Well. I just titled this “2014 recipe disasters,” so that should give you an idea of how wrecked 2013 was. Lots of recipes failed SO many times in 2013 that I added a year onto my life. Because it’s just impossible that I had that many fails. Oomph.

I say it every year, I know. But this year? It was the WORST in the kitchen so far. So many fails. So, so, so many. In the very beginning of the year, I was finishing some recipes for my cookbook. Hello, self doubt and fails in every way? Oh yes. It wasn’t just that though. Lots of new recipe experimentation and good old ideas that tanked. Fun!

As I embark on my fifth year of this stuff, it’s always fun to take a look back on tradition and my kitchen blunders. You can also find:

2012 recipe fails

2011 recipe fails (and apparently the year when I thought rhyming was cool.)

2010 recipe fails

And this doesn’t even count the floor-smashed eggs and spilled milk that’s a daily occurence. When we don’t even have kids.

So. Here we go!

I cannot count that number of batches of coconut oil brownies I attempted. Started last December… gave up in late summer.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Probably ten? What’s the definition of insanity again? Perhaps it wouldn’t have been so insane had I stopped using ALL coconut oil and still expecting rich and fudgy traditional brownies, but no. Why would I have done that? Clueless.

These were gritty in your mouth. Doesn’t that sound like something you want to sink your teeth into?

I made this clementine chicken skillet this past Spring.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

It was probably good in theory, but then I went and added things like beer, peanuts, parsley and uh, spinach? I have no idea where that was going. No where good, that’s for sure.

After learning of the fabulousness of skillet pizza first thing this year, early on I decided I’d make dessert skillet pizza.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

This was atrocious. I have no other words.

Then I tried to make mini pepperoni pizzas. Why did I think a muffin tin was appropriate for that?

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Spoiler alert: it isn’t.

One thing I made that was delicious? These dark chocolate mini loaves.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Then I lost the recipe. Maybe I just never wrote it down? I’ve never been able to recreate their moistness since. Yeah, I said it. Go ahead. Yell at me.

And this happens more often than not. The missing recipes… not the moist cake.

I could’ve just had a bad year with loaf pans. This yeasted coffee cake below failed FOUR times.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

It’s exploded in my oven all four times too. AWESOME.

Goat cheese alfredo? Sounded fab to me.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

But it curdled and separated and was nothing that I hoped for. The good news is that I figured it out. We can talk about it soon. Also: what was I doing with the plain tomatoes? That’s just gross.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I was THISCLOSE to sharing a rice krispie recipe. I thought those days were behind me.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

They’re not, I guess. I love me some culinary lavender, but these tasted like flowers. Rice krispie flowers. I do not support the floral crunch dessert. You may think a lot of my food is weird but this? Is weirder.

I also went through a two hour phase of photographing food on ripped pieces of a cardboard box. What?

Hmmm. Again: Why did I think the below was a good idea?

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Yes that is cheese. No, it is not a Kraft single but it appears that way. Yes, it was made by me. No, I am not three years old.

I swear it was a real thing, based on a breakfast I had in Nantucket in June. Apparently I didn’t convey my love properly. This looks horrific. But hey! AT LEAST I GOT THE POURING SHOT. Stuff that matters.

I thought it would be an excellent idea to make roasted cherry chocolate chip cookies.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

It was not.

Speaking of fruit, I also thought it would be an awesome plan to make roasted strawberry marshmallows. And homemade chocolate graham crackers.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Seriously can’t even. An awful, awful mess. Gross beyond words.

Pesto pork chops sounded great in my head.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Would YOU want to eat green pork?

These blondies? Below was my first attempt.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com


Remember that time I thought it would be a wise idea to melt cheese on meatloaf?

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

On no, you don’t. Because I never told you. THANK GOD.

The saddest fail for me in all of this year were these whole wheat pumpkin sticky buns.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

They look pretty good, right? I even added pistachios!

Too bad they tasted like cardboard. Or worse. I had been excited about this recipe since August, after visiting American Spoon. It came out of their fall catalog but I thought I could be cool and make it a whole wheat dough. I couldn’t. It was sad. My mom ate one and was disgusted. Fail fail fail.

A few weeks ago, we attempted these jalapeño jack turkey burgers.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

They turned out fantastic. As you can see.

And just last Sunday, I dropped an entire sheet of cookies in my hot, hot oven.

That was great. I can’t show you the picture because you will judge me and my dirty oven. Truth.

