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. #
    Vero @ French Cooking for Dummies — December 27, 2013 @ 6:51 am

    Ahahaha! I love this post, not feeling alone anymore! This year, I’ve been experimenting with combining fruits and veggies in soups… Definitely gross, no matter what! I also had a burnt caramel tragedy in which I managed to destroy both a plastic trash can and my toilets trying to get rid of the smoking liquid substance! I could definitely write a whole book on food combinations that sounded good in my head but came out disgusting in this harsh reality ;)


  2. #
    Teffy — December 27, 2013 @ 7:31 am

    Don’t worry, we all have fails!
    I’ve had cookie dough that resembled more a scrambled egg. Not pretty.

    {Teffy’s Perks} X


  3. #
    Liz S. — December 27, 2013 @ 7:35 am

    I should send you a batch of my blondes. That’s my speciality :D

    These “disasters” you had are totally fine. Don’t worry! The millions of successful recipes you’ve had are why you’re my favorite cooking/baking blogger. You’re awesome, Jessica!


  4. #
    Jim Price — December 27, 2013 @ 8:43 am

    But you still ROCK!


  5. #
    Judy — December 27, 2013 @ 8:47 am

    After years of being out of the kitchen where I’d been excellent I thought it time to go back!
    U made what I thought would be soooo easy. Chocolate magic cake. Oh my Lord. What a disaster.
    My next try was an orange chiffon cake which was fine but could have been a bit sweeter and had more orange.
    Since then I’ve a bad wrist from falling over :'(
    But I will be back. I promise myself.
    I do make a pretty good chicken curry though. There’s hope yet.
    Happy New Year.


  6. #
    Barbara | Creative Culinary — December 27, 2013 @ 9:05 am

    I’m lucky I don’t have a lot of fails…or rather I’m OLD (experienced?) so once that helps. I have enough issues with altitude to fill a post though; I should do that one year; I’m an expert at using frosting for rescue ops!

    I hate the word fail though…it’s just another learning experience and you are brave enough to put together some very rambunctious ingredients and realize a lot of success in those efforts. Like anything else…it’s taking the risk that matters; without great fails we also might not see great success!.


  7. #
    Mia Dumont — December 27, 2013 @ 9:22 am

    Thank you for sharing your flops. Makes us feel better. My two worst cases were trying to save a dish with BURNT garlic and the second one was a clam chowder that was so salty I almost spit it out. Of course, in both cases, I tried to save the dish by adding this and that. Of course it remained enedible. Thanks to you, this yearI discovered Trader Joe’s yummy pumpkin butter and 21 Seasoning Salute. Don’t have T.J. in Québec. And, most of all, the best for you and the ones you love in the coming year (years actually).


  8. #
    Nancy — December 27, 2013 @ 9:52 am

    LOL! Honestly, I was thinking that things were not so bad – you took a chance and tried new things. Things don’t always work out and honestly, compared to some of my disasters, yours weren’t so bad. Then I saw the green pork chops. Yup. You win! LOL! Thanks for sharing!


  9. #
    Srivalli — December 27, 2013 @ 10:13 am

    That was really hilarious to read and trust me, had you not said these were flops, I wouldn’t have believed you!..the pictures are looking great….When I host the Best of the year, I always think of the best things that happen..never thought even the flops will be so good to read and learn from!


  10. #
    Mary — December 27, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    Thanks for sharing your fails-definitely makes me feel better about my own! My most recent fail was on Christmas Eve. I was attempting to make your chocolate slab pie. I love chocolate pie and thought it looked SO good! I Only problem was I added all 3 1/2 cups of heavy cream at the beginning to the mix. It seemed like a lot but I just kept on stirring, waiting for it to get thick. Finally I took it off the stove and added all the yummy chocolate and the 8 egg yolks and kept on stirring. Never got thick. Then I read down to the next paragraph where it says “whip the remaining cream”….uh oh. Guess I missed the part where you said to use 1 1/2 cups at the beginning, and then the other 2 cups are for the topping. Oh well! I had to go back to the store and start over-used an easier recipe this time–but I am going to try it again! Here’s to great recipes in 2014!


  11. #
    Anna — December 27, 2013 @ 10:32 am

    I love that you share this side of your kitchen with us each year. It’s comforting to know that all of us have moments when our ideas just don’t work out- and it’s inspiring to see how you don’t let a “failed” recipe get you down. Thanks!


