Our Test Kitchen puts every Taste of Home recipe through a rigorous approval process. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at how recipes go from submission to publication.
At Taste of Home, almost all of our recipes come from home cooks—we get around 10,000 submissions every year.
But before we publish a recipe on our website or in one of our magazines or books, our expert Test Kitchen team must approve it. We put every recipe through a rigorous selection, testing and evaluation process to ensure we’re sharing the best recipes that work every time.
Like everyone, we’ve had to adapt amid the coronavirus pandemic—but we never eased up on the seriousness with which we test every recipe. Here’s how the process typically works in our offices and Test Kitchen in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
1. Home Cooks Share Their Recipes
Taste of Home
We believe the best recipes come from real home cooks like you because your favorite dishes have already passed two important tests: You can make them successfully at home, and family and friends request them over and over again.
Every year, home cooks—including our trusty squad of Community Cooks—share thousands of recipes with us. We’d love for yours to be next! Here’s how to submit a recipe.
Taste of Home Executive Culinary Director Sarah Farmer leads the teams responsible for recipe selection, prepping, testing and food styling for print, digital, video and social media production.
2. Food Editors Sort Out the Best
Taste of Home
Our team of knowledgeable food editors reviews each recipe we receive. They look for fresh ideas, new spins on old favorites and dishes that just sound plain irresistible. They also consider practical factors, like whether a recipe uses readily available ingredients and is simple enough to make at home.
Taste of Home Deputy Culinary Editor James Schend heads our team of food editors and works with our editorial teams to choose recipes for print and digital publication. He reviews 50 to 100 recipes on a normal day, but up to 400 recipes per day if he’s reviewing recipe contest entries.
Recipes that make the cut move along to the Taste of Home Test Kitchen, which typically tests about 25 to 30 recipes each week. Every member of the Test Kitchen team has a professional food background, with specialties ranging from pastry to food science.
3. Prep Cooks Assemble Ingredients
Taste of Home
Our Prep Kitchen team, led by Prep Kitchen Manager Catherine Ward, gets all of the food ready for our recipe testers and associate culinary producers. Later, the team also prepares recipes for our food stylists to shoot in our photo and video studios.
The prep team uses a technique called mise en place, which means they gather, chop and measure all of the ingredients ahead of time. This helps the cooking process go smoothly—and it’s something you can do in your own kitchen!
Speaking of ingredients, the prep team also helps with groceries. Our recipe management system creates grocery lists based on our recipe schedule, and our prep kitchen team places orders for delivery or picks up groceries locally. (They drive our shopping van, which has the Taste of Home logo on it!) In a given year, we go through mass quantities of cheese, flour, butter, milk, eggs and olive oil, plus thousands of other ingredients.
4. Expert Cooks Test Each Recipe
Taste of Home
Next, test cooks meticulously prepare each recipe. They ensure that the amounts, equipment, temperature and method are accurate. If something doesn’t work or could work better, they make adjustments until the recipe is right.
We have three on-site kitchens: the prep kitchen, the test kitchen and the stylist kitchen. We also have a media kitchen, which is a set that we use to shoot videos for our website and social media. These facilities are a big upgrade compared to the early days of Taste of Home: In the 1970s, our first test cook, Annette Gohlke, had to drive 30 miles from her home kitchen with completed dishes to reach her tasting panel.
On a typical day in the office, the Test Kitchen hosts a tasting panel to sample around five prepared recipes. A group of taste testers evaluates them according to flavor, texture, appearance and more. Putting themselves in readers’ shoes, they think about the difficulty of the cooking method and whether it’s a dish that readers are likely to make again and again.
The tasters also discuss practical considerations like how well a recipe will freeze and how to reheat it; whether it can be pared down for small families or scaled up for entertaining; how it could be modified for healthier versions; and how it could be prepared in popular appliances, like Instant Pots or air fryers.
Food editors and test cooks take careful notes and adjust the recipe as needed. In some cases, the test cooks make the recipe again until they’re confident that it’s ready for readers.
