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What is your favorite cooking mag--and why?

  • f

It's a new year, so I'm trying to figure out which of my cooking magazines to get rid of and/or which new one (s) to take, if any. To that end, I'd love to hear from all of you: what is your favorite magazine and why?

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  1. I have a few favorites and still keep my eyes open at the newstand as sometimes there is one feature that I want - for instance, sometimes Good Housekeeping has a sensational article on cookies or cooking with kids, but I don't want to read all the other stuff.

    Anyway, one that I would recommend subscribing to is "Eating Well" It is not monthly, but every other month (six issues per year).

    And, I would also subscribe to a more exotic/gourmet one. Then, combine the info with what you learn.

    Link: http://www.eatingwell.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: kc girl
      Caitlin Wheeler

      I'd second the rec for Eating Well. As for others, my parents subscribe to a bunch, and I subscribe to a bunch, and I sat down one day and read through big stacks.

      Saveur gets a lot of good press here but I don't like it at all -- the recipes are too complicated, the articles are too disjointed to me (there are a lot of "lists") and it's not really practical.

      Food and Wine I used to like but I agree it's all ads.

      Cook's Illustrated is very informative, but it's like the Consumer Reports of cooking. Yes, the recipes are very good, but they rarely get me excited about making them. No ideas, in other words.

      So I still have my subscription to Gourmet, which other people HATE, and I don't really get it, but maybe because I'm young enough not to have grown attached to the old format. It has a lot of recipes that inspire me to cook them, and they usually work. The travel articles are usually pretty good and the pictures are pretty. I like the menu format, and the writing is usually decent.

      1. re: Caitlin Wheeler

        The only thing about Eating Well is they sometimes use canned or frozen product. I think that is so one can read the nutrition label and learn. Plus, it is not pretentious to those that don't have fresh from the farm.

        But, that's why I say to combine it with another more gourmet magazine. One you've learned and poached or grilled a very tender piece of salmon or sauted a tender spinach, you may want to sub in the fresh in their recipe.

    2. Saveur is good for anything about food from across the globe. it's informative and interesting and it also helps that they have lots of pictures. Cooks Illustrated is another that i swear by. From Australia, there's one called Delicious-they have a very pared down approach to cuisine which is refreshing (think Donna Hays).

      Other cookbooks rely too much on advertisement and glossy pix. Plus, they seem to have crossed over to the realm of entertainment, travel and wine. i'm not saying they are bad but if all you want to know about is food, then avoid Gourmet, Food & Wine etc (i apologise in advance-i know my comments are at risk of offending alot of people)

      2 Replies
      1. re: melissa

        and, no matter wht they say, I do believe that Gourmet fakes some of it's pictures. I did cancel my subscription over the frosting of a cake on Gourmet's cover, so take my words with a grain of salt. I emailed them my cancellation, saying that the frosting must have been a fake or retouched, because butter cream (their recipe had a high proportion of butter even for buttercream) is not stark, dead white. Gourmet published this as a leter, with the snide comment that meringue buttercream gets lighter when it's whipped. Well DUH! Kind of sensitive about the retouching issue?
        On the other hand they have the most useful, non-dumbed down recipes.
        Chocolatier has recently dumbed down - and I thought their target audience would have some skills!

        1. re: pastrytroll

          Ah, the infamous cake cover...personally I absolutely loved it. So whimsical. But I digress.

          I find Cook's Illustrated's testing a recipe every which way to be tedious, so I tend to avoid it.

          I also have to plug Gourmet. Personally, I find the writing and photography absolutely wonderful. I think they also have a nice balance between big production recipes and things you can make on a weeknight without too much fuss. (I'm single, so I also appreciate their occasional "cooking for one" articles).

          I also take Bon Appetit- IMHO, basically Gourmet lite- recipes can be a bit simpler, using less excotic ingredients. I've become less impressed with it over time and may let my subscription lapse, though.

      2. Didn't we just have this discussion about a week or so ago?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Candy

          And the week before that?

          1. re: Kimm

            Maybe they don't know how to search or are a new user. Why not be helpful and link to these past discussions? What a way to start off my morning, reading your posts...

            1. re: gg

              Guess I'm just not as nice as you are. Thanks for telling me off.

        2. Years ago, I subscribed to several: Gourmet, Food and Wine, Cooks, Pleasures of Cooking, etc. Now I don't subscribe to any --I just flip through whatever's on the rack at my local supermarket (Whole Foods). If a magazine offers articles and recipes that appeal to me, I buy it.

          1. At one time or another, I have subscribed to nearly every cooking magazine there is, and my current favorite is Gourmet. It works for me, because it offers what I personally want right now: a nice balance of food features, news, and useful recipes. Plus I am a big fan of Ruth Reichl.

