“Good cooking is honest, sincere, and simple” Elizabeth David.
In today’s stressful world, cooking can be a great escape. In fact, when you’re cooking, your troubles just seem to melt away.
People often say “I’m rubbish at cooking” and “I can’t cook”. If this sounds like you and you want to improve your culinary skills, you’re in luck! You can now learn to cook from the comfort of your own home thanks to the internet. Of course, you’ll also need some utensils before you cook your first dish.
If you’re trying to wade through the thousands of cooking websites on the internet, Superprof’s put together a few of the best ones for you to check out.
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Why Should You Learn to Cook?
It’s never too late to learn how to cook. Whether we say we can’t be bothered or just don’t have the time, we always make excuses for why we don’t learn cook.
Cooking starts by doing the shopping and rather than buying ready-made meals, getting ingredients, peeling, slicing, and roasting them in order to end up with a meal worth eating.
Why should you bother?
- Eat better: prepared meals are often full of salt and additives that are bad for your health.
- Eat less: when you cook your own food, you tend to eat less once you get to the table. By trying the food while you’re making it, you can trick your stomach into thinking you’ve eaten. Try it out for yourself.
- Impress your friends: Asian food, gazpacho, ravioli, or desserts, who doesn’t love going round their friends’ place for a meal?
- Enjoy more time with your loved ones: good meals can bring everyone together. So turn off the TV, get your ingredients ready, and get ready for a good meal!
When learning to cook, practice makes perfect. So while you’re not going to become the country’s greatest chef overnight, the more you practice, the better you get.
When you start learning to cook, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you learn. You’ll even find doing the shopping takes less time. You’ll start knowing exactly what you’ll need for each meal, even if it’s just for yourself.
Who said cooking needs to take a long time?
While a recipe for a roast pork with potatoes, turnip and carrot mash, onion gravy, and cauliflower will have you slaving over the oven all morning, you can easily find a recipe for a healthier homemade meal that's just as tasty and takes a fraction of the cooking time.
Here are some of the sites to help you do just that:
BBC Good Food
Before moving on to more complicated recipes, it’s a good idea start with some of the basics on this site.
Start with their article on 25 skills every cook should know. This includes things like chopping an onion, using knives, boiling an egg, cooking pasta, baking a potato, roasting a chicken, crushing garlic, and preparing a chili! Just like a jelly, you're set!
You should also learn the basics like the names of utensils, weights and measures, cooking vocabulary, how to cut vegetables, how to make different sauces and fillings, and different ways to cook food.
Before you start cooking more advanced meals, you should start with simpler meals so that you can master the aforementioned cooking techniques.
There’s also useful information on baking techniques for different types of dough, creams, and mousses. If you have a sweet tooth, it might be worthwhile focusing on baked food over traditional cooking.
Why not impress your friends and family with desserts?
Thanks to the detailed images with each step, you can easily follow each step to make simple recipes. Basic recipes are organised into clear sections: hot and cold dishes, meat, eggs, fish, pasta, rice, etc.
If you want to succeed as a chef, you’ll need to start somewhere. To become a good chef, following the advice on the site is a good place to start.
- The site has lots of stuff for absolute beginners and the steps are described for cooking novices.
- You can find simple recipes for when you first start and then more complicated recipes once you get the hang of things.
- Basic cooking terms are explained right from the start so you don’t feel completely lost or like the instructions are in another language.
- The recipes are clear and have good images with them.
- With so much content, it can be easy to get lost or overwhelmed by all the recipes.
- The images are so good that it can make your first few attempts look sub-par.
Epicurious comes highly recommended and is a veritable treasure trove of recipes and cooking articles. Whether you want to learn quick and easy recipes or just what equipment you should have in your kitchen, this is a site you should check out.
They also maintain a mouthwatering Instagram feed. If you’re waiting for a bus or just thinking about dinner, you can get some inspiration for your next meal.
The search on the website is pretty smart and you can even find a wealth of recipes for different holidays like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas.
Each cooking technique is clearly explained and accompanied by useful images to help you. You can find recipes based on the foods used and dietary requirements (gluten free, lactose free, vegetarian, vegan, etc.) or by occasion like Christmas meals or seasonal menus (trying to get rid of that pumpkin from Halloween?). It’s a goldmine of information on cooking with step-by-step guides for learning cooking techniques.
- The images are really useful for those who know nothing about cooking.
- There are a lot of recipes you’ve probably never tried before.
- A wide range of recipes.
- Just like the BBC’s website, you have the dilemma of choice.
