What Alton Brown Really Eats

When Alton Brown's show Good Eats premiered on Food Network in 1999, little did he know that it was the beginning of a career in food television that would span decades. After 14 seasons of Good Eats Brown retired the series, though it's slated to make a comeback in 2018 with his reboot, aptly titled Return of the Eats. But this wasn't his only venture — he's also appeared as a play-by-play announcer on Iron Chef America, host of The Next Iron Chef, host of Feasting on Asphalt, and, as of 2018, is host of the wickedly funny cooking competition show Cutthroat Kitchen

Needless to say, Brown has made a life out of cooking. But what are the foods he really eats? It turns out he enjoys a little bit of everything, from quinoa to classic cocktails. Read on to learn what everyone's favorite television food science hobbyist is snacking on when the hunger pangs hit. 

He enjoys the weirdest ice cream flavor

You would think that when a chef cooks at home they would make foods more gourmet than what the rest of us might create, but Alton Brown admittedly gets a little wacky when left to his own devices. Case in point? His favorite ice cream recipe. Brown eschews the vanilla beans, browned butter, and exotically-sourced chocolate for some more interesting flavors. According to one interview, his favorite ice cream is a recipe he created with his daughter, involving gin, Welch's grape juice, gummy bears, and prunes. 

The key to making the combo work is twofold. First, you need the gin to add a floral, herbal element and to keep things from tasting too sweet. Don't add too much though, or your ice cream won't freeze to the right consistency. Second? Nix the green gummy bears. According to Brown they "threw everything off in a really bad way and I don't know why." Save those for snacking on a day when you aren't craving ice cream. 

He (begrudgingly) eats quinoa

Brown makes his living cooking, which also means he spends a fair amount of time eating. But he realized that all of that eating, especially when he was featuring less healthy foods on his show, was catching up to him. That's why he started incorporating nutritious foods like quinoa into his diet. Ever the chef, he emphasizes that he doesn't eat quinoa just because it's good for you — he makes sure it actually tastes good, too. These days you can even find tasty quinoa recipes in his cookbooks.

Though he has started adding more of these whole foods into his diet, he likes to make sure that there's balance. "There is some stuff that I would call healthy, and then there's some stuff that I would say if you eat every day you're going to have a heart attack before you turn 40," he explained. He makes sure that he's balancing the more fun foods in his diet with days full of quinoa, and that way, he gets to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Sardine and avocado sandwiches helped him lose weight

Another one of Brown's weight loss meals might sound a little strange to the seafood averse, but it's loaded with heart-healthy fats and plenty of protein. Oily fish and avocados are items that Brown tried to eat three times a week on his diet, so he came up with a sandwich that would kill two birds with one stone. Yep, we're talking sardines and avocado

Now, not everyone will get excited by Brown's invention, but if you're interested, it goes like this. First, find some canned sardines made from brislings (one of the many types of fish labeled as sardines) from Norway or Scotland. Apparently, brislings are a little sweeter and less funky than other types of sardine. Add a piquant dressing of sherry vinegar, parsley, and lemon zest. Toast some sourdough bread, mash on an avocado, and top with the sardine mixture, and you've got a meal that Brown proudly calls worthy of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

He's a bit obsessive about his favorite donut shop

Brown has gone on the record calling Memphis, Tennessee, his favorite food town in the country. And though he waxes poetic about the fried chicken and burgers you can find in the city, they're not what brings him back time and again. His favorite food in all of Memphis is Gibson's donuts, which he says makes the best donuts not just in the city but in the country — and maybe the world. 

Gibson's opened in 1967, and to this day all of their donuts are made by hand daily. You can order up a classic plain glazed donut, but it would be a shame to miss out on some of their more fanciful options, like pina colada cake donuts. They're open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for on Christmas when they finally take a day to relax. The next time you're in Memphis, you should definitely see why Brown calls this his favorite donut shop of all time.

He prefers classic cocktails

Brown is a straightforward kind of guy, so it should come as no surprise that when he's ready to sit back and relax at the end of a long day he's reaching for something simple and classic, not a blended fruit drink or some modernist cocktail creation. 

Brown has two cocktails he opts for time and again. If he's trying out someplace new and wants to gauge the talent of their bartender, he'll order an Old Fashioned. Even though it's a simple drink (sugar, bourbon or rye whiskey, bitters), it takes precise technique to make one that tastes just right. 