6. Recipes Are Edited for Precision and Ease
Taste of Home
Once a recipe has impressed our food editors, worked well in the Test Kitchen and won the approval of our taste testers, our recipe editor, Alicia Rooker, carefully reviews and revises the recipe’s directions to make sure they’re clear and concise.
After all, we understand how important it is for recipes to be easy to follow. When hungry kids are calling for dinner and to-do lists override free time, nobody needs the hassle of a confusing recipe!
7. The Photo and Video Teams Take Over
Taste of Home
After a recipe is finalized, it’s ready for the Taste of Home photo studio. In the age of social media, this is a very important step. Perhaps now more than ever, people eat with their eyes first.
The Taste of Home photography teams include a photographer, an art director, a set and prop stylist and a food stylist. Together, they select color palettes, lighting, backdrops, dishes, linens and more. The goal is to make each recipe look as delicious as it tastes.
We also shoot about 12 recipe videos per week. Each video takes roughly one to three hours to shoot, depending on the recipe’s complexity. Our Giant Cinnamon Rolls video took longer than our Flavorful Chicken Fajitas video, for instance, because we needed time to let the dough proof, bake and cool—we go through all of the steps in the recipe! Then, our video editor spends about two hours editing each video before we review it for accuracy.
Back at the Taste of Home headquarters, a recipe’s completion means it’s time to eat! After the Test Kitchen and visual production teams are finished, the dishes go to an area of our office called the food bar. It’s a magical place where staffers can nosh on the leftover food. At any one time, you might see eight different kinds of cookies, some grilled pork chops and a pan of Pizza Monkey Bread. It’s no wonder this hallway is the most-traveled space in our office!
I got the best white chicken chili recipe from my sister-in-law, who made a big batch and served a crowd one night. It was a hit. It's easy and quick, which is helpful since I'm a college student. In all my years of 4-H cooking, I've never had another dish get so many compliments. —Laura Brewer, Lafayette, Indiana
Get RecipeNext up: Check out 50 of our best-ever dinner recipes. They're tried-and-true favorites that you and your family will love.
Whenever I pass a display of bananas in the grocery store, I can almost smell the wonderful aroma of my best banana bread recipe. It really is amazingly good! —Gert Kaiser, Kenosha, Wisconsin
Go to Recipe
A local restaurant serves a similar cheeseburger soup but wouldn't share its recipe with me. I developed my own, modifying a recipe I already had for potato soup. I was really pleased with the way this all-American dish turned out. —Joanie Shawhan, Madison, Wisconsin
We've enjoyed a few hearty breakfast casseroles while visiting an Amish inn. When I asked for a recipe, one of the ladies told me the ingredients right off the top of her head. I modified it to create this quick and easy breakfast casserole my family loves. —Beth Notaro, Kokomo, Indiana
I discovered this wonderful pumpkin cupcake recipe and changed a bit to suit my taste. I love the flavor of pumpkin and the cinnamon makes ordinary cream cheese frosting extra special. When I made a batch for my husband to take to work, he said they disappeared in record time. —Debbie Wiggins, Longmont, Colorado
This is the best chicken potpie recipe! Chock-full of chicken, potatoes, peas and corn, this recipe makes two golden pies, so you can serve one at supper and save the other for a busy night. —Karen Johnson, Bakersfield, California
This chicken fajitas recipe is definitely on my weeknight dinner rotation. The marinated chicken in these popular wraps is mouthwatering. The fajitas go together in a snap and always get raves! —Julie Sterchi, Campbellsville, Kentucky
I remember coming home sullen one day because we'd lost a softball game. Grandma, in her wisdom, suggested that maybe a slice of hot apple pie would make me feel better. She was right. —Maggie Greene, Granite Falls, Washington
My husband loves this casserole, so it never lasts too long in our house. Packed with black beans, cheese, tomatoes and southwestern flavor, it's an impressive-looking entree that's as simple as it is delicious. —Marsha Wills, Homosassa, Florida
My husband has a hearty appetite, our two kids never tire of pizza and I grow lots of zucchini, so this tasty tomato casserole is absolutely tops with us throughout the entire year. Once you've tried the recipe, you may even decide to grow more zucchini in your own garden next summer! —Lynn Bernstetter, White Bear Lake, Minnesota
