Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Most recipe sites assume you have a basic level of understanding how to cook. But for the absolute beginner, things need to be even simpler, like what these five sites offer.
This is a mix of learning the techniques needed to cook, as well as some quick-meal recipes for anyone without cooking knowledge. Start with the guides, and move on to the recipe outlets. And the free cookbook is the best.
1. CookingLight’s Fundamental Techniques (Web): Learn the Basic Skills
Cooking Light magazine is all about how to eat and cook healthy. That’s usually the whole point of eating more at home, so they have put together a guide on the fundamental techniques you will need for any type of cooking.
The whole section is divided into styles: braising, boiling and simmering, sauteing, steaming, grilling, marinating, curing and pickling, stir-frying, caramelizing, roasting, and pan-frying. Click any for a series of videos explaining each aspect of that style, along with recipes to practice it.
The see-and-do style of learning works really well in this case since you can tell what you should or shouldn’t be doing. It’s one of the best online guides for beginner cooking that we have seen.
2. The Kitchn’s Cooking School (Web, Email): 20-Day Course to Learn 20 Basics [No Longer Available]
The Kitchn is one of the best cooking sites, telling you everything from food basics to cooking with leftovers. It turned some of its best posts for beginner cooks into a custom 20-day course called the Cooking School.
The Kitchn goes beyond techniques to include a deeper understanding of the food you cook with. A new lesson is mailed to you every day on topics like knife skills, vegetables, seafood, herbs and spices, sauces, broil, and so on. Each comes with a homework assignment to test what you are learning.
I’d recommend signing up for the Cooking School to get a daily newsletter to learn something new. Not only does this stave off information overload, but it also gets you into the habit of cooking every day.
3. Cooking Crash Course (eBook): 13 Essential Skills (and Cheat Sheets) in a Free eBook
Chef Gui Alinat has written several cookbooks, but he also knows that some people need more basic help. So he released a free cooking crash course for beginners as a 51-page ebook, teaching what he calls the 13 essential skills for anyone in the kitchen.
Alinat goes through every aspect of what you will encounter in a kitchen and turns it into easy-to-digest information. For example, he has a massive infographic of all major vegetables, and which styles of cooking you can use with each. Similarly, there is a large “spice guide” to say which spices to use on which produce.
It’s astounding that the Cooking Crash Course is available for free. It’s better than most of the online cooking and baking classes out there. Print out the ebook, it’s a great resource to have in your kitchen. The cheat sheets are especially handy to have at a moment’s notice.
4. /r/CookingForBeginners (Reddit): An Invaluable Subreddit and Wiki for Beginners
As a beginner, you might have some stupid questions that you’re afraid to ask. Reddit has a tendency to be seen as a time-waster. But some of the kinder subreddits end up being of great help to those who have questions that experts can’t be bothered with.
The Cooking for Beginners community goes out of its way to answer any queries you might have, no matter how silly. A quick search might actually find you the answer before you even ask it, but even if you don’t, the community is forgiving of repetitive questions.
The best part, though, is the Cooking for Beginners Wiki. Here, the subreddit collects the best links and posts for any novice cook. This has infographics, cheat sheets, and detailed posts by other redditors with their favorite tips and tricks. Sign up and subscribe, this is one place where your silly questions will get an answer.
5. One Pot Chef (YouTube): The Best “Easy Recipes” Channel
I’ve been a fan of the One Pot Chef for years now, and am always surprised when more people don’t know about it. David Chilcott shows the easiest ways to make delicious food, often with as little cleaning up as possible.
The One Pot Chef’s best section is on the instant pot or slow cooker. If you haven’t got one yet, go grab the best instant pot for your budget. It will change the way you cook. Chilcott has an array of recipes for this essential kitchen instrument that reduce your clean-up, are healthy and nutritious, and dead simple to cook.
Apart from that, check out the other recipes and the Quick Tips section. The One Pot Chef has some of the best kitchen hacks to reduce the burden of cooking or cleaning up, and some ingenious cheats for leftovers.
Ready to Level Up Your Cooking Skills?
These sites and guides should help any newbie in the kitchen feel more comfortable in the space. From techniques to recipes, you will get a bit of everything. And if you need more, explore these unique YouTube cooking channels.
Once you feel ready enough to do more than these basics, experiment with recipes for delicious desserts to improve your cooking and baking skills. It keeps you going with the habit of cooking regularly, while also helping you learn more or refine what you know. And for some virtual fun with cooking, play these cooking games on your phone.
Want an easy way to collect and manage recipes? Ditch those cookbooks and try one of these recipe management apps!