He's also professed his love for the Boulevardier, which he describes as a Negroni made with bourbon instead of gin. Occasionally, he'll put a twist on the Boulevardier to make his signature drink, Brown's Bitter Truth, which adds vermouth and whatever bitters he's currently into to the classic cocktail. 

Last but not least, when asked what drink he'd order upon arriving in heaven, Brown says he'd order a classic martini. "I would go for a martini first, because how they're going to make that martini would tell me how my time in Heaven is going to go."

His favorite food to eat is fried chicken

Brown has eaten all over the world, but when it comes to his favorite food, he'd choose fried chicken every time. He says you can get some of the best fried chicken in the country in Memphis, Tennessee, but Brown is no slouch at making his own. In fact, he dedicated an entire episode of Good Eats to mastering the perfect fried chicken at home. 

How can you make fried chicken like Brown? According to his recipe, first start with a whole chicken that you butcher yourself. That way, you can choose from a variety of white and dark meat when it comes time to eat. Marinate the chicken in buttermilk overnight, then season the meat with some simple spices like garlic, cayenne pepper, and paprika, dredge in flour, and fry. The result should be a crisp, crackling crust outside and juicy, tender meat within, and if you master the recipe, who knows — maybe Brown will take you up on a dinner invitation. 

He loves biscuits, of course

Brown was born in Los Angeles, perhaps a sign of his fame to come, but he was raised in rural Georgia from the age of 7 and studied there after high school. Like any Southerner, he has a well-documented love for biscuits. He's shared photos of fluffy skillet biscuits on his Instagram, and on his Good Eats episode "The Dough Also Rises" he even had his Grandmother share her top biscuit tips with the audience.

Brown claims that mimicking his Grandmother's arthritic hand movements turned out to make a difference in his biscuits — the bend of her fingers worked the dough less, leading to lighter, fluffier biscuits (mixing the dough with a light touch helps avoid the development of gluten, which is what can make baked goods tough). His other top tip is to use a Southern flour (like White Lily) that's purposely made with lower-protein wheat than regular all-purpose flour (though in a pinch, you can use a blend of all-purpose flour and cake flour). This will give you the fluffy biscuits you've been dreaming of.

His favorite thing to cook is eggs

While Brown might love to eat fried chicken, it's not his favorite thing to cook (though it's closely related!). His favorite thing to whip up in the kitchen is eggs. "Perfect omelets still give me amazing joy," Brown told Spoon University in an interview. 

Many chefs claim that how you cook eggs can say a lot about your skills as a chef — as with making a simple Old Fashioned, crafting a perfect omelet takes few ingredients but lots of precise technique. Brown has a few tips and tricks up his sleeve to churn out perfect omelets every time. For one, you should use a fork instead of a whisk on your eggs, because incorporating too much air can make your omelet take too long to cook. Next, soak your un-cracked eggs in hot water before cooking to bring them up in temperature, which will help them cook faster. As for seasoning? When cooked perfectly, all an omelet needs is a sprinkle of salt to be satisfying. 

Purple smoothies are a daily occurrence

A few years ago, Alton Brown made a splash by losing 50 pounds in a fairly short amount of time. Rather than play coy about his weight loss, Brown actually dedicated a whole episode of Good Eats to his dietary changes, sharing some of his favorite recipes. The premise of his diet was making sure he ate the rainbow, so to speak. "I tried to craft a system for things that I needed to eat instead of things that I shouldn't eat," he explained, saying that aiming to add certain colored foods to his diet was a better strategy than cutting out whole food groups or focusing on restrictive eating. 

One of his go-to meals? A purple smoothie, made from acai juice, soy milk, frozen bananas, strawberries, peaches, and blueberries. Even though he's eased up on the diet now that he's reached a level of health he's comfortable with, Brown still drinks a purple smoothie every day.

He loves hummus

So far we've heard that Brown eats some pretty funky stuff (avocado sardine sandwiches? Gin, grape, prune, and gummy bear ice cream?), but at the end of the day, much of his diet is fairly simple. One of his favorite food items that he always keeps on hand is hummus. Stars, they really are just like us! 

Alton Brown loves hummus because, he says, you can eat it with anything, and he's not wrong. Especially if you're trying to eat more nutritious foods, replacing your usual dips with hummus is a simple swap that can make a big difference. Brown has two variations on the recipe. One is a super-fast but still delicious version using canned chickpeas, while the other has you cook the chickpeas from scratch, which is labor-intensive but churns out a superior spread. Either way, make a big batch of the stuff to keep in your fridge and you'll be eating like Brown all week long.