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Best food mag- Gourmet? Bon Appetit? Eating Well?

I'm not interested in diet foods, low fat foods, fake foods, just GOOD foods. I don't mind the occasional complicated recipe, but don't have half a day to cook very often. Which of these (or some other) mag is the best? I also like interesting articles, wine info stuff like that. Thanks.

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  1. I have subscribed to Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Cook's Illustrated, Saveur, Food and Wine and Fine Cooking, and in my opinion, Fine Cooking wins hands-down for me. It not only has good recipes that are usually reliable and reasonably simple, but it also will highlight an ingredient (like brussels sprouts) and just throw out a bunch of ideas for preparation. Since I don't always follow recipes to the letter, that's the kind of cooking instruction I really enjoy. They also highlight artisan foods and have a pretty decent web site. My only complaint about their web site is that it doesn't house all their recipes (like Bon Appetit) - it just will refer you to the issue of the magazine, which means you have to save the mags or purchase a back-issue.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Andiereid

      Thank you, Andie! I will check that one out, because I did not like Cook's Illustrated and Saveur was a little thin.

      And I'm sorry I missed the Brussels sprouts issue- one of my favorite veggies!

      1. re: uttanasana

        I hated Cook's Illustrated. What a yawn. I got so tired of reading about their exhaustive testing. I was glad they did it, but didn't really want to read a blow-by-blow. That said, I did glean some good repeat recipes from there, but I got to where I just quit reading it when it came in, so I didn't re-up my subscription.

        1. re: Andiereid

          I have my issues with Cook's Illustrated. The "hot tips"/"great ideas" sent in by readers are often unintentionally funny/obvious. Kimball's editorials are practically unreadable. However, the recipe testing is endlessly fascinating to me. I love knowing why processes do and don't work.

      2. re: Andiereid

        Yep, hands down, Fine Cooking is the best!

        1. re: Katie Nell

          Third vote for Fine Cooking. I've also subscribed to them all. I think Gourmet and Bon Appetit are a lot of fluff, plus you can get all their recipes on epicurious.com

          1. re: JoLi

            In fact, at least for BA (I don't subscribe to Gourmet so I don't know), not all the recipes are on Epicurious, even for recent years. It's made me very glad I subscribe, just because I have a few very wonderful recipes are not on the site.

      3. I absolutly love Food & Wine Magazine. They consistently have good articles and cutting edge recipes and ideas. A long time favorite is Gourmet; the sheer volume of recipes and a theme based premis makes it easy to plan a dinner party. And the recipes ALWAYS work.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tarconi

          I'm glad to hear that. I just recently started subscribing to Food and Wine, and haven't done much out of it yet. I always find myself wishing they had more pictures of the food. That's one of the things that really inspires me to try something a lot of times - a mouthwatering photo. I have been pretty pleased with the articles, though.

        2. I'm obviously in a minority but I think Gourmet is really good. I've been a subscriber for years and I think it took a quantum leap forward when Ruth Reichl took over.

          I'm intrigued by all the votes for Fine Cooking. I'll be checking it out.

          - Sean

          3 Replies
          1. re: Sean Dell

            I used to subscribe to Gourmet, and I think it went totally downhill after Ruth took the helm. For those who like to cook, Fine Cooking is definitely the best out there right now - lots of advice on technique, interesting recipes, and great reviews of kitchen technology. Bon Appetit is also fun, but with half the educational value of Fine Cooking.

            1. re: KevinB

              I'm a longtime subscriber to BA, and I don't plan to cancel my subscription. BA isn't something I look at for articles (what there is I often skip), reviews, technique, or anything cutting-edge, but it's recipe-heavy and over the dozen or so years I've subscribed I've found enough excellent recipes, and saved enough that look good enough that I want to try, that I think it's eminenently worth it, especially considering it's a cheap subscription. Yes, they repeat themseleves...I was surprised to see the cover picture of their recent restaurant issue was of a flourless chocolate cake. How many FCK recipes have they published over the past decade? But people were raving about it on the HC board.

              Over the years, many people on CH have bashed BA for dumbed-down recipes or using too many prepared food products, and there is some of that, but it's the minority. And yet people consistently provide links to recipes from Epicurious that they adore which are from BA. I find Epicurious a great help if I'm looking for a certain type of recipe, but I like having something in my hand to flip through (I don't save the magazines, I clip the recipes I want).

