How do you know the recipes you find online are any good without trying them? Do votes or comments make you more confident? If you’ve wondered about “user submitted” recipes, you’re not alone.

Recently I was invited to a taste test of recipes submitted online. The culinary social network CookEatShare held a cooking contest and brought together a number of restaurant chefs and food professionals to cook and judge the recipes. I wasn’t a judge, but I did get to try all the dishes.

What a surprise! Some recipes that sounded terrible ended up being terrific and others that sounded great really missed the mark. I guess this proves that you can’t necessarily tell a good recipe without cooking it. I’ll let you know which ones were my favorites and then you can follow the linked recipe name to get the ingredients and preparation details.

While it didn’t win any top prizes with the judging panel, TomCo’s Yogurt Pumpkin Pie was my favorite recipe and it also received the highest number of reader votes. I can honestly say this was one of the best pumpkin pies I’ve ever eaten. It had an almost cheesecake-like texture and a crunchy cinnamon nut topping that was irresistible. The executive chef from Draeger’s markets who tested the recipe said it was very easy to make.

Cranberry Yogurt Relish

The winning recipe of the contest was Cranberry Yogurt Relish. The chef testing the recipe wasn’t sure if the cranberries were supposed to be dried or fresh, so she used a combination, but I believe the size of the bag, 12 ounces, was a dead giveaway that the recipe meant fresh (that’s the standard size of fresh bags of cranberries). Judges agreed that the author of the recipe might not come from California since she used, gasp! canned peaches. We all thought this recipe sounded less than ideal, but it was surprisingly good. It was fresh and creamy and had a nice tang from both cranberries and yogurt.

Chesapeake Memories Sausage and Oyster Dressing with Red Quinoa and Crispy Apples

Finally, despite its ridiculously long name, I liked the Chesapeake Memories Sausage and Oyster Dressing with Red Quinoa and Crispy Apples. This dressing has lots of traditional ingredients like sausage, sage, onion and celery and some unusual ones such as English muffins, rosemary, quinoa and sun-dried tomatoes. I particularly liked the texture. Quinoa in dressing, who knew?

Here’s hoping all your holiday dishes are winners. Happy Thanksgiving!

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