What We're Cooking This Mother's Day

We can provide you with brunch menus, dinner menus, and endless recipe inspiration, but truth be told, there’s really no "right" way to cook for someone on Mother's Day. Instead, we firmly believe that the grandest gesture is presenting something delicious that reveals just how well you know—and appreciate—the mom in your life. For some of us, that looks like a big batch of chocolate chip cookies; for others, it's a 10-course potluck dinner. Here’s a look at what the entire Serious Eats team will be making (or would be making) for the special moms they know this coming Sunday.

Carciofi alla Romana

Roman braised artichokes

There's a new mom in my family—my wife, Kate. She loves fruits and vegetables more than anything, so her ideal dinner would be a celebration of spring produce. I know she'd go gaga for these Roman braised artichokes, and she'd ooh and ahh over any of the three versions of asparagus alla milanese I recently published. On top of that—even more vegetables, because you simply can't give Kate enough of them. She and I subsist on big, hearty salads at home, and this one, made with meaty oyster mushrooms and wild watercress, is like a special-occasion version of one of those. But then I'd also cook her a massive, juicy steak, because, as much as Kate says vegetables are her favorite thing, the truth is that she loves steak even more. She'll deny it, but I know it's true because I've seen how she reacts when I've made her a good one. To end it all, ice cream, probably Stella's insanely good speculoos cookie one, if I can find the time to make it from scratch. Kate used to not have a sweet tooth—she and I rarely ate dessert at home—but ever since giving birth, she suddenly has one. Like, a serious one. Now I think she likes dessert more than vegetables or steak, which is super weird to me. I'm still adjusting to the idea of her newfound sugar passion, but I'll humor her this day, at least. —Daniel Gritzer, managing culinary director


Pan-fried gyoza
J. Kenji López-Alt

My mom and I recently learned how to make gyoza in a class at The Brooklyn Kitchen, and she had the best time. And the greatest gift you can really give Mom is quality time, right? So, if I lived closer, I would get all the materials, mix up the filling, set up the assembly line, and then gather my family around for a little dumpling-making party. Since Mom and I have gotten the hang of it, teaching my dad and my brother would be a breeze, and, between the four of us, we could make an armload of dumplings in no time. They might not be perfect, but my mom has learned to love imperfection—she’s held on to all those ugly preschool art projects for 20 years, after all. —Kristina Bornholtz, social media editor

Vegan Lasagna alla Bolognese

Overhead photo of a baked vegan lasagna bolognese

When I was little, my mom regularly churned out homemade pizza, chicken soup with barley, and pot roast for a family of five—all dishes I think back on fondly. But in her golden years she's gone her own way, embraced a more health-focused approach to eating, and become that rarest of creatures, a 65-year-old Southern vegan. Though I don't share her discipline in the food department, I genuinely look forward to the few occasions each year when I get to cook for her, since it's an excuse to browse through the many fantastic vegan recipes on Serious Eats that I usually feel too harried to attempt. In the past, she's heaped compliments on Kenji's chickpea and spinach stew and Sohla's braised green plantains in herbed cashew sauce. (Okay, yes, as my mother, she is incapable of not praising my cooking, but I swear, these recipes are really good!) If we were spending Mother's Day together this year, I know exactly what labor of love I'd serve her: Daniel's rich and comforting vegan lasagna alla bolognese, made with a convincingly creamy vegan béchamel and a robust meatless ragù packed with mushrooms, seitan, and plenty of red wine. No, it's not the lasagna she made during my childhood, but it's the one she'd appreciate now—and it's undeniably delicious to boot. —Miranda Kaplan, editor

Soft-Shell Crabs

There’s never any question about what’s on the menu for Mother’s Day dinner in my family. Every Mother’s Day weekend, my mom and I head out to our tiny Long Island beach house for a girls' weekend. Our favorite stop is a small seafood store called Land and Sea, where we load up on dozens of raw oysters, a big bag of clams, and four soft-shell crabs. The clams are for Mother’s Day proper, when we drive back to the city and make spaghetti alle vongole for my grandma. But our real tradition is devouring that exorbitant quantity of oysters and the tender, juicy crabs the night before. Most years, I just sauté the crabs in a light breading and deglaze the pan with white wine, which I whisk with clam juice and butter for a quick pan sauce. This year, though, I’m planning to up the ante: Daniel’s soft-shell crab sandwiches have been on my mind since he first published his recipe, and I can’t think of a better person to try them with for the first time than my mom. —Niki Achitoff-Gray, executive managing editor

Sous Vide Carnitas

J. Kenji López-Alt

My mom and I traded sous vide machines for Christmas—surprises, both—and have been loving cooking with them. These carnitas are the best thing I've made with the technique so far, and, because I know she's never made carnitas before or done any long sous vide cook, I want to introduce her to these tasty morsels. Probably in taco form, and probably topped with Kenji's salsa verde and pickled red onions. —Tim Aikens, front-end developer

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury steak

This Mother's Day I'll be making my wife whatever she wants, and that means I'm probably making Salisbury steak. What, no foie gras to celebrate her first year of motherhood? No filet? Well, no. You see, my wife has catholic tastes. I've said elsewhere that the best gift you can give her is a pound of nice fresh mozzarella, but she also has a deep and abiding love for the BelGioioso stuff, provided it comes in the double package from Costco, and she'd be just as happy to eat spaghetti with tomato sauce as she would fettuccine showered with truffles. But, given that it's a day when she can ask for whatever she wants, and seeing as I recently took Salisbury steak out of the rotation because she had been requesting it so much, that's probably what's going to be on the menu. To follow up, to make it easy on myself, I'll probably make a batch of ricotta cookies, or, if I'm feeling a little bit more ambitious, soba-cha, the Japanese buckwheat custard (although I've started making it with lightly toasted sugar)—both are among her favorites. And if I really want to give her a proper celebration for being the best mother our little girl could possibly have, I'll make up a batch of chili crisp that should last us a month (but she'll finish it within a week, since it goes really well with the aforementioned Costco mozzarella). —Sho Spaeth, features editor

Seafood-Stuffed Shells

Seafood-stuffed shells.

