Blackberry, Grapefruit, and Sage Infused Water

This infused water recipe combines sweet ripe blackberries, tart grapefruit, and woodsy sage for a refreshing and balanced drink.

View of grapefruit, blackberry, and sage infused water
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

In my years of cooking in restaurant kitchens, I would routinely cut off a piece of masking tape at the start of every shift and put it above my station, then mark a notch with my sharpie every time I would finish a deli container of ice water. It was something that I forced myself to do to track my water intake throughout the course of a busy service where self care was not a priority, despite sweltering kitchen heat. If I had a few scrap ends of lemons or limes, or a bruised berry or two, I’d throw them into my deli filled with ice water in an effort to make my water more enticing, but it was hardly a thoughtful approach to creating a flavored beverage. 

With my days of cooking on the line far behind me, I now approach my water consumption with a different perspective. I no longer track and force my water drinking in a hurried haste. I now view water as something to be savored and enjoyed. And while water is very necessary, plain water can sometimes be…a little boring. Infusing water with a few fresh ingredients that are muddled, steeped, then strained, can elevate everyday hydration.

Here, I want infused water with subtle bright flavor that I would be excited to drink, without needing a piece of masking tape in my direct eyeline to track my consumption. To obtain this, I needed to figure out a reliable method for achieving those goals. After wading deeper into the world of infused water, and learning from established drink recipes such as agua frescas and horchatas from Mexico and Central America, as well as various other steeped fruit and herbal infusions throughout the world, I realized there’s more to a flavored water than simply adding a handful of fresh produce to plain water, and serving. When I tried this back in my days as a line cook, the water lacked flavor, and turned bitter over time. 

Overhead view of ingredients in a bowl
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Better, I found, is the muddling technique used in this cucumber water recipe, where I muddle the selected ingredients and then steep with a small amount of water for just 30 minutes to one hour, which provided a more intense flavor. Leaving the muddled ingredients in the water for over an hour made the water bitter, especially the pithy grapefruit, which means straining after the steeping step is important. Additionally, if the mixture is left unstrained, the water turns into a cloudy and pulpy beverage, which I did not want.

I chose blackberries, grapefruit, and fresh sage as my muddling ingredients for this flavored water recipe below. Blackberries provide a welcome pink hue to the water and a tart and sweet flavor to offset the bitter grapefruit. Grapefruit gives the water welcome acidity with bitter notes from the oils present in the peel, which I leave on for muddling and steeping. Sage rounds out the water with a complex herbal quality that, when used in moderation, is aromatic with grassy undertones.

When infused properly, the combination of these ingredients creates a water that is slightly sweet, acidic, and a bit complex. And while not totally necessary, a final garnish of the ingredients adds visual appeal that might be just enough to motivate the under-quenched among us to stay hydrated.

Halve the grapefruit from pole-to-pole (cutting through the stem and blossom ends). Slice halves into thin half moons.

Overhead view of grapefruit slices
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

In a large bowl or 8-cup measuring cup, combine 1 cup water (236ml), half of the grapefruit half-moons, 1 cup of the blackberries, and 2 tablespoons of sage. Using a potato masher or muddler, mash fruit mixture until broken down and all juice is expressed, about 1 minute.

Muddling fruit in bowl
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Stir in 3 cups (710ml) of water. Refrigerate, covered, until flavors meld and mixture is chilled, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Pouring water into fruit mixture
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Strain infused water through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large pitcher, pressing on solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard solids.

Overhead view of pushing juices out of left over fruit
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Stir in remaining 4 cups (945ml) water. Just before serving, garnish pitcher or individual glasses with remaining half of grapefruit slices, remaining 1/4 cup of blackberries, and remaining 1 tablespoon sage. Serve over ice.

Close up of infused wather
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Notes

Feel free to adjust the amount and cutting technique of the ingredients used as the final garnish in the water. This is your opportunity to be creative and add your personal touch.

For a fun final garnish, serve with decorative ice cubes filled with small pieces of fresh produce or herbs frozen in the center.

Special Equipment

Large water pitcher (holds at least 10 cups), potato masher or muddler, fine-mesh strainer

Make-Ahead and Storage

Strained infused water (without added garnish) can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Our Five-Star Crispy Roast Potatoes, but Caesared

Crispy roasted potatoes with crunchy edges and a soft, fluffy center tossed with a savory Caesar dressing–inspired infused oil. Serve them as a side with a roast or offer them as a starter or party snack alongside a creamy dip for dunking.

Overhead view of crispy roast potatoes
Serious Eats / Two Bites

Roasting reveals all the best parts of a potato: crispy skin, crunchy edges, and a soft, fluffy center. A mound of roasted potatoes simply seasoned with salt and pepper is my favorite comfort food. But, if you dress them up with the tangy, briny, cheesy flavors of a great Caesar salad dressing, this near-perfect food becomes even better.

Combining the key ingredients of a rich and savory Caesar dressing—anchovies, garlic, lemon, Worcestershire sauce, and Parmesan cheese—with potatoes is a no-brainer: Potatoes are the ultimate starchy blank canvas for big bold flavors. To create this happy union, I start with Kenji’s famous crispy potatoes

Overhead view of adding parm
Serious Eats / Two Bites

Like many of our readers, I’m a big fan of these spuds —it’s a foolproof recipe that needs no improvement. His potatoes incorporate the British method for roasting potatoes: Chunks of potato are boiled until they're just tender, then tossed none-too-gently with fat (here olive oil) to rough up their surface, then roasted until they're crisp and crackling. It’s simple and produces amazing results. I make them routinely at home, whether it’s just for my family’s simple Sunday night supper or for a large holiday gathering. But I’d be lying if I said that these simple potatoes don’t sometimes get (dare I say it), a bit repetitive. But with Kenji’s technique, it’s easy to incorporate other flavors to the roasted potatoes, without compromising the potatoes texture. I’ve tried and tested many flavor combinations at home, and this Caesar flavor variation is my favorite yet. 

In Kenji’s recipe, he heats garlic and rosemary in some olive oil, cooks the mixture until the garlic just turns golden, strains it, and separates the infused oil from the solids. The potatoes are then coated with the flavored oil before roasting, and the reserved cooked aromatics are tossed with the crispy potatoes after they’re roasted. This eliminates the risk of burning the solids while roasting. 

Following this method to incorporate the savory Caesar flavor into these potatoes, I gently cook anchovies, garlic, and lemon zest in olive oil until the anchovies melt, the garlic begins to brown, and the lemon zest infuses the oil with its bright citrus flavor. The result is a salty, umami-rich, and zippy olive oil that I toss with the potatoes before roasting. The other Caesar ingredients—Worchestershire sauce, more lemon zest, plus lemon juice for a hit of fresh flavor, and plenty of nutty Parmesan cheese—are tossed with the hot potatoes right after roasting.

I add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese as a final flourish just before serving this low-effort, high-reward spin on classic roasted potatoes. Serve them as a side to an impressive roast or as a starter or party snack with a side of creamy Caesar dip for dunking, because I’m a firm believer that you can never have too much Caesar.

Side view of dipping
Serious Eats / Two Bites

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F (230°C) or 400°F (200°C) if using convection. In a large pot, heat 2 quarts (2L) water over high heat until boiling. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt (about 1 ounce; 25g), baking soda, and potatoes and stir. Return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until a knife meets little resistance when inserted into a potato chunk, about 10 minutes after returning to a boil.

Caesar Roast Potatoes step 1
Serious Eats / Two Bites

Meanwhile, combine olive oil, anchovies, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, and a few grinds of black pepper in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring and shaking pan constantly, until garlic just begins to turn golden and anchovies break down, 1 to 3 minutes. Immediately strain oil through a fine-mesh strainer set in a large bowl. Set garlic/anchovy mixture aside and reserve separately.

Caesar Roast Potatoes - step 2
Serious Eats / Two Bites

When potatoes are cooked, drain carefully, return to the pot off heat, and let them rest in the pot for about 30 seconds to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Transfer to the bowl with the infused oil, season to taste with a little more salt and pepper, and toss to coat, shaking bowl roughly, until a thick layer of mashed potato–like paste has built up on the potato chunks.

