That Spicy Chick

Your Favorite 21 Recipes of 2021

A look back on our readers’ favorite and the most popular new recipes in 2021 on That Spicy Chick. It was an incredibly delicious year with flavorful weeknight curries, easy stir-fries, pasta dinners and more.

Happy early New Year’s guys! I can’t believe how quickly 2021 has flown by!

As is the annual tradition here on That Spicy Chick, I’ve tallied up the most popular recipes of the year that you clicked on and made. And I have to say, you guys have the BEST taste!

This year has been truly, truly delicious. We’ve truly been on a global culinary journey with Indian, Middle Eastern, American, Italian, Japanese, and Thai recipes even though traveling abroad is still not as easy as it was to do before the pandemic.

From learning how to make our favorite restaurant and street food bites and sauces (hiii kebab shop garlic sauce, chicken shish kebab rolls, cilantro & mint sauce, and paneer tikka kathi rolls), to an amped up version of the Italian-American classic spicy vodka pasta, to easy and tasty noodle stir-fries like chicken chow fun and ants climbing a tree, to the irresistible date night winner – creamy rosé pasta with prawns, to warming and hearty curries like Japanese pork belly curry and Thai yellow egg curry, and to a spring-forward lemony twist on the classic Basque burnt cheesecake – I’m thrilled that you guys love these recipes as much as I do!

Before we kick off the year, I want to say thank you to each and every one of you for your support, and for visiting and commenting on the recipes you love on the blog. ❤️ You guys are what keeps this blog going, and I’m very grateful to you all! 

Although I’ve already been working on exciting new recipes for the new year that will hopefully inspire you and make it to your regular rotation, I’d love to know what kind of recipes you want to see on the blog and make in 2022! If you have a few seconds, could you fill out this quick survey for me? I’d love to hear what you guys want to cook and any suggestions you might have for That Spicy Chick! 😊 

I wish everyone a healthy and happy year ahead! Without further ado, here are your favorite 21 recipes in 2021! Be sure to bookmark your favorites to make in the new year ahead!

Kebab Shop Garlic Sauce

Not only is this the most popular recipe of the year, it overtook the previous all-time most popular recipe on the blog (Cream Sauce Seafood Pasta) and for a good reason too! This garlic sauce was inspired by the one at my favorite kebab shop, and it tastes good on everything and ANYTHING! It’s the real deal, and a must-try for anyone looking to replicate the creamy and addictive garlic sauce at kebab shops!

Reader’s comment: “Best sauce ever! This was super easy to make and tasted wonderful with the chicken shish kebab rolls!” -MJ

Lemon Basque Burnt Cheesecake

Cake server holding up slice of Basque burnt cheesecake above rest of cheesecake on plate.

It’s no surprise that this spring-forward spin on the classic cheesecake from the Basque region was a huge hit with you guys this year. After all, Basque burnt cheesecake is what everyone was making during the height of the pandemic! This version is light and bright tasting with lemony flavors, yet wonderfully rich and creamy. It’s easy to make and a must-try for Basque burnt cheesecake lovers!

Reader’s comment: Not only was this very easy to make, it was also deliciously rich and creamy. The burnt top came out perfect and we absolutely loved the lemon flavour in this cheesecake!! Hoping to make this for my friends soon. Thanks. 🙏 -Harsh

Thai Glass Noodle Soup

Close-up top view of a spoon in a bowl with meatball noodle soup and a Dutch oven with soup behind.

My jazzed-up version of this classic light and comforting Thai noodle soup is loaded with fragrant aromatics, savory umami-packed seasonings, and juicy chicken and prawn meatballs! Everything gets made in one pot in just 30 minutes. This is the perfect warming and satisfying meal you need when it’s chilly outside or you’re fighting off a cold.