Ever since I photographed these seafood-stuffed shells last year (and ate more than my fair share of them post-shoot), I've wanted to make them for my mom. Stuffing the shells with crab and shrimp is genius, and if there's a food my mom loves, it's shellfish. Crab cakes meet pasta = successful Mother's Day in my book. —Vicky Wasik, visual director

Butterflied Roasted Chicken

Butterflied (spatchcocked) roast chicken
J. Kenji López-Alt

I took a cooking class not too long ago and told my mom how much fun I had, and she wants me to re-create some of those dishes for Mother’s Day. So I’ll be putting together a butterflied roasted chicken with lemons and fennel, crab salad (because she loves seafood), and I'll finish it off with a lemon-almond cake. —Vivian Kong, product designer

A Massive Potluck Feast

Mother's Day in our family is traditionally a big to-do. We celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, great-aunts, cousins who've become mothers, mothers who are no longer with us—sometimes just with one side of my family, sometimes with both. These days, you'll usually find us huddled around a giant lazy Susan at our standby dim sum restaurant, the catchall for every holiday from Chinese New Year to Easter. But, before my parents moved out of our old house, with its bright dining room, the big table we'd extend for company, and doors that swung open to an entertaining deck and pool perpetually set up with a massive grill, Mother's Day was typically held at ours.

Over several years, the spread evolved into a recurring "welcome summer" party menu with some variation, and I often like to conjure menus for imaginary gatherings as if we still lived in that house. Everyone would bring a contribution of their own, and my mom, my sister, and I would prep the main affair before anyone else arrived to offer help. My mom's side is Chinese by way of Peru, so ceviche de pescado and ají de gallina with saltines, natch, would be ever present. If it was particularly chilly, my aunt would bring seco de cabrito and a huge Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy full of rice. If it was warm, there would be some sort of cold soup, a jazzed-up gazpacho or Daniel's elegant-yet-approachable ajo blanco; big salads, like a misticanza or a hearty Greek salad; and plenty of grilled things, rain or shine. Daniel's salmon burgers would do the trick, and so would Michael Harlan Turkell's whole grilled fish (because we're not afraid of bones), and maybe a mess of lemon-garlic chicken skewers to round out the dim sum my American Cantonese grandma would inevitably bring. At the very end, I’d pull out a showstopper like Stella's no-bake cheesecake with freeze-dried fruit, alongside strong coffee and tea. Reading this over, it sounds like a real crazy mélange, but that's how it's always been, and that's what we're celebrating, right? —Marissa Chen, office manager

Quick and Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookie with bite taken out.

My mom has always had a bit of an unusual diet. She's very healthy (salads and grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast, that kind of healthy), but she also has a real sweet tooth—I recall her making and nibbling on endless batches of egg-free cookie dough when I was growing up. To make things more complicated, in the same way that she loves a good sweet, she loves a good piece of meat. So where does that leave us? For dinner, I'd make her Kenji's perfect grilled steaks and Daniel's broccoli salad. And for dessert, I'd go for Stella's chopped chocolate chip cookies—a few baked, and plenty of cookie dough left over, just in case. —Ariel Kanter, marketing director

Banana Bread

Slices of homemade banana bread.

My mom is an amazing cook but hates baking, so I've always taken on the desserts for most family meals. She's especially into rich and dense cakes, like carrot cake and zucchini bread, and she actually even likes fruitcake. So I know she'll love this banana bread, loaded with banana, pecans, and a mix of warm spices. The toasted sugar keeps it from getting too sweet, so it'll be perfect with her morning cup of chai, but it's still plenty rich from the addition of coconut oil for a tender crumb. —Sohla El-Waylly, assistant culinary editor

No-Bake Cheesecake

My mom is pretty averse to cooking, which means she delights in just about anything I cook. (This could also relate to the fact that I am her daughter.) She mostly goes for the California “healthy” thing, but I have never seen her leave a bite of cheesecake on her plate. Maybe it’s her New York City roots, or maybe it’s just the fact that cheesecake is delicious.

I actually get to spend Mother’s Day with her this year, so my sister and I are going to cook for her instead of braving the brunch lines. It’s suddenly about 80° in NYC, so I’m going for BraveTart’s no-bake cheesecake. My favorite part of any cake or pie is the crust, and this one is made of Biscoff cookies. And it's loaded with cream cheese. Heaven. We’ll throw a rainbow of fruits on it and call it a day, and there won't be a bite left behind. —Natalie Holt, video producer

Devil's Food Cake

Slice of devil's food cake.

Everyone's all about fruity desserts on Mother's Day, I guess because they're so spring-y and fresh, but real talk: My mom's heart belongs to chocolate. And nothing says "I love you, Mom" quite like a towering chocolate layer cake smothered in chocolate frosting. I mean—c'mon! Plus, it's a super-moist cake that keeps really well, so she can enjoy the leftovers for breakfast the next day (speaking from experience here). —Stella Parks, pastry wizard