These Are Rachael Ray's Worst Recipes

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Rachael Ray calls her meteoric rise to fame "a happy accident," and fans certainly wouldn't disagree. She grew up working alongside her family in their restaurants, then moved to New York, where she became a food buyer and manager for the gourmet market Agata & Valentina. She went on to manage restaurants upstate in the tony Lake George resort world and started a series of cooking classes focusing on quick, relatable recipes. The classes got so trendy that she was asked to do a weekly news segment, which led to her first cookbook (via Food Network).

A star was born, and Rachael Ray hasn't let up since. A TV host for nearly 20 years with many syndicated TV shows, she writes cookbooks and runs a lifestyle magazine, a cookware empire, and a pet food company. In addition, Ray finds the time to head up a nonprofit organization called Yum-O to educate families about better nutrition as they cook together, provide meals to hungry families, and encourage kids to pursue careers in the restaurant industry.

Undeniably warm and engaging, Rachael Ray has her detractors. Many celebrity chefs distrust her lack of formal training, and her way of abbreviating terms (think "sammie" and "EVOO") can grate on anyone's nerves. While we can all agree that she encourages regular folks to get cooking, some of her recipes are less than stellar.

Green bean and mushroom mac casserole

Green bean casserole has divided Thanksgiving for decades. Newsflash: many people hate it, and many only force it down because it's expected of them. Given that bit of info, why would Rachael Ray want to befoul a scrumptious pan of macaroni and cheese by adding green beans to the cheese sauce and those weird crispy onion-adjacent sticks to the top? We can forgive the cremini mushrooms in the green bean and mushroom mac recipe, but that's as far as we can go.

Maybe you love green bean casserole and want to try this recipe. You do you; some Facebook fans loved it, but others remarked that "even green bean casserole by itself is nasty," proving the theory that those that won't eat the side dish won't want to try this mashup. It just gives off distressing vibes, like Aldi's green bean casserole pizza.

While this recipe does at least provide some vegetables, perfect mac and cheese focuses on the creaminess of the cheese sauce and the crunchy breadcrumb topping. It doesn't need to be complicated, and a salad or steamed broccoli on the side lets you have your veggies while enjoying what your heart really wants.

Popcorn chicken with white cheddar popcorn & buffalo ranch dipping sauce

Just because something is called popcorn chicken doesn't mean it should be served with actual popcorn, but this bizarre take is featured in Rachael's 2021 cookbook, "This Must Be The Place," written during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reddit users had a blast with this recipe, calling it a "dumb dish" and noting that "people will eat anything if it's the last thing in the house."

This recipe isn't all bad; the popcorn chicken has cornmeal breading spiced with Old Bay and cayenne, then balanced with sugar and lemon zest. The dipping sauce seems tasty, too — sour cream or yogurt mixed with hot sauce, Worcestershire, garlic, and herbs. These two would make a great party appetizer or a simple dinner with a salad.

It all goes south with the addition of popcorn. The recipe doesn't even call for fresh, hot popcorn; instead, Ray dumps a bag of white cheddar popcorn in a bowl and calls it good, which seems like a pointless shortcut when you're going to the trouble of making fried chicken nuggets from scratch.

The sprinkling of dill, celery seed, granulated garlic, and onion sounds fancy until you realize that spices only stick (more or less) to hot popcorn. Maybe Rachael thought the hot chicken nuggets would keep the spices from falling to the bottom of the bowl? Also, dipping popcorn just seems weird. This is one strange recipe for a snack attack.

'Can't Beet It' veg burger

Veggie burgers are one way to eat less meat and help our planet. Raising cattle is costly for the environment; meat production razes forests, wastes water, creates pollution, and destroys wildlife habitats. If we all ate less meat, we'd significantly impact the health of people and the planet.

Rachael Ray stepped into the homemade veggie burger arena with her "Can't Beet It" veg burger, and while we can respect the effort, it's just too complicated. This burger has it all — crushed walnuts, black beans, brown rice, roasted beets, an egg (or egg substitute) as a binder, garlic, lemon, salt, pepper, and even a homemade horseradish sauce, plus cheese and toppings.

