Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting

lemon buttercream frosting on cupcake

This fresh lemon buttercream frosting recipe uses real lemons and it makes the bright, sunny flavors pop on everything from cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and even fancy petite fours!

Fluffy homemade buttercream frosting with the flavor of fresh citrusy lemon frosting is also great on sugar cookies, used to decorate lemon cheesecake and more!

A cupcake topped with lemon buttercream frosting and a small slice of lemon

To Juice and Zest Lemons

Whether you fill or frost or ice with this lemon buttercream recipe, make sure your pastries are fully cooled so it doesn’t melt the frosting.

Lemon Zest: Using the zest of the lemon adds the best flavor making it extra lemony.  I use the zest of two full lemons, you can certainly use more if you like.  You can find tips on zesting lemons here but favorite tool is a Microplane grater.  You may notice the little oils from the rind when you zest so I like to zest right over the bowl I’m using for the frosting to make sure I catch all of that beautiful zest.

Lemon Juice: For juicing lemons, place lemons in the microwave about 15-20 seconds to warm them up and make them easier to squeeze. Using the heel of your hand, give them a roll on the counter with gentle pressure before cutting in half. If you have extra juice, place it in a small freezer bag and freeze. I break off small pieces to add to water or when I need lemon juice in a recipe!

4 photos of the steps to making lemon buttercream frosting including creaming butter, adding lemon and icing sugar

How to Make Lemon Buttercream Filling

  1. Cream butter & shortening with a hand electric mixer until it is light and fluffy.
  2. Add lemon zest and juice and mix well.
  3. Add the powdered sugar a bit at a time and mix well. Once it’s fully incorporated, mix on high for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy!

If you’d like a bit of a thinner consistency, add a bit extra lemon juice. For a thicker consistency, add more powdered sugar. If you’re spreading this on a 9×13 cake or another use where it doesn’t need to hold its shape, you can also add in 2 ounces of cream cheese along with the butter for a little tang. If you add the cream cheese, it won’t hold it’s shape as well when piped.

Because this is flavored with natural lemon the color is a very pale yellow. Feel free to add in a couple of drops of yellow food coloring if you’d like to brighten it.

A bowl of fresh lemon buttercream frosting topped with lemon slices

Can You Freeze Buttercream Frosting?

Your lemon buttercream frosting will keep in the fridge about 4 to 5 days and will freeze up to three months in a sealed and labeled container or plastic bag.

Allow it to thaw completely and feel free to refresh the flavor with a bit of extra lemon juice and whisk it so it is smooth again!

More Fantastic Frosting Recipes

Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting

A smooth and extra creamy frosting recipe bursting with fresh lemon flavor.

  • 2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
  1. Zest both lemons and set zest aside. Juice one of the lemons to make 2 tablespoons juice. Reserve remaining lemons for another use.

  2. Cream butter and shortening with mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest and juice (and extract if using). Mix well.

  3. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat until light and fluffy.

  4. To thicken consistency, add more powdered sugar. To soften consistency, add more lemon juice if required.

REPIN this Delicious Recipe

A cupcake frosted with Lemon Buttercream Frosting and garnished with a small lemon wedge

Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting. One of my favorite recipes! This luscious buttercream is packed with fresh lemon flavor and perfect on cake, banana bread and more! #Buttercream #Lemon #Frosting #Icing
Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting. One of my favorite recipes! This luscious buttercream is packed with fresh lemon flavor and perfect on cake, banana bread and more! #Buttercream #Lemon #Frosting #Icing
This fresh lemon buttercream frosting recipe is one of our favorite frostings ever. It's great on lemon cupcakes, or for decorating cakes and cookies! #spendwithpennies #buttercream #buttercreamfrosting #lemon #lemonbuttercream #lemonbuttercreamfrosting #lemonfrosting
This fresh lemon buttercream frosting recipe is one of our favorite frostings ever. It's great on lemon cupcakes, or for decorating cakes and cookies! #spendwithpennies #buttercream #buttercreamfrosting #lemon #lemonbuttercream #lemonbuttercreamfrosting #lemonfrosting

Easy Baked Bruschetta Chicken (serve over pasta)

Baked Bruschetta Chicken is an easy weeknight meal and perfect served over your favorite pasta! Tender balsamic marinated chicken breasts are baked with garlic, basil and juicy cherry tomatoes to create a delicious meal that everyone loves!

Serve this with some crusty bread and garlic butter and a fresh Italian Salad for a complete meal!