Reader’s comment: This is wonderfully HUGE on flavor! Easy to make extra spicy, too. Love it. -Mike

Thai Eggplant Stir-fry

Top view of eggplant and ground pork stir-fry in a serving bowl

Juicy eggplant strips, onion, garlic, chilies, ground pork (or you can use any other ground meat you like), and Thai sweet basil come together in this flavor-packed easy stir-fry with the MOST tasty spicy-sweet and salty sauce that stars Thai chili paste (Nam Prik Pao)! This easy weeknight stir-fry is made lighter by pan-frying the eggplant strips instead of deep-frying, and it can also be made vegetarian too.

Reader’s comment: “This was AMAZING! I made it as is for my kids and they licked the dish clean. I also followed your tips for making it vegetarian. The Asian supermarket had the Mae Pranom Thai chili jam and I used veggie oyster sauce and Impossible Pork. It came out so yummy too! Will be making both versions again. Thanks for the great recipe.” -Elizabeth

Spanish Omelette (Tortilla Española)

Front view of Spanish omelette on a plate with a wedge on a cake server.

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life like eggs, potatoes, a few seasonings, and hot green chilies that give us great pleasure. This amped up Spanish omelette is easy to make, a little spicy, and guaranteed to make brunch or your next happy hour session extra special!!

Reader’s comment: This is very nice. My husband enjoyed so much. Thank you. -Rita

Thai Panang Chicken Curry

Close-up of bowl with panang chicken curry garnished with coconut cream, chilies, and kaffir lime leave strips.

This Panang Chicken Curry was inspired by my favorite Thai restaurant here, and it boasts the BEST creamy, nutty, and zesty makrut lime flavors! It’s intoxicatingly fragrant and delicious, and can be customized with your favorite protein (pork, beef, shrimp, or tofu to make it vegetarian) and veggies. 🙌

Reader’s comment: “DELICIOUS! It was easy to make and flavourful! In fact, I liked it better than the one at the Thai restaurant we frequent as they sometimes make it too sweet like you say. I did cut down the chilies, but it still tasted great. Thank you so much for this tasty recipe! It’s on our regular rotation now.” -Chrissy

Chicken Chow Fun

Top view of stir-fried rice noodles with chicken, yellow chives, and bean sprouts on a plate.

An all-time favorite of mine made with chicken instead of beef! All you need is a bit of technique – not extra time – to make this classic Cantonese stir-fried noodles dish at home taste like it came from a restaurant!

Reader’s comment: “I was searching for an authentic chicken chow fun recipe and so glad I found yours!! This was easy to follow and tasted delicious. Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes! Thank you!” -Jess

Spicy Thai Pork Fried Rice

Close-up top view of pork fried rice on a plate with fork, spoon, cucumber, and Sriracha sauce.

Tender and juicy pork fillet slices, simple everyday veggies like onion and bean sprouts, plenty of chilies and garlic, and fragrant Thai jasmine rice get tossed in a savory, umami-packed sauce with a tiny hint of sweetness! This is a back-pocket favorite and it tastes better than takeout!

Reader’s comment: “I loved this!! I used less chilies and didn’t use the prik kee nu as my Asian grocery store didn’t have them. It was so easy to make and delicious. On the regular rotation now!” -Zoe

Japanese Pork Belly Curry

Close-up top view of Japanese curry with pork, carrots, potatoes on a plate with rice.

Words can’t describe how much I love this rich and savory comforting Japanese curry. It’s super easy to make with store-bought Japanese curry roux cubes, wonderfully spiced, and irresistible on a bed of steamed rice! Although I made this version of Japanese curry with thinly sliced pork belly meat, you can also make it with diced chicken, or sliced beef or pork.

Reader’s comment: Made this for dinner tonight was great and the pork was very tender. Very flavorful my husband likes this recipe better than the other ones that we have tried. –Allison Frasca

Spicy Vodka Pasta

Close-up top view of plate with Spicy Vodka Pasta with Prawns garnished with cheese and basil.

My version of this classic Italian-American pasta is full of robust and rich tomato flavors, has a spicy sharp bite from Calabrian chili pepper paste, and loaded with buttery and juicy pan-seared jumbo prawns to make it even more satiating! It’s a showstopping comfort food fave that’s guaranteed to please!

