What "Test Kitchen Approved" Really Means for Our Recipes (2024)

Our Test Kitchen puts every Taste of Home recipe through a rigorous approval process. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at how recipes go from submission to publication.

At Taste of Home, almost all of our recipes come from home cooks—we get around 10,000 submissions every year.

But before we publish a recipe on our website or in one of our magazines or books, our expert Test Kitchen team must approve it. We put every recipe through a rigorous selection, testing and evaluation process to ensure we’re sharing the best recipes that work every time.

Here’s how the process works in our Milwaukee Test Kitchen.

1. Home Cooks Share Their Recipes

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We believe the best recipes come from real home cooks like you because your favorite dishes have already passed two important tests: You can make them successfully at home, and family and friends request them over and over again.

Every year, home cooks—including our trusty squad of Community Cooks—share thousands of recipes with us. We’d love for yours to be next! Here’s how to submit a recipe.

Taste of Home Executive Culinary Director Sarah Farmer leads the teams responsible for recipe selection, prepping, testing and food styling for print, digital, video and social media production.

2. Food Editors Sort Out the Best

What "Test Kitchen Approved" Really Means for Our Recipes (2)Taste of Home

Our team of knowledgeable food editors reviews each recipe we receive. They look for fresh ideas, new spins on old favorites and dishes that just sound plain irresistible. They also consider practical factors, like whether a recipe uses readily available ingredients and is simple enough to make at home.

Recipes that make the cut move along to the Taste of Home Test Kitchen, which typically tests about 25 to 30 recipes each week. Every member of the Test Kitchen team has a professional food background, with specialties ranging from pastry to food science.

3. Prep Cooks Assemble Ingredients

What "Test Kitchen Approved" Really Means for Our Recipes (3)Taste of Home

Our Prep Kitchen team, led by Prep Kitchen Manager Catherine Ward, gets all of the food ready for our recipe testers and associate culinary producers. Later, the team also prepares recipes for our food stylists to shoot in our photo and video studios.

The prep team uses a technique called mise en place, which means they gather, chop and measure all of the ingredients ahead of time. This helps the cooking process go smoothly—and it’s something you can do in your own kitchen!

Speaking of ingredients, the prep team also helps with groceries. Our recipe management system creates grocery lists based on our recipe schedule, and our prep kitchen team places orders for delivery or picks up groceries locally. (They drive our shopping van, which has the Taste of Home logo on it!) In a given year, we go through mass quantities of cheese, flour, butter, milk, eggs and olive oil, plus thousands of other ingredients.

4. Expert Cooks Test Each Recipe

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Next, test cooks meticulously prepare each recipe. They ensure that the amounts, equipment, temperature and method are accurate. If something doesn’t work or could work better, they make adjustments until the recipe is right.

We have three on-site kitchens: the prep kitchen, the test kitchen and the stylist kitchen. We also have a media kitchen, which is a set that we use to shoot videos for our website and social media. These facilities are a big upgrade compared to the early days of Taste of Home: In the 1970s, our first test cook, Annette Gohlke, had to drive 30 miles from her home kitchen with completed dishes to reach her tasting panel.

Our Test Kitchen tests more than just recipes—they test pantry items and cooking gear, too. Learn more about Taste of Home’s product-testing process.

5. Taste Testers Weigh In

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On a typical day in the office, the Test Kitchen hosts a tasting panel to sample around five prepared recipes. A group of taste testers evaluates them according to flavor, texture, appearance and more. Putting themselves in readers’ shoes, they think about the difficulty of the cooking method and whether it’s a dish that readers are likely to make again and again.

The tasters also discuss practical considerations like how well a recipe will freeze and how to reheat it; whether it can be pared down for small families or scaled up for entertaining; how it could be modified for healthier versions; and how it could be prepared in popular appliances, like Instant Pots or air fryers.

Food editors and test cooks take careful notes and adjust the recipe as needed. In some cases, the test cooks make the recipe again until they’re confident that it’s ready for readers.

6. Recipes Are Edited for Precision and Ease

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Once a recipe has impressed our food editors, worked well in the Test Kitchen and won the approval of our taste testers, our recipe editors carefully review and revise the recipe’s directions to make sure they’re clear and concise.

After all, we understand how important it is for recipes to be easy to follow. When hungry kids are calling for dinner and to-do lists override free time, nobody needs the hassle of a confusing recipe!

7. The Photo and Video Teams Take Over

What "Test Kitchen Approved" Really Means for Our Recipes (7)Taste of Home

After a recipe is finalized, it’s ready for the Taste of Home photo studio. In the age of social media, this is a very important step. Perhaps now more than ever, people eat with their eyes first.

The Taste of Home photography teams include a photographer, an art director, a set and prop stylist and a food stylist. Together, they select color palettes, lighting, backdrops, dishes, linens and more. The goal is to make each recipe look as delicious as it tastes.