Baked bruschetta chicken breasts topped with tomatoes and basil and served over a bowl of spaghetti

An Easy Weeknight Meal

Don’t be afraid of the fancy Italian-sounding name “Bruschetta.” I make a ton of tomato bruschetta all summer long and we often end up eating it for meals or served over chicken!

Kind of like Easy Chicken Parmesan, this bruschetta chicken recipe is a make-ahead and pop-in-the oven kind of entrée. Tender chicken breasts covered in a garlicky, seasoned marinara, cherry tomatoes, and bubbling mozzarella cheese! Perfect for Sunday dinner with the extended fam. Who can say no to that?

Cooked Chicken breasts in a 9x13 pan topped with cheese and cherry tomato bruschetta

Bruschetta Chicken

Bruschetta is an appetizer many of us are familiar with however, did you know that the word bruschetta actually refers to the bread and not the topping? I took the flavors from my favorite bruschetta topping (tomato/basil/garlic) to create this amazing meal!

What is Bruschetta Chicken? Bruschetta chicken bake is full-flavored and hearty; the topping is baked right onto the chicken breasts. Turn this into a complete meal by serving it over spaghetti for the perfect Bruschetta Chicken Pasta. Mama Mia!

Raw chicken breasts topped with Italian seasoning, balsamic vinegar and olive oil for making bruschetta chicken

How to Make Bruschetta Chicken

This meal is pretty easy to make and uses basic ingredients. Fresh basil isn’t expensive but it makes a huge difference in the flavor of this dish! If you can’t find cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes (or even chopped roma tomatoes) will work just fine.

  • Marinate: Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and minced garlic in a small bowl and marinate chicken breasts for a few minutes.
  • Brown: Brown the chicken for two minutes on each side. The chicken will cook in the oven, you just want to brown it.
  • Bake: Place in a 9×13 casserole dish and top with cherry tomatoes. Bake until bubbly.
  • Top: Top with cheese and broil up to 3 minutes or until melted.

To Serve this Chicken Dish

For the topping, combine tomatoes with olive oil, vinegar, and basil garlic. Spoon over the finished dish and serve over pasta!

A 9x13 pan of cooked bruschetta chicken topped with cheese and fresh basil.

What to Serve with Bruschetta Chicken

A great glass of Chianti, of course! A light, bright tossed salad, and some garlic bread rounds out this unforgettable entrée! For a true Italian dining experience, a little Tiramisu or Panna Cotta makes for a sweet ending!

More Italian Favorites

Bruschetta Chicken

Tender balsamic marinated chicken breasts are baked with garlic, basil and juicy cherry tomatoes to create a delicious meal that everyone loves!

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese

Bruschetta Topping

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or balsamic)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl.

  3. Mix 1/4 cup of the balsamic mixture with chicken breasts, salt & pepper and Italian seasoning and marinate 15 minutes.

  4. Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet. Add chicken and brown 2 minutes on each side.

  5. Place marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Top with browned chicken breasts and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with remaining balsamic mixture.

  6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear and chicken reaches 165°F. 

  7. Top with mozzarella and broil 2-3 minutes.

  8. Combine all topping ingredients in a bowl and spoon over chicken. Serve over pasta.

 

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Oven Baked Califlower

Easy Baked Cauliflower is the perfect side dish for any meal! This is one of those sides that everyone needs in their recipe book, nothing fancy, no crazy ingredients but lots of flavor and simple to prep.

Serve it alongside a juicy Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin or perfectly tender Oven Baked Chicken Breasts or thighs.

Baked cauliflower garnished with parsley on a baking sheet

A Simple Side Dish

Want to take your veggie game to the next level? There are so many new and tasty ways to enjoy the vegetables we grew up with (zoodles anyone?). This easy baked cauliflower recipe will please vegetarians and carnivores alike!

Cauliflower is a nutritional powerhouse with just 50 calories per 2 cups and packed with fiber. This baked cauliflower recipe is a simple fix on a busy night and can easily be placed in the oven along with your favorite meatloaf recipe or even placed in the pan with a roasted chicken!

How to Prepare Cauliflower Florets

Cauliflower is a compact and heavy vegetable, so it is easy to work with.  For this baked cauliflower recipe:

  • Remove any green leaves at the bottom and cut off the stem.
  • Cut the entire head in half vertically from the stem up.
  • Then, with your fingers, break apart each half into smaller pieces. These are the florets. Break them up as big or small as you like. Think about if you will be using a fork or your fingers to eat them with!

