, airy challah—and, as I’d expect from Ford, who grew up in New Orleans, definitive takes on French bread, queen cake, and the dense-yet-airy rounds that house a muffuletta. For beginners, the book’s encouraging first section goes through all the tools, techniques, and troubleshooting in scrupulous (yet never off-puttingly technical) detail. I think of myself as having cursed hands that murder sourdough starter at a touch, but under Ford’s patient, meticulous mentorship I actually turned out a tangy, hearty, truly gorgeous round of pan rustico.

“In Bibi’s Kitchen,” by Hawa Hassan

The grandmother trope, when it comes to cooking, is well-worn with good reason—it’s reasonable, especially as the world becomes more industrialized and homogenized, that our elders are the keepers of domestic wisdom. Here, Hassan interviewed grandmothers from eight East African countries—some now emigrated to the U.S., some still living in their homelands, at least one who’s never moved from the place she was born but who now, thanks to shifting international borders, technically resides in a different country than the one she was born in. Hassan allowed each participating bibi to select her own recipes to share, and the result is a beautifully intimate portrait of home cooking across many homes: spiced fried fish, plantains with prawns, lasagna, cheddar-stuffed grilled cheese sandwiches spiked with a spice-laden South African chutney called chakalaka.

“50 Ways to Cook a Carrot,” by Peter Hertzmann

This clever little book is, as the title promises, a compendium of nothing but carrot recipes—carrot soup, carrot gumdrops, macaroni and carrot—though the titular root is a placeholder (or maybe a metaphor) as much as a literal ingredient. Each recipe is a practice exercise for a different foundational kitchen skill, from basic structural matters of grating, julienning, and blending to the more high-concept techniques of salt-fermenting and cooking sous vide—all done with carrots. With instructions and explanations delivered with the pleasingly brusque encouragement of a seasoned teacher, this is a brilliantly audacious act of culinary pedagogy that (also quite brilliantly) verges on the absurd.

“Blood,” by Jennifer McLagan

Jennifer McLagan is the Louise Nevelson of the kitchen, picking up dismissed and discarded ingredients and recontextualizing them in a framework of beauty and power. Her œuvre includes the sensational volumes “Fat,” “Bones,” “Odd Bits” (a paean to offal), and “Bitter,” a book dedicated to an entire maligned flavor, all available in elegant hardcover with dramatic photography. “Blood,” slim and hand-illustrated, is more of a chapbook. (McLagan has mentioned that the traditional book world was skittish about the subject matter she produced this with the Canadian indie imprint Good Egg). But it is no less eye-opening, an exegesis on the art of the sanguine, plus twenty-four recipes: for blood pasta, blood meringues (“The only downside of this recipe is that the blood takes a lot longer to whip than egg whites”), blood cocktails (“You must have very fresh blood to make these drinks”), rabbit ragu thickened with blood, and, of course, blood sausage.

“The Flavor Equation,” by Nik Sharma

“Flavor is made up of many parts,” Sharma writes in the introduction to this expansive exploration of the subjective experience of how things taste—an all-timer of an understatement. Sharma was a lab scientist before turning his full-time attention to writing and cooking here, in his second cookbook, he weaves an illuminating thesis on the entire concept of “flavor”: a synthesis of physical chemistry, neuroscience, emotion, memory, mood, and countless other tangibles and intangibles. The science is rigorous but never inaccessible, and the recipes (many, though not all, influenced by Indian flavors and techniques) illustrate his various principles but also stand marvelously on their own: chickpea salad dressed with date and tamarind, kulfi flavored with spiced coffee, a luscious crab tikka masala dip. I have to admit a bias here: my favorite cookbooks are those that really dig into the principles and hidden patterns of cooking, that don’t just provide recipes but equip a reader to understand what’s really going on in the pan (and in our mouths). “The Flavor Equation” deserves space on the shelf right next to “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” as a titan of the how-and-why brigade.

“Vegetable Kingdom,” by Bryant Terry

The fourth solo cookbook from the author of the excellent “Afro-Vegan,” from 2014, is a stylish, inspiring love letter to the world of plants and fungi. Terry’s recipes tend toward the complex without ever becoming fussy: farro salad with a Caribbean-inflected burnt-scallion dressing, jerk tofu wrapped in collards, and a luscious dish of fennel braised in a citrus mojo. (When I interviewed Terry for the New Yorker Radio Hour, earlier this month, he gave me permission to swap out the fennel dish’s labor-intensive sunchoke cream for store-bought crème fraîche, plant-based or dairy, and herewith I pass that permission along to you.) Cleverly organized by the part of the plant—roots, stems, bulbs, fruits, flowers—it’s an arresting collection of special-occasion fare, a herbivorous feast rooted in the flavors of the African diaspora.

A skeptic could say that Anthony Bourdain deserves the credit for Xi’an Famous Foods—or maybe Andrew Zimmern, or the Times’ food editor Sam Sifton, or any of the other professional eaters who ducked into a tiny, steam-filled stall in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall and emerged, stupefied, in a glorious haze of heat and vinegar. The fuller story is the one told here by Jason Wang, whose father opened that original stall and who is responsible for the restaurant’s dazzling expansion throughout New York City. (There are currently about a dozen locations.) The book begins in the central Chinese city of Xi’an, the Wang family’s place of origin, then charts their jarring transition to a new life in the U.S. and the grit and ingenuity that went into building an empire of chili oil. It’s possible that the best three years of my eating life were when I worked in an office down the block from a Xi’an Famous Foods location and I could treat myself to their face-blasting cumin-lamb burger as often as I pleased. Having the how-to manual at home is a gift.