- Check each recipe before you start cooking them as some are rather complicated.
Cooking for Students
Sick of baked beans on toast, instant soups, pot noodles, and prepackaged sandwiches? It might be time to check out this student cooking website. Students often look for cheap and easy-to-make recipes. Flavour isn’t often their most important criteria.
Do we really have to eat what students usually eat?
We wouldn’t say so. While this site is great for students, it’s also great for novice chefs wanting to learn more about cooking without breaking the bank.
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There are plenty of meals you can make with just the ingredients in your cupboards or with a quick trip to a local supermarket (you won’t need tonnes of specialised ingredients). You can also find recipes for vegetarians, vegans, and special events.
The recipes are varied and interesting and include everything from macaroni cheese to pizzas. If corned beef stew, vegetable stir fry, or a tuna salad sounds good to you, then you should check out this website.
- These are recipes for those with a limited knowledge of how to cook.
- The website is organised and easy to navigate.
- If you are a student, there is also a blog with advice for students.
- The steps could be more detailed or better written.
You wouldn’t expect a site like AllRecipes.com to only have a few recipes, and it doesn’t.
The search on the website is exceptional and you curate your own feed of recipes depending on your tastes:
- Type of Recipe: You can follow different lists (we’d recommend “Quick and Easy” if you’re just starting). If you prefer baking cakes or making pudding, this is the section to check out.
- Ingredients: Only got a few things in your cupboards? Why not search for the ingredients you have and see what the website comes up with? You can also search for ingredients you don’t want to appear in the recipe.
- Cooking Style: Work with your strengths and weaknesses. You can choose recipes that use techniques you know or want to improve. Do you prefer your potatoes boiled, roasted, or fried? This is the section to look in.
- Personalised Recommendations: This is where the site really shines. Just like Facebook automates your feed to show you stuff it thinks you’ll like, you can get AllRecipes.com to do the same. The more you use the site, the more you’ll get out of it.
- World Cuisine: If there are certain flavours you just love from a certain part of the world, this is the section you’ll find it in. Looking for lasagna or searching for spaghetti? This is where you'll find it.
This is a site that lives up to its name. Add it to your favourites.
- Easy to navigate.
- Plenty of cheap and easy-to-make recipes.
- Customising your feed to get the best recipes for you.
- Complicated for beginners and those who aren’t confident web users.
This is an award-winning site with plenty of resources for those needing help or inspiration in the kitchen. In addition to all the recipes available on the site, you can also read useful articles on cooking techniques, which are fundamental when it comes to making delicious meals.
The site is clean and can be easily navigated. Recipes are organised by ingredient, there’s an entire section on the techniques you’ll use, and there are even reviews of the best equipment.
Recipes are summarised by how many people they serve, how long you’ll be active when cooking it, how long it’ll take you to cook it, and a rating of the recipe itself. Unfortunately, there’s no indication of the difficulty of any of the recipe. However, a quick search for words like “easy” or “simple” will rectify this.
- A wide range of recipes.
- Additional information on techniques and different cooking equipment and utensils.
- Clear instructions and well-written recipes.
- No difficulty rating.
The Genius Kitchen site boasts over 500,000 recipes. While I can’t guarantee that they’re all winners, since they’re voted on and rated by the site’s users, the cream floats to the top and you can find some really good recipes for beginners and experienced cooks alike.
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More than just a recipe site, Genius Kitchen focuses on cooking and the culture around cooking. This is a great site for ambitious beginners who won’t be disheartened by failure. While there are easy recipes, the site really shines when you let it inspire you rather than trawling through all the recipes it has. Of course, you can still search for “easy” or “simple” recipes if you want to avoid feeling out of your depth.
We recommend that you use the site for inspiration once you’ve started getting to grips with the techniques (as found on our previous recommendation). Once you’ve increased your skill set in the kitchen, you can start getting the most out of this site.
- A huge variety of recipes can be found on the website.
- Since the recipes are voted on by the users, you’ll be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.
- The recipe of the day is a good reason to keep coming back to the site.
- With half a million recipes, there are bound to be some that aren’t great.
- Despite all the recipes, it’s very easy to get lost in all the content that isn’t recipes.
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Yummly.com boasts even more recipes than Genius Kitchen. However, this is more of a gateway to recipes than a site itself. While they say there are 1,000,000 recipes on this site, they’re actually hosted on other sites.
If you’re a beginner, you should immediately click on the “Quick and Easy” section (and not just because I found the site to run slowly if you try and scroll through all the recipes).
