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The Best 30-Minute Recipe Hardcover – October 1, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Most quick recipes deliver speed but not flavor. They often rely on silly shortcuts (no, you can’t stuff bell peppers with raw ground beef and onions) and second-rate convenience -products (think canned soup). No wonder most "quick" recipes are fast but forgettable. In The Best 30-Minute Recipe, America’s Test Kitchen turns its crew of test cooks loose on the world of quick cooking in an effort to find flavor, not just convenience.

Many dishes are naturally quick—stir-fries, hearty salads, skillet sautés, and simple pasta dishes—but they also need to be full-flavored and foolproof. We have streamlined these -dishes, subtracting an ingredient or shortcutting a cooking method, to make them memorable and dependable.

But some recipes seem impossible to make in a mere 30 minutes. How about a richly flavored chicken stew that typically takes more than an hour at best? Parcook chicken thighs in the microwave to jump start the cooking. Meatloaf? Downsize one large meatloaf into four individual servings and brown them in a skillet. Baked ziti? Make the entire dish in a skillet, where the pasta cooks in a richly seasoned tomato sauce instead of a big pot of boiling water. And forget about second-rate supermarket shortcuts. Once you try our Quick and Crunchy Breaded Pork Chops, you’ll never be tempted by a store-bought breading mix again. Our recipe has all the convenience of the shake-and-bake version, but it tastes worlds better.

We also discovered that many "quick" recipes fail to include prep times. In The Best 30-Minute Recipe, every test cook used a timer to be sure every recipe really can be prepared, cooked, and on the table in 30 minutes or less. And if a recipe was cutting it close, we looked for acceptable shortcuts. When we couldn’t make a creamy chicken and rice casserole in 30 minutes, we turned to instant rice (sautéed in butter to improve the rice’s texture and flavor) with excellent results.

Special features include "Got Extra Time?" which provides suggestions and recipe alterations that will make a good dish even better if you have a few extra minutes to spend in the kitchen. Other features like "Making the Minutes Count" and "Kitchen Shortcuts" help you prep and cook more efficiently, -giving you skills you can use for a lifetime of cooking.

Organized around the most logical ways to think about quick cooking, The Best 30-Minute Recipe will lead you right to the type of dish you feel like making. Want to make an entire meal in a skillet? Turn to "Skillet Suppers" for dishes like -Skillet Steak Fajitas and Skillet Paella. Feel like preparing a simple, flavorful sauce while your pasta boils? Choose from dozens of options in "While the Pasta Cooks." You can also check out "Skillet Pasta," recipes that cook the pasta right in the -skillet with the sauce, saving you time and leaving you with just one pot to wash. -Another chapter, "Starting with Leftovers," offers -appealing ideas for turning last night’s dinner into a -completely new meal, such as Asian Spicy Noodles with Beef and Spinach or Curry in a Hurry.

The test kitchen also evaluated dozens of popular -convenience foods important to quick cooking, from ready-to-use minced garlic and jarred tomato sauce to preshredded cheese, precooked bacon, and more. If a product didn’t make the cut, you won’t find it in our recipes.

Put disappointing quick recipes behind you. The Best 30-Minute Recipe will help you get dinner on the table -quickly—a dinner that you can really enjoy! Fast food isn’t good food -unless you use just the right ingredients and the right combination of techniques. So don’t sacrifice flavor. Don’t sacrifice the pleasures of the table. Let America’s most trusted test kitchen show you how to cook both quickly and well. With The Best 30-Minute Recipe, satisfying, home-cooked meals really are just minutes away.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Cook's Illustrated; 1st edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936184981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936184982
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If this is your first cookbook from the ATK/Cook's Illustrated crew, I can almost guarantee you will be very happy with it. It's a very thorough and accessible approach to some cracking good recipes. The prose style is entertaining and informative and helps a less experienced cook get some insight into the tastes and textures that make a "good" recipe.

But if you want to learn more or get further into the style, you may find that you get less geniunely new material with each subsequent purchase. While any one of their books is very much worth having, they tend to endlessly repackage and reissue their recipes in various formats. That's a little problematic for someone who is a fan of the ATK approach, but also is in no way a collector of cook books. If a cook book has 3 or 4 recipes that I haven't seen before and genuinely want to try, I'll be satisfied, and each new ATK issue just barely satisfies that criterion. But the relatively high cost of acquiring these new recipes along with the 5th iteration of, say, mashed potatoes, Chicken Parmesan and skillet tamale pie, may irritate and exasperate some buyers.

One reviewer called these folks "A cottage industry gone amok". That has some truth to it, but it may be a little harsh. A more sympathetic reframing might be that they are simply trying to package their recipes in convenient ways so as to meet the demands of a particular segment of the cookbook market: "Best Recipe" vs "America's Test Kitchen companion series" vs "Cook's Illustrated compilation". And "Quick Meals" vs "Light Meals" vs "Vegetables" and "Soups and Stews".
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Format: Hardcover
This is my eighth book in my Cook's Illustrated (CI) collection and I have really enjoyed it. While it is true that many of CI's cookbooks are packed with repeat and/or repackaged recipes as other reviewers have pointed out, this book stands out from the pack in that it offers techniques in streamlining recipes so that you can get a delicious meal on the table in 30 minutes or less. And yes, every recipe I have tried has lived up to that promise (unlike other famed 30 minute cookbooks!). For people familiar with CI, this is quite a change in pace. My only real complaint with other CI books has been that the recipes can be involved and time consuming and leave your kitchen looking like a disaster area when you're finished. The good people at America's Test Kitchen didn't seem to be aware with how much kitchen equipment they had you dirtying with their recipes! This hardly made CI recipes very appealing on those weekdays when you needed a fast and easy meal on the table. This book changes all that! I can finally have delicious CI recipes even on high-stress, fast-paced days!

It is clear that CI had two very distinct goals when they put this book together...(1)every meal truly must take the average home cook 30 minutes or less to prepare, and (2)every meal must taste great. While this may sound like a given, most other 30 minute/quick meal books do not always deliver on those counts. Not only do they usually take the average cook WAY longer to prepare (do they even take prep time into consideration when they are putting together the recipes?) but even more importantly, all too often the shortcuts they take compromise the overall quality of the dishes, leaving them flat and unexciting. This is not so with CI's 30 Minute Recipe.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love all my cookbooks from the Cook's Illustrated line. This one is great, too! The recipes truly are doable in under 30 minutes. And when they say 30 minutes, they mean thirty minutes from start to finish- NOT 30 minutes of prep time and another hour of cooking!

My family loves the teriyaki recipes! I've never had better teriyaki- fast, light and fresh. We also have made some of the braised chicken dishes and they were very good.

This book is in a similar format to many of their others: there is a discussion of ingredients and methods leading up to the recipe and then usually several variations on the actual recipe itself. I like this because it allows for some flexibility if you don;t have certain ingredients on hand. This cookbook gives tips for how to prepare the recipes in the most efficient manner (for example, it says "While meat is browning, chop the onions"). I usually find that when I've cooked a recipe several times, I'm much faster at it becase I figure out what steps to do in what order- these 'quick tips' help me get there sooner.

The resulting food is fab! This cookbok isn't just for rushed weeknight dinners, the recipes are good enough to warrant including in your regular repetoire of things to prepare for guests and special occasions. Quick doesn't have to mean lower quality, the folk from Cook's Illustrated have proven that here with this book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Have tried four recipes and all have been very quick and easy to make and have been delicious. Have given the book as gifts and plan to give more. An outstanding book in a wonderful series of books. Never a disappointment with Cook's Illustrated books. Highly recommend to beginner or experienced cooks.
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