Best Moments From Alton Brown's Good Eats, Ranked

Cooking show fans are undoubtedly familiar with the friendly, bespectacled face of Alton Brown. In a sector of media that is so often filled with pretentiousness, perfectionism, and cooking techniques or recipes that are unobtainable for the average home cook, Brown's show, "Good Eats," brought humor and casual learning to the culinary television space. It was a breath of fresh air for those of us who want to gain new knowledge in the kitchen, but also know that we will make mistakes and laugh at ourselves along the way.

There are tons of episodes to choose from when picking our favorite moments out of "Good Eats," given that the show filmed for 13 years from 1999 to 2012 — and that's not even including the two-year revival of the series that ran from 2019 to 2021. We are still putting Brown's recipes to use a decade after the show's finale, and we like to think that we employ his same no-pressure, laugh-it-off approach to exploring new things in the kitchen. 

On "Good Eats," Brown often shed light on the science behind cooking, too. In short, the show is full of excellent cooking tips, cheeky Brown quotes, and outrageously goofy storytelling enhancements, such as puppets and a fictitious evil twin. Here are the moments from "Good Eats" that have stuck with us through the years — whether for their valuable cooking wisdom, scientific enlightenment of what happens in the kitchen, or for the laughs they've invoked. 

13. Mission: Poachable (Season 3, Episode 11)

"Mission: Poachable" is an unmissable episode of "Good Eats" where viewers learn all about the science behind poaching, with a focus on eggs and fish. And while the knowledge certainly is valuable, this episode sticks out to us for the silly storyline of an evil French chef, an antagonist who seeks to contaminate the local water supply with court bouillon (a type of French broth used for poaching). 

In the episode's final moments, where the pictured French chef is seen lounging in the sun, Brown defeats his nemesis with a dramatic denouement worthy of the big screen alongside the likes of Ethan Hunt and James Bond. As corny spy movie music plays in the background, Brown taunts the chef with a piece of raw liver, which Brown states would turn the Frenchman's court bouillon supply "as bitter as Waterloo." 

Faced with this snag, the episode's bad guy must make a split-second decision between saving his poaching fish before it turns dry and saving the bouillon meant for his nefarious plan. Ultimately, Brown chucks the liver offscreen, and the last we see of our narrator's enemy is him diving away, followed by a splash of bouillon that drenches Brown and indicates the enemy's dive into his vat of poaching sauce. It may be a bit cheesy for some viewers, but dedicated fans will still enjoy the moment.

12. Crust Never Sleeps (Season 2, Episode 4)

We enjoyed the crust episode of "Good Eats" Season 2 from start to finish, but one moment that stands out to us happens in just the first few minutes of the episode. But, first, some background: "Crust Never Sleeps" is all about the frustrating enigma of pie crust. Our friend Mr. Brown struggles with the contradictory use of tender and flaky pie terminology. "Ask any American to describe the perfect crust, and you're going to get the same cockamamie answer," says Brown in the episode. "Tender and flaky. How the oxymoron torments me." 

He goes on to explain that flaky more accurately describes something like a puff pastry — which is crisp and structural — while biscuits, soft and pliant, better represent a tender dough. "Put 'em together you've got a biscuit that goes snap!" Brown exclaims in frustration over these contradictory wants.

But it's not Brown's existential crisis over a couple of bakery adjectives that make the moment stand out. It's not even the immediate use of the pie/pi joke that happens at this moment, too. It's the goofy puppets that pop up in the background, each with an F or T on their shirts for tender or flaky, to briefly pummel Brown's head as he ruminates. Both puppets are a goofy sight: Flaky seems to be the biker alter-ego of Santa Claus, and Tender his pink-haired counterpart. The mischievous duo are Brown's antagonists for the episode and a prime example of the show's lighthearted humor.

11. Food Under the Influence (Season 13, Episode 9)

"Food Under the Influence" is a 2009 episode from Season 13 that was later renamed "Fermentation Nation." Despite the possible confusion, this episode has several valuable nuggets in it that are worth mentioning, including a ton of cheeky humor. It follows Brown through an investigation of whether wine and beer actually improve the taste of food when used in cooking. Or could it be that, instead of tenderizing the meat, booze in the kitchen really "tenderizes the cook," as Brown jokes?

We also see the return of some of the most beloved "Good Eats" staff members ... the puppets, that is. In one scene, two puppets erupt out of buckets where grapes are fermenting into wine to provide some very helpful fermenting noises — which sound more like human-based burps and flatulence. We then see the puppets fall to their dramatic deaths as the alcohol created during the fermentation process ultimately kills them. The puppets' antics make focusing on what Brown is saying difficult, but once you get past the mischief, the show's host displays a ton of knowledge about the science of alcohol and fermentation that can prove to be very useful in the kitchen.

