PWWB’s Top Recipes of 2019

From vibrant vegan tacos to cozy pasta dinners, the PWWB community has been filled with deliciousness all throughout 2019. Here's a recap of the best of the best!
Graphic with 9 images of top recipes from Plays Well With Butter thoughout 2019.

I’m pretty convinced that 2019 was PWWB’s most delicious year yet. Throughout 2019, the PWWB community…

As 2019 winds down, I wanted to pause & show off the best of the best: the recipes that PWWB readers have come back to time & time again. If you see something you haven’t tried just yet, definitely add to your “to try” list before the year comes to a close!

Thank you so much for being here! Cheers to so much more deliciousness in store for 2020. 💜

1. Vegan Roasted Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Tacos (with Chipotle Cashew Crema!)

If you asked me to sum up PWWB’s 2019 in 6 words, they’d be: Roasted Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Tacos!!! HOLY COW, the PWWB community LOVES these tacos!

Made with a cozy combination of roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes, & black beans, these tacos are the perfect blend of hearty & healthy. & that drizzle of the easiest homemade vegan cashew crema? It’s exactly what takes them completely over the top.

These vegan tacos have been enjoyed by hundreds, if not thousands, this year & if you haven’t tried them just yet, I hiiighly suggest you do soon.


Vegetarian tacos made of roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes & black beans arranged on a small rimmed baking sheet, topped with vegan cashew crema.

2. Perfectly Grilled Buffalo Chicken Wings

Grilled chicken wings tossed in buffalo sauce, served on a small rimmed baking sheet with bleu cheese sauce on the side.

When we launched Let’s Grill Girls!, I knew we just had to revisit this goodie from 2017: the most perfectly Perfect Grilled Buffalo Chicken Wings.

Made with just 3 simple ingredients, these wings are smoky, tangy, crispy, charred perfection. Chicken wings soak in a beer brine for extra flavor & juiciness, before char-grilling to crunchy-crispy perfection & getting tossed in buffalo sauce.

Chris & I love them for the easiest weeknight dinners throughout grilling season, & if you ever were to come to a summer party at the PWWB house, you could 100% count on feasting on a giant platter of them. Everyone loves them.


Grilled chicken wing shown being dunked in bleu cheese dipping sauce.

3. PWWB’s Best-Ever Shawarma Marinade

Grilled chicken shawarma served over hummus with pita, pickled onions, & grilled lemons.

Another clear favorite from Let’s Grill, Girls! was a round-up of 7 Go-To Grilling Marinade Recipes. Covering off on everything from an All-Purpose Marinade, to the best darn Greek Marinade you’ll ever have, to my family’s treasured Teriyaki Marinade, these marinade recipes were all among PWWB’s top recipes for the year, but the one to just barely edge out the rest was PWWB’s Best Ever Shawarma Marinade.

Made with an easy blend of shawarma spices (cumin, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, oregano & turmeric), lemon juice, & olive oil, this shawarma marinade recipe has the perfect balance of warmth & brightness, with a subtle kiss of sweetness from a drizzle of honey.

You can use it on just about anything you’d throw on the grill, but my favorite is chicken shawarma served in a hummus bowl with some warm & fluffy pita bread…of course!


Grilled chicken shawarma served over hummus with pita, pickled onions, & grilled lemons.

4. Lemony Basil Creamy Vegan Pasta

Creamy vegan pasta, tossed with broccoli, bell peppers, & arugula, served in a Staub skillet. The skillet is placed on a white surface next to a black & white striped linen.

Problem: You’re craving something that’s pretty healthy but also pretty cozy, & you also happen to be a little pressed for time since it’s Monday night & you had a crazy day at work & The Bachelor starts in like 30 minutes.

Solution: Lemony Basil Creamy Vegan Pasta.

Made in 25 minutes or less, this comforting pasta dish is chock-full of good-for-ya veggies (broccoli, sundried tomatoes, bell peppers & more!) & tossed into the most easy-to-make creamy sauce that also just so happens to be 100% dairy-free thanks to an unexpected ingredient…cashews!

That’s a serious weeknight miracle if you ask me.


Creamy vegan pasta, tossed with broccoli, bell peppers, & arugula, served on a small white plate. The plate is placed on a white surface next to a black & white striped linen & a glass of white wine.

5. Grandpa Clarence’s Hawaiian Beef Stew

Hawaiian Beef Stew served in a white bowl over sticky rice. The bowl is on a grey-ish blue background, with a grey linen.

Of all the recipes shared in 2019, this Hawaiian Beef Stew recipe is the one that’s nearest & dearest to my heart. It’s a slightly tweaked version of my Hawaiian Grandpa Clarence’s famous Island-style beef stew, & every single bite reminds me of my childhood.

