The Untold Truth Of Smitten Kitchen

Smitten Kitchen is a New York City-based cooking blog centered around the idea of "unfussy cooking" and easygoing meal inspiration. Deb Perelman, the founder of Smitten Kitchen, bases her recipes off of both her love of cooking and recipe development, and also with the foundational thought that food does not have to be made up of fancy or high-end ingredients to be delicious and comforting. The blog was officially founded in the year 2006, and Perelman still lives in New York City all these years later with her husband and children. 

So far, she's published two cookbooks and has a strong following on social media, with almost two million followers on Instagram and about 40,000 subscribers on YouTube. Whether you're a recipe-loving foodie or simply a home cook wanting to learn some more tips and tricks, you'll be blown away when you read about all of the details that follow Deb Perelman of the well-known Smitten Kitchen blog. 

The Smitten Kitchen blog was born in a tiny kitchen with a semi-working refrigerator

As referenced on the Smitten Kitchen website, Deb Perelman's blog is 14 years old and her kitchen, workspace, and makeshift office all live in her small apartment in the East Village with her husband and two kids. When the Smitten Kitchen was born, it barely had enough storage space in cabinets, had a leaky dishwasher, and the refrigerator had quite an inconsistent temperature range. Even while the space she started out cooking with wasn't a whole lot, with just a peeling cart in place of a kitchen table surface, she made the best of her situation and started developing recipes straight away. 

According to the Smitten Kitchen website, Perelman makes very good use of the positive aspects of her space, like the immense natural light and open terrace area where she's able to home-grow produce like fresh tomatoes and herbs.

Perelman notes that after starting Smitten Kitchen, before 2009, her kitchen was 80 square feet with a great skylight. Following that, from 2009 to 2014, although her space was still very tiny, she was just happy to have both a dishwasher and an elevator. From the birth of the blog, her food has stayed consistent in offering comfort and creativity. 

Deb Perelman is a full time blogger, cookbook author, grocery shopper, dishwasher, mother, editor, and home cook

In 2012, Deb Perelman published her first cookbook titled "The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook," and all of the text and photography came solely from her. Perelman shared with Bon Appétit that she didn't have a ghostwriter or even a stylist for the food photography. Perelman wore all of the hats. Before the boom of her blog and following the peak, she's stayed consistent in being the full-time writer, blogger, photographer, editor, shopper of ingredients, washer of dishes, and on top of that a full-time mother. We know, that's an impressive mouthful.

As seen written on her website, Deb Perelman truly does it all in the kitchen and in the formal parts of running her blog. She maintained many positions in her career prior to starting Smitten Kitchen, like being a store shift supervisor, a bakery cake decorator, an art therapist, and even a technology reporter. She does admit, though, that being a full-time food blogger is her favorite job yet. 

Alongside running her blog completely independently, she also partakes in some freelance writing work here and there, writing for sites like The Kitchn,, Parents Canada, Epicurious, Bon Appétit, and even People Magazine. Some of her freelance work includes pieces about her favorite blueberry muffins, a recipe for chicken and rice with leeks and salsa verde, and a caramel pretzel blondie recipe. We're hungry just reading about it. 

The original name of the blog was Smitten and she met her husband through the comment section

Smitten Kitchen wasn't always the popular food blog we know today, in fact it actually started out as a dating and lifestyle website in the year 2003. According to The New York Times, Perelman's fourth comment on her blog page comment section was from her now-husband, and it was enough to spark her interest to mee up for a drink. She had applied for some food magazine jobs and didn't hear back, and admitted that cooking was solely a hobby and she didn't have any connections in the food world, according to Bon Appétit. After no professional culinary experience and just a large passion for home cooking, Deb Perelman shifted her Smitten blog that was focused on New York City dating and lifestyle to be named Smitten Kitchen, and it carried an essence of easy-going cooking with a lot of love.

What started off as a tiny NYC kitchen is now a force to be reckoned with

According to Bon Appétit, a few years after Perelman rebranded her blog Smitten to Smitten Kitchen, she was named best food blog from Saveur magazine, and Time magazine noted her in blogs to watch, too. NPR referenced Perelman when talking about tiny kitchens, and she proved that even though she didn't have much kitchen space to work with, she had talent and relatability, and that was worth a lot. 