10. In the Bulb of the Night (Season 4, Episode 11)

Don't watch "In the Bulb of the Night" with the lights out! This episode brings us one of our favorite intro scenes in the whole series. We knew this fourth season "Good Eats" episode was going to be good when it opened with spooky music, a vintage horror movie font, and a pale hand seen reaching for an old-timey door knocker. Who answers that door? It's our friend Alton, who welcomes his friend "Vladimir" inside. If you're looking for subtlety, this isn't it, as it's easy to catch on to the skit right away. With a garlic-themed episode, bone-chilling organ music, and a faceless man named Vladimir who lingers on Brown's stoop until our narrator invites him inside, you may get worried about our host's health.

As it turns out, Vlad is visiting Brown to get help treating his phobia of garlic. The visitor has had some trouble in his dating life as a result. "Modern women all want chefs," he tells Brown. "I try to cook, but today's recipes call for heaping piles of that cursed Italian weed." The host seems oblivious to Vlad's nature, despite complimenting his cape and agreeing to meet at the local grocery store only at night. Does Alton ever catch on to this strange houseguest? You'll have to tune in to the episode to find out. 

9. Sub Standards (Season 11, Episode 4)

"Good Eats" is unique from other cooking shows in that it doesn't just flaunt outlandishly complex recipes (in fact, some recipes on the show are fairly simple). It also provides us with real-life knowledge that we can take to our kitchens for better results. This Season 11 episode, "Sub Standards," teaches us how to substitute ingredients in both scientific and culinarily sound ways. To achieve those ends, Brown brings on several guest chefs — who, in another series of gags, are just substitutes for himself — to help narrate this episode. But because it wouldn't be a "Good Eats" installment without plenty of pranks and just a dash of sabotage, Brown is recruiting fellow chefs not only for their knowledge but also for some fun.

This moment in "Good Eats" is another display of the on-screen personality that we have enjoyed so much throughout the show. The guests being good sports and even playing along with the jokes made it all the more amusing. On a somewhat more serious note, "Sub Standards" is an excellent one to watch if you are looking for guidance on how to switch out ingredients due to real concerns like food allergies, missing supplies, or just satisfying a culinary itch to get creative. 

8. Romancing the Bird (Season 1, Episode 14)

Alton Brown is not a fan of stuffing, going so far as to deem the popular Thanksgiving side dish a moral wrong, as he wrote in "Good Eats: The Early Years" (via Serious Eats). We know what you're thinking: Okay, wise guy, if cooking stuffing in the turkey cavity is evil, then how on earth do you make the perfect Thanksgiving turkey?

In Season 1's "Romancing the Bird," Brown is found to be combating a dark family tradition of producing dry Thanksgiving turkey. The host has an ironically sepia-toned flashback to the 1970s when he was given a prophecy by a mysterious bandana-clad stranger who, for reasons that were not important to the storyline, was in Brown's childhood home for Thanksgiving dinner. 

"The turkey is strong with you. The turkey is your destiny," the man tells young Brown. The bizarre flashback scene is our favorite, but it's only one reason why this episode stood out. Having been guilty of kitchen crimes committed against Thanksgiving meat ourselves in the past, we still implement Brown's advice for avoiding a criminally dry holiday turkey, as dispensed in "Romancing the Bird."

7. Dip Madness (Season 6, Episdoe 8)

"Dip Madness" is a Season 6 favorite, in which Brown has lost his marbles over the trials and tribulations of making dips, ranging from classic onion dip to guacamole to the questionable-sounding chicken liver mousse. In this episode, Alton is in pursuit of the "unified dip theory," and eventually becomes a resident of the "Beard Home for the Culinarily Confused." 

Brown is visited by "chef Paul," to whom Brown confides that he is close to finalizing his theory and returning to the kitchen. The entire episode is full of amusing jokes and great rules of thumb for dips. These include Brown's three-foot rule, which says that for something to qualify as a dip, it should be able to stay on its chip without dripping while you walk across three feet of white carpet.

The most memorable scene comes in the very final moments of the episode when Brown slyly switches his robe for Paul's coat and sneaks out of the institution. This means that poor chef Paul is left in his place. Paul insists to an orderly that he isn't meant to be there and that he should be allowed to leave. Paul turns to another resident of the Beard Home, who had asked Paul for an autograph earlier in the episode. "Oh!" exclaims the guest, "That's Julia Child!" The episode goes dark with Paul screaming in frustration as Alton walks free.

6. Three Chips for Sister Marsha (Season 3, Episode 6)

Are you mired in a long, fruitless pursuit of the absolute best recipe for chocolate chip cookies? Let Alton Brown be your guide. In "Good Eats" Season 3's "Three Chips for Sister Marsha," Brown is doing some baking for his naggy sister, Marsha.

Through the course of the episode, Brown shows us three different methods of baking chocolate chip cookies. Does it come as a surprise that Alton uses the Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe that's right on the back of the chocolate chip bag (granted, with a few modifications)? Of all the moments, this may be the best: the thin and crispy chocolate chip cookie recipe he gives us here is still our go-to for family gatherings, potlucks, and satiating our sweet tooth. Meanwhile, Brown's tip to sift both the salt and baking soda has changed our cookie-baking game forever.

