food recipes

Thrillist’s 10 Most Popular Food and Drink Recipes from 2021

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake | Photo courtesy of Pati Jinich

Tres Leches Cake | Photo courtesy of Pati Jinich

Well, we can’t say 2021 was any easier. While vaccines and booster shots certainly calmed some fears, this year was still filled with plenty of stress—just maybe a different kind of stress. In turn, we craved comfort and calmness, and that was certainly reflected in our most popular recipes. According to our very scientific Google Analytics research, the following 10 recipes were the most popular with our readers this year.

Like us, you all have been gravitating toward sweets in the form of tres leches cake and banana pudding, warming comfort food like tamales and picadillo, and stress release in a cup of cannabis tea or a citrus cocktail. As we reflect on this past year, take a moment to appreciate how our favorite recipes helped get us through.

This traditional tres leches cake by beloved Mexican chef Pati Jinich has been a consistent go-to for our readers. Check out Jinich’s latest cookbook, Treasures of the Mexican Table, in which she branches out to a quatro leches version with cajeta, apricot, and plums.

For those who choose to go the THC or CBD route, cannabis tea was a soothing option. Thrillist contributor Lauren Yoskiko provides start-to-finish instructions and advises to spice it up with mint, lemon, honey, or a cinnamon stick.

Tamales
Tamales | Shutterstock

There is something incredibly cathartic about creating a tamale making assembly line, and it also fosters togetherness if you make them as a group. Cookbook author Edgar Castrejón showed readers how to make a vegan version with shredded jackfruit and chipotle spices that you can top with crema and salsa.

Remember when our lives were completely dominated by Squid Game this past fall? Considering it was all anyone could talk or meme about, we weren’t surprised by the popularity of this dalgona candy recipe from JinJoo Lee—the chef and writer behind popular Korean food blog, Kimchimari.

Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding
Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Is there ever not a good time for Magnolia Bakery’s famous banana pudding? The luscious combination of bananas, pudding, whipped cream, and Nilla wafers being seamlessly layered together is enough to cure any distress.

Reader interest for this recipe spiked around Juneteenth, but this recipe from Rosie Mayes—author of I Heart Soul Food—can be enjoyed all year long. Inspired by her grandparents from Louisiana, Mayes says a great way to keep this cake moist is to sub out shortening for vegetable oil instead.

Pandan Latte
Pandan Latte | Courtesy of Madame Vo

Candidly speaking, we were super excited that this one made the list, since pandan is a personal favorite flavor—with its pretty pale green huge and fragrant vanilla-like flavor. Spice up your at-home latte with Madame Vo’s recipe that can be made with soy milk for the dairy-adverse.

Proving that sometimes the simplest things are the best in life, this Ranch Water story seemed to resonate. Yes, it’s regionally Texan. And yes it’s just tequila and Topo Chico (and a squeeze of lime), but damn if this version from Ranch 616 doesn’t satisfy every time.

Orange Crush
Orange Crush | Photo by Cole Saldino for Thrillist

In the peak of summer, all it takes is a little crushed ice, fresh fruit, and the spirit of your choice to allow your troubles to melt away. Legendary beach bar The Bearded Clam shared its recipe for and some history about the East Coast’s favorite summer drink.

We are officially in cozy stew season and we could think of no better way to celebrate than with this recipe of Cuban-style picadillo from Cuba de Ayer chef/owner Jessica Rodriguez. This hearty stew combines sofrito, adobo, garlic, alcaparrado, white wine, and other spices for the best winter-weather warmer.

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