What America Is Cooking During Coronavirus

Firehouse Chili and Cornbread Casserole
Photo: Chef John

Welcome to cooking in the age of social distancing. We're hunkering down, stockpiling our pantries and freezers, and cooking a lot more! We're getting creative, too, adapting recipes, making clever swaps, and stretching budgets. Making do, and feeling grateful. Here's a quick snapshot of how we, the Allrecipes community, are cooking and coping with the coronavirus outbreak. Among the reviews below, you'll read this from CANVASWRITER, who sums it up perfectly: "Thanks to all. Stay safe. Stay home. Cook this."

01 of 22

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Belle's Hamburger Buns
Photo by vrinda.

Like a lot of her fellow Americans, Alyssa Merka had never baked with yeast before the coronavirus outbreak. "Holy smokes, we just had turkey burgers on some of these fresh buns and they are incredible!" she raves. "I had such a craving for a burger today, but we didn't have any buns, and were only going to the store every other week right now. But I DID have some frozen ground turkey, two packets of yeast, and the rest of the ingredients, so I gave this recipe a try. I've never baked with yeast before the pandemic, I grabbed some at the store a month ago thinking it would be fun to try my hand at breads. They went into the oven and came out almost too pretty to eat! I got 10 buns out of my dough and will throw some of them into the freezer for later. Thank you Chef John for this delicious, accessible recipe! You should definitely give them a try."

02 of 22

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

During these times, creative swaps and substitutions based on what we have in the pantry and freezer are the name of the game. "I made this during the coronavirus pandemic," says GeeQTmom. "I did not have all the ingredients on hand, so several substitutions and omissions, but this soup was delicious! I almost licked the bowl. I made it with hard rolls as baby bread bowls. Will definitely make this again!"

03 of 22

Mall Pretzels

Mall Pretzels
Mall Pretzels | Photo by Allrecipes.

When we can't go to the mall for a pretzel, we bring the mall pretzel home to us. "Made this during coronavirus social distancing for my husband and brother," says Natalie Campbell. "They turned out soooo good. I boiled them for 30 seconds in baking soda and boiled water as suggested, brushed with egg wash, and topped with salt and various toppings before baking them. They were devoured."

04 of 22

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Was there ever a better time to tackle the cleaning projects we've been putting off for ages? Elizabeth Wohler Stowe says, "I was cleaning my freezer as one of many pandemic, stay-at-home projects when I found some frozen cranberries. This recipe is so easy and delicious. We prefer a less sweet sauce, so I started with only 1/2 C of sugar (but kept the whole 1 C of OJ) and was sufficient for us. Based on reviews, I added 2 T. of Grand Marnier but it tasted great with and without it. This is a keeper!"

05 of 22

Ice Cream Cones

homemade ice cream cones
Photo by Chef John.

Ice cream cones are the world's greatest comfort food container. And for EriNnRuss, making these homemade cones was a "Corona virus lockdown boredom buster, so good I temporarily day dreamed I would make an ice cream shop during the apocalypse."

06 of 22

Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf

Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf
Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf. Allrecipes Magazine

In many parts of the country, home cooks are confronted with scarcity. Smart substitutions (and a deep pantry) are saving the day. "During this pandemic, ground beef is scarce, but I was able to get some ground turkey," says jenna b. "I made this recipe last night and it was awesome! Very flavorful and held together. I didn't even cook it as meatloaf, but used a spoon to dollop into a pan for meatloaf burgers! I didn't have any quinoa. I used lentils that I softened in vegetable broth. So still got the nutty flavor, plus more protein and fiber. I just had some as a cold sandwich for lunch. Yum!"

07 of 22

Super Simple Salmon

Super Simple Salmon

Difficult times are making cooks of us all. Case in point, Melissa Paige. "I don't cook," she says. "I mostly order take-out or get pre-made food. Because of the coronavirus quarantine, my family assigned each member to cook a homemade meal each night. Much to my surprise my family LOVED it. I was in SHOCK. I usually burn my food, over-season it, or just generally destroy it by accident."