An honorable mention from this episode is the appearance of Major Wilfred D. Cookie, a puppet that Alton hints is the Cookie Monster's brother. "I told you never to mention that ruffian!" shouts the puppet when the connection is floated. "All he knows about cookies is how to shovel them into his face."

5. Down and Out in Paradise (Season 6, Episode 4)

If you were familiar with the movie "Castaway" before watching this "Good Eats" episode, it probably didn't take you long to realize that the 2000 Tom Hanks film inspired "Down and Out in Paradise." Instead of a volleyball named Wilson, though, Alton Brown's inanimate companion is a grinning yellow pool float that amorphously resembles a moose or a horse. Overall, this episode is chock-full of great food and funny quips, so picking one moment that stands out was a challenge.

However, we were able to narrow it down to the scene where Alton is struggling to open a coconut. This gag gets a laugh out of us every time. He chucks the coconut at rocks, runs at it with a spear, and tries out his brute strength — all to no avail. The cartoon-like display of buffoonery was a spectacle to watch, especially when the problem was resolved by Brown conveniently finding a washed-up box of Army supplies. He finally uses a grenade to blast open the pesky coconut. We laughed, but have to wonder: would there be anything left to consume at that point?

4. The Cookie Clause (Season 7, Episode 12)

It comes as no surprise that the big man in the red suit would cameo at least once in "Good Eats." In Season 7's "The Cookie Clause," A.B. is visited by one very crabby Mr. Claus. Santa is frustrated by subpar Christmas cookies and challenges Alton to make the perfect holiday treat — or risk ending up on the naughty list. Our favorite moment from this episode has to be when Alton uses a funnel duct-taped to a sifter to add powdered sugar to his stand mixer. We have to applaud the ingenuity. 

As a bonus, an age-old baking question is answered in this episode: Why can't you add all the flour to a batter at once? Well, according to Brown, that's because the flour's job is to soak up the moisture in the cookie dough. Since there's not a lot of excess water, to begin with, the flour needs to be added slowly so moisture can be gradually absorbed. Oh, and also because adding all the flour to your mixer would create a mess of a white, floury Christmas in your kitchen. More baking knowledge courtesy of "The Cookie Clause" includes how to cover up a mistake when you mess up the icing and why you shouldn't use metal cookie cutters, so don't skip out on watching this episode. 

3. Milk Made (Season 11, Episode 1)

"Good Eats" Season 11 episode "Milk Made" walks us through everything we need to know about the white gold of the culinary world — that is, milk. There is a lot to learn from Alton in this episode, including the interesting tidbit that milk is the only edible substance on Earth that exists only to be food. According to Brown, it doesn't serve any other biological purpose, as eggs or fruit do. But the standout moment is easily when the old-timey milkman pays a visit to the Brown household.

While Alton is talking about the commercial processes that milk must go through to move from "moo to market," the doorbell rings. He answers to find an old-fashioned milkman in a white uniform and carrying glass bottles of milk, with his back turned to the door. 

The milkman spins around, revealing that he is holding a bouquet. "Oh, Mister Brown!" the milkman says in surprise before hiding the flowers, hurriedly passing off the milk, and scurrying away. The fact that the bit ends right there and then with Alton seemingly oblivious to the milkman hoping that Missus Brown had answered the door makes it even funnier.

2. Feeling Punchy (Season 13, Episode 6)

Alton Brown seeks to tell us about the underappreciated and surprisingly sophisticated nature of punch in Season 13's "Feeling Punchy." Most children probably know fruit punch as some neon-hued, syrupy-sweet drink that comes out of a juice box. Meanwhile, quite a few adults probably know it as six types of alcohol that have been poured into a trash can with half a container of Kool-Aid powder. But there is much more to the beverage than kiddie drinks or frat parties, insists Brown. In that spirit, the episode teaches us how to make real punch recipes such as a classic hot toddy and the Cape Fear punch.

The most memorable moment of this episode, though, happens right away in the introduction. Alton, dressed in a suit and at a party, speaks to the camera while guests mingle at a table behind him. In the background, a white-haired old woman takes a furtive look around, then slinks up to the spread and proceeds to pour an entire bottle of liquor into the punch bowl. She then passes a glass of the newly-spiked punch to an unsuspecting Alton with a sly smile. 

1. A Case for Butter (Season 3, Episode 8)

Alton Brown changes professions in "Good Eats" Season 3's "A Case for Butter," where he ditches the kitchen for a courtroom. Brown goes to bat in defense of America's most cherished and yet often maligned cooking fat: butter. Turns out that there is a ton to learn about cooking with butter, especially when it comes to making sauces, as Alton argues in this episode. But the standout moment comes at the beginning of the episode. In the opening moments, Brown is found in the courtroom, defending a plate of butter.

The judge calls on Alton to make his case for butter, and an amusing dialogue ensues, including the clever alliteration and fourth-wall breaking that we know and love from A.B. and "Good Eats." When the judge asks Brown if he's a lawyer, our host responds with: "No, but I'm playing one on TV." He then goes on to allege that butter has many applications, but if he must narrow it down to one, it's the fact that butter is simply "a sauce waiting to happen."