My family first tasted this rich, homemade lasagna recipe at a friend's home on Christmas Eve. We were so impressed that it became our own holiday tradition as well. I also prepare it other times of the year. This classic lasagna recipe is requested often by my sister's Italian in-laws—I consider that the highest compliment! —Lorri Foockle, Granville, Illinois
If you'd like to learn how to bake bread, here's a wonderful place to start. This easy white bread bakes up deliciously golden brown. There's nothing like the homemade aroma wafting through my kitchen as it bakes. —Sandra Anderson, New York, New York
I asked my grandmother for this recipe after trying these irresistible spice cupcakes at her home. I love their creamy caramel frosting. They're such a scrumptious dessert, you actually forget you're eating your vegetables, too! —Virginia Lapierre, Greensboro Bend, Vermont
I got this recipe from my aunt when I was a teen and have made these miniature loaves many times since. My husband and three children count this main dish among their favorites. —Kathy Bowron, Cocolalla, Idaho
This is my favorite tortellini soup recipe. It's quick to fix on a busy night and full of healthy, tasty ingredients. It originally called for spicy sausage links, but I've found that turkey sausage, or even ground turkey breast, is just as good. —Tracy Fasnacht, Irwin, Pennsylvania
I was talking about stuffed peppers with the other cooks at the restaurant where I work. We decided to mix similar ingredients for a soup. Customer response was overwhelming! —Krista Muddiman, Meadville, Pennsylvania
This moist chocolate cake recipe with coffee reminds me of my grandmother because it was one of her specialties. I bake it often for family parties, and it always brings back fond memories. The cake is light and airy with a delicious chocolate taste. This recipe is a keeper! —Patricia Kreitz, Richland, Pennsylvania
Every time that I make this cheesy baked spaghetti, I get requests for the recipe. It puts a different spin on pasta and is great for any meal. The leftovers, if there are any, also freeze well for a quick dinner later in the week. —Ruth Koberna, Brecksville, Ohio
A friend gave me this homemade cornbread recipe several years ago, and it's my favorite of all I've tried. I love to serve the melt-in-your-mouth side hot from the oven with butter and syrup. It gets rave reviews on holidays and at potluck dinners. —Nicole Callen, Auburn, California
Years ago, I drove 4-1/2 hours to a cake contest, holding my entry on my lap the whole way. But it paid off. One bite and you'll see why this velvety beauty was named the best chocolate cake recipe and won first prize. —Sandra Johnson, Tioga, Pennsylvania
This mushroom chicken bake recipe is the perfect way to dress up a standard weeknight dinner. It's a recipe I can count on to yield tender and flavorful results every time. —Barbara McCalley, Allison Park, Pennsylvania
This simple, old-fashioned milk cake tastes so good it will surprise you! As I remember my mom's delicious meals, this dessert was always the perfect ending. Mom always used "a dash of this and dab of that" to come up with what we thought was "the best." —Rosemary Pryor, Pasadena, Maryland
My five children all agree that this soothing recipe is wonderful. The soup is full of potatoes, carrots and ham. The best part is that I can get it on the table in only a half hour of hands-on time. —Jennifer Trenhaile, Emerson, Nebraska
During chilly times of the year, I fix this slow-cooker jambalaya recipe at least once a month. It’s so easy—just chop the vegetables, dump everything in the slow cooker and forget it! Even my sons, who are picky about spicy things, like this easy jambalaya. —Cindi Coss, Coppell, Texas
This rich satisfying dish, adapted from a recipe given to me by a friend, is my husband's favorite. I usually serve it on his birthday. It's loaded with scallops, shrimp and imitation crab in a creamy sauce. I consider this the "crown jewel" in my repertoire of recipes. —Elena Hansen, Ruidoso, New Mexico
The desserts of my dreams have both chocolate and peanut butter. So when I came up with this chocolate peanut butter dessert, it quickly became my all-time favorite. It's a cinch to whip together because it doesn't require any baking. My family loves this chocolate peanut butter cup lasagna! —Debbie Price, LaRue, Ohio
On hectic days, this is so quick and easy to prep! Convenient packages of dressing and gravy combine to create a sauce worthy of a fall-apart roast. For a filling meal-in-one, serve with mashed potatoes and ladle the juices over top.
