The Serious Eats Team’s Favorite Images of 2023

Arguably the best part of my job as Serious Eats’ visuals director is getting to work with photographers from all over the world. These are the passionate and talented creators that make sure we all “eat with our eyes first” with every SE recipe we publish. They constantly go above and beyond to make sure that you, dear reader, are not only drawn in by a singular image of an amazing plate of food, but that you also have all the visual references and tools to make your home cooking endeavor a success.

Our photographers care deeply about and often represent the cuisines and recipes they photograph. This list of SE staff’s favorite frames from 2023 is just our small way to say a big “thank you” to all of our amazing contributors by highlighting just some of the gorgeous and fun visuals they bring to our beloved site. If I could have included every image we published this year, I would, but here are just a few of our favorites.

Sopaipillas (Chilean Fried Pastries), Photo by Estudio Como

Serious Eats / Estudio Como. Food Styling by Valentina Gracia Aubel

I’ve thought about this photo at-least once a month since we published this recipe in September. The subtle window light, the cooling colors of those beautiful, light linen flowers contrasting with the warmth and heaviness of the sopaillas, how inviting this dish looks are all captivating. All these elements transport me to a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen, where a family conversation is happening just off frame in haphazardly arranged chairs around a table. Ricardo and Sysla make up Estudio Como and along with Valentina Gracia Aubel on styling, they photographed three of Isidora Díaz’s new recipes for Serious Eats this year. I can not wait to get more of their work on the site in 2024. —Amanda Suarez, associate visuals director

Mazatlán Ceviche de Sierra (Sinaloan Mackerel Ceviche), Photo by Lorena Masso

Serious Eats / Lorena Masso

There’s a lot to desire in this image—the mountain of ceviche, the earthy tone of tiles under the plate, those refreshing cubes of cucumber and promised sip of beer—but I think it’s the layer of mayo on the tostada right under the fish that really gets me. It’s so generous, so creamy…I just want to take a bite. —Daniel Gritzer, senior culinary director

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

I’m always impressed with casual food styling in tested photos. As a tester myself, I know how much chaos exists just out of frame of every photo I take, which is why these tinned fish photos are so incredible. Each tin gets it’s own staged table with various acoutrements and casual angles, and reading this story feels like I was invited to a fish party. —Jesse Raub, commerce writer

All Hail the Buenos Aires Bodegón, Photo by Kevin Vaughn

A tortilla ‘española’ prepared with dry chorizo and served babé, or extra yolky.

Serious Eats / Kevin Vaughn

This photo Kevin Vaughn took for his feature piece on Argentinian bodegón culture is so compositionally strong, it makes me proud to have it on site. I want to be seated at this table immediately and spend at least 3 hours there. The way this composition leads your eyes to move through the image, from the handwritten sign to the blue jacket of the wine bottle to the top of the chair down to the food and then back to the wine via the fork, is so impressive. —Amanda Suarez

Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

The images in this piece just scream summer—sun-soaked grass, blue skies, a chilled can of seltzer, and, of course, colorful soft coolers to pack a picnic lunch. As winter creeps closer, it makes me even more wistful for days spent beachside under the shade of an umbrella, a cold drink, and some cold watermelon within arm’s reach. —Grace Kelly, associate commerce editor

Egg and Pâté Bánh Mì, Photo by Vy Tran

Serious Eats / Vy Tran

Step photos are the unsung hero of Serious Eats. They make up a majority of the photos on the site and are almost always more instructional than glamorous. Almost. This photo of chicken livers in buttermilk shot by Vy for her Egg and Pâté Bánh Mì recipe has me hypnotized. Why is this so beautiful? Why can’t I decide if it looks like an abstract oil painting or an imaginary map from a brutal and dark fantasy novel? Do I maybe want to hang it in my kitchen? Vy’s control of light is always brilliant and this is just another example of that! —Amanda Suarez

I’m a sucker for a macro food image, and this cornflake marshmallow treat close-up nails it. That perfect marshmallowy pull, the speckled brown butter bits, and the golden toasted cornflakes that Amanda captures in this shot highlights why we should all go run to our kitchen to make Genevieve’s marshmallow treats. —Leah Colins, senior culinary editor

Cajun Shrimp, Photo by Robby Lozano

Serious Eats / Robby Lozano

Do you know what makes me happier than a monochromatic styling choice? A monochromatic styling choice WITH TEXTURE. Robby Lozano along with food stylist Ruth Blackburn and prop stylist Josh Hoggle really did something special with this photo and gave these shrimp the Hollywood treatment. The way the pebbled print of the placemat helps highlight the seasoning and sear pattern on the shrimp is so impressive. —Amanda Suarez

Serious Eats / Vy Tran

Vy is a rockstar in everything that she does, but her photos for this bún bò huê recipe are absolutely stunning. I particularly loved this gif of her putting the bowl of soup together—it was not only fun, but also a great way to showcase all the components of the dish! —Yasmine Maggio, associate editor

Jamaican Pan Chicken, Photo by Karina Matalon

Serious Eats / Karina Matalon

Karina has shot almost our entire Jamaican cuisine package this year and has knocked each assignment out of the park. The simplicity of the styling here and the contrast of the plate and hardo bread make this beauty shot of Jamaican Pan Chicken one of my favorite of the year. —Amanda Suarez

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

I’m so intimidated by the world of olive oil, and reading associate commerce editor Grace Kelly’s story made me want to dive right in. The only thing more dreamy than her writing is her photography! —Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, senior commerce editor

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

If you know me, you know I love whipped cream and custard, so this iconic shot in which a generous slice of coconut cream pie looms large makes me want to jump through the screen, headfirst into it. Don’t miss all those toasty flakes either, both the coconut on top and the beautiful pie crust below. —Daniel Gritzer

A perfectly cooked pie.