Caesar Roast Potatoes step 3
Serious Eats / Two Bites

Transfer potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet and separate them, spreading them out evenly. Transfer to the oven and roast, without moving, for 20 minutes. Using a thin, flexible metal spatula to release any stuck potatoes, shake pan and turn potatoes. Continue roasting until potatoes are deep brown and crisp all over, turning and shaking them a few times during cooking, 30 to 40 minutes longer.

Caesar Roast Potatoes step 4
Serious Eats / Two Bites

In a large bowl, whisk to combine the reserved garlic/anchovy mixture, remaining 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and parsley.  Transfer potatoes to the large bowl, sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and toss until the potatoes are coated evenly. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired, and serve immediately. 

Caesar Roast Potatoes step 5
Serious Eats / Two Bites

Special Equipment

Small saucepan

Notes

Russet potatoes will produce crisper crusts and fluffier centers. Yukon Golds will be slightly less crisp and have creamier centers, with a darker color and deeper flavor. You can also use a mix of the two.

The potatoes should be cut into very large chunks, at least 2 to 3 inches or so. For medium-sized Yukon Golds, this means cutting them in half crosswise, then splitting each half again to make quarters. For larger Yukon Golds or russets, you can cut the potatoes into chunky sixths or eighths.

The Essential Upgrades for the Best Grilled Chicken Caesar

Grilling the chicken, romaine lettuce, and croutons adds smoky char to make this grilled chicken Caesar better than ever.

Grilled chicken caesar salad on a platter.
Serious Eats / Kevin White

Through the spring and into the early fall, I look for any excuse to grill outside. In these cherished warm months, pretty much everything my family eats comes off of the grill, even salads. One of my favorite grilled salad recipes that is always a crowd-pleaser is my deeply flavorful twist on a classic grilled chicken Caesar salad. It’s savory and hearty enough to be served as the main meal, and it is ready to serve fresh off of the grill in under 45 minutes.

My recipe starts with the classic building blocks of the Caesar salad—chopped romaine lettuce, garlicky croutons, and a creamy dressing made with eggs, olive oil, lemon, Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, and anchovies—plus grilled chicken. This basic dish has become a US restaurant staple, and in most cases it's a pretty uninspired affair. While even the laziest combination of savory, creamy, tangy, and crunchy ingredients is still delicious, there is plenty of opportunity to make this so much better .

In my recipe, I infuse the salad with a rustic, smoky char by grilling every element (except the dressing—good luck grilling that). There are a few key techniques and modifications, though, to ensure the chicken is juicy, the lettuce isn't limp, and the grilled croutons flavorful. Here are my tips.

Keep the Dressing Classic

I use Kenji’s classic caesar salad dressing in this recipe. It’s rich with egg and Parmesan, and gets its signature savory depth from anchovy and garlic. Yes, the Caesar salad dressing used here contains anchovies. While it’s debatable if the original caesar salad had anchovies or not, I think they're essential for their briny, umami-rich flavor. Feel free to adjust the number of anchovies (or even omit them), and/or adjust the amount of Worcestershire sauce (which itself contains a small amount of anchovy) to your taste. 

If you're concerned about the safety of using raw egg in the dressing, you can either purchase already-pasteurized eggs, or as Kenji suggests, even pasteurize your eggs at home using a sous vide circulator set at 135°F (57°C) for two hours.

The dressing comes together in just a few minutes, and can be made while the chicken is brining and before you go out to grill, or it can be made and refrigerated up to two days ahead, to minimize indoor cooking prep when you’re ready to grill. If you’re strapped for time, or just don’t feel like making a homemade dressing (although I strongly recommend you do, as homemade is always best), you can use a store-bought Caesar salad dressing.

Cook Everything Over a Hot Fire

In any recipe that involves grilling multiple elements that cook at different rates, it can be a challenge to choose the right heat level for the grill. This is even more true for a charcoal grill, where you can’t quickly adjust a knob to change the heat level as needed.

Luckily, in this recipe the solution was easy since all the components benefit from high heat. For a gas grill, simply keep the knobs on high; for a charcoal grill, use a full chimney (6 quarts) of charcoal briquettes and pour them over just half of the coal grate. By concentrating the coals into a smaller area, you have an even more intense hot fire than if the coals were spread over the entire coal grate. 

By cooking everything over the coals on the hotter side of the grill you ensure deep browning while minimizing dehydration, the the case of the chicken and bread, and wilting in the case of the romaine. Everything cooks very fast, within a few minutes, so make sure to monitor closely while grilling, and move or flip the ingredients as needed to build a deep and even sear without burning or overcooking the food.

Grilled chicken caesar on a plate.
Serious Eats / Kevin White

How to Ensure Juicy, Flavorful Chicken

Despite their popularity, chicken breasts are arguably one of the most difficult meats to grill. Due to their irregular shape and how lean the meat is, it's all too common to for the breasts to dry out on the grill, leaving you with slabs of deeply seared chewy cardboard. With the right prep, though, this can easily be avoided, and you can get fantastic, juicy, and well charred chicken on the grill; it just takes a little know-how.

The first step is to pound the breasts to a 1/2-inch thickness so that they cook through evenly. This eliminates the thin tapered end of the chicken breast turning leathery by the time the thick end is cooked. Second, soaking the chicken for 30 minutes in a potent “brinerade” seasons it to help the chicken retain its moisture while cooking.

Here at Serious Eats, we usually prefer dry-brining protein over wet brining, since the salt of a dry brine helps the chicken retain moisture during cooking without pumping it up with excess water. Not only that, but we've demonstrated before that most of the flavors in a marinade do not penetrate far into meat. I still had good reason to reach for a well seasoned, deeply concentrated marinade here though, for the flavor it adds to the surface of the meat along with the enhanced browning it ensures. For this marinade, I mixed salt with water, honey, and just enough umami-rich fish sauce and soy sauce to add savory depth while echoing the flavor of the Caesar dressing. 

I recommend marinating the chicken for at least 30 minutes, but it will be even more well seasoned if left to marinate overnight. (Since there are no acids in the marinade, there’s no risk of denaturing the protein with a lengthy time in the marinade.) 

Right before grilling, it's best to coat the chicken in a little oil to prevent the meat from sticking to the grill grate, and to cook it over a hot fire to further deliver deep browning quickly, before the interior has a chance to dry out.

Swap the Croutons for Grilled Baguette Slices

This switch was a no-brainer—as long as I'm grilling, I might as well make grilled "croutons" instead of making or buying more traditional toasted croutons. Thin slices of a baguette toast up quickly on the grill.

The char of the grill isn't the only way to add flavor here. I also rub the bread with garlic when it's just hot off the grill. The garlic melts into the bread when you do this, adding incredible flavor. I’m a firm believer that every element of a salad should be seasoned, so don’t forget to lightly sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper over the grilled “croutons” as well.

You can use the grilled bread for scooping up the lettuce while eating, or crumble the pieces over your salad before tucking into it.

Quickly Char the Romaine

In my experience, lettuces, especially sturdy ones like romaine, are wonderful when grilled. Romaine lettuce leaves soften slightly at their centers and char beautifully at their tips when grilled properly while still retaining some structure. Their mildly bitter char is a fine counterpart to the savory rich Caesar dressing.

The key is to avoid limp, soggy lettuce. To ensure the romaine retains some crisp texture and doesn’t whither, use just the firm, compact romaine hearts for grilling, halve them through their core, and grill cut side down over a hot fire so they pick up char fast before wilting.

I've also found that brushing the romaine heart halves with a small portion of the Caesar dressing blended with additional oil prevents the leaves from sticking to the grill while also seasoning the lettuce. Make sure to paint the dressing into the crevices between the leaves, so that while the lettuce caramelizes slightly on the exterior, there is still a small amount of warm creamy dressing within.

