Comfort food will never waiver in its ability to taste divine, please a crowd, offer a great day-long cooking project, and generally deliver great leftovers, too. Cover thinly sliced potatoes in a cream sauce and turn them into a golden brown, bubbly side dish to serve alongside roast chicken, seared pork chops, or pan-seared steak. Roast veggies like butternut squash or sweet potatoes for an easy, family-friendly side. For the main course, there’s always pasta. Meaty lasagna, baked ziti, stuffed shells, and cheese ravioli do the trick.
Everyone in every age group loves mac and cheese. The boxed stuff always hits the spot, but when you want the really good version, who else would you turn to but Martha Stewart? The lifestyle guru shared her recipe for baked macaroni and cheese, topped with panko breadcrumbs and grated cheese for extra crispiness.
This cold-weather staple is the ultimate nostalgic comfort food. To save time prepping this somewhat lengthy dish, use store-bought rotisserie chicken and be sure to use both the white and dark meat. Throw a chicken-flavored bouillon cube in the filling for even more savory flavor.
Roast chicken is a simple meal but there’s something so special about it. There are recipes that call for an abundance of herbs and spices, but all you need for this recipe is one whole lemon, lots of garlic, and salt and pepper.
There is no side dish more comforting than buttery mashed potatoes made with milk or heavy cream. They are endlessly versatile and always (and we mean always) delicious.
Meatloaf gets a bad rep, and food editor Emma Laperruque was determined to change that. The result? A perfect all-beef meatloaf that uses breadcrumbs made from English muffins. Why didn’t anyone think of this trick sooner?
We can’t talk about comfort food without also talking about the sweet treats that make our hearts happy. This delightful cream pie features an Oreo cookie crumb crust (of course), a rich pudding filling, and a cloud of whipped cream to top it all off.
“These are not your average scalloped potatoes, as there are delicious caramelized onions layered in between the sliced potatoes and cheese,” writes recipe developer Kathryn’s Kitchen. They’re just as comforting as ever, but with an extra savory edge.
8. Cacio e Pepe
Cacio e pepe is basically grown-up white cheddar mac and cheese, which is probably why it’s our go-to comfort food for quick weeknight dinners and dinner parties alike.
This slow-cooker recipe for beef stroganoff will immediately transport you to Grandma’s kitchen. Eric Kim created the perfect recipe using beef chuck stew meat, cremini mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, Worcestershire sauce, and sour cream.
A whole large potato, preferably a Russet, is wrapped in aluminum foil and baked in the oven for about an hour. A pat of butter, a little sour cream, and that’s it! Or is it? Upgrade them with Greek yogurt, garlic, Parmesan, scallions, and sliced mushrooms for an umami-packed spud.
11. Rao’s Meatballs
The secret to the best meatballs ever is…lukewarm water? This simple ingredient makes these meatballs from the beloved Italian restaurant extra moist. Serve them with pasta, over polenta, or tucked into a grinder.
There are thousands of classic pound cake recipes on the internet that promise to be buttery, moist, and definitely not dry, but recipe developer and resident Sohla El-Waylly nails it. “This pound cake is unbelievably fluffy, tender, and light. It has a toasty brown crust, tight crumb that slices cleanly, and eats a lot like that pound cake nobody doesn’t like,” she writes. All you need is a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of hot fudge, and maybe strawberry sauce.
Comfort food can be enjoyed year-round, but it’s generally synonymous with cold weather. And nothing is more comforting—especially during winter—than this chili, which is made with a combination of ground beef chuck, Italian sausage, and ground veal.
14. Birthday Lasagna
What makes this classic meat lasagna worthy of a birthday celebration is the inclusion of both bolognese sauce AND a creamy bechamel sauce. To save time, use no-boil noodles, which is what Food52 co-founder and recipe developer Merrill Stubbs recommends anyway.
You don’t need to travel all the way to the Big Apple to make this New York City classic dessert at home. Instead of a simple graham cracker crust, our resident baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell used a brown sugar shortbread crust to hold the creamy filling and macerated sour cherry topping.
“This chicken parm wants to be there for you when you’ve had a long day and need a big hug in saucy, cheesy form. It has all the charm of your standard parm—crispy crust, jammy sauce, bubbly cheese—but comes together with minimal mess in 25 minutes, thanks to the broiler,” writes Ella Quittner.
When you’re feeling under the weather, this two-ingredient chicken noodle soup (okay, four if you count water and salt) hits the spot.
From a two-ingredient soup to a three-ingredient one, this silky soup lets fresh broccoli and good-quality cheddar cheese shine.
