What does it mean when we say a recipe is “kitchen-tested?” Whose kitchen is it, and how thorough is their testing method? The cycle of a new recipe here at Tablespoon is a pretty wild ride from start to finish—here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the process.
Before we dive into where the recipe process is now, we have to give a shout out to where we came from. When Tablespoon first got started (over a decade ago!), most of our recipes came from a group of talented bloggers and food writers, eager to share their recipe ideas with the world. While we no longer publish user-submitted content, some of our favorite recipes came from our blogger-buddy days (cheesy hash brown casserole, anyone?). In fact, if an oldie is enough of a goodie, we’ll retest and remake that recipe in our kitchens to ensure the hype is worth the hassle, so to speak. As time went on, we wanted in on the fun and started developing more and more recipes ourselves. The Tablespoon crew is based at General Mills headquarters, and we share a Kitchen Team with our friends at Pillsbury and Betty Crocker. Our team is intense about food, and when it comes to developing recipes, we don’t mess around.
It All Starts with an Idea
Every new recipe starts with a concept. Before a new recipe is created, we look to you—our readers—to see what recipes you have been loving and cooking in your own kitchens. We read your comments, tally up your “likes” on social media and keep tabs on the recipes you save and print. We also keep a finger to the pulse of latest food trends, kitchen gadgets and new flavors and ingredients to help us bring you current and innovative ideas. All of these insights mix together into one big brainstorm, wherein our editors sit down with the Kitchen Experts and trade our recipe hopes and dreams. Together, the team comes up with a list of ideas that are fun, doable and worth the effort.
Testing, Testing—Is This Recipe On?
After we nail down our concepts, it’s on to the testing phase. Our Kitchen Experts get busy in their kitchens, figuring out how to turn an idea on paper into something we can eat. When the Experts are ready, the team gathers around to taste, taste, taste. Some recipes are a smash hit right away, while others require more flavor refining, baking times adjusted or more cheese added. After the Editors and Kitchen Experts have decided that a recipe is a success—guess what happens next? More testing! Each recipe goes through a final round of nitpicking and nutrition checking to ensure that by the time the recipe gets to you, it’s flawless.
Smile for the Camera!
Once a recipe gets thumbs up all around, it’s time for that recipe to get its glamour shot. Our team of photographers, food stylists and editors all work together to create beautiful photography meant to make mouths drool. In our photos, we like the food to be the star, so we always pick backgrounds, utensils and bakeware that is simple and unfussy.
Hit That (Publish) Button
Now comes the really exciting part—after weeks of testing, tasting, editing and photographing, the last part of our kitchen-tested process is to unveil our new recipe to you. You’ll see the recipe pop up on social media, in newsletter and on our website. Once it’s up, we patiently wait to hear what you think! Love it? Hate it? Can’t wait to try it? We love and gobble up all your feedback, and it informs our next round of recipe development.