From a medley of summer tomatoes to a stunning realistic forest of meringue mushrooms to a fantastical realm of Cheez Whiz and rainbows, photos and illustrations bring our content to life. These are just a handful of the images that stood out to us in 2019.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Surely you don't need any explanation from me about why this is great. —Daniel Gritzer, managing culinary director
Mashed Potato and Egg Jars
Trying to find a favorite photo in a year's worth of posts is a ridiculous exercise because, thanks to Vicky, there are hundreds of photos to choose from, and they're all amazing. I'm not much of a visual artist, but I try to rate my favorite photo by the following: Do I want to pop this thing into my mouth right now? And these sous vide egg and mashed potato breakfast pots definitely fall into that category. Also these fried potato cups. Do I really just love potatoes? Maybe that's it. But these photos are beautiful, and now I'm hungry. —Ariel Kanter, director of commerce
Simple, gorgeous, and dramatic. Just a beautiful perfect piece of octopus. —Daniel Dyssegaard-Kallick, full stack developer
Kimchi Fried Chicken Sandwich
I like food photos that startle me. This Vicky Wasik photo of Kenji's shatteringly crisp kimchi fried chicken thigh on a Stella Parks black sesame seed biscuit stopped me in my tracks. I love the sandwich's slight tilt as well as the bits of gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes) stuck on the rack, but mostly I love the fact that this baby tasted better than it looks, which is saying something. —Ed Levine, founderContinue to 5 of 16 below.
The best food photos, in my humblest of opinions, are the ones that do more than make your mouth water. They leave you wondering what exactly it is you're looking at. They make you want to know more. That's how I felt when I saw this picture of pancit palabok overflowing with color, texture, and layers of perfectly contrasting ingredients. Not knowing a ton about Filipino food, I was intrigued and hungry but had to keep scrolling to get a better sense for what this dish is and how exactly I could make it for myself. —Elazar Sontag, assistant editor
I love this photo so much I've literally printed it out and made it into a book cover for the office. I love how all the textures and colors flow into each other, creating a calming sea of rice. It's a gorgeous way of displaying something so ordinary and turning it into a canvas. —Grace Chen, office manager
There are a lot of beautiful pictures on our site, but I'm going with one that presented a hefty technical challenge. XO is bursting with flavor, but visually, it's a lot of brown. Vicky's backlit beauty was able to make XO look like the star it truly is. —Joel Russo, video producer
As I look at this photo, I find it truly difficult to accept that these are not really mushrooms. —John Mattia, video editorContinue to 9 of 16 below.
Cast Iron Skillets
Before this review, I had no idea that there was such a variety of cast iron pans on the market. This photo sums it up perfectly: Just take a look at the variety of finishes and colors! Why is that one coppery?? Does the octagonal one have special properties?? The pan I’ve used for years costs like $15, and I was happy to learn that it performs just as well as a $300 rose-gold pan. —Maggie Lee, UX designer
The Uncanny Valley
I knew I wanted a strong lead image for an article titled "Why So Serious? Escaping Food Media's Uncanny Valley," but I definitely wasn't quite certain how to get there. At the time, I wrote to author Allison Robicelli with my thoughts, suggesting "some kind of actual valley landscape with an animated Godzilla-size robot with doughnut boobs shooting...I dunno...French fries?...out of its eyes and stomping on stacks of cookbooks." Illustrator Alyssa Nassner had other ideas, though—and thank god for that. I think she did such a great job parsing my outlandish ideas and turning them into something that really captures the humor, absurdity, and sheer enthusiasm that radiates from Allison's essay. —Niki Achitoff-Gray, editor in chief
A Thai Feast
Working at Serious Eats has its share of perks (we're hiring, by the way). This photo is a great visual reminder of one of those perks: cooking and staging a beautiful Thai-inspired roast pork shoulder feast generally results in a Thai-inspired roast pork shoulder feast that needs to be eaten. —Paul Cline, president
I love this photo because it will remind me forever that peanut butter is a disgusting substance to touch, particularly when warm. —Sho Spaeth, staff writer and editorContinue to 13 of 16 below.
Blistered Sugar Snap Peas
Developing grilling recipes is a giant headache when you live in New York City. Outdoor grilling is strictly forbidden by the property management group that presides over the building where our SE test kitchens are located. Neither Daniel nor I have outdoor space for grilling at home. And grilling in Central Park (which I live very close to) is only permitted three days a year. But that didn’t stop us from putting out a bunch of grilling content this summer! For one week in June, Niki let us take over most of her apartment and backyard in Brooklyn to smoke meats and grill up a storm. We had everything planned out perfectly and arrived at her place with kitchen equipment, ingredients, and photo props, ready to go.
And then it poured. For the entire week.
Luckily, we'd planned for the worst and had a bought big canopy tent. We still managed to cook and shoot everything that we had planned for, and this photo of charred snap peas with a buttermilk-dill dressing makes me chuckle, bringing back memories of that cursed rain-soaked week of charcoal-grilling. —Sasha Marx, culinary editor
Bundt cakes always look good in photos—how can they not with their bold architectural design? But there's something more than the sum of its parts happening with this overhead shot of a bundt cake, a napkin, and a single slice off to the side. It has this fluid sense of movement that's hard to describe, a flow from slice to cake that feels organic yet grounded. And, most importantly, it makes me want to eat a slice of cake. —Stella Parks, pastry wizard
Salt and Pepper
I shoot so many recipes in a year, and trust me, I have a few favorite images that include a chocolate bundt cake, a caramelized onion tarte Tatin, and a Peruvian dish called tiradito. But my favorite images come from some shoots I did for the simplest of ingredients: salt and pepper. —Vicky Wasik, visual director
French Onion Soup Tarte Tatin
Look at this baby glisten, and look at all those layers! This photo brings me back to when Sasha was first testing this French onion tarte Tatin recipe, and I admittedly ate way more than was necessary. The raging onion breath was worth it! —Yasmine Maggio, social media intern