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An important part of growing up is learning to nurture ourselves. Some may opt for restaurants or takeout for a living, but that can get expensive. The best option is to learn to cook your own meals. That may sound harsh, especially if cooking doesn’t sound fun to you, but there are a plethora of resources online for cooks of all skill levels. Whether it’s beginner tutorials or in-depth YouTube videos, we hope this list of cafe-madrid employee favorites gets you on the road to culinary confidence. Oh, and if you’re ever confused about measurements, a tool like this recipe converter is a good reference to keep in your bookmarks tab.
If you identify as a nerd and you also love to cook, then you probably already know about serious food† The site gained prominence several years ago under the helm of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who often takes a decidedly scientific approach to cooking. Lopez-Alt has since transitioned to an advisory role at Serious Eats (he has his own vlog, which is also worth following), but the site remains strong under new leadership. It offers basic tips such as food preparation and storage, as well as a whole host of instructions and step-by-step instructions for everything from breaking up a chicken to kneading your own bread.
This is the only recommendation on this list that requires payment – $1.25 a week or $40 a year – but personally I think it’s worth it. The site and companion app (for iOS and Android) is well organized and intuitive to use, with bright and colorful photos and an ever-changing list of curated recipe recommendations and suggestions. I especially like the search function, where you can not only enter the ingredients you have on hand, but also filter by the type of meal you want to make. Is it for breakfast? A bite? Or dinner?) along with any dietary restrictions. However, if you don’t want to cough up the subscription fee, NYT’s YouTube channel is also a great resource.
the kitchen is a daily food magazine that’s been around since the mid-2000s, and it often serves not only recipes but fun features like a celebrity showdown (check out these that feature the stew recipes between Alton Brown, Ina Garten, Taste of Home and the Pioneer Woman). Of course, The Kitchn also publishes plenty of tips and tricks to help readers become better cooks.
Try this: Maple Corn Cakes
“Hello, I’m Chef John, from Food Wishes dot com” is the familiar chorus you hear at the beginning of every food wishes video, and it always warms my heart. His tone is so welcoming and cheerful that it cheers me up every time I hear it. A YouTube favorite (he has over four million subscribers), he’s also a favorite among a few cafe-madrid employees, and for good reason. Not only is he goofy and charming, his recipes are almost always aimed at the novice chef, with clear and concise instructions. He also encourages viewers to experiment, use their senses, play with food, and consider cooking as much art as science.
Try this: Country bread without kneading
Binging with Babish
Binging with Babish is a popular YouTube channel (more than 9.6 million subscribers) that mainly focuses on recreating food from TV shows and movies. Some well-known examples are the crab burger from Spongebob Squarepants and Ratatouille from, well, Ratatouille. But host Andrew Rea can also cook “normal” food, and the popularity of his channel led him to host a spin-off series called “Basics with Babish”, aimed at beginners.
Try this: Chickpeas
The food52 website can be considered a one stop shop for cooking enthusiasts as there is an online store along with recipes and community board. But the real highlight for me is being Youtube Channelwith excellent shows such as Rick Martinez’s Sweet Heat (the former enjoy your meal editor shows recipes with both a sweet and spicy element), Big Little Recipes (focusing on recipes with a short ingredient list), and Genius Recipes, which shows, well, “genius” recipes created by leading chefs.
Have a sweet tooth? Then look no further than Claire Saffitz’s YouTube Channel, where she bakes everything from apple pies to oatmeal pecan cookies. Her personality is a combination of grumpy and sweet, which I love, but more importantly, her recipes are excellent. She gives very detailed instructions and the results are almost always delicious. She also makes many savory pastries, such as sourdough bread and quiche.
Try this: The best oatmeal cookies
Maagchi was referred by The New York Times like the Julia Child of Korean cuisine, and the description couldn’t be more apt. Not only does she have a friendly and bubbly personality, she does a great job of demystifying Korean cuisine and making it accessible to both beginners and advanced cooks. From Korean classics like kimchi jjigae and bibimbap to sweet treats like korean donutsshe makes it all seem within reach.
Try this: Korean Street Toast (Gilgeori Toast)
Dietary requirements or special diets
For a site devoted entirely to vegetarian cuisine, I highly recommend 101 Cookbooks by Heidi Swanson, which has been an online favorite for decades. I’m a big fan of her simple, straightforward recipes that can turn a carnivore like me into a plant-based meal lover (a personal favorite is this one cauliflower soup†
Nom Nom Paleo
You don’t have to follow a paleo diet to fall in love with Nom Nom Paleo, a mini empire that includes a food blog, two award-winning cookbooks and a podcast. The New York Times has referred to Michelle Tam, the site’s creator, as the Martha Stewart of Paleo, because of how accessible she seems. After you’ve perused her site and tried her recipes, you’ll no longer view the paleo diet as restrictive; instead, you might find yourself eating more than ever. Tam has also adapted some of her recipes to Whole30 or keto diets.
Try this: Garbage Stir Fry With Curried Cabbage
Clean and delicious
If you are not strictly vegetarian or paleo, but you still want to eat healthy, check out the Clean and delicious Dani Spies food blog. Spies is a wellness and weight loss coach who believes in a balanced diet and “clean eating,” but without foregoing the foods you love. For example, there is a recipe for: lemon bars on its site, but it’s made with whole-wheat flour and contains no dairy or refined sugar. All the recipes on her site reflect this philosophy; they’re either gluten-free, paleo, vegan, or vegetarian, and they’re also often low-carb, keto, dairy-free, or nut-free. i like her too Instagram and Youtube Channelwhere she also shares tips on mindful eating and healthy living.
There are just way too many food sites on the web to list them all, but here are a few more that our staff recommended that you might find helpful.
Chinese cooking solved
This is one of the best YouTube channels to learn all the ins and outs of authentic Chinese cuisine from people who actually live in China. It is very detailed, well produced and offers great advice on recreating these dishes in a western kitchen. I also love that it teaches technique in addition to just recipes. To this day I still come back to this video on how to stir fry a vegetable?†
the blog Minimalist Bakery contains recipes that use 10 ingredients or less and only take about 30 minutes to make. Weekend editor Igor Bonifacic is also a huge fan, especially for the plethora of vegetarian recipes on the site, like this one Curried Cauliflower Lentil Soup†
Budgetbytes is a great resource for those watching their wallets as each recipe gives you a breakdown of the estimated cost for each ingredient. Commerce Editor Valentina Palladino said the site is also very good for beginners.
Rainbow plant life
If you are looking for vegan recipes, Rainbow plant life has a ton of them. Palladino loves the cashew cream recipe and appreciates that the site’s founder, Nisha, has a wealth of vegan friendly Instant Pot Recipes also to try.
Pick up lime
Another staple for accessible vegan recipes is: Pick up lime† Palladino says that the Healthiest Granola Ever recipe is one of her favorites, and she likes that the Pick Up Limes website makes it easy to filter recipes by type of ingredients, preparation time, allergens and more.
Richard Bertinet’s White Bread Masterclass
Richard Bertinet’s video about white bread comes highly recommended for its sheer simplicity. It proves that all you need to make bread is bread flour, yeast and salt. Senior Reporter Dan Cooper says the video is also a surefire way to calm him down when he’s stressed.
Half baked harvest
Editor-in-chief Dana Wollman and senior news editor Billy Steele regularly exchange Slack posts with dinner recommendations. (What do we eat? Ask a colleague, of course.) The answer of both people is often: Half baked harvest clutch. The site houses a huge library of free recipes that, in our experience, work as advertised. We are fans of her nightly Instagram Story cooking demos also, not to mention her tacos.
Joy the baker