Menu Ideas

20 Essential Dishes Every Cook Should Know

By • January 10, 2014 • 52 Comments

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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!

 

Jump to Comments (52)

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

Comments (52)

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about 1 month ago Sharon

Stuffing

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3 months ago Jenn Cilento

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

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5 months ago Diane

Chicken noodle soup and spaghetti and meatballs.

Stringio

6 months 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)

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11 months ago Nancy Pulsifer

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

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11 months ago nunya biz

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

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11 months ago patricia richardson

classic meat loaf...

Chickenstock

11 months ago DianeT

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

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11 months 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.

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11 months ago Wendi

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

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11 months ago Sofia

souffle

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11 months 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!

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11 months ago Patricia

Basic pound cake is a family staple!

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11 months ago NinaM

I'd like to see a basic pizza!

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11 months 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

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11 months ago Peggy

Chicken soup!

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11 months 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.

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11 months ago Bryan Paschke

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

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11 months ago Ketoko

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

Happy New Year

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11 months ago Cindy Wells

Survival cooking should include a basic spaghetti, oatmeal cookies, and rice.

Me_2009

11 months ago MrsPrincess07

I love this site!

I know most of my dishes, but it wasn't until I began coming here that they started to look as pictured!