20 Recipes Every 20-Something Should Learn to Cook
From roast chicken to the perfect cheese omelet, become well-equipped in the kitchen with these essential recipes.
Learning how to cook is a goal for many twenty- and thirty-somethings. Whether you're living on your own for the first time, trying to save money, eat better, or pick up a new hobby, there are so many benefits to knowing how to cook. But where do you begin when you're just getting started in the kitchen? First and foremost, cook what you love to eat. Not only will it feel rewarding to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies or recreate your favorite takeout-inspired meal at home, but you're also more likely to do it often if you enjoy eating what you make.
Consider these recipes a guide for what we consider the essentials. You'll find versatile building blocks, such as our All-Purpose Tomato Sauce and Instant Pot Chicken Broth, as well as complete meals that will impress your family and friends, like One-Pan Pasta and Roast Chicken with Vegetables and Potatoes.
We're also including recipes for two of the most popular desserts—Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and Chewy Brownies. You'll never pick up a mix again when you see just how simple (and delicious!) it is to make these from scratch.
Knowing how to make a variety of different side dishes that you can pair with steak, fish, poultry, or a vegetarian entrée is also key. We have two essential recipes for potatoes—mashed or roasted—as well as a master recipe for brown rice, which you can pair with anything and everything.
In no time at all, you'll be hosting dinner parties galore using these essential recipes—we promise that they'll never go out of style.
If you're cooking in a kitchen with minimal space and cookware, this is the recipe for you. All of the ingredients (just seven total!) cook in the same large pot. Whether you make it on a busy weeknight or serve it for a dinner party with friends, this spaghetti is dressed to impress.
Roast Chicken with Vegetables and Potatoes
Classic Cheese Omelet
Almost anyone can make eggs for breakfast, but creating a creamy omelet that isn't dry and has no breakage requires a bit more technique. This recipe introduces key techniques like how to thoroughly combine the yolks and whites, properly stir them in the skillet, and master the perfect fold.
Crispy Chicken Cutlets
An adult upgrade to chicken nuggets, these crispy chicken cutlets are delicious served atop a green salad or alongside heartier side dishes like mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. Make a big batch to keep in the freezer; you'll be glad you have them on hand whenever you need dinner in a pinch.
General Tso's Chicken
Curb your takeout habit with our sweet, sour, and spicy take on this Chinese-American classic. This dish is nothing without its signature sauce—a host of ingredients including soy sauce, dried red chiles, garlic, ginger, scallions, and sesame oil build all the flavor here. It's well worth the effort.
Easy Classic Guacamole
All-Purpose Tomato Sauce
Classic Burger-Joint Cheeseburger
Skip the drive-thru and make your own number #1 at home. Juicy grass-fed beef is topped with slices of American cheese, tomatoes, dill pickles, shredded iceberg lettuce, ketchup, and mayonnaise.
Test Kitchen's Favorite Spaghetti and Meatballs
Everyone loves eating this Italian-American classic but how many people actually make it at home for dinner? Our recipe takes you through the basics of making sauce and meatballs, plus how to assemble it all together for one spectacular main course.
Fluffy Mashed Potatoes
Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
Seared Porterhouse Steak
Planning a romantic date night with a loved one? Make a gorgeous, show-stopping porterhouse steak, which includes a strip steak and a filet—trust us, there is plenty of meat to go around.
Easy Skillet-Poached Salmon
Poaching fish, meat, or poultry is an essential skill. Getting the timing just right requires a bit of patience and practice, but once you nail it, it will transform your dinner routine.
Roasted Red Potatoes
Roasted potatoes is another back-pocket recipe you'll be glad you mastered. Here, we've infused them with fresh rosemary for earthy flavor. They're a delicious, classic side dish—and you'll be amazed at just how easy they are to make!
Perfect Frittata with Zucchini and Provolone
Creating a flavorful frittata that isn't overcooked nor undercooked may seem like a challenge, but this recipe is the perfect introduction. This recipe uses summer squash, but feel free to swap in any seasonal vegetable like mushrooms, Swiss chard, or bell peppers.
Macaroni and Cheese
This is the ultimate recipe to satisfy the kid in you. The cheesy sauce for this classic comfort food starts with béchamel, a famed French sauce that is also the base for potato gratins. From here, add in three types of cheese—Monterey Jack, Gruyère, and Comté—for maximum flavor.
Here, slow and steady really does win the race. Learn how to make a basic risotto with arborio rice, onions, white wine, and Parmesan, and then mix it by adding in whatever you please—wild mushrooms, lobster and shrimp, or butternut squash are all tasty options.
Customizable Vegetable Soup
Homemade soup is more wholesome and has so much more flavor than store bought options (it's cheaper, too!). This recipe is a good basic formula, but feel free to get creative by adding in whatever grains and vegetables you please. The student has become the master!
Instant Pot Chicken Broth
One of the secrets to flavorful cooking at home is often in a homemade broth. From risotto to homemade soup, a batch of made-from-scratch stock or broth is so versatile. Making your own broth with parsley stems, chicken bones, and vegetables is also a great way to reduce food waste.