—Arlene Butler, Ogden, Utah
If you like foods with southwestern flair, this just might become a new favorite. Loaded with cheese, meat and beans, the layered casserole comes together in a snap. There are never any leftovers when I take this dish to potlucks. —Terri Keena, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
These bars are always a hit at potlucks in the small rural farming community where my husband and I live. I also like to provide them for coffee hour after church. They're so moist and delicious that wherever I take them, they don't last long. —Karen Dryak, Niobrara, Nebraska
This shrimp scampi recipe looks elegant enough to serve to company, but it’s easy to prepare. The bright flavors of lemon and herbs enhance the shrimp. Serve it over pasta and wait for the compliments. —Lori Packer, Omaha, Nebraska
Once I tried these rich, gooey bars, I just had to have the recipe so I could make them for my family and friends. The shortbreadlike crust and the rhubarb and custard layers inspire people to find rhubarb that they can use to fix a batch for themselves. —Shari Roach, South Milwaukee, Wisconsin
In fall or any time of year, this nutty, rich and delicious pecan pie recipe is one I am proud to serve. While it seems very special, this caramel pecan cheesecake is a snap to make. —Becky Ruff, Monona, Iowa
Beef enchiladas are typically prepared with corn tortillas, but my husband, Jeff, and I prefer flour tortillas. I use them in this saucy casserole that has irresistible home-cooked flavor and a subtle kick. —Jennifer Standridge, Dallas, Georgia
After taste testing lots of apple cakes, I've found this apple cake recipe the best. Full of old-world comfort, the yummy brown sugar sauce really makes the cake special. For a festive occasion, top with a dollop of whipped cream. —Debi Benson, Bakersfield, California
My family is crazy about this slow cooker chili because it uses ingredients you don't usually find in chili. Believe it or not, I discovered that pumpkin is what makes the dish so special. Cook up a big batch and freeze some for later; it tastes even better reheated. —Deborah Vliet, Holland, Michigan
These homemade au gratin potatoes are always welcome at our dinner table, and they're so simple to make. A perfect complement to ham, this homey potato gratin also goes well with pork, chicken and other entrees. —Cris O'Brien, Virginia Beach, Virginia
We enjoy serving this tasty chicken bruschetta to both family and to company. It just might become your new favorite way to use up summer tomatoes and basil. —Carolin Cattoi-Demkiw, Lethbridge, Alberta
You'll be surprised at the taste of this rich and cheesy easy potato soup. It really is the best potato soup recipe, ever. I came up with it after enjoying baked potato soup at one of our favorite restaurants. I added bacon, and we think that makes it even better. —Coleen Morrissey, Sweet Valley, Pennsylvania
I got this grilled chicken recipe from a friend while living in Hawaii. It sizzles with the flavors of brown sugar, ginger and soy sauce. Huli means "turn" in Hawaiian. This sweet and savory glaze is fantastic on pork chops, too. —Sharon Boling, San Diego, California
I found this fluffy and easy pancake recipe among our old family favorites and adapted it to make a small amount. It's quick and easy to prepare, but we still consider it a special treat. —Eugene Presley, Council, Virginia
This extra-special banana bread makes a wonderful gift for friends and neighbors. The recipe makes two loaves, so I can serve one and keep the other one in the freezer to use as a last-minute gift. —Beverly Sprague, Catonsville, Maryland
Everything about this Dutch apple pie recipe (especially the crumble!) makes it the top request at our family gatherings. The oat crust reminds me of a cookie, and the tart apple filling just can't be beat during harvest time. —Brenda DuFresne, Midland, Michigan
After trying a similar chicken dish in a restaurant, I decided to re-create it at home. Topped with bacon, caramelized onions and shredded cheese, this savory dish comes together in no time, and uses ingredients that I usually have on hand. And since it cooks in one skillet, it’s a cinch to clean up! —Brenda Carpenter, Warrensburg, Missouri