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Every once in a while I surpirse myself with a truly exciting photo—I’m not really a photographer, and I feel like I do a lot of fumbling and guessing with crossed fingers that my snaps live up to the Serious Eats quality standard. But when testing an outdoor pizza oven, I feel like I really nailed both the cook on the pie and the close-up on the cornicione, so I’m going to toot my own horn just this once. —Jesse Raub

Classic Martini, Photo by Two Bites

Serious Eats / Two Bites

We’ve been working on revamping our cocktail archive this year and Natalie and Makenzo (who photograph as Two Bites) have brought such amazing color to our drinks. LOOK AT HOW CRISP AND CLEAN THESE MARTINIS LOOK. I’m an dirty martini fan (don’t @ me) but I would drink order these off a menu immediately if this picture was there. —Amanda Suarez

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

At first glance, this is just a delicious-looking Philly cheesesteak that’s bursting at the seams with well-browned slivers of rib-eye steak glistening in its own delicious fat and intertwined with melty cheese pulled throughout. But the discerning eye of a Philadelphian will pick up on Amanda Suarez’s perfectly placed Eagles keychain in the background, giving this sandwich the proper Philly-approval that it deserves. Go birds!! —Leah Colins

Elvis Presley’s Favorite Peanut Butter Sandwich, Photo by Fred Hardy

Serious Eats / Fredy Hardy

When Fred filed this gif, I shrieked. Not only does this sandwich look amazing but this bobblehead makes me laugh every.single.time. What more could I have asked for? Major shout out to Fred and food stylist Ana Kelly and prop stylist Shell Royster for the funniest image I published this year. —Amanda Suarez

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

The Birmingham testing team worked incredibly hard to test grills and smokers of all sorts this year, and the photos are just stunning. Chicken wings, steaks, burgers, brisket—oh my! —Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

Homemade Ketchup, Photo by Qi Ai

Serious Eats / Qi Ai

Did you know that sometimes the simplest recipes are the hardest to photograph and style? You wouldn’t know that by looking at this photo of ketchup by Qi. All of Qi’s work is stunning and this photo with the contrasting circular lines all over this image is next level. —Amanda Suarez

Serious Eats

A few months ago, we started a new weekly series on Serious Eats called Mise en Place. It’s been a fun experiment for us to be able to share what goes on behind the scenes each week and connect with our beloved audience. Amanda always goes above and beyond in her work, but whenever we give something new a try, I’m amazed at how she proposes to bring it to life visually—and Mise en Place is no different! She’s been putting together these fun header images each week, and this is just one of my favorites. The art is eclectic and modern and just what we need to bring the series together. —Yasmine Maggio

Serious Eats / Jen Causey

This gorgeous photo of chicken tagine uses contrast for maximum visual effect. Set on a lighter background and the chicken, stained yellow from turmeric and saffron, might have looked washed out, or maybe just less impressive. But against the charcoal and metallic backdrop in this photo, the full warmth and bold color of the tagine comes through. For what it’s worth, this was one of the most raved-about recipes from our cross testers this year, so yes, it is as good as it looks. —Daniel Gritzer

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

When I first started taking photos for Serious Eats reviews, well, let’s just say there was a lot to be desired. Back then it was just me trying to finagle my partner’s mirrorless camera, oftentimes with blurry or pixelated results. But today (not to toot my own horn), I’ve come so far!! And this review of oyster knives showcases my improvement. I hosted a banger of an oyster shucking party in my backyard with tubs of ice on fold-out tables, bags of oysters chilling in a cooler, and the camera capturing the elbow-wrenching process of preparing the briny bivalves. The bright lead image and shucking photos bring me back to that fun day. —Grace Kelly

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Have you ever been able to taste a photo? This recipe for Turkish pickles has so many vibrant colors that it jolts up me upright on cloudy days. It’s hard to pick a single photo that I love from this batch—the action shots are great, the staggered stacked vegetables in the cross section photos are super fun—but this snap of the pickles on the plate has my mouth watering. I feel like they’re right in front of me, almost glowing, ready to be snacked on. —Jesse Raub

Gravlax With Caraway, Coriander, and Mustard-Dill Sauce Recipe, Photo by Victor Protasio

Serious Eats / Victor Protasio 

Look at all of these lines!!! Do I need to say anything else? Other than major kudos to Victor, food stylist Ruth Blackburn, and prop stylist Lindsey Lower, obviously! —Amanda Suarez

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

I’m always impressed by the creativity the SE commerce team showcases in their content—they’re always finding ways to step up their game and draw people in! This piece on where to buy tinned fish from Grace was a knockout visually (and editorially, I might add!). All of the photos were gorgeous, but this one in particular grabbed my attention immediately. I loved how Grace put the tinned fish in context and showed how you might enjoy it alongside other food items. The setup of everything, including the hand picking up the fish with a long pair of tweezers, was reminiscent of a picnic on a sunny day. It made me want to leave all my work behind and join this mysterious person for an afternoon bite! —Yasmine Maggio

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