I love to serve this grilled Caesar salad in a rustic, deconstructed presentation, similar to a wedge salad: I leave the halved romaine hearts intact, to highlight the char on the leaves, and shingle thin chicken slices over top, with a few of the grilled baguette slices on the side. Drizzle it all with more dressing, and don't forget to serve it with the charred lemon halves— the charred lemon is not only gorgeous but adds a nice final pop of acidity to the salad. It’s a hearty knife and fork salad that has savory Caesar flavor and char in every bite.

Grilled chicken caesar on a plate.
Serious Eats / Kevin White

For the Chicken: Place 1 chicken breast in a resealable plastic bag or between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder, rolling pin, or small skillet, pound chicken breast into an even thickness, about 3/4 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining 3 breasts.

Pounding chicken in a zip-top bag on a cutting board.
Serious Eats / Kevin White

In a large bowl, whisk fish sauce, water, soy sauce, honey, salt, and pepper together. Add chicken breasts and turn to coat evenly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

Whisking together a marinade for chicken and marinading chicken.
Serious Eats / Kevin White

For a Charcoal Grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

Setting up a grill.
Serious Eats / Kevin White

For a Gas Grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.

Remove chicken from brine, letting excess drip off (do not pat dry), then brush with oil as needed until evenly coated. Clean and oil the cooking grate. Place chicken, skin side down, on grill and cook (over coals if using charcoal or covered if using gas) until chicken develops dark grill marks, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip, and continue to cook until chicken registers 155℉ (68℃, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil while preparing the salad.

Grilling chicken.
Serious Eats / Kevin White

For the Salad: Transfer 2 tablespoons of the prepared Caesar dressing to a small bowl and whisk with 2 tablespoons (30ml) oil. Brush bread with remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) oil and grill (over coals if using charcoal), uncovered, until browned on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates and rub all over with the garlic clove and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. 

Brushing bread and then grilling it.
Serious Eats / Kevin White

Brush the cut sides of romaine halves with reserved oil and dressing mixture; place half of romaine, cut side down, on grill (over coals if using charcoal). Grill, uncovered, until lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the platter or plates with the bread. Repeat with the remaining romaine heart halves. Grill the lemons cut side down until lightly charred, about 1 minute and transfer to the platter or plates. 

Brushing romaine lettuce and grilling it, then assembling salad on a platter.
Serious Eats / Kevin White

Slice the chicken thin and arrange with the grilled romaine. Drizzle the romaine and chicken with the remaining dressing. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve with the grilled lemon halves for squeezing over the salad.

Grilled chicken caesar salad on a plate.
Serious Eats / Kevin White

Special Equipment

Charcoal or gas grill

Make-Ahead and Storage

My Easy One-Skillet Eggs in Purgatory Recipe Comes Together in Under 30 Minutes

This Southern Italian dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce is fantastic for brunch, breakfast, or even a light supper.

Overhead view of eggs in purgatory
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

The Southern Italian dish of eggs in purgatory—"uova in purgatorio" in Italian—has been a go-to meal for my family since I was young. I grew up in an Italian-American household where my mom always had the freezer stocked with a few quarts of homemade tomato sauce to thaw out for various meals, and eggs in purgatory was a frequent quick breakfast.

The one-skillet dish features eggs gently poached in a bright, savory tomato sauce spiked with red pepper flakes and a pop of fresh basil. The rich yolks mingle with the spicy sauce, and everything gets scooped up with crusty bread, making it an excellent breakfast‑for‑dinner option. The name “purgatory" is believed to come from the red, bubbling, spicy tomato sauce, which represents the flames surrounding the souls in limbo in purgatory.

I’m a fan of eggs in purgatory because the dish is incredibly delicious and the fact that it embodies the Italian cooking ethos of using just a few stellar ingredients and letting them shine, but there’s also a practical reason to love it: It’s convenient. A basic version comes together quickly from pantry staples you likely already have on hand: Tomatoes (canned work best), olive oil, onion, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes are cooked in a skillet until the flavors blend and the sauce thickens, then the eggs are cracked in and cooked until just set. My recipe also includes fresh basil, which adds a wonderful brightness to the dish, and can be considered a pantry staple if you have a garden in your yard (or windowsill).

Even if you don’t have premade sauce on hand like my family always did, you can make eggs in purgatory in less than 30 minutes. Plus, it can be customized with ingredients you have on hand and want to use up, such as crumbled cheese, olives, sausage, or sautéed vegetables. Here are a few tips to prepare this simple, rustic egg dish with a devilishly good tomato sauce.

Overhead view of eggs in purgatory
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Tips for Perfectly Poached Eggs in Purgatory

Skip the fresh tomatoes and use canned instead. Yes, fresh tomatoes, especially plum or Roma tomatoes, are wonderful when cooked down into a nice thick sauce, but making a flavorful sauce from fresh tomatoes takes hours of simmering, and that's assuming you can even get good tomatoes. Most of the year, that's easier said than done. For a quick-cooking tomato sauce that can be made anytime, canned tomatoes are a better option, and roughly crushed canned whole peeled tomatoes are best for this recipe.

A perfect sauce for eggs in purgatory should be slightly chunky, which is why I like to crush whole tomatoes by hand. Plus, whole peeled tomatoes typically work better for sauces than diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes—that’s because diced tomatoes are packed with calcium chloride, which helps them keep their diced shape even after extended cooking, preventing them from turning into a cohesive sauce. At the other end of the tomato texture spectrum, canned crushed tomatoes lack enough texture and also often have a watered down flavor. Whole peeled tomatoes break down easily and have a concentrated flavor. You don’t need to get out your food mill or food processor to purée them; you can easily break them down by squeezing the tomatoes through your fingers in a bowl to get irregular chunks, and then they’ll further melt into the desired sauce consistency while simmering.

Canned tomatoes can vary greatly in quality, so I recommend using a trusted brand. Of the readily available brands, I like Cento San Marzano Certified Peeled Tomatoes, Muir Glen Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes, and Red Gold Whole Peeled Tomatoes. If these brands are unavailable, you’re unlikely to go wrong with canned tomatoes labeled D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy. The D.O.P. seal ensures that they were grown, harvested, and processed under very strict protocols that guarantee a certain base quality.

Side view of eggs in purgatory
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Add plenty of aromatics. Beyond great quality canned tomatoes, the sauce gets its concentrated flavor from sautéing a mixture of onion, garlic, tomato paste, and fresh oregano in a healthy dose of olive oil. Once these ingredients have hit their aromatic sweet spot, it's important to immediately add the tomatoes. This will instantly cool the pan, halting the cooking of the aromatics, preventing overcooking. While I call for a full teaspoon of red pepper flakes, you can use less or more, depending on your spice tolerance. I also like to add a full cup of basil leaves to the sauce while simmering to bolster its flavor.

Close up of dipping bread in eggs
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Add the eggs off heat. To turn the sauce into a meal, all you need is to gently poach the eggs directly in the sauce until just set. This can be easier said than done, as making shallow indentations in the sauce and cracking each individual egg into the wells can take some time, causing the first egg to overcook by the time the last egg is cracked in. To avoid this and to help the eggs cook at a more even rate, remove the skillet from the burner to eliminate the urgency of adding them over heat. I also recommend cracking each egg into a small bowl before carefully adding it to the sauce so you can remove any rogue eggshell pieces before adding each egg to the skillet. It’s also easier to neatly slip each egg into the sauce from a bowl, which helps keep the eggs from spreading too much as they cook. 

overhead view of eggs in purgatory
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Spoon some sauce over the egg whites and finish on the stovetop. Taking a cue from Kenji’s shakshuka recipe, I incorporate his technique of spooning a little bit of the sauce around the whites of the eggs to help them set just a touch faster than the yolks. While some recipes rely on the oven to finish cooking the eggs, I found that covering the skillet and letting the eggs simmer and steam on the stovetop works just as well. Monitor the skillet closely and make sure to cook until the egg whites are just set and the yolks still golden and soft—perfect for dipping bread into.