08 of 22

Honey Of An Oatmeal Bread

A few other trends: We're baking more, making more with less, and being grateful for what we do have. "I've made this loaf three times in the last week and a half as we stay home during the CoVid-19 global pandemic to avoid going out," says GeeQTmom. "We're affectionately call it the 'lockdown loaf.' DH just 'hinted' that we needed another loaf, as he was about to polish off the last of the one I just made yesterday. So, using only what's in the pantry, I made a couple substitutions with success. Used regular flour, because that's what I have (I don't have vital wheat gluten, either.). I am using pancake syrup in place of honey because my sister's 'homegrown' honey is reserved for eating and I won't selfishly use it in a recipe. LOL! Loaf probably would rise more with bread flour, more flavor if allowed to rise twice, but it is still an outstanding loaf of bread and we are grateful for it."

09 of 22

White Wine Pound Cake

Now, more than ever, cake is there for us. So go ahead and have that second slice -- the times require it. Mary Songer Willard used a healthy splash of white zin in this cake: "Oh. My. Gosh. If I ever made any baking mistakes in my almost 70 years of life, this makes up for them all," she says. "My husband and I both had TWO pieces each tasting it for the very first time. And we don't eat a lot of sweets, normally! I used white Zinfandel. If having to be confined during the pandemic means experiencing mouthgasms like we just did, well... let's just say the stress has been relieved a little."

10 of 22

Sourdough Pancakes

With schools closed down, the kitchen becomes the classroom. "I am a teacher and a mother of four," says Jennifer Wolff. "Since schools are closed due to COVID-19, my kids have been helping with experiments we can film for my Life Skills sped class. From starter to pancakes, and all my kids loved eating them! These are so good!"

11 of 22

Firehouse Chili and Cornbread Casserole

Firehouse Chili and Cornbread Casserole
Chef John

Have comfort foods ever been so crucial? This recipe combines two great comforts, chili and cornbread, into a third comfort, the casserole. "Made during the coronavirus shortage, " says ml1888, "so I used 2 cans of diced tomatoes (no crushed tomatoes in the stores); used Marie Callender cornbread mix, Jiffy all gone in stores. Spooned out a cup of chili so that the cornbread mix would fit, and that reserve came in handy to chili-fy my husband's 2nd serving. Yes I will make it again! My husband loved it! Super yummy & easy."

12 of 22

Quick Chili I

quick chili i
Photo by Rock_lobster.

By adapting recipes based on what we have on hand, we're creating new versions that will remain family favorites for years to come. "During the pandemic, we have been scrambling to make meals out of kitchen scraps," says Nick S. "I was looking for a simple recipe to guide me for our chili craving and this worked perfectly. We had no meat, 1 less can of tomatoes, and used an indivudual half can of green chiles. Used 2.5 tablespoons of chili powder, and half a tablespoon of Zombie Apocalypse hot sauce. We have created a delightfully spicy veggie chili that will remain in our recipe roladex post-Corona."

13 of 22

The Best Baked Rice and Beans

The Best Baked Rice and Beans
Photo by Chef John.

The well stocked pantry pays off again with this recipe. And, of course, there's always room for swaps and adjustments. Mary says, "This is a great dish that uses pantry foods. I cut it in half since it's just my husband and me (usually more but we are doing the social distance thing!) Anyway, it's really a good staple meal. I cut down on the cayenne and put out the Frank's hot sauce for my hubby which is our usual compromise. Normally I don't make changes to the recipes, but since we are in the middle of a pandemic I did. I used Rotel in place of the salsa. Worked fine."

14 of 22

A Simply Perfect Roast Turkey

roast turkey with stuffing inside

Even in this time of seclusion and separation, being thankful for what we do have is a common theme in the reviews. Mcaleerv says she "roasted a 10lb turkey for a Thanksgiving dinner in March during coronavirus. Used homemade chicken stock because I didn't want to go to the store if I didn't need to during this time. My husband only likes dark meat, but he was craving it and served himself all breast meat. Gave me a piece and it was super moist. This was also my first time ever roasting a turkey. I'm super happy with the recipe and directions. Will use for the Real Thanksgiving in November. Praying this virus will be gone soon."

