Our food photography process is pretty straightforward—we rummage through our prop closet to find the prettiest plates and silverware to style the photo, and we take the picture. Our goal: make the food look as delicious and evocative as possible. But if you dive into SAVEUR’s 21-year-old archive of recipes, it’s inevitable you’ll come across one that looks…slightly less appealing. Maybe there’s a drizzle of sauce that, on reflection, shouldn’t have been drizzled just so. Sometimes a white asparagus isn’t just a white asparagus.
So after combing through our database of 6,000 recipes, here are our 16 favorite ugly ducklings. They’ve been rigorously tested by our kitchen team, and have the potential to be beautiful. Just give them some love.