18 Dishes All People Should Learn How to Make

If you’re new to the kitchen, it can be hard to know where to start, with thousands of variations of recipes and hundreds of differing opinions on the best way to cook your favorite meals. Simplify food and make cooking a joy with these 18 dishes you should definitely learn how to cook.

Scrambled Eggs

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Scrambled eggs are a high-protein, cheap, and versatile dish, ideal for any time of the day and totally comforting. Cooking over low heat will allow you to create that perfect creamy texture, and you can add to the creaminess with butter, cream, or crème fraiche. The Guardian recommends you “always take them off the heat before they’re done.”

Pancakes from Scratch

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Breakfast perfection, pancakes are easy and cheap to make. To achieve that light, fluffy texture, make sure you don’t overmix the batter, as this can prevent the gluten from forming. Play with customizing the flavor by adding blueberries or chocolate chips.

Baked Salmon

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Baking a good quality piece of fresh salmon is a highly nutritious and tasty meal. Make sure to season with salt and pepper to bring out the flavor, and you can also try fresh herbs and lemon or chili flakes for variety. Serve alongside grains and vegetables or cold in a salad for a healthy, balanced meal.

Spaghetti Carbonara

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Quick and easy, spaghetti carbonara is true Italian comfort food, and it only requires a few ingredients. Make sure to stir in your eggs off of the heat; the residual heat of the pasta will cook them, but you don’t want to curdle them and miss out on the silky smooth texture.

Roast Chicken

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Roasting a chicken offers better value than buying pieces of chicken, plus you can cook it once and have a good couple of days’ worth of meals lined up. Season the chicken well, and once it’s cooked, the juices should run clear. Slice it up and use it in salads, sandwiches, soups, or curries.

Beef Chili

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Hearty, nutritious, and great for meal prep, beef chili is a fantastic dish to master. By browning the beef first, you’ll create a rich flavor and a great base for the spices and seasoning. Try starting off light with the spice; you can always add more if you need it. Then serve with cheese, sour cream, and green onions.

Margherita Pizza

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Making a pizza from scratch enables you to use the freshest ingredients and customize the flavors as you wish. You can make a dough easily, just using flour, water, yeast, and a little bit of kneading time to create a smooth, stretchy base. Then add fresh tomato sauce and slices of mozzarella, and top with basil and a drizzle of olive oil.

Classic Chicken Soup

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Ideal for days when you’re not feeling your best, chicken soup is a soothing, nutritious meal. Start with carrots, celery, onions, and fresh herbs to create a rich base flavor. Add homemade stock if you can. Women’s Health says, “Not only does DIY-ing your own stock help you avoid food waste, but [it also] offers your cooking extra flavor and nutrition, too.”

Caesar Salad

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Anchovies, garlic, and parmesan are key to the classic Caesar dressing flavor. Whip up the dressing in no time and toss through crisp romaine lettuce for a fresh taste, not forgetting some homemade croutons for crunch. While traditionally it’s served as simply as this, you can add chicken or bacon to make it into a hearty meal.

Lentil Soup

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Lentils are cheap and offer a great source of protein and fiber, making them a fantastic base for any meat-free meal. By adding aromatic spices and fresh herbs, you can create a depth of flavor in the soup and add vegetables for a hearty and well-balanced meal.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Everyone needs a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, and each one will allow you to create a slightly different version of the iconic treat. Whether you prefer yours crispy, chewy, or cakey, make sure to experiment by adding in nuts, oats, and different types of chocolate for variation.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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An American icon, the grilled cheese is true perfection. NY Times Cooking says, “Achieving a golden, crusty outside and oozy inside takes a little patience: if the heat is too high, the outside will scorch before the cheese melts.” Consider adding tomatoes or bacon for extra flavor, and pair with a fresh salad or cozy soup.

Vegetable Curry

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Using a blend of traditional spices not only provides a well-balanced flavor but also a variety of health benefits. A truly versatile dish, you can add whatever vegetables are in season or that need using up from the back of the fridge, and you could consider adding beans or lentils for a good protein source.

Beef Bourguignon

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Slow-cooked beef, good-quality red wine, and some simple vegetables combine in this traditional French dish for a rich flavor. Add fresh herbs for depth, and serve with mashed potatoes or crusty bread for a hearty, comforting meal.

Basic Stir-Fry

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Cooking vegetables and meat over high heat and adding flavor with seasoning and sticky sauces is an ideal midweek meal. Chopping all your ingredients into uniformly sized pieces ensures even cooking, and Masterclass says, “Your veggies must have enough room to move around in the wok. A crowded wok will lead to veggies that are soggy instead of crunchy.”


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A well-made omelette starts with whisking the eggs and pouring them into a buttered pan over medium heat. Experiment with flavor by adding different fillings, such as vegetables, cheeses, and cooked meats. Then cook the omelette just long enough and fold it over before it starts to brown for the perfect texture.


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Risotto is a versatile dish that allows you to incorporate a huge variety of vegetables and meats into the creamy rice. Using arborio rice will allow you to create the creamiest texture, and it’s important to add the broth gradually, constantly stirring to develop the starch.

Fish Tacos

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Fish tacos are fresh, healthy, and flavorful. Try experimenting with different types of fish, and either grill or fry for your perfect combination, making sure to season it well. You can enhance the fish with cabbage slaw, avocado, or cilantro-lime sauce.

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