15 of 22

Two-Ingredient Pizza Dough

pizza with mozzarella and basil
Lisa Wilson

Unlike Alyssa above, not all of us have a packet of yeast on hand. So Chef John's hamburger buns are out. But good news, we can still make pizza crust! With no yeast to be had, Linda gave this two-ingredient pizza dough a shot: "Great for quarantine pizza!" she says. Here's Linda's secret for a great quarantine pie: "I added 2 tbs of grated Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp garlic powder to dough. Roll out dough 1/8" thick and place on parchment paper dusted with cornmeal. Brush with evoo and bake at 500 for 8 minutes. Add sauce, toppings: salami, veggies (sauteed onions, bell pepper, zucchini and mushrooms , cheese (Parmesan and mozzarella, (sprinkle with basil) and bake @450 for 10 minutes. We loved it!"

16 of 22

Chicken With Mushrooms

Chicken with Mushrooms
Chicken with Mushrooms | Photo by Allrecipes.

Moms and dads are experimenting with new recipes and discovering new meals to delight the hungry crew. "It was nice taking the time to try a new recipe during this stay at home order with the coronavirus shutting everything down," says mommachief. "I sautéed the mushrooms in minced garlic, garlic powder and butter. Because I love mushrooms cooked in butter! Doubled everything for a large family. Added cornstarch to the broth and served over egg noodles, cauliflower for the low carb members at the table. Everyone loved it!"

17 of 22

Chef John's Buttermilk Biscuits

Three golden brown round-cut biscuits on a plate
Photo by Trkeillor. Trkeillor

For many, cooking and baking are welcome distractions, productive ways to fill the time indoors until the quarantine is lifted. Mel Hamrick finds comfort in biscuit making, in taking the time to do it right. "Am alone in my home due to coronavirus, while my husband of 40 years is staying outside in our camper," she says. "At this time, he is still working and my health is compromised, thus I am alone and can only visit with him, our children, and our grandchildren on the phone. So I decided to make biscuits and gravy for Sunday lunch. This recipe is spot on for what I've seen on Masterchef. And these biscuits are YUMMY! Gordon Ramsey would be proud of Chef John's recipe! Most don't include the all important repeated folding to get those delicious layers or topping the biscuits with a light coating of milk to help the tops brown. I wouldn't change a thing!"

18 of 22

Cheese Babka

We're saving the day with homemade versions of foods we typically picked up at our favorite local shops. Alice Moffitt says, "Quarantine from Corona virus is keeping me from my favorite Polish Deli that sells this. Part of our traditional Easter Breakfast. Made it, and it was a complete success. My trial run is almost gone and now have to make 5 for Easter."

19 of 22

Simple Beef Pot Roast

Simple Beef Pot Roast
S. E. Price

The hubbub of a locked-in house creates...challenges for home cooks. Here's another recipe for busy moms trying to make dinner and keep the family engaged. DuckFan41 calls it "the ultimate quarantine meal. Throw it together, take a bike ride with the kids, play a little baseball in the backyard and in 3 hours... dinner is served! The simplicity of this makes it even more incredible how well the roast turned out. It came our moist, with a crispy crust (think the best part of ordering carnitas). Served on top of some creamy mash potatoes with the veggies and we dug in."

20 of 22

Hawaiian Banana Nut Bread

Baking projects are terrific for stretching ingredients and using up odds and ends. "Fantastic recipe, and it allowed me to use up a bunch of ingredients, including an old jar of maraschinos and a bag of frozen pineapple during Quarantine," says moxie & mirth. "Oh yeah. Perfect as is."

21 of 22

Herbed Scalloped Potatoes and Onions

When we can, we're cooking once, eating twice, or three times. CANVASWRITER is a solo cook shares some great tips. "While in Coronavirus stay-at-home mode, I'm making dishes where I can use pantry/freezer foods, so I evenly use the provisions. Since I live alone, I only use 2 huge potatoes and keep the sauce as written. I have a thick ham steak in the freezer, so cut that up and added with each layer of potatoes and onions. This will stretch out to a 3 day dinner with a side salad. So easy to make, so wonderful to eat. Thanks to all the reviews and the author. Stay safe. Stay home. Cook this."

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