Learning to cook online can be quite daunting to a beginner. The best part about cooking is how many options you have, but that’s exactly what makes it so hard to figure out where to start. That’s where a good teacher would normally come in, guiding the novice chef in the right direction until they have the right foundations.
Learning to cook online can be done with a little research, and just a few clicks. After you choose the style of cooking you want to learn or narrow it down to a few choice dishes, you’ll be able to choose a class and enroll. Before you commit to an online cooking class, find out if there are any additional fees outside of enrollment or if you need to purchase special cooking utensils.
Learning to cook online is significantly less expensive and more convenient than in-person classes. It’s a lot more accessible to people who are just curious about cooking or want to learn it as a skill or a hobby rather than a career. In this case, the casual approach of most online sources actually might suit you better than many in-person classes.
Is It Possible to Learn to Cook Online?
A lot of people are skeptical about learning to cook online. Sure, it’s usually more affordable than in-person classes, but can you really use the internet to become a great cook?
Like any learning, any skill in the information age, learning to cook online is a viable option if you have enough self-discipline. Individual recipes, online cooking shows, and video tutorials are all available online, often for free.
Learning to cook online is a fun way to develop a useful skill, and with just a small push in the right direction, you’ll be on your way to becoming a favorite home chef among your friends and family. To help you out, we have seven tips to get you started in the kitchen!
7 Tips While Learning to Cook Online
Now that you know it’s possible to learn to cook online, it’s time to get started. Here are seven tips to help you make the most of your online learning experience.
Learn Foundational Skills
The first recipe you try to learn is going to be intimidating. Almost everything is going to be new to you, but that’s ok! Cooking is all about foundational skills because once you learn them, they can be used for anything else.
Let’s take a basic example, such as this video, where Gordon Ramsay teaches you the proper way to chop an onion.
This technique is more important than it seems because it lets you keep the pieces of onion the same size, which lets them cook evenly. More importantly, once you learn this technique, you’ll be able to use it in any other recipe that uses chopped onions!
So your first recipe will be tough. You’ll have to learn every skill from scratch. But, once those skills are mastered, they’re transferable to other dishes, and from then on, every new meal you cook will be easier!
Learn the Language
What’s the difference between a chop and a dice? Or a simmer and a rolling boil? Cooking has a ton of terms that refer to very specific techniques. To make matters even more difficult, these terms are often misused often.
You don’t need to read a dictionary to cook, but familiarizing yourself with some of the more important terms can make recipes a lot easier to read. Here is a great resource to check if you come across a term you don’t understand, or you just want to read up on the terms chefs use.
Make a Plan
The hardest part about learning online is the lack of structure. In a traditional classroom, you would have scheduled lessons, assignments, and a planned curriculum. Learning online is a bit more chaotic, and as a result, it relies a lot more on self-discipline.
Everyone gets busy, and if you put off learning a recipe for a few days, which turns into a few weeks, and before you know it, you haven’t cooked anything substantial in months. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to make a plan!
A lot of people set aside one day a week where they aren’t too busy to cook a nice dinner. Not only does this make sure you’re cooking consistently, but it also lets you look forward to a nice meal every week!
Practice Makes Perfect
Once you shake off your beginner’s intimidation and hit your stride, the whole culinary world opens up for you. With so many different dishes to try, you’re going to want to make everything, and you should! But make sure you’re getting some repetitions in on your favorites while you do.
Cooking is all about repetition. The more the timings and techniques become second nature, the more you can focus on the things that really make a dish shine. In other words, if you’re busy worrying about how long it takes to boil your potatoes, you aren’t focusing on basting your steak. Once the simplest parts of a recipe become second nature, you’ll be surprised by how much time and energy you free up to take your meal to the next level!
You don’t have to make the same dish every night. Just pick a couple of staples to master. After only three or four repetitions, you’re guaranteed to notice the difference in quality.
