Essential Western Cookbook: Best Recipes

Precisely capture the best flavors of the West. From appetizers to desserts, these are the top-rated, most reviewed recipes from The Sunset Essential Western Cookbook.

  • Avocados with Warm Bacon Parsley Vinaigrette
    Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Karen Shinto

    Avocados with Warm Bacon Parsley Vinaigrette

    Crunchy bacon brings out the smokiness of a good Hass avocado, and the sharp vinaigrette helps cut its richness.
  • Gabriel's Guacamole
    Photo: Peden & Munk; Styling: Amy Wilson

    Gabriel's Guacamole

    This is the base guacamole recipe from Gabriel's in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is intended only as a jumping-off point: Add more seasonings to your taste. We preferred it with 1/2 teaspoon jalapeño, 4 teaspoons onion, and 4 teaspoons lime juice.
  • Fresh Corn and Avocado Salad
    Photo: Annabelle Breakey

    Fresh Corn and Avocado Salad

    In the height of summer, you won't find a better side dish for ribs than this deceptively simple combination of peak-season produce. Try bringing it to a party, too.

  • Spinach, Mushroom, and Fennel Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
    Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Karen Shinto

    Spinach, Mushroom, and Fennel Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

    "Every hippie menu in the '70s had a spinach and mushroom salad," chef Mark Peel says about this recipe, inspired by a restaurant from his college days in Isla Vista, California. Cut it in half for a smaller group.

  • Smoky Beef-and-Bacon Chili
    Photo: Peden & Munk; Styling: Amy Wilson  

    Smoky Beef-and-Bacon Chili

    Bacon, fire-roasted tomatoes, and spicy smoked paprika give this easy-to-make chili recipe a deep, complex flavor. While it's great right after you make it, it's even better the next day. Serve with warm cornbread for a complete meal.
  • Carrot Soup with Dungeness Crab
    Leo Gong; Charles Gullung

    Carrot Soup with Dungeness Crab

    Serve this lively soup, a fine showcase for Dungeness crab, to brighten up a winter day.
  • Speedy Chicken Posole with Avocado and Lime
    Photo: Leigh Beisch; Styling: Dan Becker

    Speedy Chicken Posole with Avocado and Lime

    This dish, using canned hominy, takes a fraction of the time needed for regular posole. Serve with warm corn tortillas.
  • Char siu-Glazed Pork and Pineapple Buns
    Photo: Thayer Allyson Gowdy

    Char Siu-Glazed Pork and Pineapple Buns

    Char siu—Chinese-style barbecued pork—is popular throughout the Islands. We've used its sweet, tangy glaze on pork tenderloin and pineapple, and then tucked both into Hawaiian sweet rolls.
  • Pork Shoulder Roast with Figs, Garlic, and Pinot Noir
    Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Randy Mon

    Pork Shoulder Roast with Figs, Garlic, and Pinot Noir

    Stuffing this roast with figs and garlic slivers will make you feel like a modern-day Julia Child, and the results are stunning: mosaic-like slices infused with rich fruit and wine flavors.
  • Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
    Photo: Peden & Munk; Styling: Amy Wilson  

    Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

    Like all good New Mexico food, these Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas are simple, earthy, and delicious. Its heat depends on the chiles; go with Anaheims if you scorch easily.

  • Heritage Turkey with Crisped Pancetta and Rosemary
    Photo: Yunhee Kim; Styling: Karen Shinto

    Heritage Turkey with Crisped Pancetta and Rosemary

    Heritage turkeys are breeds (such as Bourbon Red and Standard Bronze) that predate the Broad-Breasted White, the ubiquitous grocery-store turkey. The thighs and legs have rich, amazing flavor, but can be tough, so for best results, we braise legs and thighs and roast the breast.

  • Asparagus and Morel Quiche
    Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Karen Shinto

    Asparagus and Morel Quiche

    Umami-delicious morels pop up in Western woods and orchards, and make plump, savory nuggets in this quiche. For the neatest slices, make quiche a day ahead; let it cool, loosen it from pan edges, and chill. Cut into wedges, then reheat.

  • Avocado Fries
    Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Karen Shinto

    Avocado Fries

    Crunchy on the outside, creamy and nutty inside, these avocado fries are totally over the top. Chef Trey Foshee, at George's at the Cove restaurant in La Jolla, California, serves them with grilled steak.

  • Roasted Cauliflower and Shallots with Chard and Dukkah
    Photo: Alex Farnum; Styling: Randy Mon  

    Roasted Cauliflower and Shallots with Chard and Dukkah

    The secret ingredient in this dish, inspired by one served by chef Matthew Dillon at the Corson Building in Seattle, is an easy-to-make Egyptian toasted-nut-and-spice blend called dukkah.

  • Golden Olive Oil–roasted Potatoes
    Photo: James Baigrie; Styling: Karen Shinto

    Golden Olive Oil-Roasted Potatoes

    Nothing more than good olive oil and crunchy sea salt turn super-simple potatoes into an irresistible holiday side dish.

  • Cornbread-Chorizo Dressing
    Lisa Romerein

    Cornbread Chorizo Dressing

    Sean Yontz, chef-owner of El Diablo restaurant in Denver, gave us this recipe, which has become one of our most requested.

  • Brown Sugar Strawberry Tart
    Photo: Leo Gong; Styling: Randy Mon

    Brown Sugar Strawberry Tart

    This recipe is so simple that you'll find yourself getting creative with the berries you put on the top. The combination of the brown sugar crust, creamy filling and sweet fruit topping make this the perfect summertime treat.

  • Tangerine Olive Oil Cake
    Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Karen Shinto

    Tangerine Olive Oil Cake

    A glass of Roussanne wine gives this citrusy cake a light floral note. Use fruit with tightly fitting skins (loose-skinned ones are more difficult to zest) and a good olive oil that's been crushed with tangerines, rather than infused after crushing.

  • Pear Upside-down Cake
    Leigh Beisch

    Pear and Pecan Upside-down Cake

    When cooked, Bosc pears have an appealing density and graininess that bring the tender bourbon-infused crumb of the cake down to earth beautifully. A rich flavor and soft crumb made this cake a favorite in our test kitchen.

  • Triple-Berry Popsicles
    Photo: Sunset

    Triple-Berry Popsicles

    We couldn't believe how simple it was to make these frozen treats. You can strain out the seeds if you like, but we love the texture they lend to the popsicles. Feel free to use boysenberries, pitted cherries, or other favorites instead of the combination of fruits here.
  • The Sunset Essential Western Cookbook
    Oxmoor House

    The Sunset Essential Western Cookbook

    Take in all the West has to offer with even more best-loved classics and fresh new favorites from The Sunset Essential Western Cookbook.  

    Click here to order your copy, today!

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