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Pull Up A Seat At The Test Kitchen

Gather 'round the table, because we're dishing out all the secrets from the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen. From menu testing panels to photoshoots galore, there's a whole lot of tasty action going on in here—and we're not just talking about the food.

Have you ever wondered how the food experts at Better Homes & Gardens select those delicious recipes you stumble upon whilst flipping through the vibrant pages of the magazine? Upon first glance, the entrance to the Test Kitchen looks like an ordinary office space, with a reception desk and inviting greenery, but beyond the lovely interiors of the front room lies a bustling kitchen. Personalized cooking stations and desks are sprinkled throughout the large working space and in between all the clinking and clanking of bowls stirring and mixers mixing, the tastes of BH&G are created.

Behind The Scenes

The Test Kitchen staff is a lively bunch that works tirelessly to bring the Better Homes & Gardens readers exquisite recipes each month. The team is composed of experienced chefs, cocktail enthusiasts, and a resident nutritionist and dietician. Each month, the recipes for the upcoming magazine issue are cooked and tested to ensure that our readers will truly love them. Whether the recipe was sent in by a freelance chef or is a specialty dish from a featured personality, our Test Kitchen chefs prepare each and every recipe—oftentimes more than once to get it just right. The team is always analyzing how clearly the recipe is written, making sure the necessary ingredients are nationally available, and ensuring that the preparation doesn't require too high of a skill level to accommodate all of our readers. The chefs will keep detailed notes while preparing the food that they will later report back to the tasting panel upon presentation of the recipe including any speed bumps they encountered during the process, best practices for difficult steps, and any updates to the written version of the recipe.

Once a recipe is selected, prepared, and approved for the magazine, our in-house dietician creates a detailed write-up of the nutrition facts to ensure proper serving sizes and ingredient information can be listed accurately. Simultaneously, our photography studio gets to cook up some delectable photos of the final recipes that will later go to print. Food photoshoots are taken very seriously here at BH&G, with our food stylists catering to every last detail, such as whether or not the toasted almonds on top of the carrot-shaped cookies are in fact toasted to reflect the accuracy of the written recipe. Oh, and that garnish that was added during the photoshoot because of the need for a pop of color? It's a top priority to get it added to the print version of the recipe, because being transparent with our readers is the main goal of the Better Homes & Gardens editorial staff.

Once the recipes are prepared, the tasting panel composed of editors and chefs assembles around the table to well, taste that delicious food. Cue the mouth-watering discussion!

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Take Your Seat

After the creation of the recipes comes the fun part, the tasting of each dish. Throughout the tasting panel, each recipe is discussed in great detail from its presentation to its consistency and most importantly: how it tastes. The chef who prepared the dish presents the name of the recipe, what ingredients are in it, their process of cooking the dish, and any notes they felt especially important for our readers to know. Before diving in with their polished forks, the team analyzes the sole presentation of the recipe from how it looks in its serving dish to how it sits atop the sparkling plate.

Many factors go into choosing a recipe before it goes to print. The panel takes careful note of the nutritional value of the recipe, what time of day it will be served to best preserve the quality of the dish, serving presentation suggestions, and how to adjust serving sizes based on whether it's lunch, brunch, or dinner—just to name a few. The reader's advantage is always of the utmost importance to the team, and thus fitting the recipe into real-life scenarios is always a topic of conversation. Will a busy mom of three be able to feasibly prepare this for her family come dinner time? Is this dish able to be reheated if prepared the day before Easter brunch? Are any of the recipe components able to be prepared beforehand and, if so, how far in advance?

After their careful review, the editorial team of writers and designers gets to work on preparing the final savory spread that will grace the pages of the magazine. Next time you take a bite out of a BH&G taste-tested recipe, you can rest assured knowing it was curated with you in mind.

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