Long weeks, harrowing news cycles, exhausting work schedules, relationship rockiness all lead us to the warming embrace of comfort food. We know that in the big picture we have to eat plenty of fresh, unprocessed foods that are mostly plant-based. But, we also need a break sometimes and comfort food provides that. Some days just call for a bucket of fried chicken for dinner with some mashed potatoes on the side. You can always get a salad the next day.
We all have a go-to comfort food. For some of us it that tub of Ben & Jerry’s. For others, it’s a trip to Micky-D’s for a piping hot large fry. No matter what it is — or even how healthily we eat — there’s a comforting treat or cheat meal that we all adore. But which one is the absolute best for the bulk of folks? Well, we have an answer for you on that front.
It’s pretty hard not to love a doughnut. It’s fried dough that’s covered in sugar or sugary frosting. It’s a jolt of sweet goodness that’s been fried. Get a good cup of coffee for dipping that doughnut and you’re ready for a reset to the whole day.
9. FRIED CHICKEN
What’s shocking is that fried chicken isn’t higher on the list — fifth or even first. But, okay sure, ninth it is, America. Do we even need to explain how great fried chicken is? The crispy crunch, the unctuous skin, the juicy meat all meld into a damn near perfect bite texturally and flavorwise. If you haven’t yet, try it broasted (cooked in a pressure cooker deep frier). It’ll be a revelation. Trust us.
8. CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE
A hot chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, when the dough is just set and the chocolate is all gooey, is one of life’s great indulgences. Get a nice cold glass of the milk of your choosing on the side and you’re freaking set.
7. MASHED POTATOES
This is an interesting entry. Mashed potatoes scream ‘side dish that’s best suited as a butter or gravy delivery system.’ Great comfort food? We’re dubious. Granted, a great scoop of creamy smooth mashed potatoes do hit a sweet spot. But, they have to be extraordinary mashed potatoes to leave an impression. And, let’s face it, mashed potatoes aren’t always that extraordinary.
6. MAC & CHEESE
Mac & Cheese is surprisingly low. The combination of noodles and melty cheese is an eons-old comfort food that’s been warming our souls for ages. It is cheese and starch is the smoothest way possible. Pure comfort. So, it should have been top three. Just sayin’, America.
Oh, yes. Fries goddamn rock. Smother a hot order in a little ketchup, maybe some (high fat) mayo, and you’ve got a very comforting comfort food. Salt, starch, a little potato sweetness, ketchup umami, mayo fattiness — it all work so well together that it’s bordering on the sublime.
4. ICE CREAM
We get this one. Ice cream is dope. The added benefit of this entry (and doughnuts) is that there are almost endless options of comfort here. Salty, sweet, tart, bitter, and umami all work wonders. You can make ice cream of literally any flavor and it’ll likely be at least pretty good, if not great.
Pizza got robbed! This definitely should have been number one. Why? Because nearly every city in the world has a pizza delivery joint. How many have a grilled cheese delivery joint? Spoiler alert, but damn… Pizza is the best and will be number one in our hearts.
Okay, even though pizza got robbed, second place feels like a perfect fit for chocolate. The diversity of delivery systems is a great benefit to this one. You can get thick cups of hot chocolate or salty dark chocolate bars or creamy chocolate fountains of bliss, or, or, or. There’s little chocolate can’t do and it’s great.
1. GRILLED CHEESE
The word we’re looking for here is perturbed. We get it. Grilled cheese sandwiches are great. Crunchy, buttery bread sandwiching melty, delicious cheese is always going to be good. But, you know what’s better? Pizza.