Reader’s comment: Excellent penne alla vodka recipe. We all loved it… used each type of spice, but reduced quantity. Will definitely make again… with more of the spice😊 -Karin 

Stuffed Bagel Bombs (with Greek Yogurt Dough!)

Close-up top view of stuffed baked bagel bombs lined up on nonstick cooking paper.

Easy Greek yogurt dough recipes like my Greek Yogurt Pizza Dough and Easy Homemade Bagels on the blog have been a huge hit with you all over the past few years. These Stuffed Bagel Bombs are no different in terms of popularity this year. Like the former two, the dough doesn’t need a rise time or any yeast. Although I’ve made them with a scallion and cream cheese and a ham and cream cheese filling (which are incredibly delicious combinations btw!), you can totally customize them with your favorite fillings.

Reader’s comment: Dear Lavina. Thanks for the awesome recipe. I tried making today stuffed bagel bombs with ham and cream cheese. I never imagined I would be making bagel at home but thanks to you it happened. Keep giving us these fantastic recipes and giving us happiness. God bless. -Evi

Thai Yellow Egg Curry

Top view of yellow egg curry on rice on a plate

A comforting Thai curry that’s packed with all sorts of feel-good veggies like carrots, potatoes, baby spinach, and hard boiled eggs that are fried in a bit of oil so that they form a delicious golden brown crust! It’s a great midweek vegetarian dinner, and is super cozy and satisfying with steamed rice.

Reader’s comment: Huge flavor and so good with eggs. Certainly comfort food at it’s finest! I love it. –Mike Hulquist

Chicken Shish Kebab Rolls

Close-up of chicken shish chunks, lettuce, sliced onion, cherry tomato halves, and sauces on a tortilla.

I’ve been obsessed with the chicken shish rolls at my favorite kebab shop for years. So I decided to make it at home to enjoy them anytime I want! This recipe is super simple and all you need is a nonstick skillet to get those chicken pieces to become perfectly charred on the outside and juicy on the inside. Then just pile the chicken on flatbreads of your choice (or tortillas), add some salad and copious amounts of creamy garlic sauce, cilantro & mint sauce, hot sauce and go straight to heaven!

Reader’s comment: I made this chicken shish kebab roll for my family and they loved it! The chicken was tender and the marinade was SO flavorful. We loved the sauces a lot too! I also tried using the marinade on vegetarian chicken as my husband is veg. The skillet cooking method worked well for it too. He loved it so much and was telling me to it make often. Thanks Lavina for this recipe. ❤️ -Rita

Ants Climbing A Tree (Ma Yi Shang Su)

Top view of plate with Ants Climbing A Tree - stir-fried Sichuan glass noodles with ground pork.

In spite of the weird name, this easy classic Sichuan mung bean vermicelli (glass noodle) and ground pork stir-fry was a huge hit this year! And how it could it not be with that mouthwatering sauce that’s utterly EXPLODING with flavor?! It’s super quick to make in just 20 minutes, customizable with your favorite protein, and the perfect busy weeknight dinner!

Reader’s comment: “Another favorite of ours! Used half the amount of pork and subbed in some minced shitake mushrooms. It was spicy, flavorful, and husband asked for it again this week. Thank you for sharing and keep the tasty recipes coming!” -Sarah

Salmon Pasta with Anchovy-Garlic Sauce

Close-up top view of salmon pasta with baby spinach and grated cheese in a plate.

I was delightfully surprised that this delicious pasta made it to the list this year as I know not everyone is a fan of anchovies. However, the anchovy paste adds subtle sweet and savory umami notes to this flavorful pasta dish. Plus, with so many wonderful things going on like pan-fried flaked salmon fillets, robust bucatini pasta, garlic and chilies and a spectacular buttery white wine sauce, this pasta dish is one that you’ll just fall in love with!

Reader’s comment: “I made this recently and it turned out great. Honestly at first I was squeamish about using anchovies as I’ve never personally cooked them in a dish, but the paste form worked out for me and was easier to work with so thank you!” -Jennifer

Paneer Tikka Kathi Rolls

Hand holding up a paneer tikka kathi roll wrapped in foil.

