First published in 1998, Cook’s Illustrated magazine is a refreshing change from your typical magazine. They do not publish any ads and their content is more than just recipes and product recommendations. They delve into the science behind why a recipe works and really discuss why each step in the recipe is important.
Each issue features the same format, so you know what you’re going to get:
- Front cover: A quick summary of the bigger articles in the issue.
- Inside front cover: Table of Contents and a description of the illustration on the back cover.
- Page 1: Editorial
- Pages 2-3: Notes from Readers, where they respond to reader inquiries and comments, mostly pertaining to past issues. This spread also includes a “What Is It?” section which showcases a picture of a unique item (typically an old cooking implement) that you may have never seen and describes what it is.
- Pages 4-5: Quick Tips, a collection of small tidbits that may prove helpful in the kitchen. Today’s audience may call them “life hacks”.
- Pages 16-17: Themed deep-dive into a specific topic, with illustrations.
- Pages 26-27: A food taste test, ending with recommended and not recommended products.
- Pages 28-29: A product comparison, ending with the best, and all others rated in order and why.
- Page 31: Book recommendations in a specific category.
- Page 32: Resources
- Page 33: Recipe Index with color photos of select recipes from the issue.
- Back cover: a beautiful illustration of a collection of foods in a category.
- All other pages: recipes, but not just lists of ingredients and steps – full articles talking about how they derived the recipes, things they tried that didn’t work, why they have listed the amounts of ingredients they do, a full explanation of the recipe.
Especially great are the November/December issues, which feature Thanksgiving-themed recipes from the main protein to sides and desserts. Though they are called Cook’s Illustrated, they also feature baking recipes and principles. For example, in their first issue, they give the tip for bakers that 15 medium eggs are equal to 12 large eggs are equal to 9 jumbo eggs – for when you’re baking and need to get the ratios just right.
We have given quite a few recipes a try, including grilling a whole chicken (Issue 45), grilled chicken wings and dipping sauces (Issue 39), Indian spiced rice pilaf (Issue 43), mashed potatoes with smoked cheddar and grainy mustard and mashed potatoes with scallions and horse radish (both from Issue 60), glazed lemon cookies (Issue 61), and coconut cream pie (Issue 68, pictured below). Other family members have tried many of the recipes and agree – they’re all winners. Because the recipes were so meticulously crafted, the directions are so clear, and the articles explain why each ingredient or step in the recipe is important, making these dishes on your own is sure to be a success.
While the physical magazine is still in print, they also house all of their recipes and tips over at https://www.cooksillustrated.com/. Check them out and let us know in the comments below what you think!