Topping eggs with parmesaen cheese
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat broiler. Arrange bread slices on baking sheet and drizzle first sides with 2 tablespoons oil; flip slices and drizzle with 2 more tablespoons oil. Broil the bread until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Set aside.

eggs in purgatory step 1
Serious Eats/Amanda Suarez

In a large bowl, use your finger to crush tomatoes until tomato pieces are no larger than 1/2 inch; set aside.

eggs in purgatory step 2
Serious Eats/Amanda Suarez

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste, oregano, salt, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until rust-colored, about 2 minutes. Add basil leaves and cook until wilted, about 30 seconds. Stir in reserved crushed tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough that a spatula should leaves trail in the sauce that slowly fills in behind it, but the sauce should still move when the skillet is shaken.

eggs in purgatory step 3
Serious Eats/Amanda Suarez

Remove skillet from heat and let sit for 2 minutes to cool slightly. In a small bowl, crack 1 egg. Using a rubber spatula or large spoon, clear a 2-inch-diameter well in sauce. Immediately pour in the cracked egg. (The well will hold yolk in place but may not fully contain egg white; this is ok.) Repeat with remaining eggs, evenly spacing the remaining 7 eggs in total around the skillet (7 around perimeter and 1 in the center).

eggs in purgatory step 4
Serious Eats/Amanda Suarez

Season each egg lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover, and cook, reducing heat as needed to maintain gentle simmer, until yolks film over, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue to cook, covered, until whites are just set (if skillet is shaken lightly, each egg should jiggle), 1 to 2 minutes longer for slightly runny yolks or 3 to 4 minutes for soft-cooked yolks.

eggs in purgatory step 6
Serious Eats/Amanda Suarez

Off heat sprinkle with Parmesan and chopped basil and drizzle with extra oil. Serve immediately with toasted bread.

eggs in purgatory step 6
Serious Eats/Amanda Suarez

Special Equipment

12-inch skillet

Notes

Adjust the red pepper flakes amount to your preferred spice level.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The sauce can be cooked through step 3 and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

The Easiest Upgrades for the Best Bloody Caesar Ever

For this brunch cocktail—Canada’s answer to the Bloody Mary—we skip the Clamato and use a blend of tomato juice, bottled clam juice, Worcestershire sauce, plus umami-rich fish sauce and optional MSG to bolster the drink’s savory appeal.

Side view of Bloody Caesar
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

No, the Bloody Caesar is not related to the Caesar salad. And if you initially thought it was, then you probably aren’t from Canada. The Bloody Caesar, also known as just the Caesar, is Canada’s answer to the Blood Mary. The cocktail is so popular in Canada that the drink was officially named Canada’s National Cocktail by Canada’s parliament in 2009, according to the Toronto Sun. The building blocks for both of these popular brunch cocktails are similar: a vodka base, tomato juice, Worcestershire, a blend of spices, and a kick of heat. But the Bloody Caesar goes a step further with added clam juice, for a whiff of brininess that marries with the tomato juice and other ingredients for a balanced and bright tasting cocktail that’s perfect for brunch.

Overhead view of bloody caesar
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

The Bloody Caesar dates back to 1969, and was invented by Walter Chell at the Calgary Inn in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Chell was asked to create a drink in celebration of the inn's new Italian restaurant. He drew inspiration from spaghetti alle vongole, a pasta dish made with clams. Chell mashed clams to produce “clam nectar” and mixed it with tomato juice and spices. The final formulation included vodka, tomato juice, clam juice, Worcestershire sauce, and a blend of savory spices. The cocktail is now typically made with Clamato—a commercially made blend of tomato juice, clams, and savory spices—instead of a blend of fresh clam juice and tomato juice. It’s a wonderfully savory eye-opener that’s the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, tart, and umami all in one sip. Here’s how to make one so good, you’ll see why Canadians love it.

Tips for Making a Brunch-Worthy Bloody Caesar at Home

Skip the Clamato. OK, some die-hard Bloody Caesar fans might gasp at my recommendation to skip the standard mixer in a Bloody Caesar. For a large scale busy bar that’s serving hundreds of these cocktails a day, using this commercially made tomato and clam juice blend makes sense: It’s shelf stable and already blended, minimizing the amount of prep needed to make a high volume of drinks to order. But for making a small batch at home, I urge you to use a combination of canned tomato juice and a high-quality bottled clam juice, which will add a more assertive briny flavor than premixed Clamato (I like to use Bar Harbor). I promise you the mixed drink will not taste overtly clammy. The broth adds a savory and refreshing backbone to the drink. Of course, if you simply can’t part with your Clamato, you don’t have to. Just swap in 3 3/4 cups Clamato for the tomato and clam juice, and omit the granulated sugar and optional MSG.

Side view of clamato and clam juice
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Up the umami. What makes a Bloody Caesar so great is its complexity. It has an intense level of umami in each sip. To create a seriously savory Bloody Caesar at home, add Worcestershire sauce (which is an ingredient in most recipes for the drink), but go a step further and add a couple of less expected ingredients to the mix for the most piquant cocktail possible. The first is fish sauce. You won’t be able to distinguish the fish sauce flavor in the final drink—it just enhances the briny, savory appeal. 

Secondly, I recommend adding MSG to the mix. I got the idea of adding MSG from the ingredient label on bottled Clamato mix itself. It's what gives Clamato its signature savory flavor, so it made sense to add a small amount to my home recipe. The MSG is optional, but having tasted batch after batch of this brunch cocktail, I found that the flavor in the versions with just a pinch of MSG always tasted better seasoned, with a welcome meaty undertone that made me want sip after sip. A sprinkle of dried oregano and garlic powder round out the drink with an earthy flavor, and while optional, I like to add a few dashes of Tabasco and freshly cracked black pepper to my drink when serving for a touch of heat.

Go all out with the garnishes. Perhaps the best part of a Bloody Caesar (and a Bloody Mary!) is the bounty of garnishes. The drink is big and bold, and the garnish should be, too. Consider a Bloody Caesar a form of individual expression and follow your creative urge wherever it takes you. I like to garnish mine with spicy pickled green beans (try it, trust me), green stuffed olives, a wedge of lemon or lime, and a cocktail shrimp hanging over the edge of the rim. But any salty little bites speared onto toothpicks or floating in the drink are sure to enhance the drink. There’s no wrong way to garnish a Bloody Caesar, and the result is a drink so satisfying, you might never make a Bloody Mary again.

Overhead view of garnishes
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For the Bloody Caesar mix: In a large pitcher, whisk tomato juice, bottled clam juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, sugar, oregano, garlic powder, and MSG, if using, until combined. Season to taste with salt. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Two image collage of bloody caesar
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For the cocktail: Fill glasses with ice. Add 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) Bloody Caesar mix, 3 tablespoons (1½ fluid ounces) vodka, a dash of Tabasco (if using) and a pinch of black pepper (if using) to each glass and stir to combine. Top with your preferred garnishes as desired. Serve.

Four image collage of building a glass fo bloody caesar
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Special Equipment

Large pitcher, serving glasses

Notes

3 3/4 cups Clamato can be substituted for the tomato and clam juice. If using Clamato, omit the optional monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Make-Ahead and Storage

The Bloody Caesar mix can be made through step 1 and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Easy Whipped Banana Ice Cream Recipe—No Dairy or Ice Cream Maker Required!

You can make our creamy banana ice cream with just one ingredient—but a couple of pantry ingredients make it so much better than any other “nice” cream.

Overhead view of banana ice cream
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

I grew up eating banana whip, aka banana ice cream or “nice cream,” a fluffy vegan dessert made of just bananas that was somehow as creamy and satisfying as real ice cream. During my childhood summers in Ocean City, New Jersey, every Sunday morning my sister and I would stroll the boardwalk together, dodging the speeding surreys, and stop at our favorite café, the Bashful Banana for their self-described "famous" banana whip. To me, their banana whip was actually better than ice cream. It was refreshing on a hot day and had the perfect silky custard-like texture, brimming with fresh banana flavor. As a kid, I also loved that since it was just puréed bananas, it was an acceptable “ice cream” to eat any time of day.