              I got Food & Wine for a couple of years, but thought it was just too expensive; now I'm getting it again because I got a year for $12 instead of $36. It has some interesting articles about food and wine (I skip the long intros about the family meals on the estate in Italy, etc.) and good recipes.

              Saveur, to me, is not so much a cooking magazine, but a great read about food and culture. It's extremely interesting, but not the subscription to get if you want something you can open up and cook from every month, both because it doesn't have a lot of recipes compared to many of the others discussed, and because what it has is related to the stories it features that issue - which aren't necessarily seasonal, and may not inspire you to cook at that moment.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Bingo. I couldn't have said it better myself.

          2. By far, my favourite food mag is delicious. -- it's an Australian magazine with fantastic recipes and food photography. Several FoodTV bigwigs (Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, etc.) are contributing writers.

            Link: http://www.deliciousmagazine.com.au/

            1. I have never checked out Fine Cooking, but I love Saveur. I must admit that I do not cook from Saveur very much but I love the obscure and interesting facts and articles. I cook from Gourmet occasionally, but have found that the bulk is a result of advertising not more editorial content. Has anyone else ever noticed that the same topics come out in more then one mag around the sametime (and I am not just talking about current trends and the like. I am talking about featuring the same person or city)?

              2 Replies
              1. re: sweetie

                Yes, I have noticed that. Maybe they all travel together.

                I like to look at Saveur, but I rarely find anything in there I want to cook. It seems to me as though their recipes are a little too complicated and often have ingredients I can't get. I remember an issue not too long ago with several recipes for thistles. They didn't look good anyway, but no way can I get thistles here.

                I really did used to love Bon Appetit, but yes, like Gourmet, it's chock full of ads now, and one of the things that has always bugged me about it is their party articles. They're always about people with weekend homes in the cape or huge estates, etc. - I'd like just once for them to do a party of real people with a moderate income instead of it always seeming like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Some of us have tiny houses and still manage to entertain a lot and pull it off OK.

                1. re: Andiereid

                  I also seldom find something I want to cook in Saveur, at least just then...but that's the only cooking mag I've ever gotten that I'm glad I save for the occasional recipe I DO want to cook, because those are always the best ones. Tuscan beans, Indiana persimmon pudding, Coleman Andrews's fried chicken, fried plantains in all their various glory...

                  I don't really get magazines for recipes, but to get me thinking about food, learning about different cuisines, exploring the culinary/gastronomical world. That's why Saveur is now the only food magazine I subscribe to.

              2. I'm a big fan of Cuisine at Home. It's all recipes and tips, no ads or editorial material. They'll often take one recipe and provide options on how to change it around or how to use leftovers. And great pictures (of the finished product and step-by-step)!

                1. The one I most look forward to, read cover to cover, and save is Cooks Illustrated. I like the problem-solving, analytical approach, appreciate the taste-tests of various brands, and enjoy the hints. It is by far my favorite and most valued.

                  I get Bon Appetit and used to get Gourmet and leaf through others at newsstands and in waiting rooms. Pretty pictures, some nice themes, and a LOT of ads. Keeps me au courant, good for entertaining themes, but much less useful for menu planning and cooking.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: nosh

                    Excellent, succinct reply "Nosh" , Cook's Illustrated is the Consumer Reports of the food world but their products have lots more tasty calories :-)

                    1. re: Harp00n

                      I get Cooks Illustrated and have a complete set; I buy it and save the issues, then get the yearly hardbound compilation and keep that and give the saved issues to my sister. I am tired of their list of all the problems they want to solve, and am a bit bemused by some of the foods they choose to test (never in my life have I wanted to make lemon squares), but the recipes are clear and it is good to know the science behind the recipe. And if I don't like their version, the testing often shows me how to modify their recipe to my taste - what they thought was a problem may be what I like!

                      I love Gourmet and Bon Appetit but don't save them except for one glorious Gourmet with a ton of biscotti recipes. I will try Fine Cooking based on the reviews above. Just what I need, another magazine in my life.

                      1. re: sheiladeedee

                        I have to disagree about lemon squares, I adore them! But I agree about CI, I like to know why things turn out one way or another, and it helps me think about how I might vary it.

                        I also get Cooking Light, but it has so many ads and so much stuff that is not really food related. I've been tearing out recipes so that I can clear my bookshelves, and the quantity of savable recipes I get from CL is small compared to the bulk of the magazine. But I do appreciate recipes that don't throw in cups of butter and cream.