This Indian-style wrap was a HUGE hit not only with you guys, but my entire family and extended family here! Rightfully so because the tender and spicy paneer tikka pieces, creamy and zippy cilantro and mint sauce, tangy red onion & beetroot relish bundled up in a delicious hot and flakey paratha is ridiculously tasty and a droolworthy combination!

Reader’s comment: I made this paneer tikka kathi rolls for my family. They loved. Thanks for sharing yummy recipes❤️👌 -Rita

Stir-fried Garlic Scapes with Pork & Tofu

Top view of bowl with stir-fried garlic scapes, pork, and tofu.

Another one of my quick and easy stir-fries, and the savory and spicy sauce for this one is inspired by Sichuan flavors. It’s loaded with tender pork slices (though you can customize with other meat proteins), firm tofu, garlic scapes, and is incredibly satisfying with a bowl of steamed rice!

Reader’s comment: “I made this recently and it turned out really well. My wife and I were both a fan of the fragrant flavours though I may have reduced the heat level a little bit. We look forward to having this dish again, and next time I may try it out with chicken and tofu as requested by the wife.” -Eric

Cilantro and Mint Sauce

Close-up top view of bowl with Coriander and Mint Sauce.

Just like my garlic sauce for kebabs, this creamy-style bright and zippy sauce tastes good on and with ANYTHING! It pairs wonderfully well with my Paneer Tikka Kathi Rolls, Whole Roasted Tandoori Chicken, and is also a highly addictive and tasty dipping sauce for tortilla and Fritos corn chips. You’ve been warned! 😉

Reader’s comment: “Oh my god, this sauce was DELICIOUS in your Paneer Tikka Kathi Rolls!! The mayonnaise makes it so creamy and lovely. Definitely a keeper!” -Jessica

Spicy Thai Basil Wontons

Top view of pan-fried wontons and prik nam pla in a bowl with a spoon on a white plate.

A flavor-packed appetizer that marries Thai and Chinese cuisines! A chicken, pork, and shrimp kra-pow (Thai holy basil stir-fry) style filling is packed into wonton wrappers. They’re then pan-fried like pot stickers until the wontons are crisp and golden on the bottom with a juicy filling, and the tops are perfectly steamed. They’re great for game day or entertaining, and can also be enjoyed as a meal!

Reader’s comment: Amazing recipe. We made this last night and they were a huge hit in our home! Loved the ka prow sauce in the filling. They were so juicy and yummy 😋. Thx 🙏 –Raj 

Vietnamese Grilled Pork Steaks

Top view of plate with two grilled pork steaks and bowl with nuoc cham sauce.

This easy to make flavorful recipe was adored during the summer BBQ season. But I’m happy to report that they’re still a current favorite thanks to the indoor grill pan cooking method! All you need is a handful of fresh Asian aromatics, sauces, simple seasonings, and you’ll be on your way to making these EPIC perfectly charred on the outside and juicy-on-the-inside pork steaks!

Reader’s comment: “I made this last night for dinner and it was really tasty!! Super flavorful and juicy, we loved it! Thanks for all your great tips.” -Ricky

Creamy Rosé Pasta with Prawns

Close-up top view of creamy rosé pasta with prawns on a plate.

Arguably my personal most favorite pasta dish of the year!! Gemelli pasta, garlic, onion, caramelized roasted cherry tomatoes, prawns, basil and a showstopping spicy rosé wine cream sauce come together in this stunning pasta dish! Make it for date night or when you have guests to impress, or treat yourself on any night in!

Reader’s comment: Oh my goodness! This recipe was absolutely delicious 😊 –Sandy Davis 

These are just a few of your favorite recipes from the past year. Feel free to Browse All Recipes on the blog, and use the filters on the right hand panel to find your next favorite recipe here on That Spicy Chick. Stay tuned for more tasty recipes coming in 2022. I wish you all a happy, healthy, and wonderful year ahead! ❤️ 😘

More Recipe Round-ups

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