A photograph of cauliflower florets on a baking pan

How to Make Baked Cauliflower

I keep it very simple but if i have fresh herbs on hand, I add those in too! Feel free to season with anything you like even toss with dressing after it comes out of the oven!  After rinsing, drain them extra well. Any leftover water will cause them to steam and they won’t brown as nicely.

  1. Preheat oven.
  2. Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil and your fave seasonings.
  3. Spread on a greased sheet pan and bake:
    • Bake at 350°F about 30-35 minutes
    • Bake at 375°F about 25-30 minutes
    • Bake at 400°F about 20-25 minutes

These times are a guide if you like your cauliflower softer, cook it longer if you prefer more tender crisp, cook it less. A higher temperature will give more browning (and flavor). I personally don’t stir them, I like one side to get nice and browned. Don’t overcook them, you still want them to be a little crunchy!

More Cauliflower Yum

Baked Cauliflower

Tender baked cauliflower is an easy and effortless side dish!

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

  2. Wash and prepare 1 head of cauliflower. Slice so it has one flat side,

  3. Mix together olive oil and remaining ingredients.

  4. Toss dried cauliflower with olive oil mixture.

  5. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.

Garnish with parsley and/or parmesan cheese if desired.

Creamy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese (Boiled in Milk)

homemade macaroni and cheese in bowl

Stovetop Mac and Cheese is the creamiest, dreamiest version of an all-American favorite! No one can resist a savory combination of a creamy cheddar cheese base blended with macaroni noodles, and it couldn’t be easier made on the stovetop.

Serve this creamy homemade mac and cheese with a fresh tossed salad, some garlic bread, and roasted broccoli for the perfect rounded meal!

Creamy stovetop macaroni and cheese in a cooking dish with a wooden spoon.

How to Make Stove Top Mac and Cheese

This stovetop mac and cheese is the creamiest version! The secret to this recipe is that the pasta is boiled in milk (which means only one pot for easy clean up). It’s as easy as 1,2,3!

  1. Combine milk, garlic powder, butter and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Add in the macaroni noodles and reduce the heat to low (adding liquid as needed). Cook until the noodles are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Once the pasta is fully cooked, add the rest of the ingredients and stir until melted.

The final result is a smooth and hearty easy family entrée that everyone will love and want seconds of!

Troubleshooting

This recipe is really easy to make but here are a few to tips to make sure it comes out creamy.

When the macaroni is done cooking in the milk, you do not want it dry.  You may need to add more milk/water to the pot while it is cooking. The macaroni noodles should be as moist as the photo on the top right below BEFORE you add in the cheese.  Once you add the cheese, remove it from the stove and stir until the cheese has melted.

Keep in mind, pre-shredded cheese often has additives to keep it from clumping. These additives can cause it to be grainy instead of creamy.

Process shots of stovetop macaroni and cheese being made from the pasta being cooked to the cheese being added.

What Goes with Mac and Cheese?

Everything goes with stovetop mac and cheese! A salad with a bright balsamic vinaigrette, or a crusty loaf with Homemade Garlic Butter can round out this meal.

Fresh fruit salad or a tangy gelatin dessert go well for with this rich macaroni. When you serve this creamy stovetop mac and cheese, almost anything goes.

Add ins: You can get creative with this recipe. Add in bacon, jalapenos, canned tuna, peas, even topping mac and cheese with fresh pico de gallo!

Cheese being stirred into stovetop macaroni and cheese with a wooden spoon.

Got Leftovers?

Mac and Cheese leftovers can last 4-5 days in the fridge. Reheat on low on the stove top (or in them microwave) and add a splash of milk to keep it creamy.

Can You Freeze Mac and Cheese? The best creamy mac and cheese recipes are served just as they’re made, including this one. This recipe doesn’t freeze well.

More Mac and Cheese Love

Extra Creamy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

If you love rich and creamy Macaroni and Cheese then this homemade stovetop recipe is for you!!

  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. In a saucepan combine a pinch of salt, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, butter and water. Bring to a boil.

  2. Add in macaroni noodles, reduce heat to low.
  3. Continue to simmer stirring frequently until noodles are cooked (about 20 minutes).

  4. Watch to make sure the liquid doesn’t completely evaporate. You can add extra milk 1/4 cup at a time if the liquid is low.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked, ensure the noodles are not dry. They should be as moist as the photo above before adding cheese. Stir in cream cheese until melted.

  6. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese. Cover for 3 minutes.