As an adult, banana whip is still one of my go-to frozen treats, and it might be the easiest "ice cream" to make at home. Bananas are a perfect choice for a creamy base: Their high pectin content allows them to remain creamy when frozen and their natural sweetness means that you don't need to add any sugar. 

Side view of banana ice cream
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For the simplest nice cream, you just need to toss frozen bananas into a food processor and give it a good whirl. But for truly stellar banana ice cream, I like to add a splash of oat milk, almond milk, whole milk, or heavy cream, which ups the luscious creaminess of the blend, along with a bit of vanilla and lemon juice. If you like soft-serve consistency, eat it right away. For more traditional scoops, freeze it in an airtight container, and dole out as you would any traditional ice cream. Whether enjoyed right out of the processor bowl or from the freezer, it's absolutely delicious. Here are a few tips for the creamiest banana ice cream ever.

Tips for Creamy Banana Ice Cream

Give your blender a break and use your food processor instead. Over the years I’ve tested making banana whips in both a blender and a food processor, and I’ve always had the best success with a food processor. Unless you have a very high-powered blender, the mixture won’t always fully catch the blender’s small blade, and will require a lot of scraping down off the sides of the blender jar. The work bowl of the food processor is wider and flatter than a blender jar, exposing the frozen bananas to more air than a blender does. The result: lighter, silkier banana whip. The large cutting blade of the food processor also cuts through the frozen bananas more easily than the smaller blades of a blender, which means you need less liquid to properly blend the mixture. This guarantees a rich, creamy, ice cream texture.

Briefly thaw and slice the frozen bananas before processing. Blitzing whole frozen solid bananas into the food processor could possibly damage the blade. Take a few minutes to soften the frozen bananas on your countertop and slice before adding to the food processor bowl. This will speed up the processing time and will ensure a smooth texture throughout the entire mixture. Trust me, your food processor’s blade will thank you and you’ll have better nice cream too. 

Overhead view of sliced frozen bananas
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Process the bananas with your preferred milk or even water. Adding a small amount of liquid helps the processor’s blade catch the bananas to purée properly without needing to constantly scrape down the bowl every ten seconds. It also lends the mixture a bit more creaminess. Use your preferred dairy or dairy substitute. In a pinch, you could even just use water.

Add a touch of vanilla, lemon juice, and salt to intensify the banana flavor. While lemon juice and vanilla extract are not mandatory for the recipe’s success, I love how lemon juice’s acidity and vanilla extract’s depth of flavor enhance and brighten the banana flavor. Play with the recipe and try adding one, the other, or both to the mix. Meanwhile, as with most desserts, a pinch of salt further enhances the flavors. 

Get creative with add-ins. Consider adding a spoonful of peanut butter, chocolate-hazelnut spread such as Nutella, or honey; a handful of chocolate chips or almonds; or 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or cardamom when processing the banana mixture. I add a different flavor almost every time I make my soon-to-be-famous banana whip at home.

Peel bananas, place in a large zipper-lock bag, and press out excess air. Freeze bananas until solid, at least 8 hours.

Overhead view of frozen bananas
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Let bananas sit at room temperature to soften slightly, about 15 minutes. Slice into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. In a food processor, place banana slices, milk or cream, vanilla, lemon juice, if using, and salt and process until smooth, about 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Four image collage of making banana ice cream
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For a softer texture, serve immediately, or for a firmer ice cream, transfer mixture to an airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. Serve.

Overhead view of scoop of ice cream
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Special Equipment

Food processor

Notes

Be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas in this recipe.

You can skip the freezing in step 3 and serve the ice cream immediately, but the texture will be softer.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Bananas can be peeled and frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months before you prepare the ice cream (they will remain safe indefinitely but quality can begin to suffer over time).

The finished banana ice cream can be transferred to an airtight container and frozen for up to 7 days.

For the Best Banana Bread, Double Down on the Fruit

Say goodbye to bland banana bread. For a striking loaf with a deep mahogany crust, tender crumb, and the most intense banana flavor, we cram six bananas into the batter.

Overhead view of banana bread
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

There’s a lot of banana bread out there, but slices of truly great banana bread are few and far between. Here, I present a recipe to change that. Great banana bread should be fairly simple to prepare while also having incredible banana flavor. And while “bread” is in the name, it shouldn't be bready-y or tough at all. It should be buttery, rich, and tender, yet hold together when sliced and be hearty enough to pick up a slice without it crumbling apart.

Overhead view of banana bread slice
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

If you'll allow me to extrapolate from internet search data, many of you are making banana bread, but you're still on the hunt for the perfect banana bread recipe: Since 2004, Google searches for banana bread have steadily climbed, hitting an all-time high at the start of the pandemic in April 2020. That year, banana bread was the number one searched recipe in the U.S., according to CNBC. While in 2024 it’s not the top searched recipe overall, it is still the most searched bread on the internet. It’s easy to understand banana bread’s popularity: It’s fairly simple to prepare (mash, mix, bake), it relies on ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, and it’s a great way to use up a bunch of bananas slowly turning spotty brown on your countertop or stashed away in your freezer.

Even if you are already making banana bread regularly, I’m willing to bet that it could be better. (The fact that you clicked on this banana bread recipe indicates that you might indeed be hankering for a better loaf.) For starters, most banana breads don’t even taste that much like their namesake fruit. The banana flavor often seems to disappear during baking, leaving a bland loaf that needs an abundance of cinnamon ,nutmeg, chocolate chips, or walnuts to punch it up.

Overhead view of banana bread loaf
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Serious Eats already has Stella’s amazing classic banana bread recipe that delivers on flavor, but I wanted an easier banana bread recipe that relies on basic pantry ingredients with a simple preparation that doesn’t require a stand-mixer or any specialty appliances. I’ll still make Stella’s banana bread when I have the time and energy, but after rounds of testing, I’ve created my new go-to banana bread. This banana bread is easy to make, has just the right sweetness, and (most importantly) is heavy with the aroma and flavor of bananas. The key to this? Packing six whole bananas—that’s double the bananas than most recipes—into one loaf with the help of a quick stovetop technique. Here’s how to do it.

Tips for the Best Banana Bread

Choose ripe bananas. Great banana bread starts not in your mixing bowl, but in your fruit bowl. The ripeness of the fruit has a large impact on banana bread’s texture and flavor. Bananas are climacteric, meaning they are picked from the tree when they are fully formed, but ripen after harvest. This is because picking triggers the release of ethylene gas, which is what ripens bananas, as well as many other fruits such as avocados, apples, and peaches. Ethylene gas triggers a number of changes in fruit. The three main changes it produces in bananas are a decrease in acid, which leads to a milder tasting fruit; the breakdown of chlorophyll, which changes the banana’s color from green to yellow; and the conversion of starch into sugars, which sweetens the banana.

Underripe or green bananas are so high in starch and low in sugar that they lack sweetness and well developed banana flavor. They taste vegetal and slightly astringent due to the abundance of acids and starch. On the other end of the ripeness spectrum, bananas that are completely black are overly sweet and their lack of starch and abundance of fructose creates a dense gummy texture in banana bread. So, when it comes to making banana bread, patience is a virtue—don’t even think about baking with your bananas until they’ve got plenty of brown speckles. At this stage of ripening, the bananas have a mix of sugar and starch that will produce banana bread with a welcome light texture and sweet, well developed banana flavor. 

Side view of banana bread loag
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

If you find yourself with underripe bananas, you can speed ripening by a day or two by putting them in a paper bag to trap their ethylene gas. To accelerate the process even more, add a ripe banana or any other ripe ethylene-emitting fruit to the bag (avocados, apples, and oranges all work well). Or if you have no fresh bananas on your counter, this recipe works well with frozen ripe bananas. Just be sure to thaw the bananas on the counter for about 15 minutes before cutting into them.

Cook the bananas for a light texture and deep banana flavor. As mentioned above, this banana bread fits six whole bananas into one loaf, while most banana bread recipes call for a max of three. I initially tried baking a loaf with six raw mashed bananas folded into the batter to double down on banana flavor, but the bread was gluey, dense, and stuck to the roof of my mouth from the excess moisture. My tests helped me understand why so many recipes use three or fewer bananas in their bread—it’s to ensure the bread isn’t stodgy, like my six fresh banana loaf was. 