When all else fails, there’s always chocolate. These cookies feature both chocolate chips and walnuts for extra crunch, plus lots of brown sugar, which ensures that each bite is caramelized on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
What makes this burger extra cheesy isn’t just slapping a few extra slices of cheddar or gouda on top. No, no that wouldn’t be right. Instead, grated cheddar cheese is folded into ground beef for a warm, melty, super juicy hunk of meat.
Looking for comfort food that tastes right in the summer and winter? Barbecue is the answer! The dry rub for these ribs is made with smoked paprika, light brown sugar, mustard, garlic powder, and salt.
Sweet cherry tomatoes and tomato passata (a version of pureed strained tomatoes) are superhero ingredients that join forces to make a sauce that cloaks homemade cheese ravioli. But it’s not just ricotta cheese that makes this ravioli special…grated Monterey Jack cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano are used too.
For a special occasion or date night-at home, there’s no better main course than a buttery, flavorful steak, such as a T-bone or ribeye steak. Serve it with any of the comforting side dishes here, like twice baked potatoes, Instant Pot polenta, or garlicky garlic bread. You tackle the steak and let your partner bring the bubbly (the good stuff, please and thank you).
The beauty of stir-fry is that it’s a delicious way to clear out your fridge of any leftovers. This recipe calls for leftover rice (white or brown will both work!), any pre-cooked protein (such as fish, chicken, or beef), any greens like spinach or cabbage that you may have on hand, and aromatics like ginger and garlic. Once you’re done cooking, you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief, take another peek inside the fridge, and say “oh I forgot THAT was in here!”
The trick to better stuffed peppers is pre-roasting the veg, then stuffing it with the comforting combo of ground lamb, orzo, and diced tomatoes, and then roasting them again so that they are charred on the outside and soft all the way through.
Our readers voted this their most favorite onion soup recipe of all time, so as soon as the snow starts to fall, slice some onions, smash some garlic, and begin making it.
“In this peperonata-inspired tomato soup, the classic version gets a kick in the pants from fire-roasted tomatoes, peppers, and caramelized onions. The cozy results pair perfectly with a dollop of crème fraîche, a sprinkle of fresh herbs, or a melty, toasty grilled cheese,” writes recipe developer Ella Quittner, whose genius you have to thank.
You don’t need a clunky ice cream machine to make super creamy ice cream. All you need is sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream! For the old-fashioned flavor, pecans are toasted in a few tablespoons of butter and then folded into the cream mixture.
Grilled cheese fits every scenario. It’s the answer to “what do I want to have for dinner tonight?” It’s the answer to “I don’t really feel like cooking tonight.” It’s the answer to “I really should try to save some money.” You can satisfy every mood while still putting something delicious on the table with this comfort food recipe.
Comfort food isn’t usually light. But chicken milanese—aka thinly pound slices of chicken that is breaded and fried—served with a crisp green salad offers comfort without a side of Tums.
There’s really no secret to good grits. It’s all about the quality of ingredients. in this case: really good grits, cultured and/or European butter, a juicy lemon, fresh bay leaves, and the best tap water you can get your hands on (kidding, but only about the water).
“During the fall, the Sunday dinner dish I most look forward to making is this porcini mushroom risotto,” writes recipe developer Kristina Gill. The shrooms bring a savory umami flavor that make this always comforting rice dish even more rewarding.
Nailing the perfect fondue recipe is not easy. The trick to this challenging cheesy treat is to, believe it or not, not overthink it. Follow Rabino’s recipe and you’ll nail it every time. All it takes is a little bit of garlic, dry white wine, Gruyere, Vacherin Fribourgeois, some warm spices, and cornstarch.
These humble pancakes go beyond store-bought mix, or even a basic list of flour, milk, eggs, sugar, and baking powder. The recipe calls for sourdough starter, which is mixed with the flour and milk and left to sit overnight before the rest of the batter is made.
35. Baked Ziti
When it comes to baked ziti, we don’t mess around. There’s not just sausage, but bacon too. There’s not just mozzarella and ricotta cheese, but crème fraîché and grated Parmesan cheese, too. There’s not just olive oil, but butter too. It’s not just good. It’s the best.
Embrace the makings of this classic creole staple made with the almighty combination of shrimp, green pepper, tomato, and andouille sausage.
Peel every thin, flaky layer of these buttery biscuits and watch as steam escapes. Add a smear of butter and jam for an easy-to-pair side dish.
Braised brisket is a Jewish holiday staple and Rebecca Firkser upped the ante so that it would turn into an even better sandwich (not something that’s dry and tastes, well, like leftovers). You can thank pomegranate juice, tomato sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, and an assortment of dried spices for the punchy flavor.