Recipe slightly adapted from Plain Chicken.

REPIN this Easy Stovetop Recipe

This one pot stovetop mac and cheese is seriously good. Homemade mac and cheese is always better, and making this cheesy comfort food couldn't be easier thanks to the stove top! #spendwithpennies #macandcheese #stovetopmacandcheese #macaroniandcheese #macaroni #cheese #stovetop
This one pot stovetop mac and cheese is seriously good. Homemade mac and cheese is always better, and making this cheesy comfort food couldn't be easier thanks to the stove top! #spendwithpennies #macandcheese #stovetopmacandcheese #macaroniandcheese #macaroni #cheese #stovetop

How to Store, Freeze and Dry Fresh Herbs

There is nothing quite like the flavor of fresh herbs!  In the summer, I grow herbs in my garden so it’s really inexpensive to just pinch a few sprigs out when I’m cooking.  I do dry any leftover herbs at the end of the year.

When the weather is colder, I do use dried or frozen herbs but I still really enjoy buying fresh! In the cooler months you can get herbs for just a couple of dollars each so I try to choose at least one or two to use throughout the week. The flavor they add is amazing. While fresh herbs can be a little bit pricey but I’ve found a way to keep my herbs fresh for a couple of weeks!  This not only saves me from throwing them out, but it gives me a long time to enjoy them!

A mason jar of fresh cilantro and a mason jar of fresh dill

Choosing Herbs

Just as with eating, it’s all about the eyes and the nose.  Fresh herbs should smell, well…. fresh.  A musty or “old” smell is never a good sign. They should also smell flavorful.  Of course, they shouldn’t be wilted, brown or yellow, or spotty.  Look for bright, firm healthy looking plants.  If they are coming packaged, be sure to reach to the back and double check the dates to get the freshest herbs available!

How to Keep Your Herbs Fresh

To keep fresh herbs in the fridge for weeks (instead of days) I store them similarly to storing fresh flowers.

  • Rinse your herbs under fresh cool water.  Very gently spin or shake dry.
  • Snip off the ends and any pieces that don’t look fresh
  • Trim the bottoms of the herbs and remove any leaves on the bottom 2 inches of the stems
  • Fill a mason jar (or an herb keeper) with about 1″-2″ of cold water
  • Very loosely cover the herbs with a produce bag or freezer bag (you don’t need to seal it, just place it overtop)
  • Store in the refrigerator.  Change water every 3-4 days

A mason jar of fresh dill covered with a freezer bag to be stored in the fridge

If you prefer you can purchase an Herb Keepers on Amazon (with free shipping). These work great but basically work the same way as the method above.  The only nice thing about the herb keepers is that they don’t spill over if you’ve got kids rummaging through the fridge! If you choose the larger size, this is not only great for most herbs but you can use it for things like asparagus and celery too!.

Freezing Herbs

There are two options when freezing fresh herbs!

Dry Freeze:  First chop the herbs as you would if you were going to cook with them.  This will make them much easier to cook with in the future.  After you have done that, spread the on a cookie sheet and then put them into the freezer.  This will prevent clumping.   Once frozen, transfer the herbs to a bag or other storage container.  Please keep in mind that the herbs’ color may change (they will still have great flavor).

Oil Freeze:  I love this way of preserving fresh herbs!  Rinse and dry your fresh herbs as with the dry freeze method.  Once dry, place chopped herbs in an ice cube tray.  Top each space with olive oil and freeze.  Once frozen, remove from the ice cube tray and store in a labelled freezer bag in the freezer!  When you’re ready to use the herbs, no need to defrost!  Just drop the frozen cube right into your pan or recipe!

Fresh herbs in mason jars and dried herbs in small plates for learning how to dry fresh herbs

Drying Herbs

Drying herbs is an easy way to ensure you have yummy flavors for a long time to come!  Not only is it easy but it’s a great way to preserve large amounts of herbs.  Rinse and dry your fresh herbs as with the dry freeze method.

Shake of any moisture and bundle your herbs in small bundles and hang upside down in a dark place to dry OR if you are drying only a small amount, for example a little bit of leftover parsley, chop the herbs off of the stems and place in a thing single layer on paper towels. Allow to air dry on the counter for a couple of days, mixing or stirring occasionally to ensure it all dries out.

Once completely dried, store in a small tightly sealed container.  There are tutorials for drying herbs in the microwave or oven but I find I get the best and most natural flavor from air drying.