And there you have just a little portion of my year. To say it’s been a learning experience would be quite the understatement… yet after every fail, I wonder “what the heck am I actually learning?” The jury’s still out. But! Thanks for sharing in all of my gluttony this year. You guys rock my socks. Now seriously? Tell me about some of your kitchen fails so I can feel like I have friends. Hearts hearts hearts!

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140 Responses to “2013 Recipe Disasters.”

  1. #
    Lauren — December 26, 2013 @ 8:03 am

    Why was the melted cheese on top of the meatloaf a bad idea? It looks delicious.


    • Jessica — December 26th, 2013 @ 11:03 am

      it was really just a bad recipe all together, unfortunately. i agree that cheese on meatloaf can be delish.


  2. #
    Amanda — December 26, 2013 @ 8:36 am

    I second the cheese-topped meatloaf; it looks awesome. My fail this year was PW’s cinnamon rolls. I learned the hard way that not all measuring cups are created equal and that adding the flour a little at a time is really best instead of dumping all “4” cups in only to find that it’s WAYYY too much flour (because, after weighing (why didn’t I do that to begin with?!?!?) my “1” cup is more like “1.2” – fail). They did end up being delicious, but they looked disgusting lol. Well, as disgusting as cinnamon rolls can look ;-)


  3. #
    Amy Kowbuz — December 26, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    When does your cookbook come out?


    • Jessica — December 26th, 2013 @ 11:04 am

      late 2014!


      • Liz — December 26th, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

        YAY!!!!! I was just going to ask the same thing. Can’t wait!

  4. #
    Rebecca — December 26, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    Oh my, this is an amazing post! Thanks for showing that we all fail in the kitchen and are not perfect ;) I also had some epic failures this year… I only say macarons and angel food cake :P But I will not give up, next year i will rock it, haha!
    Have a very good new year 2014!
    Love, rebecca


  5. #
    Pat — December 26, 2013 @ 8:52 am

    Thanks for the chuckles. We all have our moments. My favourite trick is making a great recipe once and then losing it. :(


  6. #
    Melanie — December 26, 2013 @ 8:54 am

    I failed three nights in a row attempting smitten kitchen’s beesting cake. Giant sticky mess x 3! I’m still trying to muster up the guts to try it again!


    • Jessica — December 26th, 2013 @ 11:05 am

      oh my gosh – i’ve wanted to make it before too and have been scared to death.


  7. #
    Emily — December 26, 2013 @ 8:56 am

    You are not alone. I have had quite a few batches of sauce fail this year- bearnaise, marsala, a goat cheese lemon/wine sauce. Oh, the steaks I cooked for my mom’s birthday last week in the skillet (my grill broke down)- they were atrocious. I do have to agree with the other comments that meatloaf and cheese are great together. I make a cheeseburger meatloaf (a Rachael ray recipe) with chunks of cheese inside the loaf and it tastes like eating a cheeseburger from McDonalds.


    • Lauren — December 27th, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

      Emily, can you post a link to the recipe? That cheeseburger meatloaf sounds delicious!


  8. #
    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — December 26, 2013 @ 9:01 am

    ha ha!! I love when you post these recipe disasters! It’s nice to know I am not the only one who makes mistakes in the kitchen! You had had some great ideas and I bet pork would taste good with pesto, yet green pork not great! That sucks about your chocolate mini loafs! I hate when I create something and I mess up writing it down or lose the recipe. I have done that! Well at least you have the beautiful picture. :)


  9. #
    Mallory @ Total Noms — December 26, 2013 @ 9:10 am

    Oh I am so disappointed those sticky buns didn’t work out! You could have fooled me with that picture! Just goes to show how much work goes into recipe development. You are successful with your blog because of what you DONT post just as much as what you do… It’s clear that quality is important to you and that is awesome to see! Happy New Year, and may the fails be fewer for us all in 2014 :)


  10. #
    Jennie B — December 26, 2013 @ 9:22 am

    Hahahahahahhahaha love this.


  11. #
    Alisha @ Gluten Free Perspective — December 26, 2013 @ 9:26 am

    haha I love reading these posts!!


  12. #
    Marnely Rodriguez-Murray — December 26, 2013 @ 9:27 am

    The pancake with cheese? I’ve tried to do it as well, after eating them in Nantucket as well! They are amazing huh!?


    • Jessica — December 26th, 2013 @ 11:08 am

      YES!!! kills me.


  13. #
    Kristi — December 26, 2013 @ 9:27 am

    Ha. I love these posts, not that you had any cooking fails this year, but that other people having cooking fails like me :)


  14. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — December 26, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    These posts are too funny! At least the gross food looks good!! I had a disaster in the kitchen yesterday….YESTERDAY!!! and it was Christmas. BOO!


