15 Easy Recipes That Will Make You a Better Cook
To all hesitant fledgling cooks out there, we feel you. The idea of pouring time and money into preparing food that doesn't turn out so tasty (or even worse, makes someone sick) is terrifying enough to want to avoid cooking altogether. But that doesn't mean you should. It'll take time, but with every recipe mastered, you're one step closer to being able to whip up something amazing without a recipe at all. In the meantime, fake a little expertise and take a crash course on fundamental cooking principles with these easy-to-follow recipes.
Simple Lemon, Shrimp, and Prosciutto Pasta
Simple Lemon, Shrimp, and Prosciutto Pasta Recipe
Salty, umami-packed prosciutto complements the sweet shrimp and tomatoes in this streamlined 20-minute main.
Time to oust your box cake mix, and embrace your inner baker with this basic yellow cake formula. This easy recipe will raise your cake-crafting confidence to new heights the first time you try it. As the name suggests, the numbers represent the measurements of the ingredients in the cake. Just remember what number matches with which ingredient, and you can easily memorize this recipe to whip up anytime you please. The buttery yellow cake is moist and has a perfectly dense crumb. Consider the 1-2-3-4 Cake a blank canvas; have fun adding layers of your buttercream frosting, whipped cream with fruit, or your own favorite frosting. One key to keep in mind when making this cake is that you really do need to have your butter softened and, ideally, your eggs at room temperature. Mixing these ingredients in when cold makes them more difficult to incorporate and can yield a "broken" batter. When baking the cake, be sure to use a light baking pan to help prevent over-browning. If you see that the top of your cake is brown, but the center is still wet, make a foil tent over the cake to keep it from getting darker.
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
We love the heat level in this slow cooker take on tikka masala to fend off winter chill. If the spice kick is too much for your family, you can cut the red pepper down by half without losing any of the dynamic flavor layers.
Classic Pasta Carbonara
Classic Pasta Carbonara Recipe
This simple, classic pasta carbonara recipe is the perfect dish when you need a special night in. And with this foolproof method for nailing the signature creamy sauce, you can go into the kitchen with confidence. Traditionally, you would toss your hot pasta with the eggs and cheese right in the skillet you've used to cook the pork (over low heat) to create a smooth, emulsified sauce. However, this method takes practice to get right—and crossing the fine line between gently cooking the eggs and scrambling them is all too easy, even for a pro. With this smart test kitchen technique, you essentially create a double boiler to provide just enough heat to melt your cheese and emulsify the silky sauce, without running the risk of breaking it. Finally, drizzling pancetta drippings over the pasta disperses rich porky flavor throughout the sauce even without ever having the pasta in the skillet. We use pancetta for this recipe as it is easily found in most supermarkets, but guanciale is traditional and worth trying if you can find it. Gemelli pasta is a great noodle shape to pair with this rich and saucy dish, but feel free to use whatever noodle you prefer.
Best Fudgy Brownies
Meet your new go-to recipe for homemade brownies. These decadent treats are extra rich and fudgy, thanks to a double hit of baking chocolate and bittersweet chocolate morsels. They're incredibly easy to make, plus you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already. And while we're definitely not above boxed brownie mixes, these homemade brownies would certainly steal the show at any party or get-together.
Pan-Seared Strip Steak
This fantastic strip steak is the perfect dinner for date night or any special occasion that deserves something extra delicious on the table. A little butter adds richness and keeps the leaner-than-usual beef moist without adding much in the way of total fat. Don't know how to cook steak on the stove? No worries! Not only is this one of our best steak recipes, it's incredibly easy. However, a word of caution: This recipe is smoky! Keep your exhaust fan on high or cook in a skillet on a hot outdoor grill.
Classic Banana Bread
Our easy banana bread recipe is hands down the best. This classic recipe yields everything you want from a great banana bread: toasty sweetness, impeccable moistness, and a crispy top worth swooning over. Enjoy this go-to quick bread as a quick breakfast or a sweet afternoon snack; and for a real treat, try a warm slice slathered with softened cream cheese.
Garlicky Roasted Spatchcock Chicken
Garlicky Roasted Spatchcock Chicken Recipe
Removing a chicken's backbone—a technique called spatchcocking (or butterflying)—ensures juicy meat and golden crisp skin in less time than roasting a whole bird. Although it does require some simple knife skills, it's the best and fastest way to roast a chicken. Plus, you can save the backbone to make a great chicken stock. This is the kind of sheet pan dinner you'll want to make all fall and winter long.
One-Pot Pasta with Tomato-Basil Sauce
One-Pot Pasta with Tomato-Basil Sauce Recipe
This dish is a revelation. Throw all of your ingredients into one pot over medium-high heat, and about 25 minutes later you'll have noodles perfectly coated in a luscious tomato-basil sauce. This is any busy mom's weeknight dinner perfection. If entertaining, serve with one of our easy green salad recipes for the complete dinner experience.
Poached Chicken Noodle Bowl
Poached Chicken Noodle Bowl Recipe
There's no better way to describe this poached chicken dish than wellness in a bowl. The delicate and delicious noodle bowl is a shining example of how to make and use poached chicken like a pro. Gently poaching chicken breasts in a liquid thats lightly flavored with aromatics, such as ginger and lemongrass, leads to wonderfully succulent, tender meat with a lovely level of flavoring.
Best Ever Seafood Gumbo
Best Ever Seafood Gumbo Recipe
The genius of this menu is that most of the work can be done ahead of time
One reviewer called these cookies "sinfully delicious," and we must agree. Simply roll sugar cookie dough in cinnamon sugar for a Snickerdoodle delight.
No-Knead Lightly Rye Bread
No-Knead Lightly Rye Bread Recipe
Ready to try your hand at bread baking? This simple, no-knead bread is the perfect recipe to start with. The easy-to-follow recipe yields a delightfully chewy, crisp-crusted, bakery-style boule and is an excellent yeasted bread for a novice bread maker to build confidence (and impress guests) with.
Whole Roasted Red Snapper with Potatoes and Onions
Whole Roasted Red Snapper with Potatoes and Onions Recipe
While cooking a whole fish definitely seems intimidating, this is the recipe to show you just how easy it really is. But don't worry, no one has to know—because it's gonna look ridiculously impressive when served, no matter what. You simply need to ask your fish monger to scale and clean/gut the fish, as well as remove the gills and fins; then, you just pop it into the oven like anything else. Roasting a whole fish on a sheet pan like we do here is exponentially easier than tackling it on the grill, as you have less to worry about with temperature control and there's no flipping required.
Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Roasted Fennel and Tomatoes
Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Roasted Fennel and Tomatoes Recipe
One pan, a handful of ingredients, and 30 minutes are all you need to put this impressive pork chop skillet dinner on the table. This flavor-packed, single-skillet supper is an easy dinner for two that feels like something special. It's also an ideal recipe for one, as the leftover chop and veggies reheat well for a next-day lunch worth looking forward to.