Top Tips for Learning to Cook Like a Chef in 2024

Last Updated on Jan 22nd 2024
learn to cook
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Is this the year that you finally learn to cook? If it was one of your New Year’s resolution ideas, this is your year, and before you know it, you’ll be making restaurant-quality meals for yourself, your friends, and anyone else who cares to join you for dinner. 

But how long does it take to learn how to cook? What are the five basic cooking skills? How do you even get started if you can’t even boil water successfully? We’re here to answer these questions and more. Read on to learn how to cook for beginners. 

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Learn to Cook in Cooking Classes

One of the best ways to start your cooking journey is to learn to cook in classes. When you learn to cook in classes, you have an expert guiding you every step of the way and you have a clear goal in mind. Most cooking classes revolve around a single recipe, so nothing is ever too complicated.

While you may only be going over one recipe per class, you’ll learn essential cooking skills throughout the process. Many people have different opinions on what the “essential” cooking skills are, but generally, they include:

  • Knife skills
  • Sauteing
  • Using herbs and spices
  • Roasting
  • Making sauces
    learn to cook in cooking classes near you
    via Classpop!

Now, if you don’t know how to do any of those things yet, cooking classes near you can help within the first session. Think about it! Making even a simple stir-fry dish can teach you almost all of those skills, and you can learn basic stir-fry dishes in cooking classes in Seattle, cooking classes in Washington D.C., cooking classes in Fort Lauderdale and other locales.

It’s so beneficial to have an experienced cook guiding you through the process and answering your questions in person. If you’re able to go to a cooking class, and you’re someone who loves hands-on learning and needs extra support, this is likely the best option for you. 

Learn to Cook Online

You might be wondering “Is it worth learning to cook if I can’t find time for in-person classes?” Of course, it is! Learning how to make your own meals is hugely beneficial.

In a study published by the National Library of Medicine, researchers found that people who eat more home-cooked meals tend to have overall better health outcomes. Learn to cook your own meals and you can get (and stay) healthier! 

While classes are the best option for many people, everyone learns differently and has different time constraints. If in-person classes aren’t in the cards for you right now, you certainly have other options. 

couple learning to cook in online cooking class at home
via Canva

You can always learn to cook online. Online cooking classes are widely accessible and you can learn to cook from the comfort of your own kitchen with your own pots, pans and ingredients. 

There are so many amazing chefs that can teach you their methods through the screen of your computer. Don’t underestimate Zoom cooking classes! You can also take online classes with a friend, partner or family member to make them even more enjoyable (and so you have a built-in taste tester).

Learn to Cook With Books

Perhaps you’ve tried in-person classes as well as learning to cook online, and you want to try something different. You want to add a few new books to your bookcase and learn things the old-fashioned way. No problem. You can certainly learn to cook with books. 

Naturally, you may be thinking about recipe books as your first and only option. Yes, there are nearly endless options for recipe books out there, but that’s not what we’re talking about here! We’ll discuss recipes next.

woman reading book while cooking in the kitchen
via Canva

Good cookbooks have more to offer than just recipes. Look for books that also teach you techniques. For example, the ever-popular Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat (one of the best gifts for foodies, by the way) goes into the fundamentals of cooking, balancing flavors and truly enjoying the process. This is only one of many books that functions in this way, and it’s a great “learn to cook for beginners” book. 

We recommend buying your own books rather than getting them from your local library so you can write in the margins and take notes. When you first learn to cook, expect a lot of trial and error in the early stages.

Learn to Cook With Recipes

Learning to cook with recipes is often people’s first choice, but recipes have to come after basic skills. If you don’t know how to boil water or chop vegetables, you’re going to struggle when it comes to assembling even a simple recipe. 

Once you have the basics down, look for recipes that match the skills you have and the ingredients in your kitchen. In the future, you’ll be finding all sorts of interesting specialty ingredients and whipping up meals fit for a queen, but at first, keep it simple. 

Learning how to read and follow a recipe is a skill in and of itself. While it is just “following instructions,” too many beginners make simple mistakes and ruin their own meals. 

hands holding magazine with cooking recipe
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Always read through the entire recipe first before starting. This allows you to heat up the stove or oven to the right temperature and gather all of your ingredients in one place before you so much as pick up a knife. This also lets you know if you’re missing something essential so you don’t have to stop halfway through. 

Measure out and chop (if necessary) your ingredients before you start cooking, especially as a beginner. This will help you with time management. 
Don’t get discouraged if things don’t go to plan. Part of learning how to cook for beginners is learning how to fix your mistakes! 

Basic Meals to Learn to Cook 

Pasta Dishes

Pasta dishes are essential. At the very least, you should learn how to cook pasta until it’s al dente. Everything beyond that can come later. 

Once you understand how to cook boxed pasta well, you can start getting creative. You’ll learn how to experiment with sauces and you may even learn a few one-pot pasta recipes for weeknight meals. It all starts with the basics, however. 

You can also skip to the really good part and learn to make fresh homemade pasta from scratch with online pasta making classes or in pasta cooking classes near you.

learn to cook pasta in online cooking classes
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This is the most complicated meal on the list, but once you master it, you’ll feel so proud. Risotto looks complicated, and it can be tricky. It takes patience but the end result is worth it. You can also make many different types of risotto once you have the technique down

Risotto is the perfect dish for a first-time potluck contribution, and because rice is inexpensive and accessible, it’s okay if you make a few mistakes along the way. 

Grilled Cheese

Yes, grilled cheese is simple. It’s also a great starting point for a new home cook. You can transform simple grilled cheese into a fancy meal or a nutritious powerhouse by adding the right ingredients but it’s so simple to start. 

If you have bread, cheese and butter, you can learn to cook grilled cheese. Have a grilled cheese cook-off for your first virtual dinner party!

sliced grilled cheese stacked on a plate
via Canva


If you can cook nothing else, you should learn to cook eggs. Often, eggs are the first things that beginners learn how to make. Any type of egg dish is fine, so choose the one that you like the most.

Eggs are simple and nutritious. You can pair them with bread, rice, veggies or pasta and make a meal that’s protein-packed. They’re also quick and good for any time of the day and you can make complex dishes with them, like omu-rice. 

Whether you like them scrambled, fried or boiled, learn how to cook a perfect egg and you’ll be on your way to cooking bigger and better things.

Are you ready to learn how to cook? Sign up for a few classes, buy some great books and get in the kitchen. You’ll be crafting excellent meals before you know it. Get ready to impress your friends! 

For even more fun cooking ideas, check out other experiences happening on Classpop!