Weeknight Cooking

18 Dishes Every Adult Should Know How to Make

September  6, 2016


We'll call these foundational dishes. Get them under your belt, and it's just the beginning—you'll be able to branch out in myriad ways. Pancakes! Hummus! Better guac! Learn to make it all without even glancing at a recipe. Then go from there. 

How to Make Pancakes Without a Recipe by Sarah Jampel

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How to Make Any Frittata in 5 Steps by Kenzi Wilbur

More: How to make baked eggs, and the best egg sandwich.


How to Make Any Savory Galette Without a Recipe by Marian Bull


How to Make a Grain Bowl Without a Recipe by Leslie Stephens


How to Roast Any Vegetable in 4 Steps by Marian Bull


How to Make Any Pesto in 5 Steps by Phyllis Grant

More: Now that you have pesto, here's how you can get creative with it.


How to Make Macaroni and Cheese Without a Recipe by Catherine Lamb


How to Make DIY Nachos Without a Recipe by Lee Frank

More: Whip up some homemade salsa for those nachos. 


How to Make Guacamole Without Recipe by Leesa Frey Freeman


How to Make Any Burrito in 5 Steps by pierino 


How to Make Hummus Without a Recipe by Hillary Pollak


How to Make a Vinaigrette Without a Recipe by Kenzi Wilbur


How to Make Any Marinara Sauce in 5 Steps (and 20 Minutes) by cookinginvictoria


How to Roast a Chicken Without a Recipe by Kenzi Wilbur

More: Stretch that roast chicken with chicken salad or chicken noodle soup.


How to Make Tomato Soup Without a Recipe by Brette Warshaw

More: Switch it up with lentil soup.


How to Make Any Puréed Vegetable Soup in 5 Steps by Kenzi Wilbur

More: Make vegetarian or vegan chili when you need a little something extra. 


How to Make Any Veggie Burger Without a Recipe by Marian Bull


Banana Bread by Hillary Reeves

This article originally appeared on May 18th, 2015. 

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Written by: Jenny Xu

Dorm baker and connoisseur of digestive biscuits.


caninechef September 8, 2016
How does an article dated 2 days ago have comments tagged as from over a year ago?
ChefJune September 6, 2016
FWIW, adults cook with recipes.
Smaug September 6, 2016
I must say this list was something of a surprise- I was expecting stuff like "bread" and "gravy", or maybe "salad dressing".
John November 30, 2015
What a interesting cookies recipe. I have to make this recipe as soon as possible. Yummy.
Bob November 30, 2015
These recipes are the best, absolutely number one.
John November 30, 2015
How I love these recipes, I can't wait to make that delicious veggie burger.
Chef D. November 12, 2015
mouth-watering food pics on this page :)
I need to make that burrito so I can eat it right now!
Annie August 7, 2015
An asian wrote this Anglo centric list, try visiting the majority of the worlds population... fried rice, a curry, a brothy soup...
Elizabeth S. May 19, 2015
I hate not a recipe recipes. I don't mean to be negative. But, I look at a recipe to see a flavor combination I might not necessarily think of. I read comments and see how others have adapted it. I figure out how I want to do it. We all realize that a recipe is not etched in stone and know how to change it so it works for us.
kimikoftokyo May 18, 2015
If its good eat it I say. I think everyone should know how to cook. I am a grad school student that is older so yeah my picky eating self make very off the wall food that people think I was taught to cook. I was not lol. Everyone doesn't leave college meet a cook and get married , so people learn how to cook. These are very easy things to cook, but at the same time people have different takes on things so it may not be to come. I like to eat but cooking is boring to me. Can I do it, yes I wasn't taught per se it was more of just dos and do not do!!! rules of cooking. If you are a foodie try to make those same things at home and as I do. The cool modern cookbooks are decor more than a reference. This is why I use this site lol .
foofaraw May 18, 2015
It is too funny (/coincidental?) that a page that titled Cook like an Adult has stuffed chicken on its butt as the banner picture. Sorry, I just have to comment...
Allyn May 18, 2015
I'm one of those weird ones that almost always wants some sort of recipe to look at, even if I only follow 1 or 2 things from it in the end. Whether it's a temperature or a ratio of solids to liquids, I just like having a visual reference point.
I wish I could anonymously send this to an old roommate of mine, who when we lived together (post college), didn't even know how to fry an egg or cook pasta. Seriously. She mostly lived off of canned tuna and canned chili. Teaching her how to fry the egg was a HUGE step.
ChefJune September 6, 2016
I agree with you, Allyn. There are very few dishes I don't get my recipe out for... even if just to make sure I don't forget any key ingredients. And I'm also talking about recipes I have created.
If I want to make sure it comes out "the way it always does," I'd rather be safe than sorry.