All those ingredients sound like too much trouble for something that promises to taste like beets and brown rice. Beets as a meat substitute? Maybe the beet juice is meant to make the burger look medium-rare. Still, unless you use vast amounts of cheese and the horseradish topping, this combo sounds unappealing, certainly for the large portion of society that despises beets.

While many complain that Rachael Ray is a lazy cook, in this particular case, she goes too far in the other direction. Veggie burgers may have been gross decades ago, but now there are many delicious options available that won't crumble when you cook them and don't take an hour to whip up. Sorry, Rach, but this recipe isn't worth the time.

Red wine rice with grapes

At first glance, this recipe for rice sounds like it could be a great way to use up a bottle of red hanging around, and it certainly fits the Rachael Ray formula for a quick, simple dish. All you need to do is make rice with red wine rather than water and toss in some halved grapes. What could be easier?

Well, it may be easy, but easy doesn't always translate into delicious. One reviewer said, "This is really good, but I recommend making it without rice or grapes." That sounds like she was saying she'd stick to a glass of red wine, which is totally fair in this case. Blogger Cate O'Malley called the recipe unsalvageable, pointing out that "the smell of wine as it was heating up was overpowering, and when the rice was done, it still was."

Red wine is too much for the delicate flavor of rice, and using wine without any other liquid is over the top. Most rice dishes that call for wine, like risotto, use a combination of white wine and broth for excellent flavor and creamy consistency. A red wine sauce for steak would probably work better if you're looking to use up red wine.

Chicago dog salad

Nobody believes that hot dogs are healthy. Hot dogs can shorten your life, but they're still almost universally adored. A summer staple, hotdogs are scarfed at ballgames and barbecues, and that's fine. Everything in moderation, right?

Rachael Ray's recipe for Chicago Dog Salad is, on the surface, healthy-ish. It's basically coleslaw with the addition of romaine, tomatoes, and pickles, with grilled hot dogs sliced on top. Rachael claims that it allows her to "cut out the bun and have more dogs and veggies with less guilt." Still, if you divide the four servings this recipe makes perfectly evenly, each person will get two hot dogs along with just two ounces of shredded cabbage, half a tomato, something less than a cup of lettuce, and some pickles and onions marinated in a sugary vinaigrette. It sounds like the salt and fat content outweigh the salad benefits, and eating raw cabbage sucks the enjoyment out of anything for many.

If you want to make eating hot dogs a regular part of your life, there are healthier versions to try with far less fat, sodium, and nitrates that are also lower in calories. Add watermelon and a fresh green salad, and you'll never miss the coleslaw.

Wine steeped greens

Everyone knows that kale is a superfood full of goodness, capable of taking bad cholesterol in hand and delivering a punch of antioxidants. Regardless of its powerhouse nutritional profile, it can be a divisive vegetable — some people love it, and others love to hate it. With all its benefits for your body and general health, you should consider exploring one of the wonderful ways to make this leafy green a dietary staple.

Many Food Network fans agree that Rachael Ray's take on kale is less than extraordinary. While her recipe for wine steeped greens has a few admirers, it's worth pointing out that positive reviewers often changed the recipe, which means even they didn't think it was a good idea. More reviewers said the wine made the kale "bitter and nasty," and they wouldn't try it again.

If you want to look forward to eating kale, try recipes that use layers of complexity and transform it from dreary to delightful. We have a list of kale cooking ideas to get you started.

Pumpkin, penne, and cabbage

Boiled cabbage can fill your house with its stink for hours, but Rachael Ray's recipe for pumpkin, penne, and cabbage blithely tosses a whole sliced cabbage into chicken broth and saffron and lets it cook for 20 minutes. At least she covers the pot, but still, cabbage tastes best and doesn't give off that trademark smell if roasted or sautéed.

We all know that pumpkin is good for us, full of vitamin A, beta carotene, and antioxidants (via Healthline). Ray roasts the pumpkin to add a bit of texture to the dish. We'd argue, however, that pumpkin and pasta are not a great match. What's wrong with pie? Pumpkin tastes great in sweet dishes and if roasted pumpkin as a vegetable is a thing, let's get some butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon on it so we can enjoy it.

