Top 25 Recipes of 2016

by Beth - Budget Bytes
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I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday! I decided to take advantage of this “holiday hangover” day to compile my very favorite recipes of 2016. I’ve been making these year-end recipe round ups since my very first year of blogging and every year the list seems to get longer. As I sat down last night to review the recipes from 2016, I found myself writing down nearly every recipe onto my favorites list! Even after what seemed like a fairly conservative “first pass” I had 36 recipes on my list. Yikes! I’ve knocked it down some, but I just can’t narrow it down any further than these awesome Top 25 Recipes of 2016.

It was a delicious year, to say the least, so if you are new to Budget Bytes or just want to start cooking more in 2017, these 25 recipes are a great place to start! Here’s to making next year even tastier than the last!

Top 25 Recipes of 2016

The Top 25 Recipes of 2016 from


Listed in Chronological order from oldest to newest…


Weeknight Enchiladas

These easy Bean and Cheese Enchiladas are anything but boring. A few extra details take them from a simple to spectacular weeknight dinner.
4.95 from 59 votes
$6.70 recipe / $0.84 serving Get the Recipe

Weeknight Enchiladas – A few extra steps, like toasting your tortillas and making your own quick enchilada sauce, takes these simple enchiladas to the next level. Seriously good, seriously simple.


One Pot Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac

This rich and comforting One Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac and Cheese is the perfect quick and easy weeknight meal. Works great for meal prep! 
4.67 from 145 votes
$8.90 recipe / $1.11 serving Get the Recipe

Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac – This is what it’s all about right here. My “meat and potatoes” type of meal. Filling, cheap, and very satisfying with its cheesy goodness!


Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

A colorful medley of vegetables, protein filled lentils, and a rich brown gravy make this Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie filling and flavorful without meat. 
4.85 from 93 votes
$5.87 recipe / $0.98 serving Get the Recipe

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie – Lentils make the perfect earthy swap for ground beef or lamb in this Shepherd’s Pie. It’s warm and cozy like cold-weather meals should be. :)


Pan Fried Sesame Tofu with Broccoli

This Pan Fried Sesame Tofu is seriously crispy and drenched in a tangy sesame sauce. Broccoli florets and cooked rice make it a meal.
4.72 from 163 votes
$5.52 recipe / $1.84 serving Get the Recipe

Pan Fried Sesame Tofu with Broccoli – This is the recipe that got me loving tofu. Learning how to properly pan fry the little tofu cubes to create a crispy exterior is life changing. TRY IT.


Cilantro Lime Chicken Drumsticks

These garlicky Cilantro Lime Chicken Drumsticks are like a blast of summer to get you through those winter blues. Also great for the grill!
4.82 from 37 votes
$5.25 recipe / $1.75 serving Get the Recipe

Cilantro Lime Chicken Drumsticks – Just when the bleak winter weather starts to do you in, these fresh and vibrant chicken drumsticks will bring you back to life. Light, fresh, and January-diet friendly. ;)


Curried Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup

A plate of pasta with the title text overlay at the center
This super fast and easy Curried Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup is soul warming and flavorful. Inexpensive, vegan, flavorful, filling, and customizable!
4.77 from 71 votes

Curried Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup – It might look unassuming, but don’t let that fool you! This incredibly simple soup is every bit as flavorful as it is healthy and that’s why I love it!


Honey Sriracha Chicken Drumsticks

Sweet and spicy honey sriracha chicken drumsticks baked to perfection in the oven! Change up the sauce for a different meal every week!
4.91 from 41 votes
$4.47 recipe / $0.75 serving Get the Recipe

Crispy Baked Honey Sriracha Chicken Drumsticks – I learned so many amazing things that cornstarch can do this year! Like make baked chicken extra crispy, as if it was fried! But let’s not forget about that amazing honey sriracha sauce that I slathered over top…


Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup – Roasted red peppers give this rich soup a slight sweetness and a flour and butter roux gives it a thick, luxurious texture. I’ll never make tomato soup without a roux ever again.


Thai Red Curry Vegetable Soup

This Thai Curry Vegetable Soup is packed with vegetables, spicy Thai flavor, and creamy coconut milk. Ready in about 30 minutes! 
4.73 from 288 votes
$6.10 recipe / $1.53 serving Get the Recipe

Thai Curry Vegetable Soup – If I had to pick one recipe as a favorite for the whole year (which I never could), this would be in the running. The flavors are incredibly vibrant and multidimensional. I want to eat it every day.


Creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese with Spinach

Close up side view of a bowl of creamy pesto mac with spinach
A simple creamy sauce infused with basil pesto makes this Creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese with spinach the ultimate comfort food WITH a dose of vegetables!
4.60 from 50 votes
$3.27 recipe / $0.55 serving Get the Recipe

Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach – Because I put frozen spinach in everything. This isn’t a mac & cheese so much as it is a creamy pesto sauce with pasta and enough spinach to make you feel good about what you’re eating. ;)


Lime Shrimp Dragon Noodles

These spicy Lime Shrimp Dragon Noodles are a fast, easy, and inexpensive alternative to take out. This version features tender shrimp and fresh lime.
4.75 from 71 votes
$4.97 recipe / $2.49 serving Get the Recipe

Lime Shrimp Dragon Noodles – I decided to play around with my original recipe for Dragon Noodles and came up with this winning combo! Lime brightens up the sauce and shrimp is a natural with the spicy flavors. I even used a different type of noodle just for fun.


Greek Chicken Pasta Salad

Greek Chicken Pasta Salad is the perfectly refreshing and filling summer meal with its medley of vegetables and tangy lemon garlic dressing.
4.88 from 40 votes
$8.91 recipe / $2.23 serving Get the Recipe

Greek Chicken Pasta Salad – When it comes to summer eating, I always crave cold pasta salads. This one has enough protein, vegetables, and flavor to count as a whole meal.


Pressure Cooker Chicken and Rice

Pressure Cooker Chicken and Rice is an easy and flavorful four-ingredient dinner that leaves zero waste. Slow cooker instructions included.
4.70 from 46 votes
$12.31 recipe / $3.08 serving Get the Recipe

Pressure Cooker Chicken and Rice – I’m still learning with my pressure cooker, but discovering that you can cook rice in the left over juices from cooking a chicken was the best thing EVER. So much flavor and so little waste.


Apple Pie Overnight Oats

Overhead view of a bowl of apple pie overnight oats.
These Apple Pie Overnight Oats are an easy and delicious make-ahead breakfast with no added sugar that you can enjoy either hot or cold.
4.72 from 32 votes
$2.26 recipe / $0.57 serving Get the Recipe

No Sugar Added Apple Pie Overnight Oats – They definitely don’t look like apple pie, but these overnight oats taste surprisingly similar to apple pie, despite the fact that there is NO added sugar. I’ll be eating these through most of January!


Pasta with 5 Ingredient Butter Tomato Sauce

Pasta with 5 Ingredient Butter Tomato Sauce uses five simple pantry ingredients to make an incredibly rich and delicious sauce, perfect for any weeknight.
4.84 from 48 votes
$4.23 recipe / $1.06 serving Get the Recipe

Pasta with 5-Ingredient Butter Tomato Sauce – This 5-ingredient tomato sauce is IN-SANE. I love it when simple ingredients make a final product that is absolutely extraordinary. (Plus a recipe for optional toasted breadcrumbs!)


Cowboy Caviar

Close up overhead view of cowboy caviar in a bowl with chips on the side.
Cowboy Caviar is a deliciously fresh bean salad with a colorful mix of beans and vegetables, plus a zesty lime dressing.
4.88 from 55 votes
$5.30 recipe / $0.53 serving Get the Recipe

Cowboy Caviar – So, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this about me, but I LOVE BEANS. This vibrant bean salad can be eaten as a side dish, as a party dip, as a taco topper, or even a burrito filling. It’s a keeper.


Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils are an easy, hands-off, fiber filled, freezer friendly vegan dinner. 
4.75 from 133 votes
$9.86 recipe / $0.99 serving Get the Recipe

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils – Slow cookers to the rescue! This meal is cheap, super yummy, and crazy easy, thanks to my trusty slow cooker. And extras freeze well, too!


Baked Beef Tacos

A glass casserole dish filled with baked beef and black bean tacos, with toppings in bowls on the sides
Baked Beef Tacos are a fast and easy way to take Taco Tuesday to the next level and is the perfect fast and easy weeknight meal.
4.95 from 54 votes
$8.88 recipe / $1.78 serving Get the Recipe

Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos – Ever tried baking your stuffed tacos? Prepare for your Taco Tuesday to be changed forever. Baking your tacos takes them to the next level (I know, I didn’t think it was possible for tacos to get better, but IT IS.).


Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

This fast and easy Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry is a filling low carb dinner with big flavor and endless possibilities for customization. 
4.84 from 376 votes
$7.14 recipe / $1.79 serving Get the Recipe

Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry – This is probably the “reader’s favorite” winner of the year and I’ve also made it several times in the few months since posting it. Why? Because it’s SO freaking good, so filling, and so cheap! WINNER.


Slow Cooker Jambalaya

Slow Cooker Jambalaya is a Louisiana classic made simple, with all the big flavor and half the effort.
4.14 from 101 votes
$10.52 recipe / $1.32 serving Get the Recipe

Slow Cooker Jambalaya – It’s a good thing that I don’t have a Cajun grandmother because she might roll over in her grave at the thought of this one, but I don’t care. It’s easy, it’s delicious, it’s filling and that’s what this modern girl needs.


Marinated Lentil Salad

Marinated Lentil Salad is bright, flavorful, and infused with bold flavors like garlic and lemon. 
4.94 from 72 votes
$6.56 recipe / $1.09 serving Get the Recipe

Marinated Lentil Salad – BANG-POW-WOW! That’s what my brain says when I eat this one. Between the tangy vinaigrette, fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, and lemon zest, there are a LOT of loud flavors in this salad.


5 Ingredient Freezer Biscuits

5 Ingredient Freezer Biscuits are the fastest and easiest way to have fresh, warm, and fluffy biscuits for breakfast any day of the week.
4.92 from 45 votes
$4.14 recipe / $0.35 each Get the Recipe

5-Ingredient Freezer Biscuits – These biscuits may be the death of me. Not only are they beautifully tender and slightly sweet, but I can keep the unbaked biscuits in my freezer and bake up one, two, three, or however many I need at a moments notice. Absolutely dangerous.


Sweet Potato Casserole Baked Oatmeal

Sweet Potato Casserole Baked Oatmeal is a great way to have your favorite Thanksgiving side as a nutrient packed breakfast. 
4.95 from 20 votes
$5.14 recipe / $0.86 serving Get the Recipe

Sweet Potato Casserole Baked Oatmeal – Just when I thought I had made all possible flavors of baked oatmeal, the idea of a sweet potato casserole/baked oatmeal hybrid came to me. And wouldn’t you know, it’s my favorite one yet!


Vegetarian French Dip Sandwiches

Close up overhead shot of Vegetarian French Dip Sandwiches in a tray.
These Vegetarian French Dip Sandwiches are fast, easy, and feature a salty-sweet herb infused vegetarian au jus for dipping. 
4.97 from 77 votes
$6.58 recipe / $1.65 each Get the Recipe

Vegetarian French Dip Sandwiches – I only made these portobello “French dip” sandwiches a couple of weeks ago, but am still dreaming about them. The herb infused vegetable au jus was so good.


Vegetable Pot Pie Skillet with Cheddar Biscuit Topping

This rich and comforting Vegetable Pot Pie Skillet is made fast and easy for weeknight dinners thanks to frozen vegetables. Comfort food all in one skillet! 
4.78 from 97 votes
$4.91 recipe / $0.82 serving Get the Recipe

Vegetarian Pot Pie Skillet with a Cheddar Biscuit Topping – I’ll take these cheddar chive biscuits over a traditional pie crust any day! Eating this skillet casserole is like wrapping yourself in a warm fluffy blanket and getting cozy next to a fireplace. It’s 100% comfort.


What are your favorite recipe discoveries of 2016? Feel free to share yours, from anywhere around the web, in the comments below. (Just remember, that if you’ve never commented on this site before your comment will be held in moderation until I can review them. All subsequent comments will post immediately.)

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  1. I never leave comments but had to leave one for you. I found your blog about three weeks ago and now I am addicted to it!   Your recipes are so delicious. My family have showered me with praise whenever I serve up one of your meals.  I love the variety of recipes and the abundant vegetarian options.  I’ve been wanting to try more vegetarian meals and browsed many cookbooks but most left me saying “eh”.  Not yours!! We just had your black bean quesadillas and my husband raved about the flavor and was surprised they were meatless! I also grately appreciate how easy your recipes are; no weird ingredients that I will only use once, lots of stuff I already have in my pantry, foods that we already love but are put together in new, fresh ways!  Plus your pictures are the best!  I need pictures of the result if I’m ever going to try a new recipe. Meal planning has been lot more fun now that I  keep finding new meals to try from your site!  So thank you for all that you do and for sharing it!  Finally, I don’t know if you have written a cookbook or have though about publishing one but I would be the first in line to purchase yours!