If you’ve been a longtime follower of Amanda Hesser’s, then you’re likely familiar with Tad, aka Mr. Latte, aka her husband. These taters are his pièce de résistance, she says, and they’re made in a cast-iron skillet with lots of garlic, herbs, and olive oil.
For a hearty, stick-to-your-bones soup for cold-weather days, nothing hits the spot quite like ramen. Make that bacon ramen.
It’s not a typical thin-crust pizza—the beauty of a deep-dish pizza is that you still get a crunchy exterior crust, but a soft pillow interior. This one is stuffed with mozzarella cheese and then topped with tomato sauce (and more cheese!) for a bite that will certainly make every Chicago grandmother proud.
This is Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser’s favorite comfort food recipe, developed and perfected by her mom, so naturally it is now our favorite chocolate cake too.
Silky, rich, and tender as can be, making beef stew in the slow-cooker is first and foremost easy, and second of all delicious. Along with the beef, you’ll find that it’s chock full of celery, carrots, pearl onions, cremini mushrooms, and potatoes.
“Rich, eggy challah makes an ideal base for French toast. Here, the Jewish delicatessen breakfast icon gets scaled up to feed a crowd. Topped with fresh berries and a drizzle of maple syrup, the sweet strata makes a gorgeous centerpiece for any brunch gathering,” writes recipe developer Leah Koenig.
“In this recipe, pork chops get the brown sugar treatment (malty! molasses-y!), which helps them caramelize in the pan, creating a deep, dark, lacquered crust,” writes Food Editor Emma Laperruque.
All baked pastas are a form of comfort food, but this one is the best. Don’t just take it from us…our readers say so too! They called this recipe for cheese-filled manicotti Food52’s best baked pasta.
There’s something so comforting about this cool nostalgic treat. It’s light and luscious, uncomplicated, and versatile too! Top each cup with fruit or chocolate chips, maybe a dollop of whipped cream, or use it as the filling for a simple pie with press-in graham cracker crust.
48. Shepherd’s Pie
Mashed potatoes, ground beef or lamb, and one giant casserole dish equal the makings of one perfect comfort food recipe.
This classic Sunday night roast is inspired by its leaner namesake, Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic. Serve it over buttered noodles, mashed potatoes, or with crusty bread for sopping up the braising liquid.
There’s no denying that polenta is a prime example of comfort food, but the time required to stir it on the stovetop to prevent it from sticking to the pan or bubbling over may not be comforting to all home cooks. The solution? Cook it in everyone’s favorite multi-cooker!
When you’re in need of good-quality comfort food, you don’t want the dish to be mediocre. It better be really, really good. That’s where these triple chocolate brownies made with cocoa powder, semisweet chocolate, and cocoa nibs come in.
52. Pasta Carbonara
This Roman staple features the ultimate comfort food ingredients—pasta (duh), pancetta or bacon, two kinds of hard salty cheeses, and pasta.
From spaghetti and meatballs to grilled salmon, complete any meal with garlic bread. And this one, which uses garlic confit, is as good as homemade gets.
54. Pulled Pork
Former Test Kitchen Editor Josh Cohen recommends serving Dutch-oven pulled pork as an entrée along with your favorite sides (like braised greens, mac and cheese, and cornbread). Or make pulled pork sandwiches with squishy buns and cabbage slaw for game day.
There are a few things that make this classic cornbread recipe better than ever. For starters, it requires baking the bread in a cast-iron skillet, which makes it extra crispy and golden brown on the outside. But it’s also a moister-than-ever cornbread, thanks to buttermilk or kefir and a sweeter-than-ever cornbread, thanks to a little bit of maple syrup instead of the usual sugar.
Assigning Editor Rebecca Firkser loves beans. They’re just as good for an economical, protein-packed weeknight meal as they are the vegetarian mainstay at a dinner party where you want to ensure that everyone will be able to enjoy the meal. Leave the Parm rind out to make it vegan!
Tater tots have always been a kid-friendly side dish favorite. But they will jump for joy when you tell them that not only are you serving them for dinner tonight, but they’ll be covered in an ooey-gooey cheese sauce too.
It’s always tempting to sleep in on weekends, but what’s even more tempting (and worth getting out of bed) are these perfect cinnamon rolls, which feature a soft dough and sweet glaze that will make you want to lick your fingers one by one.
When you’re craving the comfort of takeout, try making this from scratch instead for a fun cooking project. Strips of marinated beef are stir-fried with crisp broccoli in a flavorful brown sauce and then the whole thing is served over steamed rice.
There’s something about the warm, custardy nature of bread pudding that makes it so cozy and comfy. Use rich, buttery bread like brioche or challah and a sweet-meets-salty-meets caramelized sauce.
What’s your go-to comfort food recipe? Let us know in the comments below!