How to Build a Better Recipe

For over 75 years, the Test Kitchen has had one mission: to ensure that every cook achieves delicious results with any Better Homes and Gardens recipe.

Test Kitchen Logo

Welcome to the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen, the oldest and largest -- and many would say the best media test kitchen in the United States. Based in Des Moines, Iowa, the kitchen was founded in 1928.

Test Kitchen's Goal: To make sure that every recipe published in our books and magazines is delicious and easy to duplicate in your home kitchen.

Who Works in the Test Kitchen: To accomplish the goal for more than 6,900 recipes each year, it takes a lot of people with specialized food and nutrition knowledge:

  • 9 home economists
  • 3 food stylists
  • 1 assistant photo studio assistant
  • 1 grocery shopper
  • 3 housekeepers
  • 1 office assistant
  • and more

What Does It Take: On average, any recipe that the Test Kitchen approves for publication is tested three times.

It's not just about making a recipe -- it's about testing it to make sure the kitchen is pleased with the results.

This is how a recipe goes from concept, through the BH&G Test Kitchen, to the printed page.

The BH&G Test Kitchen works for many publications:

Magazines Better Homes & Gardens American Baby Midwest Living Traditional Homes Diabetic Living Special Interest Publications Successful Farming Country Home

Magazines' Web Sites

Cookbooks published by Meredith Corporation, the parent company of Better Homes & Gardens

Food companies and various organizations

Who Submits Recipes to Be Tested?

Food editors create recipes to include in a particular book or magazine story.

The Process: Essentially, these editors "cook on paper," writing their recipe ideas down for later testing.

When an editor wants to republish a recipe that is more than five years old, then the recipe must go through the testing process again.

Readers submit recipes to the Better Homes & Gardens Prize Tested Recipes contest.

Restaurant chefs are featured in some of the magazines from time to time. Even recipes that may have made them famous will not make it to our pages until we know it will work for the average home cook.

Often the Test Kitchen must adapt these recipes for family-sized portions and home kitchen equipment.

Who Tests the Recipes?

All of the recipes are assigned to the Test Kitchen's staff to prepare using equipment like you have in your own home.

Ready, Get Set, Test

Before the cooking begins, home economists ask all sorts of questions:

  • Is this recipe practical?
  • Is this the best way to prepare the ingredients that are called for?
  • Are there ways to simplify it?
  • Do these steps make sense?
  • Will someone be able to make this at home?

Cooking

Along the way any undesirable results are used to perfect each recipe. Ingredients are altered, pan sizes are changed, and temperatures are adjusted to take the guesswork out of cooking for every reader.

Through this entire process, the Test Kitchen has you -- readers and cooks -- foremost in their thoughts.

It's a hard job, but someone has to do it.

Who Sits on Taste Panels?

  • Home economist who made the recipe
  • Editor assigned to the story
  • The project supervisor for the story

What Happens at a Taste Panel?

Tester explains how the recipe was made.

Everyone tastes the dish.

Wide-ranging discussion takes place including but not limited to:

  • flavor
  • texture
  • color
  • doneness tests
  • pan sizes
  • temperatures

Thumbs Up or Down?

  • Thumbs Up: If the recipe is a success, it is given a "publish" rating. (This means that it is suitable to be printed in the intended publication.)
  • Thumbs Down: The recipes that still need work are adjusted and scheduled to be retested.
  • Other: When a recipe doesn't work, it is returned to the editor who submitted it (the idea may or may not be adapted and used in a future story).

Before the recipe leaves the Test Kitchen, it is reviewed one more time by a fresh eye -- someone who has not tested the recipe before. This ensures that the test sheet contains all the information an editor will need to write the story.

Published recipes with the Test Kitchen symbol mean that they have been thoroughly tested to be delicious, practical, and reliable. Helping you to put wonderful food on your table is the passion of the Test Kitchen professionals, not just their job. When you use a Better Homes & Gardens recipe, you can feel confident that the recipe will work and the food will taste great!

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