            As for the other food magazines I’ve had in my life…

            Food & Wine- I subscribed for years in the early 90’s and then suddenly every other page of “content” was merely advertising for so-and-so’s new line of flatware…and all the recipes were featured as part of contrived dinner parties in ridiculous locations. Recipes were either too trendy, too time consuming or too tasteless. I haven’t picked it up in years so it could be different now.

            Bon Appetit- I have a friend who swears by this magazine, but it never did it for me. I don’t think it’s too much different from Gourmet, frankly. But I just prefer Gourmet.

            Saveur- Gorgeous, romantic, and totally indulgent in food. I absolutely respect this magazine. But after getting it for two years, guess how many recipes I made? One. It was fabulous (a celery and blue cheese salad), but I could not justify the expense. Don’t get me wrong- I loved reading the articles and looking through the gorgeous photos, but I never felt it was practical enough for me.

            Cooks Illustrated-This was invaluable when I started cooking, as it obsesses about every detail and every variable, which can be very educational. Plus it offers great consumer info on best ingredients, knives, etc. But after subscribing to it for over 5 years, it started t become annoying, limiting, and know-it-ally. I needed something more sensual, laid back.

            Fine Cooking- Like Cook’s Illustrated with ads, basically. Lacked the features and world view that I like. But nice no-nonsense design and content. I cooked many things from it.

            Gastronomica- Food philosophy, fiction, history. Totally fascinating magazine, I do still pick this up whenever I see it somewhere. Debating subscribing, but I don’t know if I’ll ever have the time to read it. Check out their website: http://www.gastronomica.org/pages/con...

            Cooking Light- I thought this would be a good investment, but I hardly ever cooked anything out of it. A lot of recipes called for processed and pre-packaged items, which I think is great to help people save time, but didn’t fit in to my personal philosophies about cooking. (In other words, I’m a big snob about ingredients and when a recipe calls for minute rice or low-fat cheese, it’s over. I’ll find other ways to cook lighter).

            3 Replies
            1. re: Absonot
              Joan Kureczka

              Year ago -- like in the early 1980's -- Bon Appetit was great. Then they dumbed it down -- simpler reciples, short cuts, stupid celebrity interviews, etc. I stopped subscribing as a result.

              I too am a fan of Ruth Reichel, and I find Gourmet to have some of the best writing.

              1. re: Joan Kureczka

                Me too! Truth be told, I probably read the magazine more than cook from it. It's only editor's note I read every month, out of all the magazines I subscribe to.

              2. re: Absonot

                Thank you so much for such a thorough review. Picked up a copy of Food & Wine today, as they are focusing on Spain/Spanish cuisine (a particular favorite of mine.)
                I was leaning towards a subscription to either that or Gourment and your review has helped make up my mind.
                You are so right about all the ads in Food & Wine!

              3. j
                Jane Hathaway

                I find that I use more recipes out of Bon Appetit than any of the other magazines I subscribe to. It's not necessarily my favorite to read, but I do get the most use out of it. I also love Cooks Illustrated, but it only does a few topics (although it does them very well) every two months.

                1. I buy Fine Cooking at the bookstore (there's not much savings by subscribing) if I like what I see when I glance at it. I like the layout, the photos, the step by step instruction. Good for beginning cooks. I just started subscribing to Cook's Illustrated and enjoyed the first issue. Very educational. I enjoy the ingredient/appliance tests. I subscribed to Cooking Light for a year and came to hate it. I enjoyed it in the beginning but then I got overwhelmed. Each issue is stuffed with recipes. There's no theme or focus. It just got to be too much. Everyday Food is good for weeknight dinner ideas.

                  1. I just wanted to mention that one of my favorite websites, www.refdesk.com/, has links to many food-related magazines, including industry ones. (Plus links to practically everything else.)

                    1. t
                      Tom from Durham

                      I really enjoy The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana. It's beautifully put together, the numerous beautiful photographs of food and Italian locations take me back to Italy, the recipes are more than occasionally quite good, there's a nice feature on a key ingredient and a great pictorial spread covering a specific cooking technique in every issue, and it only takes about an hour to read the darn thing. And it only comes every other month. Unlike that stupid New Yorker, I do not feel as though the clock has started ticking the second one arrives in my mailbox. ;-)

                      I realize it's hardly the greatest food mag out there, but I really look forward to each issue.

                      1. Keep Fine Cooking and avoid the rest. It's all you need.

                        1. Presently I buy Olive (British) and Delicious (Australian) I used to buy Gourmet religiously and then found that I never made anything from it.

