The Kitchn Awards of 2018

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)

Welcome to the moment you’ve all been waiting for … the Kitchn Awards of 2018. This is our chance to celebrate, memorialize, and poke a little fun at the things that cooks and food-lovers talked about this year. From the alternative milk of the year to the food hero we were most grateful for, there were many moments to remember.

Check these awards that we discussed, laughed over, and debated — then tell us: Who do you think deserves a Kitchn award as we leave 2018?

(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)

The Milk Alternative of the Year

You can bet your barista that there’s a new class pet on the ever-expanding roster of non-dairy milks — and its name is oat milk. Oat milk gets even frothier than most soy and nut milks, and is a safe option for those with nut allergies and dairy sensitivities. Reports of shortages of the most popular brand, Oatly, plagued super-fans this year, despite the fact that the company majorly upped production compared to last year (1,250%!).

The Small Appliance of the Year

Air fryer doughnuts. Enough said. But we’ll say a little more anyway! Before we officially took this appliance for a spin, we will admit to a big bout of initial skepticism. But luckily, all that went out the window when we realized how efficient the air fryer is — especially when roasting veggies, chicken, and already-frozen foods.

The Jumbo Costco Buy of the Year

Considering how much we write about Costco, we all decided that the superstore needed its own Kitchn award. At Costco, bigger is better, and we agree — especially when it comes to this four-foot-tall wine glass. For just a Benjamin, it can be all yours (that, and whatever wine you put in it too).

The #1 Starbucks Secret of 2018

Move over, Pumpkin Spice Latte, this fall we were all about the Cinderella Latte, available only on secret Starbucks’ menus across the country. To get one, you simply substitute half of a PSL’s pumpkin pumps with white mocha. According to our taste testers, this swap brings out the pumpkin flavor even more.

(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)

Top New Food Show

We have Samin Nosrat (author of the best selling cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking) to thank for the most drool-worthy new Netflix docu-series of the same name. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is a joyful celebration of the kind of food that people love to eat (and what makes it taste so good). The inaugural four-episode-long season transported viewers to Italy, Japan, Mexico, and California — and had us all drooling on our couches.

Worst Emoji Blunder

Unicode Consortium: WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU. But when you presented us with the world’s most disappointing-looking bagel emoji without consulting any bagel experts (ahem, us), we couldn’t help but shake our heads. The first attempt was a sad, naked bagel that looked like something out of a plastic bag in the grocery store.

Most-Celebrated Emoji

The second version (slightly toastier-looking, with a swipe of cream cheese) is a little more New Yorker-approved.

The Most Instagrammed Pottery

There’s a clear consensus among Kitchn staff as to what’s the dreamiest stoneware in the biz — and it’s East Fork, without a doubt. Crafted in Asheville, North Carolina, this slightly speckled, naturally hued pottery is always topping our wish lists.

(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)

The Food Hero of 2018

When disaster strikes, acclaimed chef and restaurateur José Andres is usually the first to roll up his sleeves and rally teams of volunteers to feed those in need. He fed thousands of meals to the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and was also there to feed the victims of the California wildfires through his organization World Central Kitchen. Just a few weeks ago, he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The Diet Craze of the Year

If you’ve been doing recipe research on Pinterest in the past six months, you’ve definitely heard of keto. This year was the year that the ketogenic diet (high in fats, and low on carbs) went mainstream, so much so that we decided to create a whole series called Keto for Newbies to help our readers navigate all the buzz.

(Image credit: Lauren Masur)

The Wackiest PR Food Mailing of 2018

This year our News & Culture Editor, Ariel Knutson, received a GIANT Dorito (no, seriously, it was HUGE) in honor of Jurassic World. Yes, it was nacho cheese.

(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)

2018’s Thirstiest New Grocery Buy

No other Trader Joe’s product in the history of Trader Joe’s products has been the subject of more mixed reviews than its frozen cauliflower gnocchi. For as many people who complain about the disappointing gluey texture, there are just as many people fighting over the remaining bags in the freezer aisle.

The Top Ina Garten Fan Moment of the Year

It’s too bad you can only “like” an Instagram. If we could love one, it would definitely be this photo of a pair of toddlers dressed like Ina and Jeffrey this Halloween. It was Ina’s most-liked Instagram of all time, raking in more than 329,000 double-taps. (CONFESSION: We were at least one of those likes.)

The Best Millennial Food Packaging of the Year

We searched high and low for a product most likely to win over wellness queen Gwyneth Paltrow, and this millennial pink, expertly branded matcha from Ritual Cosmic earned our vote.

(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)

2018’s Biggest Scientific Advance in Nutrition

A consensus among the nutritional science community has been reached, and it’s good news for vegetarians. Earlier this year at Nutrition 2018, a meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, experts from all over the world presented their findings on the health benefits associated with high-quality plant-based diets. Yes, plant-based really is best.

2018’s Most Head-Scratching Ree Drummond Spin-Off

Ree Drummond now has her own line of bedding, slow cookers, Instant Pots, veggie choppers, water bottles, a children’s book, a hotel, a pizza shop, a general store, and, now, a Barbie doll. Is nothing sacred?

The Top Wellness Trend of 2018

CBD is short for “cannabidiol,” a chemical compound found in marijuana. No, no, it won’t make you high, but it may help you feel a little more “chill.” Certain restaurants give diners the option to “CBD” dishes, and every day a new CBD-infused product comes to market (think: vitamins, bath soaks, olive oil, honey, sparkling water, and more).

(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)

The Food Magazine We Will Miss Most

When we heard the news that Cooking Light was ceasing print production after being in circulation since 1987, the Kitchn staff took it pretty hard. The December “Farewell Issue,” which just arrived in my mailbox, was a not-so-gentle reminder! We will miss their signature healthy, easy, DELICIOUS recipes taking up real estate on their very own glossy pages.

The Hottest New Condiment of 2018

We have cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi to thank for our recent obsession with rose harissa. Totally unlike any other condiment, it’s made with chili peppers, herbs, spices, and rose petals (which help to soften the spice) and pairs great with scrambled eggs, meat, fish, pasta, crusty bread, and more. Seriously, we could put this on everything. (It’s even fun in baked goods.)

The Food Network Star with the Biggest Heart

Guy Fieri is a lot more than the spiky-haired, muscle-car-owning, grill master, cheese-puller you see on Triple D — he’s a genuine philanthropist. When wildfires tormented his home state of California, Guy went out of his way to bring food to first responders to thank them for their service.

2018’s Most Underrated Grocery Store

We sure do write a lot about Costco and Trader Joe’s (we love them), but there’s one grocery store that has captured our hearts but doesn’t get the praise it deserves, and that’s Aldi. It has ridiculously cheap prices, carries fun specialty items (hello, cheese Advent calendar), and is small enough that grocery shopping seems like a breeze.

Your turn! Who and what deserved an award in 2018’s food landscape?