In much of the country, the time of year that resembles spring—warm but not too warm, mostly free of humidity, the mosquitoes still dormant enough that you can actually enjoy the lengthening afternoons and evenings, instead of just surrendering your porch/back deck/stoop to the conquering bugs—feels vanishingly brief. And, despite the fact that you can now often buy year-round what used to be strictly seasonal fruits and vegetables, the tastiest of spring’s foodstuffs are available during a correspondingly short window.
Hence the fervor exhibited by some of us when those precious items finally start turning up at the markets. Artichokes! Baby greens! The elusive and mania-inducing ramps! Get ’em while you can, or you risk missing out for a whole year.
Those of us who are less susceptible to the seductions of spring produce, after months of being cooped up inside warming our hands over the oven vents, still can’t resist the urge to finally get outdoors, and all the lighter, more refreshing dishes (and drinks) that fresh air and greening landscapes bring to mind. Here are all the Serious Eats recipes we’re most excited to try out, or welcome back into our rotations, this spring.
I swear Sasha didn’t hire me as his personal publicist. I just really, really love this recipe. Al dente orecchiette, tossed in the most gorgeous green sauce of spring onions and fennel. It has all the color and flavor of spring and all the richness of a creamy pasta dish. If you’re decidedly not a fennel person, I’d ask you to reconsider, at least for this recipe. I didn’t think I liked fennel, but this sauce isn’t licorice-y at all—just bright, fresh, smoky (from bacon), and a little sweet. —Ariel Kanter, director of commerce
I’m of the belief that spring should be spent on a front porch, sipping wine or a cocktail and slurping down oysters, whether raw or cooked. Now that I live in New York City, I don’t have a porch to sip on, and I rarely eat fresh oysters, but a boy can dream. This year, I plan to live out my fantasy: As the weather warms up, I’ll pull out a bottle of dry white wine I’ve been saving, throw a pan of these oysters Rockefeller in the oven, and thank the heavens winter is over. —Elazar Sontag, assistant editor
I’m not a huge fan of chicken salad in general, but Kenji’s bang bang chicken salad is one that I can definitely get behind. I can’t wait to eat this mouthwatering (and mouth-numbing) chicken with smashed cucumbers or on top of cold sesame noodles at an idyllic Central Park picnic. With the addition of cider and sunshine, it’s the ideal spring meal. —Grace Chen, office manager and associate podcast producer
I love a good marathon cooking session every once in a while, but when it’s spring in New York, I want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time outside, enjoying the slice of great weather we get before it all becomes a humid mess. Sohla’s chili crisp is the perfect one-size-meets-any-dish condiment, so I don’t have to fuss too much over seasoning my proteins or veg. Even that bland piece of skinless chicken that’s been hanging in my fridge can be turned into a five-star dish with some chili crisp on top. Also, I must admit I’ve been craving it since seeing Stella use it to top her toasted-rice ice cream. It really takes any dish to the next level. I’ll be making jars of the stuff for the next few months (and probably years) to come. —Joel Russo, video producer
Warmer weather means it’s time to enjoy dinner in my little Brooklyn backyard, while watching the sun set below tenement buildings to the soundtrack of distant sirens. I’m most looking forward to making this tiradito with leche de tigre sauce: a cool, spicy, zesty Peruvian dish that’s wonderful for a light early-summer meal. This morning, though, I woke up to a frustrating third winter of 40ºF temperatures. Looks like I’ll still make tiradito this weekend—but I’ll have to eat it standing up in the kitchen as I wait for the rest of my meal to come out of the oven. —Maggie Lee, UX designer
You can find versions of this brightly colored, tangy coctel de camarones at certain taco stands in Los Angeles. I savored one on the front patio of one particular spot on Sunset Boulevard, shaded from the sun by a canvas awning, listening to the cars whizzing by: not quite the beach, but a private urban oasis, with this exuberantly flavored little snack that brought a smile to my face. If California sun isn’t available to you, make this shrimp cocktail at home, serve it in a tall glass, and eat it in the sunniest spot in your house. —John Mattia, video editor
On my own personal Cartesian plane graphing ease and deliciousness, Kenji’s crepes lie on the outer reaches of Quadrant One. I’m happy to make and eat them any time of year, but their comparative lightness, despite being cooked in copious butter, means they feel especially fitting for a spring brunch or dinner.