Find Content Creators You Enjoy
There is an ocean of online content dedicated to learning to cook. A lot of it is dedicated to more experienced cooks, but there are a ton of resources out there for people who are just starting! Since both the food we eat and the way we learn are so subjective, it’s worth putting in a little effort into finding content creators that work for you both ways.
Many mainstream chefs have embraced the internet, posting recipes and demonstration videos on their own sites or on Youtube. Some of the most popular and prolific of these traditional TV chefs turned internet stars include Gordon Ramsay, Jaques Pepin, and Jamie Oliver. Their content is typically well-produced, and though they are professionals themselves, they often aim their lessons at novices.
In addition to traditional TV chefs, there are many content creators native to the internet. Youtube channels like Internet Shaquille and Basics with Babish create content that spans from more amateurish to fully polished.
Internet content is often more specialized than that of mainstream chefs, either more focused on practical home cooking, such as meal prep and clean up, or much more technical recipes aimed at veteran home chefs.
Cooking is all about experimentation. Following a recipe is a great place to start, but once you’ve learned to do that accurately, you can start to make them your own.
It’s recommended to start with small changes. Maybe that means throwing some turnips into that beef stew recipe that only called for carrots and potatoes because they’ve been sitting out a while, and you want to find a use for them.
Maybe it means tossing a little cayenne into a mellower recipe to give it a little kick. The fact is, you know your tastes better than anyone else, so feel confident making changes.
Another way to be creative is to reuse parts of the recipes you’ve already learned. Take this recipe for a green bean salad. It’s dressed with a delicious and simple mustard vinaigrette with toasted almonds. In fact, there’s nothing stopping you from using that vinaigrette on a salad of Arugula, goat cheese, and grilled chicken. Look at that! Using part of one recipe, you’ve created an entirely new one!
The last step you can take to learn to cook online is to lose your anxiety. Nobody is going to judge you! Cooking, like any hobby, sees its share of gatekeepers, but don’t let that put pressure on you.
If you decide to take up cooking, you’re going to burn the butter, you’re going to overcook a very expensive ribeye, and you’re going to forget to season a sauce. Don’t be discouraged, that’s just part of the process!
If it makes you more comfortable, cook for yourself at first (if possible). It’s a lot less stressful if dinner ends up being late or if you have to throw it all out and start over. Remember, this is supposed to be fun, so don’t stress!
Last, if you do end up cooking for somebody else, and you make a mistake, it really isn’t a big deal. People are very insecure about their cooking abilities, but chances are whoever you’re cooking for is just happy to have a home-cooked meal. If there’s one thing to keep in mind when cooking for other people, it’s this: Nothing tastes better than free food. So relax.
What's the Most Important Thing to Consider When Learning to Cook Online?
So, now you have the basic ideas you want to consider when learning to cook online, but if I could break it down into one tip, it would be this: Practice. Keep practicing. As long as you’re cooking, you’re learning because the experience is everything.
Now, how you go about doing this is going to look different depending on who you are. Some people like to repeat the same dish three times a week until they can make it with their eyes closed. Other people like to broaden their horizons more quickly. Both are great, as long as you keep cooking. In other words, you should cook what you enjoy, because if you’re enjoying yourself you’ll keep practicing, and you’ll be making amazing food for your friends and family in no time!
Learning to cook online doesn’t have to be confusing or stressful. If you feel as if you have the motivation to do the work, but you just don’t know where to start, these tips will help you get your foot in the door.
The wonderful thing about cooking is that it’s so easy to fall down the rabbit hole. The more skills you have at your disposal, the more the world of cooking opens up to you. Someday soon, you’ll look back at the days you couldn’t find anything you wanted to cook fondly, because you’ll have so many different recipes you want to start you won’t know where to start!
Above all, don’t expect to be an expert immediately. Like any skill, learning to cook takes time, so find content creators you enjoy, get ready to make some mistakes, and have fun!