I wanted to keep all those bananas in the batter for the biggest banana flavor possible, but I wanted to get rid of the excess moisture. While I was working at America's Test Kitchen, I learned from Andrea Geary’s Cook’s Illustrated banana bread recipe that you can cram more bananas into banana bread without creating a wet texture by cooking the bananas to reduce their liquid. While that recipe calls for microwaving the bananas, my solution is cooking the bananas in butter on the stovetop. Cooking the bananas this way accomplishes two main things: It evaporates excess water from the bananas and develops a rich deep caramelized banana flavor that imbues the loaf.

Brown the butter, and cook the bananas even further for a deep banana-toffee flavor. Once I realized how caramelizing the fruit deepened the banana flavor in the bread, I decided to also use brown butter in the loaf. Brown butter is one of the most versatile flavor-boosting ingredients around, and it makes most baked goods taste better, including banana bread.

The key to this bread’s rich banana-forward flavor is the combination of brown butter and caramelized bananas. The three key stages to making the brown butter and caramelized banana mixture is searing the bananas, browning the butter, and frying the bananas in the brown butter until it forms a homogenous, deep brown, syrupy mixture. It’s important to brown the butter on its own—if you try to brown the butter with the bananas, the solids in the butter will never brown properly due to the moisture from the bananas. This flavor-boosting technique takes only a few minutes on the stovetop, and is well worth the effort.

Add fresh bananas for ultimate banana flavor. While this loaf’s flavor revolves around the cooked banana mixture described above, it’s still important to mash fresh bananas into the batter. A ratio of four cooked bananas to two fresh ones works best. The fruitiness of the fresh bananas balances the richness of the brown butter and caramelized banana mixture. You can use a potato masher or even just a large fork for mashing. It’s OK if a few larger chunks of banana remain—they’ll dissolve into the bread while baking and add a welcome fresh fruity flavor.

Don’t overmix the batter. This batter is thick and lumpy, but once the flour is added, do not be tempted to try to whisk or stir those lumps away. Overmixing the batter will cause unwanted gluten development, which will make the loaf tough and chewy, so stir the batter until the flour is just combined. It’s even OK if a few dry streaks of flour remain—they will be absorbed while baking. It’s better to under-mix than overmix with this quickbread batter.

Skip the spices. This is banana bread, not a spiced bread. I know a lot of banana bread recipes rely on warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to season the loaves. In theory these spices enhance the banana flavor, but in practice warm spices often overpower the banana flavor, especially if that fruit flavor is already dull. So skip the spices and let the rich and fruity banana flavor shine in this loaf.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350℉(175℃). Spray bottom and sides of a 9-by-5-­inch metal loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. 

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder until combined; set aside. In a large bowl, use a potato masher to mash the 2 whole bananas until fairly smooth; set aside.

In a 10-inch nonstick or cast iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add banana slices flat side down and cook until glossy, golden brown, and softened, flipping slices as needed, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

In the now-empty skillet, add the remaining butter and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and swirling skillet constantly with rubber spatula, until butter is light golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 2 to 4 minutes. Return the browned bananas to the skillet and continue to cook, stirring and flipping the banana mixture frequently until the bananas are mostly broken down and the mixture turns dark golden brown and has a deep caramelized nutty banana aroma, 6 to 8 minutes. Off heat stir in the brown sugar, return to heat and cook, stirring frequently, until sugar is fully dissolved and the syrupy mixture gently bubbles, about 1 minute. Transfer the banana mixture to a large bowl with the mashed fresh bananas. Let sit until cooled slightly, for 10 minutes.

Using a potato masher, mash the banana mixture until mostly smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla until combined. Using a spatula, stir in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in walnuts, coconut and/or chocolate chips, if using. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into greased loaf pan and smooth top.

Bake until banana bread is golden brown and a toothpick or paring knife inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer banana bread to a wire rack and cool in the pan for 15 minutes.

Use oven mitts to carefully turn the loaf pan on its side and remove banana bread from the pan. Let banana bread continue to cool on the cooling rack for at least 1 hour. Transfer to cutting board, slice, and serve.

Overhead view of sliced banana bread
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Special Equipment

9-by-5-­inch metal loaf pan, 10-inch nonstick or cast iron skillet, potato masher or large fork

Notes

To toast the coconut flakes (if using): Spread coconut in an even layer on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet and bake on the middle rack of the oven at 350℉(175℃), stirring every 5 minutes, until the shreds are a mix of golden brown and white, about 15 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet before transferring to a bowl or airtight container.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The cooled loaf can be covered tightly with plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Brown Butter Bananarama Cookies

These cookies get their rich banana and toffee flavor from caramelized bananas and brown butter. Customize them with chocolate chips or toasted coconut flakes.

Overhead view of banana cookies
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

When you’ve got a bunch of bananas slowly turning spotty on the countertop, the common course of action is to mash them up and turn them into banana bread, right? But the next time this happens to you, I suggest making banana cookies instead. 

Overhead view of looking inside banana cookie
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

I understand why banana cookies, or bananaramas as I playfully call them, don't have the same level of fame as banana bread: They’re usually too cakey or gluey in texture and the banana flavor is so dull that the fruit tastes more like an afterthought than a showcased ingredient. Unlike those subpar banana cookies, these cookies have the same rich banana flavor as the very best banana bread but with a chewy, tender cookie texture that makes them perfect for dunking into a cold glass of milk. 

After baking batch after batch of cookies with countless bunches of bananas, I’ve developed a recipe for cookies that have a pronounced banana flavor with notes of butterscotch and toffee.They also have my ideal cookie texture: soft and chewy with lightly crisp and browned edges. I think they’re perfect just as they are, but I’ve also included options for gussying them up with coconut flakes or chocolate chips. Here are my tips for making the best banana cookies at home.

Key Steps for the Most Banana-y Cookies Ever

1. Use perfectly ripe bananas. As with banana bread, the ripeness of the fruit has a large impact on banana cookies’ texture and flavor. Underripe or green bananas are so high in starch and low in sugar that they result in dry and cakey cookies that not only lack sweetness, but also have a vegetal and slightly astringent flavor due to the abundance of starch. On the other end of the ripeness spectrum, bananas that are completely black make for dense, somewhat gummy cookies. So instead using overripe or underripe fruit, reach for yellow bananas that are just beginning to turn spotty brown. At this stage of ripening, the bananas have a mix of sugar and starch that will produce cookies with a welcome light texture and sweet, well developed banana flavor. 

If you find yourself with underripe bananas, you can speed ripening by a day or two by putting them in a paper bag to trap their ethylene gas, which speeds ripening. To speed the process even more, add a ripe banana or any other ripe ethylene-emitting fruit to the bag (avocados, apples, and oranges all work well). Or if you have no fresh bananas on your counter, this recipe works well with frozen ripe bananas. Just be sure to thaw the bananas on the counter for about 15 minutes before cutting into them.

2. Brown the butter and bananas for a deep, banana-toffee flavor. Brown butter makes most baked goods taste better and these cookies are no exception. The key to the cookies’ rich banana-forward flavor is the combination of brown butter and caramelized bananas in the base of the dough. 

It takes only a few minutes on the stovetop to do this. The three key stages to this process are searing the bananas, browning the butter, and frying the bananas in the brown butter until it forms a homogenous, deep brown, syrupy mixture. It’s important to brown the butter on its own—if you try to brown the butter with the bananas, the solids in the butter will never brown properly due to the moisture from the bananas. Once the bananas and butter are fully cooked, your kitchen will smell like caramelized bananas and you might be tempted to eat them right out of the pan, but hold out. 