  15. #
    Fae Moon — December 26, 2013 @ 9:51 am

    I have to admit that my two worst disasters came right at the end of the year in the form of food that never made it to the table at holiday dinners. The first? An entire pan of homemade macaroni and cheese which I ceremoniously dropped as I attempted to put it on the table at Thanksgiving. In front of a house full of people.

    The second happened just last weekend. The kids were all coming for an early Christmas dinner and they wanted me to make my mother’s spaghetti bake recipe (which only I know now that mom is gone). The oven has been on the fritz and hubby decided to crank up the grill to bake it like we did many things at Thanksgiving. He goes to take it out (thick Pyrex that I also used on the grill at Thanksgiving, btw) and sets it down on the plastic piece on the side of the grill and the entire Pyrex casserole shattered. Yeah, not fun. We ended up ordering pizza. Holiday fails.


    • Jessica — December 26th, 2013 @ 11:08 am

      oh wow. what a mess! i feel for ya.


  16. #
    Julie @ Lovely Little Kitchen — December 26, 2013 @ 9:56 am

    I love this post with all my heart! You’ve totally inspired me to take pictures of my failures… I’m usually too mad! I guess we learn as much from the mistakes as we do the successes.


  17. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — December 26, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    The pregnant part of me is like OH MY GAWD THAT LOOKS SO GOOD.


    • Jessica — December 26th, 2013 @ 11:09 am



  18. #
    Laura — December 26, 2013 @ 10:01 am

    This is always my favorite post of the year! Call me crazy but I think the mini pizzas, pancakes with cheese, and cheesy meatloaf all look good.


  19. #
    Heather — December 26, 2013 @ 10:07 am

    My annual fail: pastry. I have tried mixes, ” no fail” recipes , watched my mom, my mother in law and good friends make pastry ( hoping I could learn the their techniques by osmosis) but to no avail. It sticks to the counter, it rips into pieces, it does not stick together. The list goes on and on. Sigh. My secret weapon is our youngest son as HE makes the pastry. I make the filling. Winning combination.


  20. #
    Simone — December 26, 2013 @ 10:08 am

    I’d just like to say that I am so glad you post these, it makes me feel an ounce better for a few months ago bawling in my kitchen at my failed attempt at chocolate frosting for gernan chocolate cake.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has kitchen failures.


  21. #
    Elaine Pacholek — December 26, 2013 @ 10:25 am

    I solved the cheesy meatloaf conundrum by patting the meat mixture into a rectangle, sprinkling some (OK, a LOT) of cheese on it, and rolling it like a Swiss roll. A little bbq sauce on top — yum. Only yesterday, however, for Christmas dinner, I roasted Brussels sprouts along with chicken cordon bleu; they were so nicely glazed and toasty on the outside, utter mush within. Good thing the chicken turned out better than I was feeling it was going to!.


  22. #
    Rhea — December 26, 2013 @ 10:35 am

    I got a new juicer for Christmas, and after juicing like 10 fruits and veggies, I saw a seed in the juice, so I tried to strain it, but forgot to put a bowl underneath and poured all of my fresh made juice down the drain, and all I was left with was the seed in my colander. FAIL.


    • Jessica — December 26th, 2013 @ 11:09 am

      oh i have totally done this… hahaha.


    • Christine — December 26th, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

      OMG i am so sorry this happened but I cannot stop laughing. I too, have done stuff like this. And the worst part is, AS I’M DOING IT, i’m asking myself, “what am i doing?? Wait!! NO!!!!!”


  23. #
    Jenn — December 26, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    Chipotle pumpkin cream sauce for pasta was my worst fail of the year… Oh the curdles…..gag


  24. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — December 26, 2013 @ 10:52 am

    I have been thinking about this post for the past few days, and reallllllly hoping it was coming! While everyone else is posting their happy, shiny, New Years Eve food recipes, you’re posting your soul-baring fails and girl that takes some chutzpah and I totally appreciate it! We ALL have fails. I am always amazed that you photograph them, save them, and keep track of them, and one day you dont just decide in like August, this is ridiculous, why am I saving this gross recipe from January. Ahh, because you can do this with it! I totally applaud that. You may have lost that mini chocolate loaf recipe (and they look moist and springy and great) but you saved these gems which gives me faith when I’m having nothing but fails for my blog or cookbooks. So thank you!