Easy Pull-Apart Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread is so easy to make, simply toss, bake, and enjoy! A combination of tender biscuit dough, cinnamon sugar and pecans are smothered in a quick buttery sauce and baked until golden and sticky!

This sweet treat makes a great special weekend breakfast or an evening treat while watching movies with the fam! Serve alongside a Fresh Fruit Salad or with a bowl full of berries.

A plate of sticky monkey bread ready to serve with fresh berries.

A Sweet Breakfast Treat

Monkey bread is easy to make and everyone loves it!

What is Monkey Bread? Monkey bread is sometimes called Cinnamon Roll Bites, or even Pull Apart Bread because biscuits are rolled in cinnamon sugar, tossed with nuts (optional) and then piled into a bundt pan. The  mixture is topped with a brown sugar butter sauce that caramelizes while it bakes.

Once baked, the Monkey Bread is flipped over onto a plate for an easy to pull apart sticky bun treat!

Ingredients to make monkey bread including pecans, biscuits and cinnamon sugar.

How To Make Monkey Bread

Cinnamon Monkey Bread is easy to put together and even easier to pull apart!

  1. Sauce: Combining butter and brown sugar, this will be the sticky sauce.
  2. Biscuits: Cut each biscuit into quarters and toss in cinnamon sugar.
  3. Layer: Layer sugared biscuits and pecans (optional) in a greased pan. Top with butter sauce.
  4. Bake and enjoy! 

Let this sticky sweet concoction cool for a few minutes and then carefully invert onto a plate. Serve warm to pull apart or serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!

To Make Monkey Bread Ahead:

  • Prepare the sugar butter mixture and leave at room temperature.
  • Toss the biscuits with sugar and layer in the pan as directed. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Melt the butter mixture in the microwave for a few seconds if needed. Pour over the monkey bread and bake as directed.

A plate of sticky pecan monkey bread topped with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries

Monkey Bread Variations

  • Nuts: Swap out pecans for walnuts or your own favorites. Leave the nuts out if you’d prefer.
  • Fill: Fill the biscuits with Nutella to create an easy Nutella Stuffed version
  • Fruit: Add chopped apples, pears, blueberries or other fruits into the mix before baking.
  • Biscuits: I use canned biscuits but if you’d like a homemade monkey bread, use Easy Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits.
  • Cinnamon Rolls: Swap out the biscuits for canned cinnamon rolls (and drizzle the frosting on top after baking).

More Breakfast Treats

Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread is super fun to make! Just toss, pull-apart, bake, and enjoy! 

  • 2 rolls biscuit dough (16.3 oz each)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter (melted)
  1. Combine butter and brown sugar. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Toss biscuits with cinnamon mixture.
  4. Layer sugared biscuits and pecans in a greased bundt pan. Top with brown sugar topping.
  5. Bake 35 minutes or until golden. Invert onto a plate and serve warm with whipped cream.

REPIN this Easy Breakfast Recipe

Monkey Bread served on a white plate

Monkey bread with biscuits?! Yes please! This recipe is so easy to make and uses canned biscuit dough to keep your prep time a minimum! I love topping this dessert with toasted pecans and fresh berries to take it to the next level for my guests! #spendwithpennies #monkeybread #pullapartcinnamonrolls #dessert #kidfriendly
Monkey bread with biscuits?! Yes please! This recipe is so easy to make and uses canned biscuit dough to keep your prep time a minimum! I love topping this dessert with toasted pecans and fresh berries to take it to the next level for my guests! #spendwithpennies #monkeybread #pullapartcinnamonrolls #dessert #kidfriendly

Thousand Island Dressing

The best thousand island dressing has a few basic ingredients like mayonnaise, ketchup, and sweet pickle relish. Not only does it make for a great dressing on tossed salad, but also an amazing condiment for burgers and even a dip for French fries!

Just like Blue Cheese Dressing, it is fairly basic but packs a powerful flavor that goes great on nearly any kind of salad, burger or sandwich!

Why buy store bought when you can make your own? You probably already have all the thousand island dressing ingredients in your refrigerator or pantry, so let’s get started!

A jar full of thousand island dressing with fresh veggies behind it.

I love a good creamy dressing not only for salads but for dipping veggies too! Thousand Island has always topped my list… but exactly What is Thousand Island Dressing? It can be made with a variety of different ingredients to punch up the flavors! The base always starts with mayonnaise (I add sour cream & vinegar for tang). Ketchup (or tomato paste) adds zest and color. For sweetness a spoonful of sugar and some sweet pickle relish! So good!