Referenced in The New York Times, Perelman's debut cookbook ranked at number two right under Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa" cookbook, just a few years after she started up her blog. Once she launched her blog full-time, it became a resource and place of connection for her and her colleagues, and through running the blog, Perelman has only broadened her education surrounding food (via Bon Appétit). 

Her weekly newsletter keeps readers engaged and excited about cooking

The Smitten Kitchen blog isn't just a place to reference fun-loving, simpler recipes. Perelman sends out a weekly newsletter every single Monday encouraging people to get excited about cooking. On her website, Perelman says that she sends out the newsletter at the beginning of the week because most people dread starting their "weekday grind." She focuses on featuring seasonal ingredients, some favorites from her archived recipes, viral recipes going around the internet, and weekly announcements of exciting things happening with Smitten Kitchen. She also attaches links to the last three months of her newsletters to keep her audience in the loop about important Smitten Kitchen content. Signing up for the Smitten Kitchen newsletter is completely free, and her website notes that the email addresses collected through the subscription link stay private. 

There's a strong comment section on the newsletter tab of Perelman's blog, with testimonials of how so many people love her content. "Your food blog is the only one I subscribe to. When I'm looking for something to cook or bake, I always check to see if you have a relevant recipe. I've gotten recipes from many other blogs, but with yours I actually read what you have to say ...," said Ellen L. 

Perelman carries a "meat on the side" mentality, and highlights meat recipes the least on her blog

The majority of the Smitten Kitchen recipes are vegetarian, and the meat section of the recipes page only has five tags on it. Between the pork, turkey, chicken, lamb, and beef sections, the chicken tag has by far the most recipes with 42 compared to only one lamb recipe. The other sections of recipes outlined on the page, like the fruit and vegetable sections, have many more recipe tags and also show how exciting and popular vegetarian-based recipes can be. As written in the New Yorker, Deb Perelman used to be a vegetarian, and now while she does eat meat, she uses it more as "a seasoning" rather than as a main component of a dish. 

She also doesn't think that meat needs to be in a meal for a meal to be complete. Because a lot of her recipes are vegetarian in nature and either only include a small amount of meat or no meat at all, her recipes are pretty affordable to the average person. The New Yorker also emphasizes how Perelman has a fondness for beans, grains, tofu, and eggs and tends to highlight those plant-based ingredients in her cooking. 

One of her most popular dishes is stuffed marsala meatballs. Here's why:

The Kitchn, writer Lauren Kodiak wrote a piece about how the Smitten Kitchen Chicken Marsala Meatballs were one of her favorite recipes, and she's not alone on this one. These meatballs are an easy way to make a unique spin on a classic dish like chicken marsala. Noted in an article on Kitchen Stories, Perelman talks about how this chicken marsala meatball recipe has become such a popular one to her followers, and is one of her personal favorites from the "Smitten Kitchen Every Day" cookbook as well. She explains how especially for people who really don't know how to cook, the recipe is such an easy and delicious meal to make. 

She recounts on Kitchen Stories how she didn't know how to cook a lot of things particularly well but once she started developing recipes, she wanted other people who felt the same to enjoy her recipes in a blog-style space. Perelman also touched on her favorite kitchen staples for her recipe rotation, like popcorn, dried beans, vinegars, olive oil, condiments, hot sauce, and a large array of spices. According to Eater, some of the best Smitten Kitchen recipes are her roasted chickpeas with yams and yogurt, charred cauliflower quesadillas, ratatouille's ratatouille, and the marbled banana bread.

Deb Perelman's favorite kitchen tool is her self-lock tongs

The most important tool that Deb Perelman uses in the kitchen are her self-lock tongs, and here's why: In Perelman's interview with The Guardian, she explained that her favorite kitchen tool is "tongs that self-lock, so you can use them with one hand. They're basically an extension of my hand. I use them for flipping steaks and vegetables, tossing salads, and getting things down from high shelves."

Her cupboards always have rainbow sprinkles in them, since although she might be a famous food blogger she's also a mother to young children. Her favorite trick in the kitchen is to brown her food, since the browning develops more delicious flavors in the food. Another important trick up Perelman's sleeve is that in her opinion, everything tastes better with a little bit of acid. Sometimes in the kitchen people opt for finishing their food with a little bit of salt when really, all it needs, according to Perelman, is a squeeze of brightness and acidity from a lemon or even some vinegar. Perelman jokes that even a pickle could work in this case! She's got a whole host of tricks up her sleeve that align with her unfussy, easygoing, fun cooking style (via The Guardian). 

