Been meaning to improve your cooking skills? Just looking for something to do while you're stuck inside? Online cooking classes are better than ever, and these are some of our favorites -- including free and paid options.
Cooking is a life skill that is never too late to learn, and in some moments, can feel borderline necessary, depending on your relationship with the concept of adulthood. What other hobby feeds all of your hungers -- intellectual, spiritual and also, like, your literal hunger?
Beginning with James Beard and Julia Child in the middle of the 20th century, Americans have long held fascination with looking at our screens for cooking advice and instruction. Depending on your level of engagement with food television, however, you may have ever only come away from your screen with a stoked appetite and a flute-like intonation of phrases such as "delightful giblet gravy."
Remote cooking instruction has evolved since then, and especially lately, with programming designed to educate you on principles -- not only recipes -- while you actually follow along in your own kitchen. These nine resources for online cooking instruction include single concept classes, multicourse modules and even getting an entire culinary degree online, with options for every budget and level of enthusiasm.
Instructables is a community-based, completely free set of photo tutorials that are perfect for getting set up in your own kitchen and gaining confidence with low commitment. You can enroll in Cooking Class, Bread Class or Meat Class for a series of lessons that begin with setup and tools, and work through products and techniques, arming you with the ability to accomplish basic skills that you can apply to any recipe.
If your previous food TV consumption has left you longing for the opportunity to get chewed out by Gordon Ramsay, MasterClass may be the online cooking instruction for you. (Though no promises; he seems suspiciously polite in the previews…) Not only a cooking resource, MasterClass is a roundup of video tutorials, available for a $15 monthly membership fee or $90 for a single class, by experts in numerous fields. On the cooking front, Ramsay's colleagues include other legendary chefs such as Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Dominique Ansel and others. You can even receive instruction in wine appreciation from Wine Spectator's James Suckling, if you've been meaning to take that on one of these days.
With The Chef and The Dish, a chef from just about anywhere on earth can join you in your kitchen in real time, via the social-distancing-approved method of Skype. Worldwide cuisine is represented authentically by chefs in those locations, whether you want to explore Brazilian steak, Hungarian goulash or Singaporean satay. An opportunity for social interaction with someone new, and maybe even an excuse to change out of your pajamas, the site is also offering a class on cooking with What's In Your Fridge right now, with no additional shopping required. This class is $99, but most others start at $299 for two people with an additional cost for extra students, and include an estimated additional grocery cost of $50.
Rouxbe has an extremely flexible approach to online cooking instruction, where it's equally possible to dabble in occasional topical courses, or complete a professional six-month certification course, including one with a plant-based focus. For the committed, individual classes and certification courses have set costs, or you can grab a monthly membership for $9.99 (after a 30-day free trial) with the ability to complete shorter classes on your own timeline. Membership topics range from knife skills to egg basics to the art of the wok.
Udemy's online cooking courses are individually priced, with numerous discounts, featuring experts delivering multiple series of lectures on specific topics. There's Bartending Mastery ($20) if you're finding your personal cocktail construction leaves something to be desired, Sourdough 101 ($20) if you crave a comforting bakery smell at home or French Macarons ($30) if you need to have a serious project to focus on right now.
A curated series of 20 free videos with some broad culinary strokes as well as some deep topical dives, with pithy titles to entertain you. On day one begin with How to Be a Cook Who Can Wield a Knife with Confidence, and pass through How to be a Cook Who Makes Steaming Sexy and How to be a Cook Who Can Work Magic With Whipped Cream -- (wait, is this still cooking school?) -- before concluding with How To Be A Cook Who Makes Food Look as Good as It Tastes. (Whipped cream may or may not be necessary.)
There are online cooking opportunities for the young ones in your life, too! Raddish is a monthly club for kids that includes a kit of ingredients mailed to your home, along with the recipe and instructions, which can be accompanied by instructional videos on Facebook. Recipes are fun and kid-friendly featuring baking, cooking and easy assembling opportunities. Founder Samantha Barnes also hosts free, weekly, online cook-along classes for easy recipes like blueberry pancakes using your pantry and fridge staples for those who want to test drive the opportunity and get their kids involved in daily meal preparation.
With the widest range of topics divided into Cooking Basics, Technique Lessons and Recipe Lessons, America's Test Kitchen offers culinary instruction to beginners and advanced cooks alike. Courses are catalogued not only by type of instruction, but also by degree of difficulty, and by main ingredient or recipe type. (It's possible to quickly search for "brunch" instruction, for example.) Depending on your enthusiasm, you can go all in for a year of access for $180, or $20 gets you a month of content, with a 14-day free trial.
Foodist's unique angle is "learn to cook without recipes in 30 days" by focusing on developing techniques and more importantly habits, which can be applied to whatever is on hand in your fridge or pantry. Cooking techniques are emphasized along with meal planning, food shopping and flavor layering. For those who want to learn to rely on instinct, rather than lists of ingredients and step-by-step instructions, a one-time $99 payment gets online students access to all instruction.
If you have the time, resources (about $18,000 to be exact) and wherewithal, you can actually earn a complete culinary diploma from the comfort of your own kitchen. You'll want to make sure your knives are sharp.