                          Hate the scattered layout of Bon Appetit, is seems all ads.

                          I used to buy Cooks Illustrated, and still check it to see if there is anything in it that calls to me, but I really don't care about the 47 roasts they played with in order to come up with the recipe. I also bought their cookbook and that seems to cover most of what I found interesting in the mag.

                          1. I really love Everyday Food - it has great recipes that I use every day, which my family loves. I love that the recipes are reliable and fast. Still subscribe to Bon Appetit, and use it occasionally, but don't like the layout. Just got a preview issue of Cuisine at Home, which looks pretty good as well.

                            1. Cuisine at Home is my most recent favorite. Although I'll buy anything that appeals to me off the magazine rack, this is the only one I've subscribed to in a long time. Best of all...No ads!!!!

                              Link: http://www.cuisinemag.com/

                              1. I have 2 favorites to which I subscribe...

                                1) Cook's Illustrated
                                2) Cuisine at home

                                neither of which have any advertising. Concentration is on cooking methods and basic recipes. Both of which have websites.

                                1. Is anyone familiar with Intermezzo?

                                  1. I was a scientist in my other life (before retirement). I like the way Cook's Illustrated 'obsesses' over every detail, and experiments until the recipe is correct. Saves me time and MONEY by reducing my mistakes.

                                    I rarely cook using a recipe (baking is a different story...that's chemistry), but use recipes as guides. I belong to the "What If..." school of cooking.

                                    My chili recipe is still evolving, but I never use ground meat, and altho I love beans of all sorts, beans do NOT belong in chili. If you need beans with chili, make frijoles refritos as a side dish.

                                    1. Well, generally, I don't like a lot of cooking magazines. I've subscribed at verious points to Gourmet, Cooks Illustrated, Fine Cooking, Chocolatier, and Pastry Arts (or whatever that was called - Pastry Art and Design, maybe?), and I've read all the other big ones now and again off the rack. Anyway, the only one I really loved was Cooks Illustrated, and after a few years, I felt that I had gotten what I needed out of that. I use their books all the time, but don't need the repeats of the mags.

                                      Generally, I find the writing in food magazines to be pretty thin, and I don't care about pictures much. I loved Ed Behr's Art of Eating newsletter and John Thorne's newsletter, though I don't currently subscribe to either. I'm thinking of going back to them.(I cut all of my subscriptions in an attempt to get the clutter out of my house and save money, but now I miss them.) The articles are more in-depth and more interesting than the foodie mags. I don't care about how so-and-so's family always has a lovely Easter brunch outside under the trees, where their casual style of entertaining complements the rustic simplicity of their delicious food. Bleah. But Ed Behr's scholarly approach and John Thorne's dark New England sensibility appeal to me.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: curiousbaker

                                        I want to second the rec for The Art of Eating. It isn't really a cooking magazine--there are usually only a couple of recipes per issue. But the deeply-researched, long, thoughtful articles about destinations, restaurants, techniques (last issue's was how to make your own red-wine vinegar, with a couple of vinegar-containing recipes) are super.

                                      2. f

                                        Wow, so many great responses. Thanks to all of you! On purpose I didn't say what magazines I took or what I was considering ditching, or my style of cooking or what I was looking for in a magazine, so I could get a wide variety of opinions.

                                        For those who are interested (if there are any of you), on what I did--

                                        I am a long time subscriber to Bon Appetit and had already decided to let that one go as I had not been happy with it for a couple years, as it just wasn't meeting my needs; in its place I decided to take Gourmet instead for a few issues to see how that goes--I liked the comments from many of you about the quality of the writing. It was easy to just call BA and ask them to transfer my subscription to Gourmet--same publisher.

                                        I am also a longtime subscriber to Cook's Illustrated and had also already decided to let that one go, as I felt I had gotten all I could out of it and have both "Best Recipe" cookbooks which are a wonderful reference. I cancelled Cook's Illustrated and subscribed to Ed Behr's "The Art of Eating" newsletter instead.

                                        I get Eating Well but that lapses soon and I will let it lapse. I like the recipes but have lots of healthy recipes, and I get a wellness letter from Berkeley that meets my needs for health and nutrition articles. But I do like Eating Well and would heartily recommend it to anyone interested in cooking and health/nutrition; much better than Cooking Light.

                                        I get Fine Cooking, and I like it, so I will keep it for the time being.

                                        Finally, I'm going to look into Gastronomica, Saveur and La Cucina Italiana more closely (I'm headed to the bookstore this afternoon to grab copies of each), along with John Thorne's "Simple Cooking" newsletter, and see what I think.