    1. I do have a book! :) It was published in 2014 and you can get it on Amazon or through any other major book retailer (just search “Budget Bytes”). Thank you and I’m so glad my site has been so useful to you!

  2. You are an extremely talented instructional author. The aesthetic choices in photography and layout, and the friendly conciseness of your tone have made this blog my go-to website when deciding what to get at the store, and what to try in the kitchen.

    A big thing I’ve learned from reading through is which foodstuffs one should always have on hand, so that the next trip to the store is only for a few items. It seems that if one possesses lentils, rice, beans, oats, a spice rack, and broth they can pretty much make anything. Might have to get a bit of some perishables, but you’ve taught me to keep the dried/canned essentials around at all times.

    Keep doing what you’re doing; you do it uncommonly well.

  3. Hey Beth! I’ve been addicted to your blog for about a year now. Budget Bytes is always the first place I look for new recipes. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you. I’ve been cooking for my entire life and much of my identity is tied to cooking and entertaining friends and family. About two years ago, my husband and I decided to be vegetarians. At first it was difficult because I didn’t know how to cook for meat eater friends when I had made a commitment to not buy or cook meat. So many veg recipes a see are dependent on fake meat, which I think is a turn off for a lot of meat eaters. I wanted to keep my badass cook reputation without compromising my morals. When I came across your blog I was blown away by the number of your recipes that are vegetarian, and that they don’t use fake meat. People are always saying that they couldn’t be vegetarian because veg food has no flavor, but that couldn’t be more wrong! I am constantly receiving compliments on dishes I make using your recipes. You have helped me keep my five star home chef rating while entertaining carnivores in the absence of meat. I was even asked to host a vegetarian Friendsgiving where my hubby and I were the only vegetarians! Thank you! Your writing style is a pleasure to read, your recipes are easy to follow (I’m constantly recommending your site to beginners), and you show people that vegetarian food can knock your socks off! Keep it up!

    With much gratitude,
    Christina Jo

  4. There are still some listed that I want to try. The beef/cabbage stir fry is next on my list. But I’m loving the tomato sauce. Have made it so many times now – easy, good with the most inexpensive tomatoes and versatile! Thank you!

  5. For me, it is surely the Baked Tacos, and I have made them many times since my dog broke my heart eating all the leftovers the first time I made them. I also discovered the first Dragon Noodles this year and have made them many times. My daughter LOVES the stir fry that uses a half pound of hamburger. The pickled red onions I love too! We both love the one pot chili Mac. We make, a couple times a year, this dessert you posted a couple year ago that you do in the crock pot with spice cake mix and apples. I just really love all of your recipes and plan to make your rosemary beef stew, the chicken breast, and the spicy Singapore noodles in the week ahead. Thank you!

  6. My week just featured coconut curry lentils (A+), overnight apple pie oatmeal (A), Roasted red pepper and tomato soup (A), Baked beef and black bean tacos (A) and the biscuits which didn’t make it to the freezer (A+) Thanks!

  7. I’m so glad I found your website because I’m broke! I searched Google for “pantry staples” and was going to stock up on the basics and eat as cheaply as possible for the next few months while I pay down some debt, but I still wanted to eat well and healthy. I love to cook and usually keep a well-stocked pantry, but want to make sure I wasn’t overlooking anything.

    So many great budget-friendly recipes. Pretty sure I won’t die now, or at least not feel deprived. ;) Thanks so much!

    PS Loved the cabbage leftovers list. I always seem to have half a head of cabbage leftover and no idea how to use it.

  8. We love the tofu recipes! So crispy.

    And we’re still stuck on the 2012 hearty black beans quesadilla.

    That said, when I want to try something new, I tell my husband that it’s a Budget Bytes recipe. It never fails to get him to go along. And we are always thankful for the new recipe!

  9. There were a ton to choose from. I would say my favorite new recipes from this year were the Mango Coconut Tofu bowls and the Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac. Both have been made several times and are great! The Chili Mac is great to freeze leftovers for busy weeks, which is wonderful. I also enjoyed the Cabbage and Noodles and make it every time a cabbage enters my house. You also introduced me to making chimichurri sauce this year, I completely changed the recipe to fit my tastes so I’m not even sure it counts as chimichurri anymore but I love having a good cilantro sauce that can be kept in the freezer too.

  10. Your Mexican lentil soup recipe is bomb af. I make it all the time. Thanks for all you do!