  12. #
    Jade @ Bits & Bobs — December 27, 2013 @ 10:35 am

    I’m not basking in your baking fails, but it sure is good to know that I’m not the only one!! We just have to dust ourselves off and try again eh.
    Oh I’d be kicking myself for not having the recipe of the mini chocolate loaves. They look delicious!
    Bits & Bobs


  13. #
    Mimi — December 27, 2013 @ 11:01 am

    You are so funny! Thank you for admitting to these! Mistakes happen to even the most experienced among us!


  14. #
    Jane S — December 27, 2013 @ 11:05 am

    This might be my favorite post! Good or bad, your food rocks!


  15. #
    Lindsay @ The Live-In Kitchen — December 27, 2013 @ 11:07 am

    I look forward to this post every year! Kitchen failures are a huge bummer, good for you in having the confidence to photograph them anyways!


  16. #
    Jessica — December 27, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    OMG, I tried to make a pumpkin cream cheese frosting layer cake.. it was quite literally like eating a soggy and super dense pumpkin flavored sponge… horrible fail. thanks for sharing.. I don’t feel so alone


  17. #
    Nicocobell — December 27, 2013 @ 11:51 am

    I tried making an orange and cranberry relish with walnuts at Thanksgiving. It was way too much orange and just all around gross, I didn’t even want anyone to try it. It’s good to try new things though, because you never know when you find the perfect thing that you will want to make again and again!


  18. #
    Sarah — December 27, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

    SO hilarious! I THOROUGHLY enjoyed this post!!! Thanks for sharing! We’re all only human! :)


  19. #
    Kris — December 27, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

    THIS IS AWESOME! Made me seriously LOL. :) It’s good to know that failures are okay, but they can lead to some pretty amazing discoveries. I also appreciate you sharing them so that I do not attempt them, as well….


  20. #
    Jennifer S — December 27, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

    Wow, I can’t imagine how much you cook if you have so many great recipes to share on the blog and you have all of these fails as well. To be so creative!


  21. #
    Megan — December 27, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

    Ha ha ha!!!! Oh goodness…I don’t bake enough to have that many fails, but if I did bake more, I’m sure I’d give you a run for the money….I saw a few of yours that still looked good…the clementine one for sure! Thanks for all the work…fails that bring so many successes!! Happy new year!


  22. #
    Alyson — December 27, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

    I love to see your kitchen flops… I’m no chef, but I have my flops cooking for the family…tough critics too! Good to see not everything you do is perfect ;) but wow you can get a greAt shot of even the bad stuff…thanks for sharing it with us, it’s comforting. Keep the GOOD stuff coming!


  23. #
    Alexe @ Keys to the Cucina — December 27, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

    I love how honest you always are, way to keep it real :)


  24. #
    Larry — December 27, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

    I had to cook tater tots in a pie plate because I have nothing besides a cupcake tin to my name. OH, but now I have a circle thing… I think it’s for pizza… whatever, it’ll be my new tater tot cooking utencil. haha


  25. #
    Sophia(loves.to.bake) — December 27, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

    Even if your recipes didn’t turn out, your food photography is so wonderful they all still somehow look beautiful! I admire your ability to do that! :) My most recent kitchen fail was an attempt to make mexican wedding cookies. They somehow ended up like normal flat cookies, not pretty little balls. Still tasted delicious though! I absolutely love your blog! And thank you for sharing these year of recipe disaster posts! They always make me laugh and it’s nice to know that we all have those moments!


  26. #
    Hannah — December 27, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

    The worse kitchen fail for me this year was when I decided to make ‘bali love juice’ (turmeric ‘healing’ juice) which I had made successfully before several times. I realized that if I ground up the turmeric in the new vitamix it would be dyed bright yellow and I didn’t want to do that… so I rummaged through the garage and pulled out a very old, semi-broken breville juicer, sat it on the table with some newspaper underneath and started to juice the turmeric and some ginger. the first time I turned it on it rattled so violently that it almost jumped off the table and I lost a grip on it and it started spewing turmeric juice all over the table, which promptly soaked through the newspaper, etc… then, after I corralled it back onto the table and started juicing some more, it started smoking! the machine was spewing black smoke everywhere.
    However instead of giving up (the sane option), I unfortunately decided to throw all the turmeric and juice that wasn’t tainted by the smoke into a pot with water and boil it (in 90+ degree summer weather) until it became soft enough that I could mash it into a pulpy juice. Something I learned is: 1) turmeric roots will neverr ever get soft enough to smash this way and 2) boiling for 4+ hours at the height of summer is a hellish idea.
    I bottled some of the ‘juice’ and stuck it in the fridge for months until I ended up throwing it out
    and that’s my kitchen fiasco 2013 (:


  27. #
    Katie — December 27, 2013 @ 7:42 pm

    Is it wrong to say i look forward to this post each year? Mostly because it’s nice to know even THE BEST have mess ups in the kitchen. i wish I could think of one my better ones but I did almost burn the mouths off my whole family by adding too much sriracha to the sauce for my veggie stir-fry. Does that count?