Of course you can add in some of your other favorite flavors too:

  • Lemon juice
  • Chili paste
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Diced black olives

What is the Difference Between Russian Dressing and Thousand Island Dressing?

While both dressings have distinctive flavor profiles, thousand island dressing is far more versatile because it can be used for more than a salad dressing. Russian dressing is more tomato based and has a thinner, smooth consistency. It is also a little bit spicier because it calls for horseradish and paprika. Russian dressing is great on tossed salads (and perfect on my Dorito Taco Salad), but not as popular as the sweeter thousand island dressing for burgers or Reuben sandwiches.

 

A white bowl with thousand island dressing ingredients like mayonnaise, ketchup, and relish.

How to Make Thousand Island Dressing

In a bowl, gently combine all the ingredients until smooth and fully incorporated. Homemade thousand island dressing will keep up to ten days in a container with a tightly fitted lid or a jar (I keep it in a mason jar).

Shake or stir before using as a salad dressing or a condiment for burgers, sandwiches, or fries! Easy to make and yummy to use!

A white mixing bowl with thousand island dressing being stirred with a wooden spoon.

More Delicious Homemade Dressings

Thousand Island Dressing

The best thousand island dressing has a few basic ingredients like mayonnaise, ketchup, and sweet pickle relish. 

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt & pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

  2. Whisk until smooth.

  3. Refrigerate up to 10 days.

Nutrition information is based on 1 tablespoon of dressing. 

REPIN this Easy Recipe

Dressing in a clear cup with a dark wooden spoon stirring it

We love making this homemade thousand island dressing recipe for reubens and salads! It's an easy classic dressing recipe that couldn't be more flavorful! #spendwithpennies #thousandislanddressing #dressing #homemadedressing #thousandisland
We love making this homemade thousand island dressing recipe for reubens and salads! It's an easy classic dressing recipe that couldn't be more flavorful! #spendwithpennies #thousandislanddressing #dressing #homemadedressing #thousandisland

Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Nothing is more comforting than a hot, melty grilled cheese sandwich. Grilled cheese and tomato soup are a combo made in heaven. It’s the perfect easy lunch recipe and great for even the pickiest of eaters.

The best grilled cheese always starts with a sturdy bread, lots of cheese and a smear of … butter mayonnaise on the outside!

Grilled cheese sandwich halves stacked on top of one another

The Best Grilled Cheese

Friends, there are NO wrong answers for making this lunchtime classic. As long as you’ve got bread and a generous amount of cheese, you’ve got the basis for the best grilled cheese sandwich.

Best Bread for Grilled Cheese:

This is what making grilled cheese is all about!

  • Use whatever bread you love, but make sure it is sturdy enough to hold the cheese in.
  • White bread and sourdough are the most popular, but even a thickly sliced boule will make a perfect grilled cheese!
  • Dark rye and pumpernickel pair well with lighter cheeses like Gouda or Havarti (add a slice of pear or apple between the slices for a sweet crunch!)

What is the Best Cheese for Grilled Cheese?

Grilled cheese sandwiches are not the place for cheese judgement. Anything goes!

  • A classic grilled cheese is made with American cheese and white bread (but I love sneaking in sharp cheddar too)!
  • Real cheddar, a bit of provolone, creamy processed cheese, leftover brie from last night’s party. Any and all varieties work!
  • Pick your favorite or all of them! Smooth, creamy and oh so dreamy!

ingredients for a classic grilled cheese sandwich on a cutting board

How to Make Grilled Cheese

Most of us know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, but do you know how to make an amazing grilled cheese? Here are my tips to make the best grilled cheese:

  1. Low Heat: Low heat allows the bread to get a golden crust while the cheese has a chance to melt.
  2. Open faced: If you’re filling it really full with cheese and other goodies, start by cooking it without a top slice of bread and covered for a couple of minutes. It won’t get soggy but the little bit of steam helps melt the cheese. Once the cheese starts to melt, add the top slice of bread.
  3. Get Cheesy: It really doesn’t matter what cheese you use as long as its one you love and don’t skimp on it! I cover every corner of the bread, nobody wants a grilled cheese without loads of cheese.

The BEST Tip for a Perfect Grilled Cheese

My friends, this is a must. I make grilled cheese without butter! Swap out the butter on the outside of the sandwich for mayonnaise. Cook mayonnaise side down in the pan.

Your grilled cheese will come out perfectly golden with a crust that doesn’t get soggy and is not greasy!

