It's that time of year when everyone's made some kind of New Year's resolution, and for a lot of people that means eating better. That's all well and good—we would never begrudge you for trying to be healthier—but if you're going to spend most of your time eating kale and chia seeds, then we think you deserve a treat once in a while. Pulled-pork jalapeño poppers, fried chicken, and mac and cheese shouldn't be everyday foods, but sometimes you need to indulge. If you're going to break your resolution, we've got 35 anti-resolution recipes to make sure you do it right.
Greasy, Gooey Snacks
Long-beloved in Michigan, Detroit-style pizza has gone national in recent years. It's made with a thick, chewy crust; tons of creamy brick cheese; and a sweet tomato sauce (in that order). Pepperoni is a classic addition, with some restaurants layering it on top to get crispy and others putting it under the cheese and sauce so the fat seeps into the crust. Since we're going big right now, we put it on the top and bottom.
We love jalapeño poppers, but if we're really going to start the New Year off right, we're going to need something a little more epic. These smoky poppers are stuffed with pulled pork and wrapped in bacon. We don't deep-fry them, but given all the pork, we'd say they're still a far cry from health food.
Regular old deep-fried mac and cheese wedges don't go far enough, either. We bring back the pulled pork in this recipe, layering it with the mac, coating it all in a cornbread batter, and frying until golden brown. Freezing the macaroni and pork is key to not making too much of a mess when it's time to batter and fry.
Our ultimate fully loaded nachos are already a gut-buster, but if you think tortilla chips are too boring, try using crispy tater tots instead. Our totchos aren't just heavy, though; they're also delicious, thanks to high-quality toppings like homemade charred-tomato salsa and cheese sauce, crisp chorizo, and fresh vegetables.
Rich and fatty doesn't have to mean junk food. Pommes aligot is a dish from south-central France that takes mashed potatoes and makes them more intense than you would have ever thought possible. That means using the standard cream and butter, but also melting in more than a half-pound of Alpine cheeses (we like a mix of Swiss and Gruyère). You also want to overwork the potatoes to release extra starch, which in combination with the cheese makes for incredibly gooey results.
Flaming, pan-fried cheese is one of those things we vowed to eat slightly less of in the New Year. But this Greek appetizer, composed of fried cheese topped with a toasted walnut vinaigrette, is simply irresistible. A bit of honey in the vinaigrette perfectly offsets the saltiness of the cheese.
This easy one-skillet dish pairs two of our favorite foods: potatoes and cheese. Thin slices of olive oil–covered potatoes are broiled before halloumi cheese is added to the pan and broiled until golden brown. Lemon juice and zest brighten up and balance the rich and comforting dish.
Gooey melted brie doesn't need a lot of improvement—it's pretty much perfect as is. But combined with a mixture of minced cranberries and a bit of jalapeño, it transforms into a bright and flavorful favorite.
Forget Buffalo wings and cheese dip—this Korean-style fire chicken incorporates all our favorite elements of bar food in one dish. Chicken thighs are marinated in a spicy sauce spiked with gochujang and then chargrilled before being smothered with mozzarella cheese. The cheese helps temper the spiciness of the dish, and also presents a prime opportunity for a cheese-pull photo.
The best answer to leftover rice, this skillet dish is a marriage of textures and flavors. The one-skillet rice features a crispy exterior and a soft, chewy interior, as well as gooey cheese and funky, sour kimchi. If you already keep ingredients like gochujang, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and kimchi in the fridge, then it’s easy to whip up at a moment’s notice. No more head-scratching when you’re longing for a midnight snack.
Burgers and Sandwiches
We have no shortage of grilled cheese recipes, but right now one of my favorites is this version that mashes up the sandwich with spinach-artichoke dip. We start with a simple dip made by sautéing onion, frozen spinach, and canned artichoke hearts and mixing with homemade mayo. Then pair with creamy Drunken Goat cheese (Havarti is also a solid choice).
We make our Cuban sandwiches with three different kinds of pork: sweet ham, savory roast pork, and funky Genoa salami. That last ingredient might upset some Miami readers, but it's a classic part of a Tampa-style Cuban. We pair the pork with Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and mustard on Cuban bread and cook it in a sandwich press or under a heavy skillet until all the ingredients meld together.
The croque madame starts just like a croque monsieur: toasted brioche, ham, grated cheese, and Mornay sauce. Layered together and broiled, it's already a serious brunch, but to take it one step further and turn it into a croque madame, top each sandwich with a runny fried egg before serving.
A fast food hamburger definitely doesn't fit with health-conscious New Year's resolutions, and our homemade Big Mac and Whopper recipes will both help you start the year off on a gluttonous note. Can't decide which to make? Just split the difference by combining the flame-broiled Whopper patty with our reverse-engineered Big Mac sauce and onions (both fresh and dehydrated).
Cardiologists, look away now. This burger takes decadence to a whole new level—not only do we use two quarter-pound patties and four slices of bacon, but to throw all sense of restraint out the window, we replace the buns with three grilled cheese sandwiches. Eat one of these in the next few days and you might not need to eat again for the rest of the month.
Looking for a monster burger that you can feel okay about eating for breakfast? This brunch-friendly option tops crispy-edged smashed patties with oven-cooked bacon, fried eggs, avocado, and a spicy jalapeño Hollandaise. Toasted English muffins keep the breakfast theme going and soak up the runny yolk and sauce.
This meaty, melty, flavor-packed cheesesteak doesn't actually have any cheese—or steak. Nevertheless, this vegan-friendly sandwich is one of our favorite ways to break salad-for-dinner resolutions. Thick sheets of yuba are smothered in an umami-packed mushroom broth before they're tossed with caramelized onions and mushrooms. To serve, the mixture gets piled on a crusty roll and drenched in vegan cheese.