                  2. I subscribe to Eating Well. Remains my fav because I do use the recipes. The publication features fresh produce which appeals to my cooking style. Their web-zine is also good.

                    Years ago, and many stacks of mag subscrip's later, I realized all I was keeping was a collection of food photos not recipes. I streamlined to EWell.

                    1. I used to be a diehard Bon Appetit subscriber, but I dropped it a few years ago because of all the fluff and advertising. Gourmet has always struck me similar, so I rarely read it.

                      Cook's Illustrated? I have a friend who swears by it, and every so often I'll borrow hers if I'm looking for something specific. I echo the sentiment that their testing is top-notch, but, to me, it veers into overload at times in how everything's dissected.

                      The only magazines I've subscribed to over the long haul have been Cooking Light and Pastry Arts and Design (the latter's an industry mag). I know the former isn't what the OP's looking for, but there ya go *shrug*

                      1. Fine Cooking (as others have said) is way, way ahead of any other magazine.

                        1. Agree with all the sentiment on both Fine Cooking and Cook's Illustrated.

                          I enjoy Fine Cooking's magazine, format, writing, and recipes, and have found 95% of what I've cooked out of their magazines to be terrific. However, their Website is terrible, so I find that my five or six years worth of magazines tend to sit on my cookbook shelf unless I'm either looking for something specific or looking for inspiration.

                          On the other hand, I enjoy Cook's Illustrated's comprehensive recipe-, ingredient-, and equipment-testing and explanation, and have found their recipes to be similarly reliable. I agree that it's not always what I'm looking for, and I often skip over all the explanation to get right to the recipe. However, their Website has all of their recipes available if you subscribe.

                          So, I subscribe to Fine Cooking magazine and to CooksIllustrated.com, and find myself turning to the latter more and more for my everyday meals.

                          Gourmet and Bon Appetit are fine coffee table reading at my parents house, but they're too overloaded with travel and advertising. Plus I get most of the recipes on Epicurious.com.


                          1. I like Gourmet, not so much for recipes as for the great articles. I also really like "Food and Travel," this is a British magazime that you can find at Barnes and Noble. It has really good recipes that are non-US unusual and great article about food and travel (of course). Unfortunately, it is super expensive ($10? each) and very difficult to subscribe to, no online ordering and they don't reply to emails.

                            ps: I just looked at their site and it looks like ordering might be easier, there's an online subscription form at least.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: steinpilz

                              I'm surprised no one else has mentioned Food and Travel, it's a really great magazine with very interesting recipes and articles from a different perspective. I'd encourage taking a look, here's a link though they don't give a lot of free content on the site:


                            2. I agree with the Fine Cooking folks -- by far my favorite. They have a hard-cover compilation book that comes out at the end of the year, so I just buy that now.

                              I dropped Gourmet and BA a long time ago, and just use Epicurious. (Plus, on Epicurious you can read reviews and comments from people who've used the recipe.

                              1. I also use Epicurious for BA and gourmet recipes. It's okay if they're not all on there, I don't have time to read the mags I get, as it is! The only consumer mag I subscribe to is Saveur. I love the stories as much as the recipes.

                                I have never been able to get past the editorial tone of Cook's Illustrated to get to the meat of their articles.

                                1. This is such a matter of personal opinion and level of cooking ability-there is no "best."

                                  Bon Appetit is good for the beginning or younger cook. I subscribed for years before I felt like I outgrew it. I think Fine Cooking is good for the less experienced cook, too-they seem to focus on basics. Whenever I pick it up at the store I never see anything I don't already know how to make well. Both magazines are good about explaining different food terms, ingredients and techniques, which will bug you if you're a proficient cook but will be great if you're not.

                                  I like Gourmet very much, and if you haven't picked up a copy in the past couple years since Ruth's been in charge, you should. There are excellent articles every month now-the writing is quite good, as are the recipes.

                                  I love Saveur, too, but it's not primarily a cooking magazine-there are fairly lengthy articles about food, but this is the magazine that this year had not one but two recipes for roast kid goat in the same issue. So I subscribe for different reasons than Gourmet.

                                  People either love or hate Cook's Illustrated-I love it.

                                  I think the best thing to do is start buying magazines at the store, and see which ones you end up looking forward to, cooking out of, and buying every month.