If the pan is too hot, the cheese won’t melt before the outside is cooked. If you notice the cheese taking awhile, cover it with a lid. The steam will help melt the cheese so it cooks evenly!

stacked grilled cheese sandwiches with a sandwich pick in the middle

What Can I Add to My Grill Cheese?

Honestly, what can’t you add?  Caramelized onions, sliced apples. or pears, bacon, and even a smear of crunchy peanut butter can take your grilled cheese sandwich to a whole new level!

Add pepperoni for a pizza grilled cheese and of course my all time favorite Dill Pickle Bacon Grilled Cheese!

More Cheesy Recipes

Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Nothing is more comforting than a hot, melty grilled cheese sandwich. Serve this lunch time favorite with a bowl of tomato soup for dipping!

  • 4 slices white bread (or sour dough)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 oz cheddar cheese (or American cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar (optional)
  1. Preheat a small skillet over low heat.
  2. Spread mayonnaise over one side of each piece of bread and place mayonnaise side down in the skillet.

  3. Top with cheddar cheese slices, black pepper to taste and remaining slice of bread, mayonnaise side out.
  4. Grill until golden, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and grill the other side until golden.

REPIN this Easy Recipe

Grilled cheese sandwiches piled on top of one another

Nothing is more comforting than a hot, melty grilled cheese sandwich. Serve it with a bowl of your favorite soup for a fast and easy lunch any day of the week! #spendwithpennies #grilledcheese #grilledcheesesandwich #perfectgrilledcheese #makinggrilledcheese #easylunch #soupandsandwich #bestgrilledcheese #easyrecipe
Nothing is more comforting than a hot, melty grilled cheese sandwich. Serve it with a bowl of your favorite soup for a fast and easy lunch any day of the week! #spendwithpennies #grilledcheese #grilledcheesesandwich #perfectgrilledcheese #makinggrilledcheese #easylunch #soupandsandwich #bestgrilledcheese #easyrecipe

Zucchini Pancakes – Deliciously Different!

Zucchini Pancakes are the perfect way to enjoy the perfect vegetable, zucchini! Shredded zucchini is tossed with parmesan cheese, flour, and spices then fried into perfectly delicious bites.

Serve the these veggie pancakes with a dollop of sour cream or marinara sauce for the perfect healthy appetizer or side dish!

Moist zucchini pancakes topped with salsa and fresh parsley.

Zucchini Pancakes or Fritters

I love making all types of fritters and pancakes  from Salmon cakes to mashed potato cakes. These zucchini fritters have officially joined the team.

I usually think of fritters as a crisp deep fried item, almost like hush puppies. Zucchini has a lot of moisture giving these zucchini pancakes are a texture that is a cross between a pancake and a fritter; golden and crisp on the outside and soft and tender in the middle.

Zucchini is over 90% water so in these pancakes, I pre-cook the zucchini to remove the moisture and squeeze out any remaining moisture.  Many people salt the zucchini but I prefer the method of cooking the zucchini first (along with the white onion).

Delicious zucchini fritters covered in parsley.

How To Shred Zucchini

When you make zucchini pancakes, shredding the zucchini helps to keep it thin enough to shape them. I use the large side of a standard box cheese grater to shred zucchini.

You don’t need to worry about peeling zucchini before you shred it as the peel softens a ton when it is cooked. You will hardly notice it in your dish.

A stack of delicious zucchini pancakes topped with parsley.

How To Make Zucchini Pancakes

When we make zucchini pancakes, cook the shredded zucchini first to eliminate some of the water. This keeps the pancakes from becoming soggy and helps to hold them together while they cook.

Mix your ingredients and drop about 1 ½ tablespoons into the hot pan. Cook ‘em for about 5 minutes on each side or until you see a beautiful crispy and caramelized exterior!

Serve zucchini pancakes with an array of dipping sauces like pico de gallo, sour cream, hot sauce… there’s no wrong answer here!

More Zucchini Faves

Zucchini Pancakes

These zucchini pancakes are the perfect way to enjoy this colorful vegetable! Shredded zucchini is tossed with parmesan cheese, flour, and spices then fried into perfect zucchini pancakes. 

  • 2 large zucchini (or 3 small)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (shredded)
  1. Cook shredded zucchini in a non-stick pan until tender, about 5 minutes.  Cool and using cheesecloth or a tea towel, squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

  2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, seasonings, cheeses and bread crumbs. Add zucchini and egg.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over medium high. Drop zucchini mixture by large tablespoons into hot oil. Spread to 3″ circles.