Convenient no-cook lasagna noodles take the work out of this traditional favorite adapted for the slow cooker. It's so easy to assemble for workdays or weekends. We like it accompanied by Parmesan bread or garlic cheese toast. —Lisa Micheletti, Collierville, Tennessee
Looking for a tasty alternative to the usual meat-and-potatoes meals? Try this colorful pasta dish. My oldest son came up with the scrumptious supper that takes advantage of fresh mushrooms, zucchini and other vegetables as well as basil and provolone. —Jane Bone, Cape Coral, Florida
For me, this is the best coleslaw recipe because a package of shredded cabbage and carrots really cuts down on prep time. This creamy coleslaw recipe is great for potlucks or to serve to your family on a busy weeknight. —Renee Endress, Galva, Illinois
This dazzling treat tastes like a homemade Snickers bar and has flavor beyond compare. When I entered it in a recipe contest at our harvest festival, it won five ribbons, including grand prize and the judges' special award. —Jane Meek, Pahrump, Nevada
I'm originally from Minnesota, where wild rice grows in abundance and is very popular in recipes. This creamy chicken wild rice soup has been part of our Christmas Eve menu for years. To save time, I cook the chicken and wild rice and cut up the vegetables the day before. —Virginia Montmarquet, Riverside, California
One bite and everyone will propose a toast to this silky-smooth chocolate Guinness cake. The cream cheese frosting reminds me of the foamy head on a perfectly poured pint. —Marjorie Hennig, Seymour, Indiana
My sister shared this white bean chicken chili recipe with me. I usually double it and add one extra can of beans, then serve with cheddar biscuits or warmed tortillas. The jalapeno adds just enough heat to notice but not too much for my children. —Kristine Bowles, Albuquerque, New Mexico
This chicken enchiladas recipe is so quick and easy, and I always receive a ton of compliments. It quickly becomes a favorite of friends whenever I share the recipe. Modify the spiciness with the intensity of the salsa and the green chiles to suit your taste. —Kristi Black, Harrison Township, Michigan
I make these banana bars with cream cheese frosting whenever I have ripe bananas on hand, then store them in the freezer to share later. With creamy frosting and big banana flavor, this treat is a real crowd-pleaser. —Debbie Knight, Marion, Iowa
A local blueberry grower shared this recipe with me, and it's the best breakfast dish I've ever tasted. With the cream cheese and berry combination, this French toast casserole reminds me of dessert. —Patricia Axelsen, Aurora, Minnesota
This is the best New England clam chowder recipe, ever! In the Pacific Northwest, we dig our own razor clams and I grind them for the chowder. Since these aren't readily available, the canned clams are perfectly acceptable. —Sandy Larson, Port Angeles, Washington
I've decided to cook healthier for my family, and that includes having more fish at home. After looking at easy tilapia recipes, I decided to try baked tilapia. I love that it's fast, too! —Hope Stewart, Raleigh, North Carolina
Although I have some wonderful from-scratch recipes, this one uses a boxed mix with plenty of doctoring. It has become a popular groom’s cake that gets more attention than the wedding cake. —Nora Fitzgerald, Sevierville, Tennessee
Whip up a pan of these festive bars in just 20 minutes with staple ingredients and cherry pie filling. Between the easy preparation and the pretty colors, they're destined to become a holiday classic. —Jane Kamp, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Crazy about chocolate chips? This chewy, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie has plenty, not to mention lots of heart-healthy oatmeal. The gang’ll come back for seconds so this big batch recipe is perfect. This is the best 'oat choc chip cookies recipe' you'll ever taste! —Diane Neth, Menno, South Dakota