  28. #
    AMANDA — December 28, 2013 @ 11:43 am

    I love pepperoni and salami so I figured why not put salami on a flat bread pizza. NOPE kind of like your goat cheese Alfredo. There is a reason why you never see a salami pizza. My family was not very kind it did not look or taste pretty when it came out of the oven.


  29. #
    Melissa @ Treats With a Twist — December 28, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

    These are my favorite! So funny! I need to remember to keep all the pictures of my fails and find the humor in them


  30. #
    Sarah — December 28, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

    I tried to make caramel corn without owning a candy thermometer. the whole thing tasted like burned, I had to throw it out.

    for some reason, i can’t make decent sweet potato fries. potatoes, perfect. do the same thing with sweet potatoes, and somehow they all burn without ever getting crispy.

    pineapple upside down pancakes. I even used a recipe, and noone else commented about having problems, but they where the second worse thing i have ever made. big slices of pineapple covered in soggy half raw dough…


  31. #
    Dana — December 29, 2013 @ 12:44 am

    I loved this post!!!!! In September, I attempted to make pizza dough for the first time from a recipe book that is from one of our favourite restaurants. It ended up being a huge large pizza that was 2 inches thick all throughout! It was horrible, especially because it was so crunchy, you couldn’t really bite into it! We look back on it now and just laugh!


  32. #
    Alyssa — December 29, 2013 @ 1:07 am

    Oh I laughed out loud at these! My latest disaster happened recently when I had the hare-brained idea to make a banana bread using banana bread flavored beer. Clever, right? Pfffffft, flop-city. It initially rose just enough to look promising, but it kept deflating as it cooled. I think the finished product was all of about an inch high? Needless to say no pictures were taken that day…

    Thanks for sharing!


  33. #
    Little Gray Pixel — December 29, 2013 @ 1:55 am

    I’m convinced that nothing good can come from whole wheat flour. But … I am curious about the pesto pork. I made a mint chocolate bark for Christmas that was lime green and scared off everyone (but it was delicious).


  34. #
    JoElle — December 29, 2013 @ 4:25 am

    I LOVE your work! i laugh with you, i cheer with you, i clink my glass to the screen in celebration with you. i admire your willingness to continue creating your own version of everything & that is NOT failure, that is FABULOUS!!!
    happy 2014 <3 JoElle


  35. #
    Lucie — December 29, 2013 @ 6:11 am

    I wanted to make Salted Caramel Apple Galette – I ended with Nutella Apple Galette… Why? Because I burned the caramel three times in a row! And why? Because I forgot to heat the cream before adding it to the boiling caramel. Yes, three times in a row. And every time I was really surprised what happened because I made the caramel sauce successfully just few weeks before… with hot cream of course.
    And my “Hole Lemon Loaf”? It’s legendary. Tons of butter, lemon zest and sugar – it must make a delicious lemon cake. Oh, really. In my hands only with a huge hole and disgusting unbaked dough in the middle. Look: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-emI5jrRsxP0/UWwko9O6CnI/AAAAAAAAAr0/mPCuEacMtq0/s1600/40+Citronova+katastrofa.jpg


  36. #
    Marie — December 29, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

    I LOVE that you also post your fails as well as your triumphs, it really helps my self asteem haha! Atleast it’s good to know I’m not the only one who fails sometimes and can’t figure out why or why I thought something would work but didn’t :p


  37. #
    Luci {Luci's Morsels} — December 29, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

    Oh my gosh, this made my day! Oh the secrets behind the food blog. The worst is delicious recipes that don’t look delicious and when we lose the recipe. Alas! Such a great post! Happy New Year! May 2014 by full of tasty, beautiful food!

    Luci’s Morsels – fashion. food. frivolity.