The fried chicken here takes this sandwich to the next level. It starts with brining chicken thighs in kimchi juice, buttermilk, and gochugaru for juicy, flavor-packed results. The meat is then dredged and fried until an extra crunchy crust forms. Sure, you can serve the chicken on any old bun and stop there, but we love it with Stella’s black sesame buttermilk biscuits and topped with the vinegary hot sauce and kimchi mayo that’s called for in the recipe.
Pork shoulder is one of our top picks for a winter dinner—it's decadent, affordable, and super easy. All you have to do is season with salt and pepper, roast in a low oven until the meat practically starts to fall apart, and then max out the oven temperature to crisp up the skin.
The perfect fried chicken should have supermoist meat and an extra-crunchy crust. We accomplish this by brining the chicken in buttermilk (which both tenderizes and seasons it) and mixing some brine into the flour coating to add surface area to the crust. We use a two-stage cooking technique—frying then baking—to ensure the chicken cooks evenly.
We borrow the buttermilk brine and breading technique from our fried chicken to make chicken Parmesan, but we give it a distinctly Italian-American flavor by adding Parmesan to the breading and serving the chicken with a slow-cooked red sauce, cubes of mozzarella, and more grated Parmesan. You can eat the chicken as is, but it's even better on a party-sized sandwich.
Like pommes aligot, cassoulet is a French classic that proves hearty, indulgent food doesn't have to be junky. This superfilling stew is packed with poultry, sausage, pork, and beans—just what you need on a cold day. Cassoulet is typically made with duck, but we find that using chicken with a little duck fat gives you similar flavor for less money.
Maybe you weren't planning to eat meat in January, but this braised lamb shoulder is too good to miss. All it takes is a few minutes of simple prep; then a Dutch oven does the rest. Smoky chiles and sweet dates perfectly balance the lamb's richness. The tender meat is great in tacos or served over rice and beans.
This fried chicken is perfectly moist, with a crisp and craggy exterior. It's brined in buttermilk and hot sauce, leaving it tender and seasoned to the bone. The finished chicken gets drizzled with toasted-honey butter before it's dusted with a hot-spice blend.
There are very few things that pair better with a pint of beer than a crisp, breaded fried cutlet. That's where this pork schnitzel comes in. Though classic Viennese schnitzel is made with thinly pounded veal, pork is more accessible for most of us in the US, and it's just as tasty. To cut through the richness of the fried pork, we like to serve this dish alongside a helping of bright coleslaw with creamy chile vinaigrette and a hop-heavy brew.
This butter chicken comes together mostly on the stovetop, producing a deep tomato flavor thanks to ample cooking time. The sauce is flavored with an array of spices that are best when toasted and ground, but pre-ground spices are also an option. The cream is what really takes this dish into anti-diet territory, and even more so when you spoon the final product over a steaming plate of rice. No matter your feelings about it, it’s hard to deny that this butter chicken is good for the soul.
Cheesy Pastas and Casseroles
If you're from certain parts of the Midwest, Tater Tot hotdish probably has a special place in your heart. It's typically made with ground beef, canned or frozen vegetables, condensed soup, and frozen Tater Tots. We upgrade our version by replacing the condensed soup with a mushroom béchamel, but keep the frozen tots because it's hard to out-do Ore-Ida.
Creamy, satisfying, and a little more sophisticated than the typical enchilada casserole, this dish is made with a simple charred poblano salsa, simmered chicken, pepper-jack cheese, and Mexican crema. Even though we don't go too heavy on the cheese, this is still a rib-sticking dish.
The name strata sounds fancy, but at its heart it's just a savory bread pudding. This hearty strata gets the flavors of a bowl of French onion soup from caramelized onions and grated Gruyère. To speed up the recipe, we use quick-caramelized onions with a little sugar added—the flavor isn't quite the same as slow-caramelized onions, but you can get most of the way there in significantly less time.
This mac and cheese is better than the blue box and not much more work to make—you just need a mixture of melting cheeses, a few thickeners and binders (cornstarch, evaporated milk, and eggs), and hot sauce. It all comes together in 15 minutes, but if that sounds like too much work, then check out our three-ingredient recipe, which is even easier than boxed macaroni.
For a different but equally cheesy take on mac and cheese, throw some ‘nduja into the mix. The spicy Calabrian sausage is easy to emulsify into the creamy mac and cheese sauce and adds a funky, spicy kick to the dish. Best of all, it comes together with only four ingredients, all of which have long shelf lives—including the ‘nduja.
Though it's a little more time- and labor-intensive than mac and cheese, this comforting baked pasta still only takes about a half-hour. Mushrooms sautéed in rendered sausage fat add flavor and a meaty bite; soy sauce and lemon juice make the dish super savory; and a cheesy cream sauce brings the richness. Top with a layer of breadcrumbs for a crunchy finish.
Known by a variety of names across the country, this casserole dish is a delicious piece of Americana. It's always made with pasta, ground beef, tomato sauce, and cheese. Our recipe adds green peppers, onions, and a couple tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (a classic addition in New England).
At its best, baked ziti should be rich and creamy, but all too often low-quality supermarket ricotta makes it bland and grainy. It's a little easier than it used to be to find good ricotta, but we still get rid of it altogether and use a Parmesan cream sauce instead, plus low-moisture mozzarella mixed in with the pasta and fresh mozzarella melted on top.
This simple pasta dish is rich with cream and Parmesan cheese, and we couldn’t be happier about it. After all the ingredients (most of which are pantry staples) are simmered, they’re all mixed together in a blender until smooth. The vodka comes last, as does the final touch of Parmesan at the end. The silky, bright dish is our preferred dose of comfort in a bowl.
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