There’s no denying it—2020 was the year of comfort food. With so many things happening around the world, including a pandemic, it seems our readers were particularly interested in eating the foods that brought them nostalgia and comfort. From healthy-for-you chilis, casseroles, pasta dishes, and even different breakfast favorites, the best recipes of 2020 were all about filling up on your favorite nostalgic dishes without packing in the calories.
Here are the best recipes of 2020 that our readers loved, and for more recipe ideas, be sure to check out our list of 100 Easiest Recipes You Can Make.
This peanut butter overnight oats recipe is bound to become one of your go-to healthy breakfasts!
Get our recipe for Peanut Butter Overnight Oats.
Even though whipped coffee became trendy because of a viral TikTok video, this particular easy-to-make coffee drink has been a staple in southern Asia for quite some time. Also known as dalgona, or beaten coffee, whipped coffee is surprisingly easy to make. It has the same texture as a frothy latte from a coffee shop, and you can easily make it with different flavors at home!
Get our recipe for Whipped Coffee.
To make sure this meatloaf was a close copycat to Cracker Barrel meatloaf, we decided to find the meatloaf ingredient list on their website. According to Cracker Barrel, their meatloaf recipe has tomatoes, onions, and green peppers. Hence why this recipe has a whole can of tomatoes, as well as diced green peppers and onions.
Get our recipe for Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf.
This recipe keeps things simple, with flax seeds, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Of course, you can always top the oatmeal with more fresh fruit, too. Blueberries are a particularly delicious option we love.
Get our recipe for Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats.
Sick of the usual meat sauce and meatballs on a weeknight? Take your Italian cooking up a notch with this delectable beef ragu recipe. Not only is it easy to make, but this dump-and-go Crock-Pot recipe is perfect to prep and freeze for later!
Get our recipe for Crock-Pot Beef Ragu.
Pot pies may be one of America’s favorite comfort foods, but there’s nothing comforting about a dish that can swallow up an entire day’s worth of calories, fat, and sodium, as many restaurant renditions do. We clear out the artery-clogging fats, cut the calories by more than half, and deliver an easy chicken pot pie recipe you’re bound to love.
Get our recipe for Healthier Chicken Pot Pie.
Surprisingly enough, there isn’t sugar in this Cracker Barrel pancake recipe. That’s because most pancake recipes and box mixes actually don’t have sugar in them. The sugary goodness that we taste in Crack Barrel pancakes probably comes from their delicious 100% pure maple syrup. Douse these pancakes in some of that syrup and you’ll be having the full Cracker Barrel experience right at home. No road trip necessary.
Get our recipe for Copycat Cracker Barrel Pancakes.
This chicken and dumplings recipe has many of the same magical powers and core flavors of chicken noodle soup—like root vegetables, savory broth, and shredded chicken—but it is made more substantial by the addition of a roux to thicken the soup base and, you guessed it, fluffy dumplings instead of limp noodles.
Get our recipe for Chicken and Dumplings.
We love this oatmeal with peanut butter and banana recipe for its good-for-you ingredients. It makes a healthy morning meal you can have ready in minutes.
Get our recipe for Oatmeal with Peanut Butter and Banana.
All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients into it, and let the time-saving appliance work its magic while you do whatever it is you need to do. It’s that easy! Any dish that is made in a slow cooker is one we fully support, and this beef goulash recipe will leave you with plenty of leftovers you can eat during the week. Go ahead—dig in!
Get our recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Goulash.
So if you’re looking for an easy dessert that will wow a crowd, this homemade ice cream recipe will do just the trick. Bring out all the sauces, sprinkles, and candy toppings, and you can have yourself the ultimate ice cream sundae extravaganza!
Get our recipe for Homemade No-Churn Ice Cream.
In order to make the most authentic copycat Olive Garden recipe, we used this list as a guideline to build the rest of the soup. We added a simple mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion) to it, as well as oregano and thyme for flavor. And, of course, there’s minced garlic. Because what Italian recipe wouldn’t have it?
