Love the idea of cooking, but don’t have the slightest clue what to do in the kitchen? You’re not a hopeless case, nor should you feel compelled to shell out the big bucks for a fancy class. We’ve rounded up the best free online cooking tutorials to help you transition from cooking rookie to kitchen connoisseur. From video tutorials on how to sharpen your knife skills (pun intended), to primers on the best way to prepare fish, you’ll find everything you need to feel more confident whipping up your next homemade meal. Oh, and did we mention they’re all free? Start planning your next dinner party, stat.
The Easiest Ways to Learn How to Cook
1. The Kitchn’s Cooking School
Best for: People who barely know how to turn on the oven
When The Kitchn blog launched a 20-course cooking school earlier this year, people scrambled to sign up to receive the once-a-day tutorials. The quick and easy lessons, complete with step-by-step instructions and video aids, encompass everything from how to flavor your food with onions and garlic to the in’s and out’s of making seafood. Each lesson comes with homework, in hopes that you’ll actually put your new talents to use (don’t worry: we won’t tell if you don’t do it all). And after you’ve mastered a skill, you’ll get some recipe recommendations so you can see how each technique plays out during actual meal prep.
Best for: So-so cooks looking to step up their game
If you want to know exactly how to recreate a certain recipe, or pull off slightly more complex cooking techniques, add Food52’s “How To” column to your bookmarks tab. Easy-to-follow photo essays detail “How to Break Down a Chicken,” while short and simple videos will enlighten you on how to roast any — literally any — type of winter squash. If your palate isn’t quite so sophisticated, they also have quick tips on making childhood favorites like Dunkaroos at home.
3. PopSugar Food
Best for: People who wish cookbooks had more photos
Sure, cookbooks are great, but they can only squeeze so many instructional images within their bindings. For those of us who need to see every detail, PopSugar Food offers how-to cooking slideshows to help you visualize each step of basic skills like peeling tomatoes or grilling vegetables. The web site also has tons of hacks for stuff that seems easy, but totally isn’t, like how to crack nuts with your bare hands or brew a perfect cup of tea (hint: it’s all about customizing the temperature and cooking times, based on your favorite blend).
4. Serious Eats Knife Skills
Best for: Slicing and dicing like a pro
You may have cut up your own steak since age five, but real knife skills are much more complex than you’d think. In this series, you’ll learn how to slice everything from citrus fruits to cauliflower and nearly every type of meat. Name a fruit, veggie or protein and we guarantee they’ll spell out exactly how to break it down with easy video examples that take just minutes to watch.
5. Domesticate-Me “Domestic Details”
Best for: Mastering the art of cleaning your stove
If you’d rather have Martha Stewart personally critique your mac and cheese recipe than read an article about disinfecting your stove, we don’t blame you. But this easy primer on how to clean your oven “as naturally and painlessly as possible” recognizes that this task is key if you want to avoid setting off fire alarms or having a seriously smoky kitchen. Blogger Serena’s writing is so funny we swear you’ll actually enjoy reading about the ins and outs of this necessary evil.
6. Zagat’s Restaurant Hacks
Best for: People who love a shortcut
If you’ve always suspected real chefs have access to secrets us regular folks just don’t know about, you’re right. But with their “Restaurant Hacks” YouTube series, Zagat seeks to spill some of this industry info. Here, you’ll learn how to cook steak without a thermometer (in case you don’t own one), the best technique for making the ultimate slice of bacon, and even the correct way to shuck an oyster with a screwdriver. Each video is barely longer than a minute and will leave you asking how you ever survived without these work-arounds before.
7. Fit Men Cook
Best for: A bajillion ways to cook chicken
Chicken: A kitchen staple for beginner chefs and health-conscious protein-lovers. It’s hard to screw up; but it also gets boring, fast. The Fit Men Cook blog is here to help. With timesaving tricks for prepping multiple flavors of poultry in just one dish, and tons of easy-to-follow, video-illustrated tutorials for Chicken Pad Thai and Chicken Quinoa Burgers, you’ll never declare yourself “over” this bird again. One of our favorites: How to avoid #StruggleChicken (you know, when your chicken comes out so dry and rubbery you seriously debate whether you should eat it, or toss it and order takeout).
Originally posted November 2014. Updated May 2015.