Best Recipes of 2021

by Beth - Budget Bytes
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It’s that time of year again! Time for me to round up the 20 best recipes of 2021, recipes that you don’t want to miss! Since I’m (probably) the only one who has cooked every single recipe on this site, I hope you take my word when I say that these 20 recipes are the best of the best. Bookmark this page so the next time you can’t think of something to make for dinner, you can scroll through this list and pick something you haven’t tried yet. They’re all winners!

collage of recipe images with title text in the center

Without further ado, here are my top 20 favorite recipes from 2021, in order from newest to oldest!

Homemade Mac and Cheese

side view of macaroni and cheese in a bowl with a fork
This incredibly creamy and cheesy homemade mac and cheese is great on its own or as a jumping off point for your own creation.
4.31 from 71 votes
$4.19 recipe / $1.05 serving Get the Recipe

Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese – I was not expecting this “basic” recipe to be this good, but somehow it just is. It’s extra cheesy, extra gooey, and will give you all the good cheesy ASMR vibes when you stir.

Mushroom Rice

Close side view of mushroom rice in a pan
This simple mushroom rice combines earthy mushrooms, savory garlic, rich butter, and flavorful vegetable broth for a simple yet flavorful side dish.
4.94 from 29 votes
$2.93 recipe / $0.73 serving Get the Recipe

Mushroom Rice – This is another simple recipe that ended up blowing my mind. Just a few simple ingredients transform a pot of white rice from boring to, “can I eat this as my main dish?”

Chicken Stew

Close up of a pot full of chicken stew
This chicken stew is a rich and hearty mix of tender chicken thighs, vegetables, and a light but flavorful herb-infused gravy.
4.92 from 154 votes
$12.22 recipe / $2.04 serving Get the Recipe

Chicken Stew – This tasty stew probably gets my vote for my absolute favorite recipe of the entire year, and that’s saying a lot. It’s so rich and hearty, and the flavor is absolutely off the charts. DON’T MISS IT.

Bratwurst and Sauerkraut

Bratwurst and sauerkraut in a skillet with beer, potatoes, and mustard on the sides
Juicy bratwurst simmering in tangy sauerkraut, sweet apples, onions, and broth is an easy and flavorful way to enjoy this German sausage.
5 from 41 votes
$6.26 recipe / $1.25 serving Get the Recipe

Bratwurst and Sauerkraut – It’s no secret that I’m in love with bratwurst and since I’ve also recently fallen in love with sauerkraut, it’s only natural that I am in love with this recipe. It’s super easy to prepare and the leftovers are deeeelish!

Classic Meatloaf

Side view of sliced meatloaf on a platter
This classic meatloaf recipe is just like the traditional meatloaf grandma used to make. Tender and juicy with the perfect tomato glaze!
4.75 from 143 votes
$9.56 recipe / $0.96 per slice Get the Recipe

Classic Homemade Meatloaf – I don’t know why meatloaf is always the butt of jokes on tv and cartoons because this stuff is SO GOOD. Total comfort food and definitely the type of leftovers that I look forward to the rest of the week.

Savory Oatmeal

overhead view of a bowl full of savory oatmeal with ingredients on the sides
Savory oatmeal is a delicious, hearty, and inexpensive meal that can be customized to use ingredients you have on hand.
5 from 34 votes
$1.25 recipe Get the Recipe

Savory Oatmeal – Oats are a staple in my kitchen because they’re cheap, good for you, and they can be used for a lot more than just a sweet breakfast bowl. These savory oats are great for breakfast, lunch, or a quick dinner!

BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits

Overhead view of a bowl of cheese grits with bbq meatballs and collard greens
BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits is the perfect cozy meal for crisp fall evenings, football games, and afternoons spent raking leaves.
4.86 from 28 votes
$7.74 recipe / $1.94 serving Get the Recipe

BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits – I had this recipe sitting in my drafts for almost two months because I honestly didn’t think anyone else would like it. Well, to my surprise, you guys liked it every bit as much as I did! This dish was one of the most viral recipes of the year.

