A simple yet versatile recipe that can be made time and time again without much thought or consideration.
That’s how I define an “essential recipe.”
I love testing out new recipes, cooking seasonally, and taking on delicious diy projects (jam, pickles, ferments, etc.), but underneath it all, I’ve got a core group of staple recipes that I know I can conjure up at any time. They are my go-tos. My fall-backs. My weeknight saviors. Today, I’ve gathered up 21 of these recipes, and shared them below.
If you’re just learning to cook or you want to improve your cooking skills, go through the list below, and practice these simple recipes and techniques. Start to memorize the ingredients and cooking times. Try not to make substitutions until you’ve mastered the original recipe. Take note of tastes, smells and textures. Practice seasoning with salt and pepper (and sometimes acid). Most of all, have fun.
Continue reading for 21 essential recipes, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert!
To be enjoyed as a snack, salad add-in, appetizer or even a full meal. The base for all deviled eggs.
Simple and adaptable eggs for a crowd. A great use-up for stray bits of veg sitting in the fridge. Can be enjoyed hot or room temperature. Easily packs and reheats for lunch.
For when time and energy are low, and you just want something to eat. Or the perfect blank canvas for many appetizers.
Oil. Vinegar. Salt. Pepper. Done. Making salad dressing at home can be as easy or as complicated as you like. Start with a basic vinaigrette, and branch out from there.
Homemade stock is a game changer. Simply prepared, this fridge/freezer staple can amp up the flavors anywhere stock is called for (grains, soup, braises, etc.). Or just add salt, and enjoy as is!
A versatile technique that can be used with any vegetable. Cook raw or roasted vegetables in water or stock, season to taste with salt and pepper, puree and that’s it. Lunch or dinner is served! The process is making soup is a great way to hone your seasoning skills. The great Ina Garten once said, “When it comes to taste, the only difference between a pot of really good chicken soup and sink full of dirty dishwater is salt.”
A heartier soup perfect for a party or not.
For those of you who like rye or bourbon. Can be made with a few simple pantry ingredients.
The key to making good pizza at home? Store-bought dough. The next time you’re at your favorite pizza place (Dominos, Papa John’s and Little Caesar’s excluded), ask them if they will sell you a ball of dough. This should cost $1 – $2.50. Top simply with canned tomato sauce (“pizza” sauce not needed), low-moisture mozz, salt, pepper, dried oregano, a drizzle of evoo, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Made almost exclusively with pantry items. Crowd pleaser. Freezes well for future meals.
A simple way to infuse flavor and moisture into uninteresting cuts of meat (boneless chicken breasts, boneless pork chops, turkey).
Crispy skin. Tender meat. Impressive yet approachable. Save the bones for chicken stock.
It’s all about the meat.
Minimal prep work resulting in maximum flavor. Let the oven do the work. Technique can be applied to many other vegetables.
Golden and nutty on the outside. Tender on the inside. A brussels sprouts dish that even sprout-haters will love. Enjoy with bacon or without!
Sometimes it’s ok to take a break from white meat.
Braising in general is wonderful way to turn a cheap cut of meat into a tender, juicy mass of deliciousness. Can be made in the oven or a crock pot.
Memorize this recipe, so you can whip up something sweet on a moment’s notice.
Caramel is just cooked sugar. Add cream or butter (or both!), and you’ve got caramel sauce. Add salt and you’ve got salted caramel sauce. Ooooooooo.
Heavy cream. Vanilla. Sugar. Done. No need to buy processed, whipped oil from the grocery store.
Everyone loves a good rice krispie treat. 4 ingredients. Minimal effort.