What exactly is Hawaiian beef stew, you ask? Simple. It’s a lot like the classic beef stew we know & love here on the mainland (or at least here in the Midwest!), with tons of extra umami from a couple of staple island ingredients: shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) & Worcestershire.

As an extra bonus, this Hawaiian beef stew is totally easy to make & totally weeknight-friendly thanks to some Instant Pot magic. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can still have your hand at the recipe – check the Recipe Notes for Stovetop & Slow Cooker instructions!


Hawaiian Beef Stew shown in an Instant Pot.

6. Vegan Southwest Pasta Salad

Vegan southwest pasta salad in a white bowl, served with 2 large serving spoons.

Something kind of miraculous happens in the summer entertaining months: we take all of the greens out of salad, replace them with pasta, & still call it salad. THAT IS MY KIND OF SALAD, & it’s exactly what inspired this Vegan Southwest Pasta Salad recipe.

Made in 30 minutes or less, this pasta salad is far from boring: a creamy, dreamy cashew-based Southwest dressing gets tossed into spiraly noodles with red onion, red bell pepper, fire-roasted corn, tomatoes & black beans. The veggies add a pop of freshness (& crunch!) to every bite, while the southwest dressing delivers the perfect touch of smoky, tangy heat.

I love making this recipe whenever we’re serving a crowd in the summer, but it also doubles as a really awesome meal prep recipe that you can enjoy all week long.


Pouring creamy vegan southwest salad dressing overtop pasta salad ingredients.

7. Sheet Pan Veggie Shawarma

Vegetarian shawarma served in a bowl over greens, quinoa, cucumbers & topped with a drizzle of tahini sauce. A woman's hands are reaching into the frame of the photo, holding the bowl.

When I told you that the PWWB community couldn’t get enough of shawarma in 2019, I wasn’t kidding! We took everyone’s favorite shawarma recipe & veganized it a bit with this Sheet Pan Veggie Shawarma recipe.

Cauliflower, sweet potatoes, & chickpeas are tossed into the PWWB shawarma marinade, then roasted to crispy, cozy perfection. It’s the best Meatless Monday dinner situation since it all happens in less than 45 minutes on a single sheet pan. (Does weeknight cooking get better than that??)

You can serve the shawarma veggies in a bowl, with lots of greens, rice/quinoa, & tahini sauce, or scoop it on a pita for the tastiest darn vegan sandwich you’ll ever eat.


Vegetarian shawarma served in a pita, topped with a drizzle of tahini sauce. A woman's hands are reaching into the frame of the photo, holding the sandwich.

8. Tuscan-Style Grilled Steak

Tuscan steak plated & sliced, served next to Italian-style grilled potatoes & onions & a blue & white striped napkin.

Tuscan-Style Grilled Steak was 1000% a highlight of my summer.

Perfectly marbled ribeye steak slathered in an Italian-inspired steak rub made from lemon, olive oil, rosemary, garlic & oregano, char-grilled to medium-rare perfection (or however your like your steaks best, no judgement here), then served alongside crispy grilled potatoes. HECK YES.

Who knew making restaurant-quality steak at home could be so freakin’ easy!?!


2 ribeye steaks set in a small baking dish topped with tuscan herbs & spices to marinade for this tuscan grilled steak recipe.

9. Gnocchi all’Amatriciana

Gnocchi all'Amatriciana, with sliced Italian sausage in a black skillet. A striped linen is wrapped around the skillet handle. The skillet is on a white marble surface.

In the event that you want to make pasta all’Amatriciana even cozier, Gnocchi all’Amatriciana will 100% save the day!

Pillowy-soft potato & parmesan dumplings served in a homemade pancetta-infused tomato sauce that’s quick & simple to make but also deeply rich in flavor. Plus, it all comes together with 8 simple ingredients in 30 minutes or less.

A new absolute go-to for easy weeknight cooking!


Gnocchi all'Amatriciana on a speckled white ceramic plate atop a striped linen napkin. A fork is in the gnocchi & amatriciana sauce, as though someone has been eating it. The plate is on a white marble surface, surrounded by fresh parsley leaves.

10. Lightened-Up Italian Wedding Soup

Healthy Italian wedding soup shown in a small dutch oven.

& last, but certainly not least: the coziest ever Healthy Italian Wedding Soup.

Juicy & tender chicken meatballs simmer in a lemon-infused stock with veggies, quinoa, white beans & kale. Serve it with a generous spoonful of pesto (& maybe a fat glass of your fave white wine?!), & I’d call that the perfect cozy weeknight dinner.


Healthy Italian Wedding Soup served in a white ceramic bowl, topped with pesto & parmesan cheese. The bowl is atop a white surface, with bread & a black & white striped linen to the side.

Wrapping up!

A delicious year indeed, right?!

I would love to hear from you: what’s been your favorite recipe of 2019, from PWWB or another one of your favorite recipe websites? Leave a comment below to let me know!

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.


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