Really, ease and deliciousness are just the start: The crepes themselves can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. You can fill them with pretty much anything—I’m partial to this simple feta-and-spinach number, but I could see myself going for a little smoked salmon, crème fraîche, capers, and dill, or a classic sweet version with lemon and sugar. If you’re into very mild cooking-related danger, as I am, you’ll also enjoy the flipping maneuver Kenji recommends, which calls for grabbing the edge of each crepe with your fingers after loosening it with a spatula, then turning the crepe over lightning-fast. —Miranda Kaplan, senior editor
There’s one particular spring ingredient that I’m powerless against, whether I see it on a menu or spot it at the market. It’s a delicacy that’s around for only a few precious months each year, and when prepared right, it’s shatteringly crisp on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. I’m talkin’ about soft-shell crab, baby, and I like it every which way.
If there’s one other person out there who’s as passionate as I am about soft-shell crabs, it’s Daniel Gritzer, and he has the culinary expertise to take them from delicious to exceptional. His butter-sautéed soft-shell-crab sandwiches are topped with a punchy tomato salsa that complements the crab’s delicate flavor without overwhelming it. Perfect for stuffing yourself with on a warm, breezy, carefree spring day. —Niki Achitoff-Gray, executive managing editor
Spring things I have missed for a calendar year: raw favas, podded, their outer seed coats discarded, tossed with minuscule cubes of pecorino, salt, and good olive oil; shelling peas, right from the pod; shelled peas warmed in butter, dressed with chopped fresh green chilies, fish sauce, and lime; braised asparagus; ramps! This is traditionally lamb season, and I associate it, tangentially, with mint, which means mint with peas, or with favas, or ramps, but also mint with lamb. To be honest, given the great produce that’s available, I rarely use recipes this time of year. But I do appreciate general guides for dishes, like this one for a spring-ish salad that you can make from whatever green vegetables you may have on hand. —Sho Spaeth, features editor
In Rome, where I grew up, springtime is carciofi time. Artichoke season is a big deal, and I love the Italian “make hay while the sun shines” approach to seasonal ingredients. For a month or two every spring, it seems like the whole city is chowing down on these delicious thistles, either fried alla giudia, or braised alla romana. Choosing a favorite between the two is impossible, but I think that the braised version translates better to the artichokes that are available in the States. It’s a simple and flawless vegetable side, and one of those dishes that are excellent at room (or outdoor-patio!) temperature. —Sasha Marx, senior culinary editor
As soon as spring fruits start to turn up in the market, I’m all about showcasing them on a simple canvas, like this classic vanilla chiffon cake. It does the heavy lifting of putting an impressive dessert on the table, but it’s the fresh fruit that truly stars in the show. —Stella Parks, pastry wizard
Springtime to me means green returning to the earth, and greens returning to my diet. This big bowl of fresh, crisp green vegetables is a snap to put together and an outstanding weekend lunch. Plus, topping anything and everything with a runny egg and buttery, herb-y bread crumbs is a surefire way to dispel the last chills of winter. —Tim Aikens, front-end developer
After a long day at work when it’s sunny out, there’s nothing I want to do more than run outside and enjoy a cocktail. I’ve been getting more into mezcal lately (like all the rest of Brooklyn), and this grapefruit Paloma seems like it’ll be just the ticket to ultimate relaxation. It combines the best parts of a Paloma with an Americano—not the coffee, the Negroni-like cocktail! Oh, and by the way, shameless plug for our dear friend Maggie Hoffman, who developed this recipe: She’s got a new book out called Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion, which I’ll be cracking open every Friday starting, well, now. —Kristina Bornholtz, social media editor
Simple preparations, like this Italian classic of asparagus with a fried egg and Parmesan cheese, are just what I’m in the mood for when the leaves unfurl on trees and green shoots erupt from the earth. I just want to taste all that fresh, chlorophyll-rich flavor, without much fuss or interference. —Daniel Gritzer, managing culinary director
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