While I’m not a fan of the site’s navigation, I do like the way the recipes are presented: you can immediately see how many different ingredients you’ll need, how many calories in the meal, and how long it takes to make.
Unlike the other websites in this list, there aren’t as many different sections to help you find certain recipes.
The recipes are presented in both metric and imperial measures, but the conversion to metric comes up with some interesting units. Can you really be bothered to measure out 1 10/13 decilitres of balsamic vinegar?
This site works better for finding inspiration for meals than actually cooking them. The variety of sites it links to also means that you can’t guarantee the actual quality of the site you’re going to end up on.
However, the sheer number of recipes you’ll have access to is why it makes the list.
- More recipes than you could even comprehend. Whether you're looking for snacks or main meals, you'll find recipes here.
- Like Google for recipes.
- Useful previews of each recipe before you leave the site.
- Slow to navigate.
- Recipes aren’t hosted on the site itself.
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FoodNetwork.com for Cooking with Children
You probably recognise Food Network from your Facebook feed and the tonnes of viral videos shared by your friends (if you’re not the one sharing them). However, the best thing about this site is its section for cooking with children. Whether you’re an experienced cook or not, you should be able to help your kids with the recipes on this website.
We particularly like the section on safe cooking techniques for children since safety is a common concern for parents when encouraging their children in the kitchen. There’s a great article that explains safety advice for children of different ages.
- Quick and easy recipes to make.
- Clear instructions.
- Recipes the whole family can enjoy.
- Since the recipes are quite childish, you’re going to struggle encouraging older children to participate (especially teens).
Learn to Cook with Cooking Blogs
Despite the success of cooking videos, there are still plenty of really good cooking blogs. Some bloggers maintain sites that have just as many recipes and content as cooking websites.
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Blogs tend to adopt a more personal approach and are usually more enjoyable to read than some of the drier cooking websites. Here are some of the blogs worth visiting if you want to learn how to cook:
- Simply Recipes
- A Cozy Kitchen
- Not Without Salt
- How Sweet Eats
- David Lebovitz
- Andie Mitchell
- What’s Gaby Cooking
- 20 Something Cupcakes
- Smitten Kitchen
- Joy the Baker
- Have Cake Will Travel
- Butter Me Up, Brooklyn
- Tartelette Blog
- Spoon Fork Bacon
- Cookie and Kate
Beginners will enjoy the personal approach to blogs which address their audience as people. Blogs don’t tend to be as snobby as cooking websites, which can often put off aspiring chefs. They’re really useful if you own a tablet to prop up on your bench while you’re following the recipes.
- There are often original and one-of-a-kind recipes.
- The photos are usually really good.
- Bloggers are usually at the forefront of current trends and include modern recipes.
- Since the recipes are usually quite ambitious, they can be difficult for absolute beginners.
- They include techniques that novice chefs may not be familiar with. That said, the sites can still be a veritable goldmine of information for those that want to teach themselves how to cook.
- You just need to choose the right platform for you and start with the absolute basics first.
You can learn to cook in a cooking class but it’s cheaper learning how to cook by visiting cooking websites. Start by learning the basics and the lingo on websites for beginners. You can then move onto basic websites (such as cooking websites for students) and cooking blogs. Cooking, like all other skills, gets better with practice.
|BBC Good Food||Content for beginners, easy-to-find recipes, cooking terms explained, good images.||Easy to get lost in so much content, good images will make your attempts look poor.|
|Epicurious||Good images, a lot of interesting recipes, good variety of recipes.||Too much choice in some cases, some recipes are difficult.|
|Student Recipes||Recipes for beginners, good navigation, advice for students.||Poor writing on some recipes.|
|All Recipes||Easy to navigate, cheap recipes, customised feeds.||Some difficult recipes.|
|Serious Eats||Wide range of recipes, information on techniques, clear instructions.||No difficulty rating on recipes.|
|Genius Kitchen||Huge variety, user ratings, recipe of the day.||A lot of content that isn't recipes, a lot of recipes to sift through.|
|Yummly||Loads of recipe, powerful search tool, previews of recipes.||Slow navigation, content aggregated from other sites.|
|Food Network (for Children)||Quick and easy recipes, clear instructions, recipes for the whole family.||Childish recipes (not good for teens).|
Now that you’ve got all your ingredients and you know the ropes, you’re ready to get the cooker on and get ready for the best moment, tasting your food!
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In addition to the above online resources, you can find useful tips in cookery books.
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