3. Let the dough rest before shaping. It’s important to refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before trying to portion and shape the cookies for baking. Refrigerating the dough not only cools it down to the proper temperature for rolling and shaping, but—as Kenji explains in his chocolate chip cookie recipe—resting the dough also further develops the cookie's flavor. So how does it work? Harold McGee explains in Keys to Good Cooking that during the resting process, both flour proteins and starches break down a bit, which leads to more browning and caramelization as the cookies bake. Also, as the dough rests, the flour in the dough hydrates, and the ingredients meld together, resulting in a richer flavor. Even just a 30 minute rest will enhance the cookie's flavor, but if you have the patience and time, I recommend refrigerating the cookie dough overnight for the most flavorful cookies possible.

Overhead view of cookie dough
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

4. Press each cookie into a round disc. After the cookies are portioned and rolled into round balls, use wet fingers to press them into flat 3-inch round disks. The glue-like starches in the bananas cause the dough to spread less than other types of cookie dough, so patting the cookies flat ensures they will have the right thickness and will bake evenly.

5. Bake until the cookies are just set. You can mix, rest, and manipulate the cookie dough all you want, but if you don’t bake the cookies properly, they will never have the perfect chewy texture. Pull them too early and you’ll have a doughy mess on your hands, bake them too long and they will dry out. The key to cookies that remain moist and chewy once cooled is to bake the cookies until the edges are just set and golden brown. The cookie centers will be slightly puffed (they’ll deflate slightly once cooled) and still soft when removed from the oven. If left in the oven until the tops firm up, the cookies will be overcooked and dried out. 

6. Make the recipe your own with add-ins and toppings.These cookies are great as-is, but they also pair well with some crunchy toasted coconut flakes or gooey chocolate chips folded into the batter. For a fun decoration, try topping each cookie with a thin banana round that’s been tossed in sugar. The sugar will lightly caramelize the banana slice while baking for a pretty final presentation. 

7. Let the cookies cool briefly. Once the cookies are baked, just make sure to wait at least 15 minutes for them to firm up before biting into one, otherwise they will fall apart. But they’re worth the wait. I guarantee you'll go bananas over these cookies.

Adjust oven rack to middle positions and heat oven to 350℉ (175℃). Line 2 rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda to combine; set aside.

In a 10-inch nonstick or cast iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add banana slices cut side down and cook until glossy, golden brown, and softened, flipping slices as needed, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl.

Overhead view of bananas cookies
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

In the now-empty skillet, add the remaining butter and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and swirling skillet constantly with rubber spatula, until butter is light golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 2 to 4 minutes. Return the browned banana to the skillet and continue to cook, stirring and flipping the banana mixture frequently until the bananas are mostly broken down and the mixture turns dark golden brown and has a deep caramelized, nutty banana aroma, 6 to 8 minutes. Off heat stir in the brown sugar, return to heat and cook, stirring frequently, until sugar is fully dissolved and the syrupy mixture gently bubbles, about 1 minute. Transfer the banana mixture to a large bowl. Let sit until cooled slightly, for 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes.

Using a potato masher, mash the banana mixture until mostly smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla until combined. Using a spatula, stir in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in coconut and/or chocolate chips, if using.

Refrigerate dough mixture until firm enough to roll, at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Using greased portion scoop or wet hands, divide into roughly 2-tablespoon portions (about 2 ounces; 50g each) and round each one into a smooth ball. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. Using wet hands or the back of a greased measure cup, press the dough balls into 3-inch round disks.

Overhead view of flattening cookies
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For topping the cookies (optional): Toss the banana slices with the sugar until lightly coated. Press 1 chocolate chunk and/or 1 banana slice gently into the center of each cookie.

Overhead view of adding banana to cookies
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Bake cookies, 1 tray at a time, until cookies are golden brown and puff slightly, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 12 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and let cookies cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Overhead view of baking cookies
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Special Equipment

10-inch nonstick or cast iron skillet, 2 rimmed baking sheets

Notes

To toast the coconut flakes (if using): Spread coconut in an even layer on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet and bake on the middle rack of the oven at 350℉(175℃), stirring every 5 minutes, until the shreds are a mix of golden brown and white, about 15 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet before transferring to a bowl or airtight container.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Once cooled, transfer cookies to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

This Easy Weeknight Garlic Bread Is Made for Garlic Lovers

A combination of garlic powder and fresh garlic give this buttery, crusty bread a wonderfully intense garlic flavor in under 15 minutes.

Overhead view of garlic bread
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

While garlic bread is seemingly simple to make, many versions are a disappointment to eat, with either too much or too little garlic flavor and bread that’s unpleasantly burnt at the edges while still soggy in the center. Great garlic bread should be buttery, crusty, and perfectly toasty from edge to edge. It should have an intense garlic flavor without being overwhelming, and it should be well seasoned—and well buttered!—in every bite. 

Close up of garlic butter bread
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

To avoid the common pitfalls that stand in the way of making perfect garlic bread, read on for my tips on making evenly toasted garlic bread with robust garlic flavor that is prominent but not harsh. My recipe not only produces delicious garlic bread, but it requires just a handful of common ingredients and about 5 minutes of active prep time before it bakes for 15 minutes. without requiring the time to roast a full head of garlic before even starting the bread.

Unlock Garlic Powder's Full Potential

We’re all in agreement that garlic powder, like many dried seasonings and spices, gets a bad rap. One reason for this is that we often expect the same flavor from garlic powder as we do from fresh garlic. To fully appreciate garlic powder, we must first accept that it will never have the vibrant bite that fresh garlic does. Instead, garlic powder has a gentler and sweeter garlic flavor than its fresh counterpart, and when used correctly and in moderation, it can add a subtle cooked garlic flavor to your garlic bread.

Overhead view of ingredients
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Potentially adding to garlic powder’s stigma is the fact that garlic powder is often used incorrectly. When sprinkled dry directly onto foods, it can taste dusty and lackluster. This is because garlic powder straight from the jar has not developed its full flavor. Alliin and allinase, the two compounds that react to produce the primary flavor component in garlic, are in an inactive state when dry, as they are in garlic powder. But when hydrated with water, these water-soluble compounds are activated to produce the chemical allicin, which is responsible for garlic’s pungency and aroma. When garlic powder is first stirred with a small amount of water before being used, the result is an enhanced roasty, sweet garlic flavor. I learned this technique from Annie Petito’s garlic bread recipe for Cooks Illustrated, where she uses the technique of hydrating the garlic powder with water before blending it with butter to form a paste, and I’ve incorporated that in this recipe below.

Skip Oven Roasted Fresh Garlic and Use Your Microwave Instead

Let’s be honest with ourselves—there’s no flavor that compares with a slow-roasted, creamy head of garlic, especially when smeared over fresh bread. When I have the time, I do like to incorporate roasted garlic into my garlic bread. But, it takes an hour just to roast, cool, and separate the garlic gloves before even getting to making the garlic bread. 

For an approachable weeknight garlic bread that is fast and easy to make, with savory garlic flavor, I found that finely mincing just a few cloves of fresh garlic and briefly microwaving them with butter gently cooked the garlic just enough to tame its raw flavor while also infusing the butter with incredible garlic flavor. The assertive flavor of the garlic-infused butter paired with the sweeter, more delicate flavor of the garlic powder creates a complex garlic flavor with just minutes of preparation. Am I saying it mimics real roasted garlic flavor? Not entirely, but it’s still incredibly delicious, and approachable for any night of the week.

Make a Spreadable Garlic-Butter Paste to Evenly Coat the Bread

Combining the melted, garlic-infused butter with softened but still solid butter makes a spreadable garlic-infused paste that smears easily onto the bread. Simply pouring the hot melted butter over the still solid butter and quickly stirring the mixture together with a small spoon should create the paste immediately. If the mixture is too liquidy at first, just let it cool at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before stirring to recombine. At this point, the butter mixture should be solidified but soft and spreadable. Once the right texture is achieved, I stir in a couple tablespoons of good extra-virgin olive oil because I love the way the combination of rich butter and fruity olive oil taste, particularly on bread. 

Overhead view of buttering garlic bread
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Bake the Bread on Both Sides for Even Toasting

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a firm believer that well made garlic bread should be perfectly toasty and lightly browned edge to edge. To ensure this, after halving a loaf of soft Italian bread horizontally and spreading it with the garlic butter, I first bake the bread cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet until the butter mixture is fully melted and has seeped into the bread before flipping the bread over, cut side down, and gently pressing it into the rimmed baking sheet. This process guarantees that the bread crisps and browns evenly. 