Get our recipe for Copycat Olive Garden Pasta Fagioli.
Nothing beats a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup on a cold day, does it? Especially if it can be cooked with minimal effort! This Crock-Pot chicken noodle soup recipe is the perfect meal to warm up a crowd on a winter day.
Get our recipe for Crock-Pot Chicken Noodle Soup.
After a long day, you just want to come home to a true comfort meal. Enter chicken piccata. In case you’re unfamiliar with this classic Italian staple, piccata translates to “cooked in a lemon and butter sauce.” And the dish is just that—juicy, thin pieces of chicken breast dredged in flour and smothered in a zesty lemon-butter sauce, then topped with capers for an extra burst of flavor.
Get our recipe for Chicken Piccata.
Whether you are ordering it as a side with dinner or simply ordering some as a meal, having Cracker Barrel mac and cheese is a must when you’re at this restaurant. Between the creamy sauce and the baked cheese on top, this mac and cheese dish is so good, we just had to make our own homemade version of it—and we’re sharing the recipe.
Get our recipe for Copycat Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese.
Not only do the Belgians drink the best beer in the world, they also cook with it. This recipe is inspired by a Belgian dish called carbonnade, a hearty stew of beef and onions braised in beer. It’s the type of dish you want to come home to on a blustery winter night. Take 10 minutes to prep in the morning, then set a slow cooker on low and go about your day. By the time you come home, this bone-sticking beef stew will be ready.
Get our recipe for Slow Cooker Beef and Beer.
Craving some Chinese takeout? This homemade crock-pot beef and broccoli will satisfy that craving for you faster than you think! While most slow cooker recipes take longer to cook, this one is surprisingly short and sweet. In just 2 hours you can have a delicious, hot meal ready to serve for you and a crowd!
Get our recipe for Crock-Pot Beef and Broccoli.
To keep the biscuit as healthy as possible while still producing a genuine, flaky, Southern-style treasure, we’ve cut out the shortening (trans fats are so 1990s), showed some restraint with the butter, and used low-fat buttermilk to bring moisture and tang to the mix. With this recipe, you won’t have to sacrifice the best part of a biscuit. Dig in!
Get our recipe for Low-Calorie Southern-Style Biscuits.
Baked ziti can easily pack in the calories if you’re not careful. Our healthier take on baked ziti includes lean chicken sausage. No wonder this cheesy pasta dish was one of the best recipes of 2020!
Get our recipe for Comfort-Food-Level-Baked Ziti.
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Looking for an easy family dinner to throw together for a quick meal? Well, this chicken fajitas recipe is it! Sheet pan dinners are the real MVPs for busy weeknights. They have the convenience of a dump-and-go like a slow cooker meal, but only take around 30 minutes to cook (instead of waiting four to eight hours for a meal!)
Get our recipe for Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas.
Mac and cheese: the undisputed king of comfort food. Over the years, we’ve tested dozens of iterations of the classic—spiked with chiles, topped with bacon, toned down with non-fat cheese. However, we keep returning to this formula: a béchamel base, laced with extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, and finished with a bit of yogurt to give the sauce that perfect texture. Are there more decadent bowls of mac? Absolutely—but not for under 400 calories.
Get our recipe for Healthier Mac and Cheese.
Our sweet and spicy sauce kicks the taste up a notch, too, so you’ll get a satisfying crunch from the panko bread crumbs, plus a mouthful of flavor.
Get our recipe for Oven-Baked Chicken Fingers with Chipotle-Honey Mustard.
The recipe used by most establishments tells all: They usually use 2 parts mayo to 1 part tuna. Our version replaces the bulk of the mayo with a considerably healthier supporting cast that adds to the flavor without adding extra fat: pesto, lemon juice, olives, and onions. That means you can taste something other than fat when you’re eating it and feel something other than fat when you’re through.
Get our recipe for Italian Tuna Melt.
Protein pancakes are much more satiating than a basic stack of flapjacks, and they can be a great meal prep option you can make ahead of a busy week. For a filling and healthy breakfast, make a batch of these amazing-tasting protein pancakes below, and enjoy a serving (two pancakes) each morning with a cup of fresh fruit.