I like using pretty mini muffin liners and topping these homemade peanut butter cups with colored sprinkles to coordinate with the holiday we're celebrating. People can't believe how simple it is to make this irresistible candy with gooey peanut butter centers. This is how to make homemade peanut butter cups. —LaVonne Hegland, St. Michael, Minnesota
When you taste this casserole, you'll think it came from a complicated, from-scratch recipe. Really, though, it starts with frozen ravioli and has only three other ingredients. —Patricia Smith, Asheboro, North Carolina
A good friend made us this rich, comforting, creamy chicken noodle soup after the birth of our son. It was such a help to have dinner taken care of until I was back on my feet. This yummy dish is so simple to fix that now I give a pot of it (along with the recipe) to other new mothers. —Joanna Sargent, Sandy, Utah
This is my family’s favorite casserole recipe. I make it every week or two and we never tire of it. I like that I can clean my kitchen and then relax while it bakes. It won’t disappoint! —Carmen Vanosch, Vernon, British Columbia
These coconut macaroon cookies earned me a first-place ribbon at the county fair. They remain my husband's favorites—whenever I make them to give away, he always asks me where his batch is! I especially like the fact that this recipe makes a small enough batch for the two of us to nibble on. —Penny Ann Habeck, Shawano, Wisconsin
My daughter gave me this twice-baked potatoes recipe because she knows I love potatoes. The hearty casserole is loaded with a palate-pleasing combination of bacon, cheeses, green onions and sour cream. —Betty Miars, Anna, Ohio
We first sampled this chili-like taco soup recipe at a church dinner. What a warming dish for a cold day. And because it uses packaged seasonings with several cans of vegetables, it's a snap to prepare. —Glenda Taylor, Sand Springs, Oklahoma
These well-seasoned porcupine meatballs in a rich tomato sauce are one of my mom's best main dishes. I used to love this meal when I was growing up. I made it at home for our children, and now my daughters make it for their families. —Darlis Wilfer, West Bend, Wisconsin
This out-of-this-world dessert is one of our favorite, easy peach recipes. I was raised in Oklahoma, and we used Elberta peaches right off our trees when we made this outstanding cobbler. —Virginia Crowell, Lyons, Oregon
Before I cut these bars into triangles, I usually trim the edges so all the cookies will look the same. My husband and daughter love that part since they get to eat the scraps. —Dawn Burns, Lake St. Louis, Missouri
My next-door neighbor shared this ham and Swiss sliders recipe with me, and I simply cannot improve it! You can make it ahead and cook it quickly when company arrives. The combo of poppy seeds, ham and cheese, horseradish and brown sugar makes it so delicious. —Iris Weihemuller, Baxter, Minnesota
My sister shared the recipe for this unbelievably easy peanut butter fudge with marshmallow cream. I prefer using creamy peanut butter for this mouthwatering dessert, but the chunky style works just as well. —Mary Jane Rummel, Linglestown, Pennsylvania
This pleasing pasta salad is like eating a BLT in a bowl. Filled with crispy bacon, chopped tomato, celery and green onion, the sensational salad is coated with a tangy mayonnaise and vinegar dressing. It’s a real crowd-pleaser! —Norene Wright, Manilla, Indiana
My family absolutely loves these oat pancakes. I make them every Saturday and Sunday. If I don't, they don't believe it's the weekend! My son's friends often spend the night, and I think it's because they like these oatmeal pancakes so much. They are especially delicious served with molasses and syrup. —Sharon W. Bickett, Chester, South Carolina
My daughter-in-law, a gourmet cook, served this cream of mushroom soup recipe as the first course for a holiday dinner. She received the recipe from her mom and graciously shared it with me. Now I'm happy to share it with my own friends and family. —Anne Kulick, Phillipsburg, New Jersey