The addition of brown butter with crispy sage leaves seems pointless. If the butter was the sauce, we could see it, but since it gets poured right into the cabbage boiled in chicken stock along with a half cup of pasta water (how much liquid does this recipe need?), it doesn't seem like the butter would be distinguishable. All Ray does is add a greasy sheen and 600 calories to the dish.

One recipe commenter remarked that it "had no flavor, nothing went together, not making this again." We'd agree; this is one Rachael Ray recipe to skip.

Green tea couscous

Couscous, a staple starch in Israel, Morocco, and Turkey that's become popular worldwide, is similar to pasta, made from durum wheat semolina and water. Since it's shaped in tiny pearls, the cooking method is faster; couscous is left to sit in hot liquid for a few minutes rather than cooking in boiling water. This versatile staple is an easy source of selenium, critical for thyroid health, and can provide fiber if you choose the whole-grain kind (via LiveStrong).

Rachael Ray's recipe for green tea couscous sounds intriguing at first (if, that is, the idea of green tea in couscous doesn't immediately upset you). Making couscous with chicken stock and then tossing it with honey, mint, cucumber, lemon, and lime juice sounds like a delightful side dish, but she goes ahead and steeps a green tea bag in the boiling stock, which is a problem. Green tea isn't meant for boiling water; it should be made in water no hotter than 160º to avoid ruining its flavor with bitterness (via Boulder Tea Company). Since couscous needs to sit in boiling liquid to cook, it seems like green tea is just a bad plan.

Mushroom and spinach bread-zagna

Bread pudding, made by soaking bread in a custard of eggs and cream embellished with fruit, chocolate, and various spices, has a long history; GrubAmericana dates it to the early part of the 11th century. That makes sense because wasting food wasn't done in the days before convenient grocery shopping. In modern times, bread pudding can be served with gooey fudge, caramel, or rum sauce, or perhaps topped with ice cream or whipped cream. Sweet bread puddings are an irresistible way to make dessert in a snap. Savory bread pudding (or "bread-zagna"), doesn't sound as good.

Maybe the term "bread-zagna" in mushroom and spinach bread-zagna gets us, but there's no place for bread when it comes to lasagna unless it's garlic bread. This bizarro version doesn't have ricotta, mozzarella, marinara, or béchamel. The noodles are replaced with stale bread and the sauce by mixing half and half, eggs, and nutmeg, which is basically French toast.

If it were French toast, though, it would be appealing. Instead, Ray sautées mushrooms, garlic, and shallots, then uses marsala and chicken stock to wilt spinach. This gets layered together with fontina and Parmesan and baked. Judging by the fact that it has no reviews on Food Network, it looks like nobody is willing to try this dish. Maybe that stale bread would be better as crostini?

Jeanette's Famous broccoli and crouton casserole

Casseroles are an economical, easy way to get dinner on the table. Many are one-dish meals, though sometimes they're side dishes, like this "Rachaelmagized" broccoli casserole. Thisa recipe will give you flashbacks to the 1950s, and not in a fun way.

Despite its unwieldy name, Rachael gets props for parts of this recipe. She doesn't take the easy route with canned cream of celery soup; she provides a recipe for a hearty homemade soup with celery, onions, potatoes, and celery root, blended with chicken stock and cream. That sounds delicious, but the question is, why would anyone work that hard for a side dish casserole? Just have the soup; add a salad and some crusty bread, and call it a meal.

As for Jeanette's Famous Casserole that's been "Rachaelmagized" (does anyone enjoy these made-up words?), the lone reviewer remarked that it had "no texture, just a mushy mess. The ingredients sound good, but the croutons ruin everything." This makes sense considering the recipe says to cook broccoli and top with fabulous homemade croutons, but then cover it with soup and cheese before baking. Shouldn't the croutons stay crispy instead of being drowned in liquid?

Final verdict: forget "Rachaelmagizing" and simply top your soup and salad with the croutons.

Grilled chicken posole salad

Traditionally, posole (also spelled pozole) is a stew made with hominy and grilled spiced pork, which is garnished to taste with lettuce, chiles, onions, lime juice, radishes, cabbage, salsa, or avocado. Green posole might have tomatillos, while red posole can contain chiles like piquin, guajillo, or ancho (via Culture Trip).