“A Good Bake,” by Melissa Weller

In certain culinary circles (really good ones, where the cake is always terrific), Melissa Weller’s name is uttered only in tones of the greatest reverence. Weller is a savant of doughs and batters—she created the baking and pastry programs at multiple restaurants known almost entirely for their baking and pastry (High Street on Hudson, Sadelle’s)—who got her start as a chemical engineer. In this book, her first, she translates her meticulous, perfectionistic mode to home cooks, with detailed plans of attack for stollen, babka, pies, and more. Yes, these recipes go into intricate detail, but when it comes to baking that’s cause for excitement, not alarm: it means all you need to do is follow the instructions to the letter and you’ll be rewarded with some of the most exquisite baked goods of your life.


Curry Powders

These are the curry powders I currently have in my pantry – but I’ve used plenty of other brands in the past. Curry powder is used in all sorts of recipes, not just Indian curries, including:

Satay Chicken Curry – basically it’s chicken satay skewers in curry form, with loads of peanut sauce!


Plane food

The late chef Anthony Bourdain traveled like no one else. So it may be a little surprising to hear that while he spent much of his time on a plane, he wouldn't eat the food they serve. When asked if he'd ever consider eating the plane snacks, Bourdain didn't hesitate. "Never. No one has ever felt better after eating plane food. I think people only eat it because they're bored. I don't eat on planes. I like to arrive hungry," he told Bon Appetit. "For a super-long flight, I'd order cheese and s**t load of port. I'd eat some cheese and drink myself stupid."

Because Bourdain refused the plane food, he once decided to bring his own food on his flight, but never again. "If you want to be the most despised person in the cabin, bring some good barbecue on and have everybody in the plane smell it," he said. "I brought some Joe's BBQ on the plane from Kansas City once, and the look of pure loathing on everyone's faces as I gnawed on my ribs—I wouldn't care to repeat it."


Related Articles

Q: We’ll be watching. In the meantime, I think a really important takeaway is that this book builds confidence and almost teaches an attitude. It gives you a little swagger in the kitchen.

A: Food is the most fun, most delicious, most lighthearted part of my day. So learning how to cook shouldn’t be any different from that. And that’s why I write in a very casual way that’s a little bit silly and it’s bold and it’s splashy — because if it’s not fun, no one’s going to actually do it. … So let’s have fun and we’re going to learn how to cook!


Although "The Pioneer Woman" host Ree Drummond prepares baked goods and breakfast foods all the time on her Food-Network show, she typically chooses to steer clear of just about anything involving bananas.

In 2011, Drummond wrote on her blog: " . I hate, abhor, loathe, and recoil at the sight of bananas. I've disliked them my entire life, even when I was a baby. And I happen to believe that this is some sort of genetic aversion, as both my dad and one of my brothers share it, too. In my entire forty-two years on this earth, I've never eaten a whole banana."


What other TV shows has James Martin appeared in?

The culinary whizz has previously starred in The Big Breakfast, Ready Steady Cook (from 1994 to 2010 as a guest chef), Strictly Come Dancing, Blue Peter and The Great British Village Show. He has also appeared in James Martin&rsquos Great British Adventure, James Martin&rsquos American Adventure and James Martin&rsquos French Adventure.

Of his appearances on The Big Breakfast, he has said: "The bandana years! All a bit of a blur as I was working 18 hours in the kitchen, trying to mix cheffing, TV&hellipand driving everywhere. I started prepping at 4am, got in car at 5am, got to The Big Breakfast at 7.30 am and was back in the car at 9am, heading back to start lunch service."

The bandana years! James meets Prince Charles in 1999


1. The Pretty Good Pancake That Ultimately Fell Flat: Gwyneth’s Dad’s “World Famous” Pancakes

Though Gwyneth’s dad may seem like an unlikely pick for a pancake recipe, we were intrigued that his pancakes are adapted from Joy of Cooking. The bulk of the batter gets mixed up the night before, and it makes a huge batch that cook up pretty thin. Though the recipe makes a really great basic pancake, you can make similar pancakes with less fuss (like Martha’s below).

Overall rating: 6/10

2. The Easy-But-Kinda-Boring Pantry Pancake: Martha Stewart’s Old Fashioned Pancake Recipe

Martha Stewart’s Old Fashioned Pancakes can probably be pulled off from ingredients in your pantry, making it a great weekday recipe. It’s super-simple and solid, but is it special? Nope. Is it light and fluffy? Not especially. Does it get tasty pancakes on the table? Absolutely.

Overall rating: 7/10

3. The Best Diner-Style Pancake: King Arthur Flour’s Simply Perfect Pancake

These pancakes have a lot going for them. You’ll whip together the whole eggs and milk, which makes for a lofty pancake without the fuss of separating and whipping egg whites first thing in the morning. They’re also distinctly flavorful, thanks to the addition of malted milk powder. These are delicious both plain and with syrup, and are quick enough to make on a weekday but still feel special. Ultimately, it didn’t take the top spot because of its inconsistent browning — the surface baked up bubbly and didn’t get the golden-crisp exterior of other recipes. Also, the pancakes weren’t quite as tender as the winning recipe.

Overall rating: 9/10

4. The Absolute Best Pancake Recipe: Serious Eats’ Light and Fluffy Pancakes

We love and stand by Kitchn’s own Lofty Pancake recipe, which includes folding whipped egg whites into the batter, so it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Serious Eats’ version was our absolute favorite of the eight we tried. Even though this recipe is a little fussy, the smart addition of sour cream made for a really special pancake that is more than worth the effort.