Like most things in life, cooking is a skill that you can hone and craft. And if you're a young, beginner cook, mastering certain dishes will help you gain competence and confidence in the kitchen. So Redditor u/GloomyProfessional80 asked, "What recipe do you swear each 20-something should learn? Here's what people said.
1."Egg fried rice. I learned how to make this too late in life because it's such a game-changer. Now, I make large batches of rice, keep it in the fridge, and whenever I need a quick dinner, I stir-fry it with eggs."
2."Learn a few classic Italian pastas like carbonara or arrabbiata. They usually require only a handful of ingredients, and with a little bit of practice, you can make them into restaurant-quality dishes at home."
3."Beef stew. I started with a basic recipe, then branched out and added things I liked from other recipes. I learned the proper timing for adding different ingredients and how to think about flavors working together. Lots of different aspects of cooking came together for me while working through beef stew."
4."Subscription cooking boxes. I know it's not a single recipe, but honestly, these subscription boxes helped me learn a ton about cooking. I used Blue Apron, which taught me to cook steak and fish, but even more importantly, it helped me to expand my palate to new flavors and dishes. It’s not cheap, but it was instrumental for me in learning how to cook at home."
5."Risotto. This dish isn’t about following a recipe. Rather, it’s about constantly adapting to the texture and flavor. Any recipe that forces you to do that is a good teacher."
6."It's more of a process than a recipe, but stir fry. It's such a great base for an endless variety of meals. Pick your base (like rice or noodles), your protein (chicken, beef, tofu, shrimp, beans, etc.), any vegetables, and seasonings from garlic and ginger to chili and fish sauce. Once you're feeling comfortable with basic stir fry, you can get fancy with things like curry paste, coconut milk, and nuts."
7."A favorite family recipe...any recipe that you grew up eating or reminds you of home. For me, that's my mother's apricot chicken served with rice pilaf. It's a dish that my family eats all the time, especially on Jewish holidays like Passover. It's delicious and comforting and just tastes like home to me. Before I moved out of the house, my mom taught me how to make it myself. Now that I live away from home, I can whip it up and instantly feel a sense of comfort and nostalgia."
8."Roasted vegetables. My parents always made frozen vegetables in the microwave. But once I started roasting them with a bit of oil, salt, and pepper, it was a revelation to see how good vegetables could taste. As an adult, mastering basic roasted veggies really changed my eating and cooking habits."
9."Cacio e pepe. It's a simple dish made with just three ingredients. It taught me how to cook with pasta water, pay attention to heat levels, the importance of proper ingredients (like freshly ground pepper), and the idea that sometimes the result can be much more than the sum of its parts. What a joy it was to finally make a delicious Cacio e Pepe on my eighth attempt."
10."Whole roasted chicken. Roasting a whole bird might seem intimidating, but it's actually very difficult to mess up and so delicious. You don't need much more than salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs, but of course, you can get fancier. It will also introduce you to new techniques like brining and spatchcocking. It's the most versatile meal for so many occasions, from a weeknight family supper to a dinner party."
11."A basic white sauce (béchamel) can be used on its own, or it can become so many other things like Alfredo sauce, cheese sauce for mac 'n' cheese, a base for potatoes au gratin, lasagna, or creamed vegetables. To make it, all you need is butter, flour, and milk."
12."Bolognese. You can start with a simple recipe in your 20s and improve steadily throughout your life. Even the most basic version will still impress a date or dinner guests."
13."Tacos. It's such an easy meal and a great thing to default to when you can't think of anything else to make. You can make them with anything from scrambled eggs to ground beef."
14."Frittatas. It's basically just scrambled eggs baked with whatever vegetables you want and some cheese. It’s a great way to use leftovers; you can eat it for pretty much any meal, and it reheats well."
15."Boiling a chicken and making chicken soup. It's really so easy, but best of all, it's cheap. You can get several meals out of it, and you can really vary the flavors based on what ingredients you add to it."
16."Simple tomato sauce from scratch. It's easy for anyone to make yet impossible to 'master.' Plus, once you have a feel for it, you can make endless variations using what's in your pantry."
17."Sheet pan dinners! You can make so many different meals with this single technique. Take an everyday recipe like chicken thighs or sliced sausage scattered on a sheet pan with assorted vegetables cut into equally-sized pieces. Toss in a few garlic cloves, drizzle everything in olive oil, salt, pepper, and any aromatic seasonings you like. Roast it at 400°F in a single layer until done or browned a bit. The options are endless."
18."Potato soup. It was a staple for me when I was young and broke. All you need are potatoes, cream, and bouillon or stock, plus whatever add-ins you can afford like bacon or scallions. It's filling, and you can make it in large batches to eat for days."
19."Jazzed up instant ramen noodles. Learn how to add some more ingredients to your ramen to turn it from a $2 meal into something that tastes gourmet. Try adding soft boiled eggs, mushrooms, cabbage, etc. Or leave out the seasoning packet and dress ramen noodles with peanut butter, chili flakes, and sriracha."
20."Learn how to make a basic omelette. It's cheap, delicious, and easy...the perfect trifecta. Best of all, you can eat it for breakfast or dinner."
21."French bread pizza, aka supermarket bread topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella or any of your favorite pizza toppings. It's cheaper than delivery, better than frozen pizza, and wildly easy and quick to make."
22."Invest in a slow cooker and learn how to use it. You can take any cheap cut of meat like chuck roast and turn it into a scrumptious feast. It's also so convenient to prepare your meal in the morning, turn on the slow cooker, and return home from work to a great dinner."
23."Shakshuka, aka eggs baked in tomato sauce. All you really need are canned tomatoes, eggs, onion, and some seasonings. It's affordable, no-frills, and excellent any time of day."
24."Chili. There are infinite variations you can make once you have a go-to homemade chili recipe as a stepping stone. You can make it with any carbohydrate, veggies, meat, or beans you have on hand."
25."Mac 'n' cheese. Homemade mac is really very simple if you keep it basic, and it tastes leagues better than the boxed stuff. As you get proficient in the kitchen, you can play around with different seasonings and cheeses to amp it up."
26."Finally, breaded chicken cutlets. You can use either Italian breadcrumbs or panko, and you can incorporate it into so many different cuisines from chicken parmesan to katsu. It's so versatile and fairly straightforward to make. Plus, you can make a whole bunch at once if you meal prep."
What's a dish that every young, beginner home cook should learn how to make? Or what's the meal that has taught you the most about cooking? Tell us in the comments!