We also shoot about 12 recipe videos per week. Each video takes roughly one to three hours to shoot, depending on the recipe’s complexity. Our Giant Cinnamon Rolls video took longer than our Flavorful Chicken Fajitas video, for instance, because we needed time to let the dough proof, bake and cool—we go through all of the steps in the recipe! Then, our video editor spends about two hours editing each video before we review it for accuracy.

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8. Recipes Are Approved and Published

Once a recipe has cleared all of these steps, it’s ready to be printed, posted and shared across all of our platforms. You can find recipes on our website, Instagram and Facebook, and in Taste of Home books and magazines.

Back at the Taste of Home headquarters, a recipe’s completion means it’s time to eat! After the Test Kitchen and visual production teams are finished, the dishes go to an area of our office called the food bar. It’s a magical place where staffers can nosh on the leftover food. At any one time, you might see eight different kinds of cookies, some grilled pork chops and a pan of Pizza Monkey Bread. It’s no wonder this hallway is the most-traveled space in our office!

What "Test Kitchen Approved" Really Means for Our Recipes (2024)


Is America's Test Kitchen unbiased? ›

Our team strives to find the best tools and ingredients for your kitchen. Whether you're looking for a reliable chef's knife or the best olive oil, you can count on us to thoroughly test every product in our reviews and give you an unbiased assessment.

What happens to the food cooked on America's Test Kitchen? ›

Leftover food from tests and other ingredients that don't find their way into a recipe are available to whoever wants them. Meanwhile, any ingredients that aren't used are carefully monitored through a recirculation program.

Can you get free recipes from America's Test Kitchen? ›

We add dozens of all-new recipes to our sites every month, including recipes from our iconic magazines, TV shows, and best-selling cookbooks. You can view a limited number of pages free each month. Plus enjoy unlimited sampling with an All Access free trial membership.

Do you have to pay for America's Test Kitchen recipes? ›

Every recipe, every rating, every article, and every video on ALL THREE recipes sites plus the most recent print issue. After your free trial, just $4.99/Month.

How reliable is America's test kitchen? ›

Each recipe is tested 40-60 times before appearing on the show or in the books, at an average cost of $10,000; they also have a network of 35,000 people who have volunteered to test them.

Why is Chris no longer on America's test kitchen? ›

Americans were shocked in December 2015 when it was announced Christopher Kimball had left all America's Test Kitchen brands with immediate effect. The reason was a contract dispute with America's Test Kitchen's parent company Boston Common Press, but by all accounts, the initial breakup was amicable.

Who pays for America's test kitchen? ›

Your financial support of your local public television station helps to allow your local station to carry the America's Test Kitchen series and other programming. However, the direct production costs for the series (filming, editing, and distribution to your local television station) are covered by our sponsors.

How much do the chefs on America's test kitchen make? ›

Total Salary Range for America's Test Kitchen Test Cook

The estimated total pay range for a Test Cook at America's Test Kitchen is $65K–$109K per year, which includes base salary and additional pay. The average Test Cook base salary at America's Test Kitchen is $84K per year.

How much does it cost to belong to America's test kitchen? ›


You WILL NOT be billed until your FREE TRIAL ends. Cancel anytime. Only $4.17 per month 12 months. One-time annual payment to be charged to your credit card: $49.95.

What is America's Test Kitchen called now? ›

You can watch us work (in our actual test kitchen) by tuning in to America's Test Kitchen or Cook's Country from America's Test Kitchen on public television, or by subscribing to Cook's Illustrated magazine or Cook's Country magazine, which are each published every other month.

How does America's Test Kitchen work? ›

We simply assemble as many variations as possible, test a half-dozen of the most promising, and taste the results blind. We then construct our own recipe and continue to test it, varying ingredients, techniques, and cooking times until we reach a consensus.

What is the purpose of America's Test Kitchen? ›

Welcome to America's Test Kitchen

We are passionate about cooking—discovering why recipes work and why they don't—and sharing what we learn to help everyone cook with confidence. We test cookware and supermarket ingredients to find the best quality products for home cooks. We don't accept advertising.

How is America's Test Kitchen funded? ›

Therefore, the only way that America's Test Kitchen can be produced is through the support of public television sponsors who are willing to cover these costs.

How do you become a paid recipe tester? ›

To become a recipe tester, you need to have several qualifications, including previous experience in the food industry, an excellent eye for detail, and a wide range of analytical and culinary skills. Some recipe testers begin their careers by working in a commercial kitchen, a restaurant, or a food cart.

How do I cancel my subscription to America's Test Kitchen? ›

You can also call Customer Service at 1-800-526-8442 or email us at cooks@americastestkitchen.com. Our hours are 8 AM to 6 PM CST, Monday to Friday.

Who funds America's test kitchen? ›

About our Sponsors

Therefore, the only way that America's Test Kitchen can be produced is through the support of public television sponsors who are willing to cover these costs.

Is cook's illustrated part of America's test kitchen? ›

We're the flagship brand behind America's Test Kitchen's rigorous and scientific recipe development process.


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