    Coconut oil – have only ever had success w/ it in cookies, brownies, quickbreads, cakes, but never brownies. Rice krispies – I love cereal bars of all kinds, post freely! and there’s a really high end cookbook I have called Cooking with Flowers that’s all about edible flowers and they would fit right in there :) And Ive always wanted to make a yeasted coffee cake but now maybe I never will :)


  25. #
    Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health — December 26, 2013 @ 10:53 am

    you are not alone..I have disasters like this every week in my kitchen too..one of the grossest thing was chicken stuffed with cream cheese..it ended up not only looking gross but tasted disgusting. looking forward to successes in the kitchen in 2014 :)


  26. #
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough — December 26, 2013 @ 11:10 am

    I don’t know… I’d still probably eat that whole pan of coconut oil brownies. Because chocolate.


  27. #
    Melinda — December 26, 2013 @ 11:11 am

    Worst kitchen fail of 2013 for me was salted caramel swiss merengue buttercream. I scrambled the first FIVE egg whites, and almost did it again with the second five. I blame it on my wonky thermometer. But I wasn’t done ruining it yet- then the “caramel sauce” that I had prepared apparently hardened into a brick that came flying out of the KitchenAid the second I threw it in there and almost took out my eye. And then i cried.


  28. #
    Courtney @ Neighborfood — December 26, 2013 @ 11:26 am

    Perhaps my favorite post of the year because it’s just so dang relatable! I’m so glad you’re brave enough to document your failures. I may have to start doing that. So far, it’s just been the occasional embarrassing Instagram. My biggest failure this year was Gingerbread Pear muffins. Tried it three times. They always exploded in the oven into giant, gooey, wet muffins. Not moist, wet. That’s an adjective you never want to use to describe your muffins.


  29. #
    Kristina — December 26, 2013 @ 11:49 am

    if I had a nickel for every recipe I lost or immediately forgot… I’d have many many nickels.


  30. #
    Stacia — December 26, 2013 @ 11:51 am

    I boiled corn syrup and brown sugar together on the stove and it boiled over and went ALL OVER my cooktop. Ever try to get burnt on corn syrup and sugar off a cook top? I don’t recommend it.


  31. #
    Tiffany — December 26, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

    Love this! It definitely helps to know I’m not alone. In 2013 I made a huge batch of cabbage soup that gave my family such horrible gas they refused to eat any more, I used too shallow a baking dish for a ham and potato casserole and literally flooded the bottom of my oven with cream sauce (not fun to clean), and I made homemade mayonnaise using coconut oil. Coconut and mayo do NOT go together. Most recently my brother threw me a “challenge” by asking me on Sunday to make creme brulee for Christmas Eve on Tuesday. Rather than invest in ramekins and a torch I decided to wing it using Pyrex dishes, a pie plate, and the broiler. We had sugar-crusted soup. But it tasted good. :)


  32. #
    Stephanie — December 26, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

    I tried to make salted caramels the other day–and my first batch turned into a burned mess that completely got away from me. Thankfully I had an empty jar sitting conveniently by the stove that I could pour it into before it hardened on the bottom of my pot! It was a mess….

    The second batch was delicious though! :)


    • Stephanie — December 26th, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

      oh and then there was the turkey soup that was so spicy my husband and I both started coughing and choking when we tasted it….


  33. #
    HaleyB — December 26, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

    Love this post and your blog..you’re just too funny and so honest! I haven’t had too many fails but I’m not super adventurous either. I made your Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle Pie a few months ago and it was beautiful and delicious! Oh the large amount of heavy cream involved…so wonderful! It was rich but not so sweet. Thanks again for sharing your triumphs and failures :) Happy New Year!


  34. #
    Christine @ BookishlyB — December 26, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

    Just a tiny bit pissed about the Dark Chocolate Mini Loaf recipe disappearing. Crap, what kind of professional food blogger does that? ;) I feel like you owe us now.


  35. #
    Kristin @ Crumbs & Curls — December 26, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

    I accidentally put a cup of lemon juice instead of a tablespoon into lemon cookies! I couldn’t even finish making them!



    • Jessica — December 26th, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

      haha! i put 1 1/2 cups of orange juice in my orange cookies the other night instead of 1/2 cup. it was awful!


  36. #
    Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence — December 26, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

    So funny!! Thanks for sharing. The rippled cardboard comment made me LOL.

    I had a major fail last month when I tried to ripple red food coloring into a baking dish of homemade marshmallow. What was supposed to be beautiful Martha Stewart candy cane marshmallows ended up being a lumpy mess afflicted with multiple stab wounds. No bueno.