  4. Fry about 3-4 minutes on each side flipping as needed.

  5. Serve warm with sour cream or tomato sauce.

REPIN this Delicious Recipe

Zucchini pancakes piled up on each other and topped with tomato sauce

 

These zucchini pancakes are one of my favorite snacks without all of the guilt! #spendwithpennies #zucchini #keto #snacks #zucchinipancakes #appetizer #easyappetizer #easyrecipe #easysnack
These zucchini pancakes are one of my favorite snacks without all of the guilt! #spendwithpennies #zucchini #keto #snacks #zucchinipancakes #appetizer #easyappetizer #easyrecipe #easysnack

Penne Alla Vodka (30 Minute Meal)

Penne Alla Vodka is thick and hearty pasta dish with a delicious creamy vodka tomato sauce. Penne is the perfect pasta choice as the noodles really hold the sauce giving it just the right amount of savory flavor!

Top this 30 minute meal with fresh parmesan cheese and serve with a big hunk of Homemade Garlic Bread and an Easy Italian Salad for the perfect meal!

Penne alla Vodka garnished with parmesan and parsley in a large pot

Easy Creamy Tomato Sauce

Don’t be put off by the fancy sounding name, this easy pasta Alla Vodka recipe is always on the menu at your favorite Italian recipe…and for good reason!

What is Penne Alla Vodka? Hailing from both Italy AND America, a good Penne Alla Vodka recipe is one of the most iconic recipes of the 80s however, the exact origin of this popular dish is kind of mysterious. Penne is tossed into a creamy Vodka sauce with garlic, pancetta, whole tomatoes and heavy cream and parmesan cheese! A sprinkle of Italian parsley is a beautiful and tasty garnish!

Penne alla vodka served and garnished with parmesan cheese.

How to Make Penne Alla Vodka

Like most pasta recipes, this is an easy and quick dish! The sauce is ready almost as quickly as the pasta boils!

It all starts with a bit of garlic and pancetta. Crisp up the pancetta to render some of the fat and flavor. Put on a pot of salted boiling water for the pasta while you make the sauce.

Pancetta is the only item in this recipe that is unusual but it’s worth looking for at the grocery store. If you can’t find it you can use bacon or prosciutto in its place (although it changes the flavor of this dish).

Ingredients for penne alla vodka in a sauce pan including whole tomatoes and pancetta

To Make Penne Alla Vodka Sauce

This Penne Alla Vodka sauce recipe is so easy, it practically cooks itself! As the name indicates, yes, there is vodka in this sauce! It adds wonderful flavor but does cook down so the dish doesn’t taste boozy (and don’t worry the alcohol cooks off so you won’t get drunk from it)! Add Vodka into the pan with the garlic and pancetta and let it simmer.

Stir in the chili flakes and canned whole Italian tomatoes (San Marzano are best). Be sure to use quality whole Italian tomatoes for best flavor and consistency. Simmer for a little bit to thicken, stir in heavy cream and simmer to thicken a little bit more!

Add in the pasta and a handful of parmesan cheese. Season to taste and garnish with parsley and more parmesan cheese.

Voila. Easy right?

A photograph of penne alla vodka creamy tomato sauce in a bowl with parsley and parmesan cheese.

Customize This Creamy Pasta

  • Add in Italian sausage, Meatballs or even top with Oven Baked Chicken Breasts for a delicious penne alla vodka with chicken
  • Baked Penne Alla Vodka is another cheesy favorite! Prepare as directed, top with a bit of mozzarella/parmesan and bake at 400°F about 15 minutes.
  • Swap out the penne for your favorite pasta shape. Shapes with holes or ridges are best (like ziti, rotini or rigatoni) as they grab the sauce.

More Italian Favorites

Penne alla Vodka

This easy pasta has a creamy vodka tomato sauce tossed with penne and lots of fresh parmesan cheese!

  • 1 pound penne (cooked al dente)
  • 4 oz pancetta chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 28 oz whole Italian tomatoes (with juices)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 3 tablespoons parsley
  1. Cook garlic in butter over medium low heat until fragrant. Add pancetta and cook 2 more minutes.
  2. Add vodka and cook 2 minutes. Stir in chili flakes and tomatoes slightly breaking up with a spoon. Simmer 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add cream and cook 5 minutes. Add penne to the sauce and cook 1 minute to combine flavors. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
  5. Place in bowls and top with parsley and remaining parmesan cheese.