Rachael Ray's recipe for grilled chicken posole salad swaps chicken for pork and uses both tomatillos and piquin or roasted red peppers, so tradition is out the window. Then again, posole isn't meant to be a salad, but let's move on. Rachael cooks spiced chicken breasts in this recipe and dices them up after they cool a bit. The ingredients that would be toppings on authentic posole are mixed right into the hominy, including celery, peppers, and olives. Then it's all dressed with olive oil, hot sauce, and lime juice. That must be where the salad concept comes in?

The last element of this salad is sautéed garlic, onions, and tomatillos, which Ray advises fans should cook for a few minutes to "take the bitter edge off." Negative reviews mentioned how bitter the tomatillos made the dish, which isn't surprising considering they are very tart when eaten raw. Roasting tomatillos would let their sweetness intensify and deepen the flavor, but that's not what this recipe calls for. Final verdict: If this recipe sounds appealing, those who make it should think about roasting the tomatillos.

Southern-style birds in a nest with butter grits, greens with bacon, over-easy quail eggs, and green tomato and green apple chutney

This recipe is a head-scratcher. Birds in a nest is a breakfast classic. It usually consists of fried eggs grilled in a hole cut from the center of a thick slice of bread. Kids love this fun treat, and Rachael has made this before. Apparently, she still needed to provide a swanky version of birds in a nest that would mystify everyone while combining pricey and difficult-to-find ingredients in one super-involved recipe. Suppose the mind-numbingly long recipe title doesn't give you pause, and you are undeterred by spending over two hours on a dish that probably nobody wants to eat. In that case, please consider the ingredients carefully.

Fennel pollen costs around $20 for just an ounce on Amazon. Since Rachael simmers it in a chutney, where it will likely be overshadowed by curry, ginger, and vinegar, that sounds like a waste of cash.

Then there are the quail's eggs. Yes, they're cute and trendy, nutritious, and full of antioxidants (via Healthline). However, they're not easy to find, and although Amazon carries them, it will cost you, especially considering that they're so small that most people eat several at a sitting. Add on the fussy preparation for this dish, and this is one to skip.

Soy and cider brined turkey on toast

Open-faced turkey sandwiches are a classic way to use up holiday leftovers. They're simple to make; make toast and while it's toasting, warm up a few slices of turkey in gravy. Pile that over the toast (you can cut it in triangles if you feel fancy) and enjoy. Depending on preference, some people arrange their toast points around a pile of mashed potatoes or stuffing.

Rachael Ray not only decided that making turkey just for open-faced sandwiches was cool but that her recipe would involve brining the turkey breast in apple cider, soy sauce, and maple syrup overnight and then making gravy with the same flavors. She further complicates it by making sage brown butter, crumbling the sage leaves into it, and brushing that onto the toast. That seems a few steps too far for this sandwich's simple origins.

Considering that the recipe has no reviews and is not found on any of several dedicated Rachael Ray Facebook pages, it would appear that fans agree it's too much. This recipe made our list of bad recipes Rach has offered fans not because it's a terrible recipe in and of itself, but because open-faced turkey sandwiches aren't worth this amount of work.

Pumpkin lovers lasagna

Lasagna is favorite comfort food for many people. What's not to love? Cheesy goodness layered with pasta? Combinations of sausage, ground beef, and vegetables added for extra indulgence and flavor? Yes, please, with a crisp salad and maybe some buttery garlic bread. Many will debate whether ricotta or béchamel is better, although both are great in our book. If you're looking for a healthier lasagna, skip the béchamel, which adds a lot of saturated fat and calories.

Rachael Ray's recipe for pumpkin lovers lasagna lands squarely in the pro-béchamel camp but adds pumpkin, escarole, and sage to the mix. If you think béchamel in lasagna is controversial, these ingredients might make you nauseous. Reviews are mixed; some Rach fans defended her choices while others said it was "disappointing" and "flavorless." One reviewer pointed out that the recipe was costly and time-intensive but that they "threw it away after taking out only one portion."

The idea of pumpkin in lasagna crosses a line for many of us, but hard-core pumpkin groupies might want to try it. Just don't invite us to dinner if you do.