                                    1. I just noticed you wrote you like interesting articles, not just recipes-give Gourmet and Saveur some thought. BA and Fine Cooking don't have much in that department.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: christy319

                                        I also would like to try Fine Cooking...does anyone know of a good deal on a subscription??

                                      2. I also like Cucina Italiana....I get all of the above,
                                        just canceled my Cooking Light, too many ads.

                                        1. I combine the travel, context, humor, eccentricity and thoughtfulness of Saveur with the hard-headed practiciality of Cook's Illustrated.

                                          Since Coleman Andrews left Saveur, the Thanksgiving issue is the first under the new management. I'm interested to see how ir if things change . . .


                                          1. Like many others, my absolute favorite is Fine Cooking.

                                            I have recently started to enjoy Food & Wine - I never used to like it, but the recipes I've tried recently have been great.

                                            I've subscribed to, and have every issue of Bon Appetit for the past 8 years, so it is a sentimental favorite for me. I love how I can cross-reference most of the recipes online to see comments before I dive into a recipe. Or conversely, if I find one online to try, I just find the appropriate issue in my "library"

                                            I personally do enjoy Cook's Illustrated, but you do have to be in the mood to sit down and read it. I like the analysis of each step - it is educational and even if you do tweak the recipe to your tastes - you know why they arrived at the version that they did.

                                            We also subscribe to Wine Spectator, which is starting to increase their food coverage, but in no way is it a cooking mag.

                                            1. I still like Saveur but it was better a couple years ago. Wine Snobateur (Spectator) still has decent food writing and reviews.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Chuke

                                                I tend to rotate our cooking magazines. BA and Cooking Pleasures are the only ones we stick with no matter what. My mother started me on BA when I was in my 20's (boy was that a long time ago!). We also get Cuisine at Home (love it), and Saveur (love it). I think this year we'll drop Saveur and go back to Intermezzo and perhaps Chile Pepper. I also get Food Arts - absolutely adore it for the inspiration it provides. I'd like to get Cucina Italiana perhaps we'll do that instead of Intermezzo. My problem is that living on a boat it's really hard to store magazines.

                                              2. I no longer subscribe to Food and Wine, but everything I have made from that magazine turned out FABULOUSLY, so I trust them....


                                                1. I pick up Donna Hay whenever B&N carries it. It's 10.00 but worth it imo.


                                                  1. While it's a bi-monthlyish newsletter, not a monthly mag, the best regular food writing and recipes in the US come in Simple Cooking.


                                                    1. I love all your input and I also take all the magazines above plus a couple from New Zealand and Australia. I have also taken alot of cooking classes, blah, blah, blah. One of the best magazines with recipes that you can always count on is Sunset. No, not as complicated, not as sophisticated, but I can count on delicious and tested recipes.

                                                      Don't run me out of town, but at least consider it.

                                                      1. I actually like Everyday Food from Martha Stewart for its simplicity - I love Food and Wine and Saveur, also, but I have found that when I want to whip up something good and relatively easy for dinner, EF is a great resource. I definitely like to make complicated recipes, but as the OP said, sometimes you just don't have half a day to cook.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: megamalone

                                                          I really like Everyday Food as well. Been subscribing since day
                                                          one. I also subscribe to Everyday Living. EF is good when you don;t
                                                          feel like cooking all day or when you have fussy teens.

                                                          1. I really like Everyday Food as well. Been subscribing since day
                                                            one. I also subscribe to Everyday Living. EF is good when you don't feel like cooking all day or when you have fussy teens.

                                                            1. Cooksillustrated.com. No old copies to keep or recycle. And, finally a favorite recipe folder that makes a shopping list that (usually) adds ingredients so I don't have a list with salt listed 10 times in 10 ways.

                                                              1. Interesting... I've picked up a few Fine Cookings, but for some reason it never peaked my interest enough to sub, or pick it up again. I sub to Saveur and have online accounts with Epicurious and Cooks Illustrated.

                                                                The recipes in CI shouldn't be underestimated. They ALWAYS work. I love the large database of recipes at Epicurious and I love Saveur just for the look of the thing. It's beautiful and it inspires me to cook. I've made LOTS of things out of Saveur, so I'm surprised to see a lot of people saying they don't really like it for the recipes.

                                                                I'm with Christy319. What she said!