Get our recipe for Protein Pancakes.
Thanks to a clear list of ingredients on the Wendy’s website, it was easy to put together this recipe. According to the list, the Wendy’s chili has a chili base, tomatoes, chili beans, pink beans, kidney beans, onions, celery, green peppers, ground beef, chili pepper, garlic powder, and spices.
Get our recipe for Copycat Wendy’s Chili.
It sure is fun to make some enchiladas for dinner—especially if it means making our Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas or the Chicken Mole Enchiladas. But actually taking the time to fill and roll up the enchiladas can be tedious work for a quick weeknight dinner. So instead, why not make a chicken enchilada casserole right in the slow cooker?
Get our recipe for Crock-Pot Chicken Enchilada Casserole.
Nobody should be without a solid guacamole recipe. It’s a healthy, incredibly delicious condiment that makes almost anything it touches taste better, and it’s a key part of any Taco Tuesday spread.
Get our recipe for Guacamole.
This version of the oven-fried chicken recipe defies all expectations. First, the chicken is brined in buttermilk and hot sauce, then it’s coated in bread crumbs that have been tossed in a gentle amount of oil. The result? The juiciest, crispiest oven-fried chicken ever.
Get our recipe for Oven-Fried Chicken.
If you grew up loving the taste of Hamburger Helper, you’ll enjoy this low-carb cheeseburger casserole that can feed a crowd. Made with ground beef, spices, no-sugar added marinara, heavy cream, and shredded cheese, this crave-worthy casserole is sure to become your go-to low-carb classic. While many casseroles rely on starchy components like pasta and rice, this dish will convince you can completely forego the carby additions while still maintaining the heartiness.
Get our recipe for Cheeseburger Casserole.
Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for an overpriced gut bomb when you can make something better, healthier, and cheaper at home in 10 minutes flat? And nowhere is that question more relevant than with omelets. Which would you prefer: an $11 spinach omelet from a restaurant that can be packed with nearly 1,000 calories, or a $1.50 omelet filled with an oozing center of black beans and cheese, for 330 calories?
Get our recipe for Vegetarian Black Bean Omelet.
We learned the secrets from an Italian grandmother on how to make the best Italian meatballs ever—and this recipe does not disappoint!
Get our recipe for Classic Italian Meatballs.
You can serve the pork with a variety of amazing accoutrements—from salsa and guac and corn tortillas for tacos, to lettuce leaves and Asian condiments for Korean-style wraps (as it’s served at Ssäm Bar). But, truthfully, this pork shoulder is delicious enough to be dinner on its own. Plus? If you make it yourself you’ll save quite a bit of dough and have a faster trip home (cause you’ll already be there.)
Get our recipe for Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder.
This version of the Swedish meatball cuts the beef with turkey, which is tender and light like veal, but considerably leaner. You’ll save on calories, but you’ll gain considerably on taste!
Get our recipe for Lean Turkey Swedish Meatballs.
The name says it all: One of the most nutritionally dubious staples (white rice) combined with the most treacherous technique (frying). The calorie counts are predictably stratospheric; even a small scoop used as a base for a stir-fry will run around 500 calories. More important, it contains little to no true nutrition. Our recipe turns fried rice on its head, relying on a ton of fresh vegetables, considerably less rice, and a bit of oil for crisping it up.
Get our recipe for Chicken Fried Rice.
A slice of this will treat you well at breakfast and will still provide you with the nutrients of banana that other banana bread recipes tend to drown out with too many heavily caloric ingredients. Better yet, make it for dessert. Toast it up and serve with a bit of whipped cream for a true treat.
Get our recipe for Banana Bread.
This cod recipe, made with sweet potato fries, is made by baking the fish and chips in the oven instead of dipping them into a deep fryer. We promise, after taking a bite into this crispy cod recipe, you won’t even miss the deep fried version.
Get our recipe for Crispy Cod with Sweet Potato Fries.