Here are my favorite magazines on food and cooking, listed with their special strengths:
If I could only have one, this would be it. It's for food geeks.
Their primary strength is that they take a dish -- meat loaf, lasagna, pound cake, whatever -- and develop the perfect recipe and methods. They study dozens or hundreds of recipes, test countless variations, and tweak absolutely everything. They might cook something dozens of times as they home is on perfection. They also test shortcuts (do you really have to cream the butter and the sugar? How long do you really have to marinate? Can inexpensive olive oil work in this dish?), so they are not just optimizing the dish, they also have efficiency in mind.
They also do excellent reviews of ingredients and equipment and carry plenty of technique articles.
Rating: A+, must-have. http://www.cooksillustrated.com/
Fine Cooking is much like Cook's Illustrated but they are not as exhaustive in their testing. But they have beautiful color photography (Cook's is mostly monochrome), ads, and a different creative slant.
Rating: A, I would miss this if it were gone. http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/index.asp
Fat, shiny magazine with good photography and very clear recipes, plus good technique articles, with a unique benefit: The recipes here are healthy. Not bean-sprout, fat-free, tastes like negative-nothing, healthy, though -- these articles strike a balance between taste and health. They do a great job.
Rating: A, Very good at what they do. http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking/
Do you hate Martha Stewart? I understand but even critics have to acknowledge she does a very good job and this new magazine from her empire is excellent. The size of a paperback novel, this monthly keeps it fast and easy. Each recipe is presented on one or two pages — no long articles here — and always with a color photo. The recipes are very well-developed and never complex. The dishes are flavorful and surprisingly refined, given their simplicity.
Not a lot of technique, not a lot of detail, nothing technical — but that's not what this one is for.
Rating: A-, Simple and practical, for real food that real people would make. http://www.marthastewart.com/everydayfood/
Gourmet and Bon Appetit
Two magazines in one review? Well, these two sister magazines (from the same publisher) are just so similar! Fat and glossy, these are the higher-end of my spectrum. The articles are very good, often great, but I find fewer items here I would actually want to make. A lot I would want to eat — if someone made them for me. High-class appeal. Dare I say snobby? A little.