  38. #
    anisa | whisk and heels — December 29, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

    This makes me feel so much better about my own kitchen disasters! Thank you for posting :) I wish I had documented my failures instead of just gumpily tossing them out.


  39. #
    Helen @ Scrummy Lane — December 29, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

    Love this! I’ve had too many cooking and baking disasters over the years to count, but one of the most memorable in recent times was one of the first meals I tried to impress my then newish boyfriend with (now my husband, so we survived to tell the tale!) I thought it would be a great idea to make him sweet potato gnocchi, but got a bit too cocky about my gnocchi-making skills and didn’t follow a recipe. BIG mistake – the result was what seemed like mostly mouthfuls of flour! Then there was the time I made a Thai red curry with an authentic Thai paste and added far too much paste. Instead of just admitting defeat and starting again, I tried to cool it down by adding tins of tomatoes, coconut milk, regular milk, more veggies … you name it, I added it. The result? A huge pot of horrible watered-down curry, and still too hot!


  40. #
    Ashley @ Our Full Table — December 30, 2013 @ 12:05 am

    I love this post! It had me laughing the entire way through!


  41. #
    natalie @ wee eats — December 30, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

    Love the post! It’s always great when you can laugh at yourself, sometimes I feel the same way though – like the universe is aligning against me in the kitchen for NO REASON other than to be a jerk. I failed at mashed potatoes two thanksgivings ago… to this day I refuse to make them again. /confidence shattered.

    Thanks so much for sharing – and for the record, you’re saying cheese on meatloaf is NOT a good idea? As I was looking at the pics I was like “woah that actually sounds like a good idea” LOL! On pancakes, however? ;)

    Can’t wait to see what 2014 brings! (And for that goat cheese pasta!)


  42. #
    Kylie — December 30, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

    I love this post it makes me giggle! Even the most successful chef fails from time to time! Love this post and it marks just about a year that I started reading your blog religiously! Thank you for the lovely recipes and photos!


  43. #
    Molly @ Bakelette — December 30, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

    I tried to make pumpkin chocolate biscuits… I HAVE NO IDEA WHY. They were DISGUSTING.
    Oh, and if you are looking to retry coconut oil brownies, I really enjoyed this recipe: http://bakeletteblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/coconut-oil-brownies.html


  44. #
    dervla — December 31, 2013 @ 1:23 am

    omg, seriously laughing out loud here at almost 1am … thanks for giving me a reason not to go to sleep tonight!


  45. #
    Je'Nelle — December 31, 2013 @ 1:42 am

    OMG, I am loving this post! I feel like you’re a real person now bc, um, your food is unreal and I’m not sure what I love more, your recipes or photos. Both are AMAZING! I’d say one of my biggest blunders this year was my attempt at your moms gravy that you posted. My husband brined the heck out of our turkeys (yes, we had two…) he smoked his and I roasted mine. I used the drippings from both, and after I made everyone wait an hour while I stirred and stirred and kept stirring, like you said, it looked awesome, smelled great…. And tasted like I poured every ounce of salt I’ve ever had in my house, ever, into it, and then mixed in my grandmas ashtray. Ugh. I heated up a backup jarred gravy from trader joes & just tried to be thankful for our many blessings. Ha!


  46. #
    Stephanie — December 31, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

    I love these fail posts. Makes me feel better about myself! I will say, however, that I am awfully confused about the whole cheese on meatloaf thing…


  47. #
    Sol — December 31, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

    Don’t ever, ever try to make flan in a spring-form pan.
    Just don’t.


  48. #
    Janelle — January 1, 2014 @ 10:45 am

    I totally dropped an entire sheet of (just baked) cookies inside my oven and all over my oven door too. Of course it had to be my family’s favorite cookies that I dropped! ugh!


  49. #
    Jen — January 1, 2014 @ 7:50 pm

    Brilliant, good on you for admitting the fails! Mine are hidden in the deleted folder of photos… to firmly stay there :-)


  50. #
    Katheryn — January 3, 2014 @ 12:55 am

    I love this post. I had my fair share of kitchen fails this year as well. Many of which happened to take place during my culinary school baking class. Yes I was the one who answered all the questions, and new the science behind everything only to have my graded final loaf of quick bread firmly adhere itself to the inside of the loaf pan. Which ended up coming out in about four pieces. Same with cake layers, or when my frosted layer cake just fell apart. It was wonderful and I truly did learn so much from it, like I can’t bake to save my life in baking class.



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