Then and Now: 100 Years of Better Homes & Gardens Recipes

Reminisce on some of the top recipes that came from the iconic New Cook Book over the past century while recreating those dishes in new ways.

We couldn't celebrate a century of Better Homes & Gardens food without a look through our archives. It's not surprising we unearthed recipes we're happy to leave in the past (so long, hot dog crown roasts), but we also found familiar threads stitching recipes from our history to the ways we are cooking today. Throughout this anniversary year, we will spotlight some of our favorite enduring trends.

The Red Plaid

What began as a 10-cent, 56-page recipe pamphlet has become the go-to cookbook for nearly 40 million home cooks.

charcuterie snack board
Jacob Fox

Now: Bread Baking

Bread baking is back! OK, it never really went away, but in the last couple of years we've reignited a passion for making and eating complex (but not too difficult) homemade loaves. This Hearty Whole Grain and Yogurt Boule is where bread is right now. Here's why.

The Flour

Whole grain reigns. The loaf starts with medium rye flour for its color, nutty malt flavor, and the way it naturally accentuates other strong flavors like molasses. Rye also has less gluten, which yields a tuggy, nicely dense crumb.

The Extras

We kneaded in as many good-for-you ingredients as the dough could hold. Oats, millet, dried fruit, and hazelnuts contribute fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and protein, making each slice both tasty and healthful.

The Technique

This bread has weight, but it's still tender and moist thanks to a step known as a "soaker"—using boiling water to soften the millet and oats and plump the dried fruit so all are hydrated and don't pull moisture from the dough.

Then: Bread on the Rise

Take a spin through our wheel of time to see how bread baking has looked on our pages through the past century.

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1938: Yeast Rolls

better homes and gardens november 1943 bread shortage cover
In exchange for a 3-cent stamp, readers were sent a booklet of rollmaking tips and the latest in-fashion hot bread recipes. Kelsey Hansen

Homemade yeast rolls were, well, HOT! Editors in the '30s referred to yeast rolls as "hot breads" since they were served piping hot. Our editors wrote, "It's high fashion to serve hot breads. They're easy, too."

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Staying Power

Orange Bowknots
Andy Lyons

Orange Bowknots, a prizewinning recipe from 1946, has appeared in every edition of our famous New Cook Book since.

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1943: Bread Shortage

When WWII caused low bread inventory, we enticed readers to bring back baking days for "those homey whiffs of big brown loaves, the crunch of a knife thru tender golden crust, those whoops from the family over real homemade bread."

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1970s: Hobby Baking

better homes and gardens 1970s hobby baking covers
Kelsey Hansen

Spurred by a back-to-basics mind-set, home cooks were into baking with natural ingredients, but their skills were rusty. Their biggest fear? Killing the yeast. This 1976 tip still stands: Try the baby bottle test. A drop or two of liquid on the wrist should feel neither hot nor cold but lukewarm.

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1993: Bread Machines

Our bread baking shifted into automated territory when this revolutionary appliance topped the wish lists of newlyweds in the 1990s. In five years our Test Kitchen turned out more than 500 recipes.

Related: Bread Machine Recipes for Homemade Loaves at the Touch of a Button

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2013: Going Gluten-Free

Gluten-Free White Bread
Blaine Moats

Making a light-textured GF sandwich loaf is harder than you might think, but our Test Kitchen created a never-fail loaf based on our own Gluten-Free Flour Mix. It's still our go-to for GF baking, period.

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2018: Sourdough

We were ahead of our time when we included a deep dive on sourdough in the latest edition (17th) of our cookbook, two years before the pandemic-fueled craze—and it's still trending.

Spring Stroganoff
Carson Downing

Now: Plant-Forward Meals

Meat, it's what's for dinner … sometimes. Increasingly, we're choosing to reduce meat or skip it on occasion in favor of plant-based meals. For all the flexitarians out there, we bring you this exceptionally flexible and lightened-up Spring Stroganoff.

Mushrooms for Meat

If it's a Meatless Monday, go with all mixed mushrooms and no beef. If you're into meat in moderation, 8 oz. of flank steak and a hefty helping of the mushrooms should satisfy four for dinner.

Less Pasta, More Veggies

The job of noodles in stroganoff is to capture the yummy sauce—and fill us up. We couldn't skip them, but we did cut the amount by half and tossed in fresh asparagus and peas to make up the difference.

Light and Lemony

Fresh lemon zest and Greek yogurt (in place of the sour cream typically used) lighten the sauce. It's still smooth and tangy, and it coats beautifully.

Then: Less Meat, More Veg

Over the past 100 years, war, economics, and health incentives have influenced our meat intake, but we've celebrated eating plenty of vegetables since the very first issue.

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1941: Garden Meals

"Zip [vegetables] from garden to table. They'll arrive with all their vitamin goodness and fresh grown flavor." Some things never change.

Related: Healthy Farmers Market Recipes That Highlight Seasonal Produce in Delicious Ways

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1943: Wartime Rationing

Hamburger Pie
Marty Baldwin

When popular beef cuts were scarce, we extolled the virtue of ground meat. "A roast's a roast and a steak's a steak. But ground meat becomes anything you wish." And we made it into a lot of things—Beef Roll-Ups, Stuffed Meat Loaves, and Hamburger Pie (pictured), which lives on in the Red Plaid cookbook.

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1958: Salads Men Go For

Though we would never couch our words this way now, in the '50s, our editors conspired with our housewife readers to serve their spouses main-dish meat and veggie salads. "They make a fine summer supper, and go over so big with men they'll often do the concocting."

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1976: Penny-Pinching

This falls in the head-scratcher category. When meat prices hit the roof in the '70s, variety (aka organ) meats got a lot of attention. We're sorry for Caper-Sauced Brains and Creamy Beef Heart & Rice Skillet.

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2014: Center-of-the-Plate Switch

Cauliflower Steaks with Hazelnuts & Browned Butter
Blaine Moats

Move over meat. We started giving a lot of vegetables the same treatment as prime cuts of meat in the twenty-teens. We've seared cauliflower steaks (pictured), roasted portobello pot roasts, and grilled eggplant burgers.

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