  37. #
    Heather of Kitchen Concoctions — December 26, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

    I look forward to this post every year! Thank you for not being afraid to share your cooking woes! It makes me feel good to know that I am not the only one who has had kitchen disasters and recipe failures! : )


  38. #
    LauriM — December 26, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

    Great post! It is so nice to hear about other people’s fails. I recently tried to make an Angel Food Cake that turned out like a brick. My worst fail would be a pan of brownies about 10 years ago. As I put the pan in the oven, I knocked over a recipe holder that had two of my great-grandma’s favorite hand-written recipes in it. They fell into the brownies and were ruined! Now I put all my favorite recipes in plastic sheets!


  39. #
    Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate — December 26, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

    Too bad you lost that recipe for those chocolate loaf cakes! Thanks for sharing though, it’s always nice to know that things don’t turn out perfect all the time!


  40. #
    The Suzzzz — December 26, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

    That.Was.AWESOME! I love that you even made beautiful photos of your food fails. It’s fun to commiserate about those brilliant ideas that turn out less than fabulous in reality. My worst one was a chocolate ginger bbq sauce that I was going to glaze grilled chicken with…even my dog was was scared to go near it when I plated it and tried it, and she’ll eat anything (pens, liquid dish soap, books, electrical cords, her own poop). Thanks for the laughs.


  41. #
    perber18 — December 26, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

    you are hysterical!! It’s good to know we all have kitchen failures. The worst are the ones that look so promising and leave us dissapointed. Merry Christmas!!


  42. #
    Lindsie — December 26, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

    I made chocolate chip cookies with coconut flour. which could work except the recipe came straight out of fantasyland. My husband (who eats ANYTHING) took one bite and said it tasted like eating deodorant. I have to agree…. :(


  43. #
    Meredith — December 26, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

    When I first got married I wanted to empress my husband with my not so great cooking skills. I found a recipe for chicken with orange sauce and scallions. Sounded good because who doesn’t like orange sauce. But, I thought scallions were scallops. So… I bought a bunch of scallops, chopped them up real little like the recipe said. Sautéed those finely chopped “scallions” and spread them over my orange smothered chicken. Made up a pretty plate and served it to my guy. When I tried it, I knew something wasn’t right cause it tasted…well…gross. my husband told me what I did after he looked at the recipe. I was mortified! But my sweet husband ate it…well..after scraping off the *scallions*. I’m a little better cook now after 15 years. Kitchen fail I’ll never forget.


    • Martha — December 27th, 2013 @ 8:29 am

      That is hilarious.


  44. #
    Rachel @ The Stay At Home Chef — December 26, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

    This post is why I love you and have followed you for years! My most frustrating fail this year was trying to do a gluten-free cake roll. I attempted it several times and it tasted amazing every single time. However, I just couldn’t get it to roll no matter how hard I tried. So what we ended up eating with each attempt was just a pile of broken cake pieces and cream filling. Yet, I still have great hopes that some day I’ll be able to make it work!


  45. #
    lynn chen — December 26, 2013 @ 10:03 pm

    I love how your failures look like my successes! Happy New Year – love reading every post.


  46. #
    Bianca — December 26, 2013 @ 10:10 pm

    I decided to try some gluten free baking this Christmas. One recipe used coconut oil instead of butter. They turned into puddles of chocolate Coconut oil. Another recipe, thought adding orange zest to chocolate chip cookies would be a nice touch. It wasn’t. Glad I’m not alone.


  47. #
    Deborah — December 26, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

    You have made me laugh out loud! One time I tried to make a caramel cake that erupted like molten lava all over my oven. Haven’t had the nerve to try again. I’m not really sure what happened! Good to know I’m not the only one that has recipes fail. Love your blog…


  48. #
    Cattknap — December 27, 2013 @ 12:49 am

    Love this post…chuckle after chuckle….love your writing style. When you are perfecting your art, there are always many disasters. I know. Years ago when I was newly married, i baked a pound cake for my first dinner party…disaster on a cooling rack. When I heard the first guests at the door , I shoved the sad mess onto the top shelf of a cabinet….and forgot it for 6 months….when discovered, it had not rotted….it had fossilized…too dry to rot I think. I didn’t make pound cake again for 20 years.


  49. #
    Jane Kim — December 27, 2013 @ 1:22 am

    Thanks for sharing this. It made me laugh. And, helps me learn what not to do. Creativity has its risks but you never know unless you try.


  50. #
    Lindsay — December 27, 2013 @ 2:08 am

    I’m not sure I’ve ever commented on your blog before, but I am an avid reader! Today felt appropriate to stop being a blog-stalker and finally commit to a comment.. this post was perfect! I love that even my favorite food bloggers are not able to create awesomeness 100% of the time, because that means you’re actually human, too. Thank you for sharing!


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