Both of her cookbooks, feature approachable and easygoing recipes that celebrate the joys of stress-free cooking

The New York Times references Perelman and her cookbooks as the "self-taught cook" with a best-selling cookbook. Both of her cookbooks have made a big splash in the food world in the last few years, and even though she was never a trained chef, her love for food and cooking carried through in the cookbook. Her first cookbook ("The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook") ranked number two on The New York Times bestsellers list for both miscellaneous and hardcover advice, and allowed Perelman to rise up in ranking around more well-known chefs like Thomas Keller. Perelman wrote about the success of her cookbook, and discussed how leaning into her readers' comments and paying attention to her audience has helped her a lot. She told The New York Times that she often responds to reader letters on how she can improve her recipes. 

According to The New Yorker, Perelman's second book, "Smitten Kitchen Every Day," gifts readers with a longer collection of unfussy recipes than previously administered to the blog. Eater published an insider article highlighting Perelman's cookbooks thus far, noting that her first original cookbook was awarded the honor of the IACP Julia Child Award a few years ago in 2013. They also noted that out of the 115 recipes in her second cookbook, over 100 are freshly developed and new, rather than being pulled straight from the blog. 

Deb Perelman owns a library's worth of cookbooks

According to Serious Eats, in an interview with Deb Perelman she counted her cookbooks and stated that to her knowledge, she owns a whopping 144 cookbooks(though she did say she tries to scale back). To Perelman, this is too many cookbooks for a tiny apartment, but she often reorganizes and reevaluates which are most important and interesting to her — keeping them in order of the author's last name, and making sure they're all in good condition. The food blogger went on to discuss what are the key features of an enticing cookbook and what catches her eye, like the region of cuisine, or something that's very new and can offer quite a bit of cooking or recipe development inspiration. 

A lot of Perelman's cooking inspiration growing up came from Julia Child and other cookbooks like "The Joy of Cooking" and "The Silver Palate Cookbook," all people and writing that celebrate cooking. She suggested Bonnie Slotnick as a good resource in the West Village to find some really nice cookbooks. To her, it's an obligation to stop by Slotnick's store if you're a cookbook lover visiting New York City.

Smitten Kitchen's most viewed Youtube video is for her Perfect Blueberry Muffins

The Smitten Kitchen's YouTube channel has ramped up since 2021, with videos about featured recipes like one-pan farro with tomatoes, zucchini and ricotta galette, and foolproof cacio e pepe. Although these recipes sound drool-worthy, her most viewed YouTube video on the channel is her Perfect Blueberry Muffin video, with just under 80,000 views, almost 500 comments, and 4,000 likes. This 8-minute video outlines the ingredients you'll need for the muffins, the procedure of making the muffins, and how to know when they're perfectly done with a crisp exterior and deliciously soft blueberries.

Her potato latke video is also highly viewed with over 32,000 views and comments that continuously praise the recipe. One commenter praised the recipe with, "You nailed it again, Deb! Your videos are a delight and an education." and another commenter added "These are the absolute best. It's more about technique than the ingredients, and I think Deb is so clear with her demonstration." Perelman's other YouTube videos have a similar cheery and enthusiastic comment section, thanking her for concise and tasteful recipes. 

Before the boom of her Instagram worthy foodie pics, Deb Perelman was an art therapist

Perelman attended George Washington University, majoring in psychology and minoring in fine arts. As stated in The New York Times, in 2003 Perelman worked as an art therapist utilizing the skills she gained from her undergraduate degree and after becoming more inspired by her New York City life, she decided to create her blog. Noted in an article from The Great Discontent, she spoke about getting her master's in art therapy from her alma mater in a program that had sparked her interest after not knowing how to handle her degree. The profession of being an art therapist didn't pay well, and living in New York City without a large amount of income was, and still is, very difficult. Since at the time blogging was the up and coming popular trend, Perelman seized the opportunity to be at the beginning of the boom and from there, the original blog Smitten was created.

All in all, the food blogging empire that Deb Perelman has built surrounding home cooking, exciting yet simple recipes, and both approachable and affordable ingredients is highly commendable. As her following continues to grow and her recipes continue to flow, Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen is certainly one to watch.