Any opinions on cook's illustrated?

I get Bon Appetite because it costs nothing (I use points that would otherwise expire) and occasionally find things worth trying. I got an offer of a free issue of Cook’s Illustrated and it came last week. Looks interesting but I can get a good bottle of wine for a one year subscription. Any opinions?

I like their Scientific approach to recipes. They typically take you through various permutations on a recipe and explain why each did or didn’t work. If all you want is a good recipe, a lot may be extraneous. I find it interesting.

The recipes are more realistic for what the average person will make. Had a subscription for some time and used their online database of recipes. The food in BA and F&W can go off the deep end in complexity and sourcing ingredients.

I have a digital subscription on myAsus tablet (Kindle ap) —cheap enough. Pretty great for when I can’t get a signal. I too enjoy the approach with clarity and reasoning behind all recipes. Usually better for tip and trick instead of full followed recipes.

I’ve had a hard copy subscription since 2000. In the 1990s, I subscribed to Bon Appetit and Gourment. I think Cook’s Illustrated is an excellent reference not only for the recipes, but also for technique (although more color photos would be nice). Following the recipes in the early 2000s has greatly contributed to my ability to improvise or cook when there is not a recipe at hand. Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Food and Wine, and Saveur will all have more recipes per issue. But, as Chris mentioned upthread, those recipes can call for an esoteric ingredient or piece of kitchen equipment.

As others have said, it’s great for technique, though the recipes can often be a bit plain (can always fix that tho). The Food Lab on the Serious Eats site covers a lot of the same ground (the author was a former CI writer).

I don’t subscribe but watch the show and have a few of the books. The digital subscription seems the most compelling.

I don’t necessarily use their recipes but will often use them as a base.

You can always grab a few of these A years worth for under $5.


Add me to the list. I pay good money for it and particularly like the “scientific” approach to what they write about.

I subscribed to CI for a while. Meh. The only cooking mag I subscribe to (off and on) these days is Saveur.

I get the magazine but find that after 10 years of being a subscriber I’m cooking less and less from CI. I’ve found the cookbooks to be more useful. I’m also sick of the recipe preamble " we tried 10 different ways to cook this" now, I just skip right to the process they came up with if they have done something new. Also, I find they like their food both too sweet and salty for my tastes and tend to half the sugar and cut back on the salt too.

I subscribed for a year and found it worthwhile but I didn’t bother renewing.

For all their testing I often find their recipes not all that great for my palate and they sometimes need fixing (for example their Blackout Cake needed several tweaks to come out correctly).

But I am forever grateful for the pie crust vodka technique.

+1 as a source for better techniques and the knowledge behind them but not recipes.

Applying their sometimes unorthodox techniques to recipes from elsewhere makes those recipes better in my experience and the knowledge has made me a better cook overall.

sometimes they simplify too much. but their approach is laudable.

This. Skip the magazine, and just buy the big cookbook. As for Bon Appetite, I gave up on that several years ago, when it became more of a lifestyle magazine, and the ads took up more space than the content. The magazine I really like is Fine Cooking. You can actually get a lot of their content online for free.

Never subscribed but I get Bon Appetit. The Epicurious App gives access to many Bon Appetit and Gourmet recipes with a search feature. That and a subscription to Saveur is more than I can handle.

Reader’s tips are too cute and folksy.
Actually the whole feel of the publication is very NE country store with a touch of Mr. Wizard. It seems more like a geeks mag than a foodie mag.
Saveur has taken on a new Editor in Chief and has altered their direction somewhat. After being a subscriber for 15 years, I’m not really pleased with what I see. They used to provide a great source for all ingredients featured in the back and that seems to have gone away.

Yes to this as well. They have a great banana bread recipe that needs the sugar cut by about 75%.

Along with the simple visuals, this is what I love about the magazine and the tv show. I would rather understand the “why” behind the recipe so I can incorporate those ideas into my cooking toolbox. If I just want recipes, those are all over the place on the web.

Slightly OT, but we briefly belonged to the “Mayo residents gourmet club”. Every month, the organizers would meet and plan a menu that each of the groups would then cook. One of these women was in our group and she would get really angry when I would substitute a simpler version of their overly complicated, fussy Gourmet Magazine recipes. It was a lot of work to spend time with her and her husband. I think I decided to quit when we showed up at their house on a steamy Friday night for dinner. He greeted us at the door with a beer in hand.

Me: “oh, man that looks good, I’ll take a cold beer”
Dr. A-hole: “Sorry, this is my last one, but my emotionally abused wife made mint tea”

I find myself relying upon the equipment reviews quite a bit. Always good to have a reliable resource beyond “alright let’s just hope the top hit on amazon search is actually what I want.”

Love Cooks Illustrated and have a digital subscription to both Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country

As others have noted:

  1. Recipes are user friendly. More often than not, they try to find ways to make otherwise complex dishes with ingredients that you likely have in your house or easily accessible at non-specialty grocery stores
  2. Their description of the approach to developing the recipes are useful and educational and can have broad applicability beyond the recipe being developed
  3. Also like the equipment reviews

In addition to having great recipes, I have found the online subscription to be a great overall tool to learn about new cooking techniques and principles