When the bread is finished, make sure to use a thin spatula to carefully flip the bread cut side up onto a cutting board. If some of the toasty garlic bits are left behind on the sheet pan, just use the spatula to scrape them up and then sprinkle back onto the bread before slicing it into individual portions and serving.

Flavor Variations

The recipe below is simple and pantry friendly, but you can introduce a variety of flavors to it. The garlic bread I grew up eating always had a sprinkle of paprika and cayenne, a combo that creates an appealing rust-tinged color and a subtle hint of heat, so I’ve included those here as optional ingredients.

You can take your garlic bread even further and add freshly grated Parmesan cheese or a teaspoon of minced anchovies to the butter paste before spreading it over the bread. Or fold in a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh chives, parsley, or basil, or a teaspoon of minced woodsy herbs like fresh rosemary or thyme. I sometimes also add a couple tablespoons of minced sundried tomatoes and swap in the sun dried tomato oil for the olive oil in the recipe. With this quick and easy recipe in your pocket, you can have garlic bread every night of the week—I can tell you my family didn't complain when we did just that when I was developing this recipe.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425℉(220℃). In a medium bowl, combine garlic powder and water; set aside. 

Overhead view of combining garlic powder and water
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Place half of the butter and all of the minced garlic, salt, paprika, and cayenne, if using, in a small bowl and microwave, covered, until butter is melted, and mixture is bubbling around to edges, 60 to 90 seconds, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds. 

Two image collage of garlic butter mixture before and after being mixed
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Transfer melted butter mixture to the bowl with garlic powder mixture, add the remaining half of the butter, and stir with a small spoon until homogeneous loose paste forms. Whisk in the olive oil. (If the mixture melts completely, set aside and let it solidify slightly before using.)

Four image collage of overhead view of making garlic butter mixture
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Spread cut sides of bread evenly with garlic-butter paste. Transfer bread, cut sides up, to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the butter mixture has melted and seeped into bread, and edges are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove sheet from oven. Flip bread so the cut sides are down, and gently press into the baking sheet. Return to oven, and continue to bake until the cut bottom sides are light golden brown and crisp, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Use a thin spatula to gently flip, then transfer bread to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, slice and serve.

Four image collage of baking garlic bread
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Special Equipment

Rimmed baking sheet

Notes

A roughly 12 by 5-inch loaf of supermarket Italian bread, which has a soft, thin crust and fine crumb, works well here. Do not use a rustic or crusty artisan-style loaf, which are too cavernous for making garlic bread. 

This Quick, Foolproof Lemon Tart Is My Favorite Spring Dessert

With its buttery, shortbread crust and a soft, dense lemon curd filling that holds its shape when sliced, this classic lemon tart is sure to make you pucker.

Overhead view of Lemon Tart
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

When I was a kid, one of my favorite treats was a lemon stick—a candied lemon straw pierced into a cut lemon half. Every sip through the candied straw brought a jolt of fresh lemon juice so intense it always made me pucker. I haven't eaten lemon sticks since I was a child, but as an adult I satisfy my craving for that sweet-tart jolt by making lemon tarts professionally and at home. To me, a great lemon tart should make your mouth pucker so much that your eyes open wide too, and that’s what I was aiming for when I developed this recipe: a filling that’s sweet, yes, but also has a powerful fresh lemon punch. 

Side view of a slice of lemon tart
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

In this recipe, the lemon curd is intensely bright tasting, sharp, and tangy with a silky smooth texture that’s creamy and dense enough to hold together once the tart is sliced. The filling’s velvety texture is countered by a crunchy shortbread-like crust. Not only does this tart taste fantastic (if I do say so myself), the whole thing requires just 15 minutes of active prep time, followed by 40 minutes of baking (that includes baking the tart crust and cooking the lemon curd), and an hour of resting. Here’s how to do it.

How to Make an Intensely Tart Lemon Curd Filling

I’ve professionally baked and eaten a lot of lemon tarts over the years and the biggest problem with most of them was that they simply were not lemony enough. These subpar tarts were cloyingly sweet or unpleasantly eggy. A great lemon curd needs to celebrate the fruit’s fresh flavor, and the first way to ensure this is to use more lemon than you would expect. Through testing many rounds of curds, I found that to achieve a supremely tart tart, you need to use an aggressive amount of both lemon zest and lemon juice. 

OVerhead view of lemon tart
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

The other way to get the sharpest lemon flavor possible is to cut down on the amount of sweetener used in the filling, and to use honey instead of granulated sugar. In my research, most recipes call for at least a full cup of granulated sugar to sweeten the curd filling. I tried this standard at the start of recipe testing, but the result was a cloyingly sweet and dull lemon filling. I tested again using less sugar, going all the way down to a half cup. With less sugar, the flavor was sharper and closer to that pucker-worthy lemon filling flavor I wanted. But the filling still didn’t taste as vibrant as I wanted. The solution was using honey instead of granulated sugar in the lemon filling. Honey's mild floral flavor pairs perfectly with the sharp lemons and adds a subtle depth of flavor to the curd.

The other ingredients in the curd are fairly straightforward. A combination of three whole eggs and a full six eggs yolks thickens and emulsifies the curd, giving it its signature creamy but sliceable texture. Using extra yolks also means you don’t need to thicken the filling with cornstarch or flour, which can add an unwelcome grainy texture. After the curd is cooked and strained, a few tablespoons of butter and heavy cream are whisked in for a hint of richness to balance the sharp lemon flavor. The whole process of making the curd takes about 10 minutes.

Pair It With an Easy Pat-in-the-Pan Shortbread-Style Crust

Once you have your tart filling prepped, all you have to do is pour it into a prepared tart shell. While you can use a store-bought shell or a classic French pâte sucrée—which requires a stand mixer and hours of chilling before rolling the dough out—my go-to is the simple pat-in-the-pan crust I’ve included here. (The tart shell is great for other fillings too). This buttery, shortbread-like shell is the perfect container for the tart lemon filling. It's sturdy when handled but tender once bitten into and the buttery flavor pairs perfectly with the bright lemon.

Bite of lemon tart
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

The tart crust takes only a few minutes to prepare and you can make the lemon curd while the crust bakes. The hardest part of this recipe might be the fact that you need to wait at least an hour for the tart to fully cool and the curd filling to set before slicing and serving.

For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350℉. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, and salt together. Pour butter and water into the flour mixture and using a flexible spatula, stir until well combined and a uniform dough is formed.

Two image collage of making pie dough in bowl
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Using your hands, pinch off and distribute three-quarters of the dough over the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using your hands and an off-set spatula or the bottom of a large measuring cup, press dough to an even thickness in the bottom of the pan. Pinch the remaining dough into smaller pieces and scatter evenly around the edge of the pan, then use your fingers to press dough into fluted sides of the pan. Press dough to even thickness until sides are completely covered.

Two image collage of pressing dough into pie tin
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Place the dough-lined pan on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is light golden brown and firm to touch, 25 to 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Set aside until ready to fill. (Cooled crust can be wrapped loosely in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours.)

Pie crust after being baked
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For the Lemon Filling: Whisk eggs and yolks, honey, lemon zest and juice, and salt together in a medium saucepan until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with rubber spatula, until mixture thickens slightly and registers 165°F, 5 to 7 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter until melted. Strain lemon curd through fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl, then gently stir cream into the strained mixture with a rubber spatula.

Four image collage of making lemon filling
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Pour the warm lemon curd over the baked crust. Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and center jiggles slightly when shaken, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, at least 1 hour.

Two image collage of filling pie
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Special Equipment

9-inch tart pan with removable bottom, wire rack and rimmed baking sheet, medium saucepan

Make-Ahead and Storage

Crust can be made up to 24 hours in advance of filling. After baking, cool crust completely, then wrap loosely in plastic wrap and store at room temperature until ready to fill.