Honey Sriracha Tofu

Close up of honey sriracha tofu in the skillet
This easy and delicious Honey Sriracha Tofu recipe is sweet, spicy, and sticky! Perfect for salads, bowl meals, noodles, wraps, and more.
4.78 from 49 votes
$2.64 recipe / $0.66 serving Get the Recipe

Honey Sriracha Tofu – Food doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious, and this honey sriracha tofu is the perfect example. The sauce is basically three ingredients, sriracha, honey, and soy sauce, and yet it’s so finger-licking good!

Mediterranean Coleslaw

Side view of mediterranean coleslaw in a serving dish
This bright and fresh Mediterranean Coleslaw has a light lemony dressing (no mayo!) and a medley of crunchy and colorful vegetables.
4.82 from 22 votes
$7.21 recipe / $1.20 serving Get the Recipe

Mediterranean Coleslaw – I still have food dreams about this coleslaw. It’s so light, refreshing, crunchy, colorful, and flavorful. If you’re looking to switch up your usual side dishes for sandwiches or grilled meat, this salad is a fun new option.

Easy Lemon Cream Pie

Overhead view of a sliced lemon cream pie with lemons on the sides
This sweet and creamy cloud-like lemon cream pie is an easy summer dessert that can be made completely no-bake, if needed.
4.96 from 25 votes
$4.26 recipe / $0.53 per slice Get the Recipe

Easy Lemon Cream Pie – Delicious simplicity at its best. This no-bake pie is crazy good, but you only need a few ingredients.

Chocolate Coffee Breakfast Smoothie

overhead view of two glasses full of chocolate coffee breakfast smoothie with straws
This Chocolate Coffee Breakfast Smoothie is a dessert-worthy treat and a sneaky way to add an extra dose of vegetables to your day.
4.67 from 27 votes
$0.84 each Get the Recipe

Chocolate Coffee Breakfast Smoothie – This surprising smoothie tastes just like a Wendy’s frosty, but has way less sugar and a secret ingredient that packs in some extra fiber. ;)

One Pot Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Rice

overhead view of lemon garlic shrimp and rice in a skillet
You only need one pot and 8 ingredients to make this easy and flavorful Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Rice. Fast, easy, and delicious!
4.73 from 58 votes
$7.53 recipe / $1.88 serving Get the Recipe

One Pot Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Rice – I love this easy, light, and refreshing dish for summer. Add a green salad or some steamed veggies on the side, and dinner is done!

Classic Three Bean Salad

Overhead view of a bowl of three bean salad
Simple ingredients come together in this Classic Three Bean Salad to make a simple summer side dish, perfect for BBQs and potlucks!
4.70 from 13 votes
$2.79 recipe / $0.56 serving Get the Recipe

Classic Three Bean Salad – Months later, I’m still trying to figure out why this is so good. It’s just some canned beans and a super simple vinaigrette, but I still want to sit down with the bowl and eat the entire batch myself. Oh, and it’s one of those magical recipes that get better with time in the fridge.

BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken

BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken on a plate with potato salad and bean salad, a fork grabbing a slice of chicken
Forget boring or bland baked chicken breasts, this BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken is going to be the star of your dinner plate.
5 from 16 votes
$8.89 recipe / $2.22 serving Get the Recipe

BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken – This chicken didn’t get a lot of attention when I first posted it, but hopefully this will convince a few more of you to give it a try. It’s a super simple mix of BBQ sauce, cheddar, fresh red onion, and cilantro, but the flavors are perfect together and this chicken couldn’t be easier to make.

No Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars

front view of no bake pretzel peanut butter bars lined up in a grid
These no-bake pretzel peanut butter bars are a ridiculously simple homemade version of your favorite peanut butter cups!
4.93 from 27 votes
$3.94 recipe / 0.16 per square Get the Recipe

No Bake Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars – You guys loved this no-bake dessert as much as I did! It’s like homemade peanut butter cups with a crunchy pretzel topping. Who wouldn’t love that?

Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken

Overhead view of lemon pepper chicken in the skillet with lemon slices
These Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken Breasts are so tender and juicy, and you'll want to spoon that delicious pan sauce over EVERYTHING. 
5 from 63 votes
$7.58 recipe / $1.90 serving Get the Recipe

Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken – Lemon pepper is such a great all-purpose seasoning. It adds acidity, salt, and a peppery bite all in one sprinkle, which makes this lemon pepper chicken a fast, easy, and tasty option for busy weeknights.

Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Cheddar drop biscuits on a wire cooling rack against a blue background
These rich, fluffy, and cheesy Cheddar Drop Biscuits are as easy as it gets when it comes to homemade biscuits.
4.92 from 23 votes
$3.15 recipe / $0.26 each Get the Recipe

Cheddar Drop Biscuits – I would eat these biscuits every day if I could. They’re rich, cheesy, soft, and fluffy. And bonus, they freeze great so you can take just a few out of the freezer to serve with dinner whenever needed!

Sheet Pan BBQ Meatballs

Overhead view of sheet pan with bbq meatballs, pineapple, peppers, and onions, tongs on the side
These Sheet Pan BBQ Meatballs are easy, colorful, and delicious. Plus the leftovers hold up great, so they're meal prep friendly!
4.79 from 33 votes
$7.84 recipe / $1.96 serving Get the Recipe

Sheet Pan BBQ Meatballs – We all love sheet pan meals, and this one has tasty bbq meatballs, sweet pineapple rings, and caramelized peppers and onions. The perfect combo!

Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles being lifted from the bowl with a fork
Adding peanut butter to your instant ramen is an easy way to upgrade this inexpensive comfort food with more flavor and protein.
4.87 from 96 votes
$0.83 recipe Get the Recipe

Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen – I love easy ramen hacks, and this spicy peanut butter ramen is one of the best of the best. A super simple spicy peanut butter sauce makes these noodles absolutely irresistable.

Tortilla Baked Eggs

Whole tortilla baked eggs on a plate with fork on the side
Tortilla Baked Eggs are a fun and flexible way to use leftover ingredients from the week in a delicious homemade breakfast.
Get the Recipe

Tortilla Baked Eggs – I couldn’t end this roundup without an egg recipe. These tortilla-baked eggs became my favorite way to eat eggs this year. The flour tortilla is used as a sort of shell or bowl, holding in your eggs, cheese, and whatever other fillings you like. It’s fun, crispy, and tasty!

What new recipes did you try this year that ended up being winners (from here or anywhere else)? I’d love to hear about what you’ve been cooking!

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  1. Great line-up of recipes. Not sure how I missed so many of these. I have a new approach to meal planning so have a number of these “scheduled” to try in upcoming weeks. Thank you and Happy New Year!

  2. I love how simple and delicious all of your recipes are. They include easy to follow directions and never disappoint. I look forward to your emails every week for something new and tasty to whip up for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time. Thank you for sharing your gift of healthy, homemade, affordable food.

  3. Have made most of these recipes; some more than once!  Mushroom rice a big favorite (I have also made it using orzo). Brats & sauerkraut so good, good ‘ol 3 bean salad perfect for a bbq or picnic, lemon pie – oh yum!
    Mediterranean coleslaw also great for a big or picnic and such a nice change.. I can always count your recipes to be delicious. Thank you & Happy New Year!

  4. The chicken stew is so good I made it for Christmas dinner. Definitely a new favorite!

  5. My sister and I have absolutely enjoyed the BBQ Meatballs with Cheesy Grits and the Chicken Stew. Both recipes were very easy to make, and it was refreshing to try something different while staying on budget. I am looking forward to trying more new recipes this year! Thank you so much for all that you do, Miss Beth. Your hard work, time, and patience coming up with budget friendly recipes is not going unnoticed, and keep doing your thing, girlfriend! Have a safe and prosperous New Year! 🥳

  6. The honey Sriracha tofu, chicken stew, and tortilla baked eggs were all the biggest hits in my household this year. They’re all regulars in the rotation now, so good!

  7. I loved making your ranch biscuits, and savory oatmeal is already a staple in my life!