Menu Ideas

20 Essential Dishes Every Cook Should Know

by • January 10, 2014 54 Comments

411 + Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

If you were going to ever commit any sort of recipes to your memory -- if you were going to ever cook things so often that they become second nature -- you should look to these twenty. (Or, if they won't all fit in your brain, at least have them at the ready). Because while we're all into big parties and fun experiments and playing around in the kitchen, we've got our staples. We've got the things we turn to for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert -- all week long, when we're hungry or when we're tired or when the mood suddenly strikes. So here are Food52's most essential recipes: the things you really should know -- or strive to learn! -- how to cook.

Scrambled Eggs 

Scrambled eggs from Food52

 

Pancakes

Pancakes from Food52

 

Chili

Chili from Food52

 

Roast Chicken 

Roast Chicken from Food52

 

Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce from Food52

 

Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese from Food52

 

Salad Dressing

Lemon Caper Dressing

 

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes from Food52

 

Steak 

Steak from Food52

 

Stir-Fried Noodles 

Noodles from Food52

 

Pesto

Pesto from Food52

  

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables from Food52

 

French Toast 

French toast from Food52

 

Puréed Vegetable Soup

Soup from Food52

 

Hamburgers

Burgers from Food52

 

Macaroni and Cheese 

Macaroni and Cheese from Food52

 

Chicken Cutlets

Chicken fingers from Food52

 

Frittata

Frittata from Food52

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies from Food52

 

Chocolate Bundt Cake

Bundt cake from Food52

What recipes would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

 

Tags: menu ideas, roundup, everyday cooking, how-to & diy

💬 View Comments ()

Comments (54)

Default-small
Default-small
Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

4 months ago cl

Rice and Beans, Pastas, soups/stews, salads, baked potato, stir-fry, meatballs/meatloaf, baked/sautéed fish, roasts, bacon, gravies/sauce, fruit crisp, cake, muffins, microwave cooking, omelets

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

6 months ago arcane54

Simple pan sauce (so versatile); custard; Cook's Illustrated "almost no-stir risotto; shortbread... Endless variations for all of these!

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

8 months ago Sharon

Stuffing

31527c4a-1c4b-4891-935c-202e3497261f

9 months ago Jenn Cilento

Chicken stock. Its so useful, for so many things.

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

12 months ago Diane

Chicken noodle soup and spaghetti and meatballs.

E2fbb665-9824-4c64-b155-980c68a0a14f.stringio

about 1 year ago Ronald Smith

Well you could add the following to the list...

Roasting a ham, pork or beef.
Sweet potatoes\squash
baked pies.
Bread(quite easy to do honestly)

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

over 1 year ago Nancy Pulsifer

I, too, love this site! It has become my go to for many things.
You cover everything well! Yum!

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

over 1 year ago nunya biz

I cant believe you added bread on top of mac and cheese,or carrots and stew beef in chili! yuk!

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

over 1 year ago patricia richardson

classic meat loaf...

009a9ff6-54ac-4292-9c9e-dabb2c435b62.chickenstock

over 1 year ago DianeT

Great list. I'd add chicken stock, some sort of braise, like a brisket, and cobbler - and skip the mac and cheese.

B16e32d0-96e5-430e-a9a4-2a6775f3b31d.open-uri.8133

over 1 year ago scott.finkelstein.5

Lost me at including macaroni and cheese and fritata (don't even know what that is) but not chicken-kneidle soup or white fish with a ritz crust.

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

over 1 year ago Wendi

Meatloaf/meatballs. Same ingredients, with a variation on the meatballs for hors d'oeuvres

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

over 1 year ago Sofia

souffle

Fabeb1f3-a611-443e-9730-98203ea9c103.024

over 1 year ago bonbonmarie

I would add a good fruit pie to this list. Something you don't need a recipe for, just luscious, just-picked goodness and a flaky crust or crumble to contain it. yum!

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

over 1 year ago Patricia

Basic pound cake is a family staple!

E3bb5362-a45c-4e8c-9943-7a5954216642.861024_622913884242_262643465_o

over 1 year ago NinaM

I'd like to see a basic pizza!

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

over 1 year ago KitchenBeard

I'd add a good stew. Beef, pork, chicken, whatever, but the process of a one pot multihour braise is a good use of cheap ingredients to produce a complex flavor. B

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

over 1 year ago Peggy

Chicken soup!

Ecb21557-2b84-4d6a-bc8d-edfe00c3c780

over 1 year ago Bryan Paschke

I actually wouldn't be NEARLY as specific as this list is. Every cook (home cook) should know how to make: 1)scrambled eggs, 2)some form of hot cereal, 3)some form of fried/BBQed meat (skill is generally transferrable), 4)at least one simple pasta dish, 5)at least one complex dish suitable for company, 6)a basic green salad, 7) steamed vegetables and 8)at least one sweet. Everything else is optional. Know these six things and you'll be able to keep yourself and even a family at least relatively happy and healthy. These things should be known BEFORE a person is old enough to drive a car.

Ecb21557-2b84-4d6a-bc8d-edfe00c3c780

over 1 year ago Bryan Paschke

Doh, I forgot one....4a)at least one soup..preferably one that can be used as a base and varied.

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full

over 1 year ago Ketoko

I want to dedicate my life cooking pancakes. There is something mystical in it:)

Happy New Year