Cooking Basics
10 Basic Recipes to Get You Cooking
Having reliable recipes can quickly build your confidence and basic skills in the kitchen.
04-14-2020
Christa West
Christa West

There’s not much that offers the same comfort and satisfaction as a home-cooked meal—and you don’t have to be an experienced cook to pull one off. When it comes to cooking, having reliable recipes can quickly build your confidence and basic skills.

This list includes recipes that every home cook—regardless of their ability—should have in their arsenal. They are all great on their own, but some can easily be doctored up with a quick sauce or some personalized modifications. Others are complete dishes (including a bread recipe!) that a new cook may be intimidated by, but will see there’s nothing to sweat. What better time than the present to embrace home cooking?

Pan-Seared Chicken Breast and Skillet-Roasted Carrots

Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts

This chicken breast recipe is great on its own, but it’s also incredibly customizable. You can jazz it up with a sauce, like our Lemon and Chive Pan Sauce. One of my favorite ways to enjoy this recipe is shredded, on top of a cobb salad. [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Skillet-Roasted Carrots

I don’t know about you, but I almost always have a bag of carrots buried at the bottom of my fridge just dying to be used. They are a hearty vegetable with a long shelf life. This super easy recipe achieves quick browning with carrots that roast in half the time as they would in the oven. If you want to add a little something extra, I would recommend this Red Pepper and Almond Relish[GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
½ cup water
½ teaspoon table salt
1½ pounds large carrots
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Pan-Seared Salmon and Weeknight Roast Chicken

Pan-Seared Salmon

Salmon is a superfood that’s loaded with vitamins and nutrients, and has plentiful amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. When purchasing salmon, it’s useful to familiarize yourself with the differences between farm raised salmon and wild salmon because each provides different taste and texture. Farmed salmon is lighter in color, with a higher fat content, and is my personal preference for its richness and delicate melt-in-your-mouth appeal. Salmon is one of my favorite proteins. Not only is it delicious, but it’s easy to cook if you have the right technique. [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
Kosher salt and pepper
4 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
Lemon wedges

Weeknight Roast Chicken

This foolproof recipe is incredibly straightforward: It doesn’t call for any pre-roasting treatment such as salting or brining; it doesn’t require any prep such as spatchcocking or complicated trussing, and the bird doesn’t need to be rotated once it’s in the oven. The result is a perfectly cooked bird with tender, juicy meat and crispy browned skin. [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoons pepper
1 (3½–4-pound) whole chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil

Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup and Almost No-Knead Bread

Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

Few things are as comforting as homemade chicken noodle soup. When I’m under the weather, I want nothing more than to cozy up with a bowl of soup, and this one is easy enough to make even when I’m not feeling my best. This recipe is complete in four easy steps: sear the chicken, add broth and vegetables, shred the chicken, add pasta, and enjoy! [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
1½ pounds bone-in chicken breasts and/or thighs
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 cups chicken broth
1 onion
1 carrot
1 celery rib
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
5 ounces spaghetti 
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Almost No-Knead Bread

The hardest part of this recipe is having the patience to let the bread mixture rest up to 18 hours before baking, and another 2 hours once it comes out of the oven. I didn’t realize how simple homemade bread could be until I tried this recipe. I can make a meal of this fresh bread with butter, jam, or cheese. [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons mild-flavored lager
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Vegetable oil spray

Meatballs and Marinara and Simple Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Meatballs and Marinara

This recipe works so well because of the ratio of beef to pork: Since there is far more beef than pork, the meatball mixture holds its shape well. If you have kids at home, shaping the meatballs is a great activity to get them involved in the kitchen. This recipe serves 8, and if you have leftovers, the meatballs and marinara can be frozen for up to one month. [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
Salt and pepper
¼ cup olive oil
3 onions
10 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup fresh basil
½ cup chopped parsley
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
4 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine
2 large eggs
¾ cup milk
1½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1–2 teaspoons sugar
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread
½ pound sweet Italian sausage
2½ pounds ground beef chuck (80 percent lean)

Simple Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

This simple recipe takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. It’s important to use a block of American cheese from the deli counter, as well as a block of extra sharp cheddar instead of grated cheese from a bag. Pre-grated cheese is coated in cellulose powder, which will prevent the cheese from melting into a velvety-smooth texture. [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
1½ cups water
1 cup milk
8 ounces elbow macaroni
4 ounces American cheese
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Small pinch cayenne pepper
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese
⅓ cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Almost Hands-Free Risotto

My friends and family are always blown away when I make risotto, and the recipe is easier to make than it looks. Risotto is great because it allows for endless variations and customization. My favorite has always been mushroom, which goes great with those peas that have been in your freezer forever. If you’re feeling adventurous, leftover risotto makes for delicious arancini, which just so happens to be a childhood favorite of mine! [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1½ cups water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion
Salt
1 medium garlic clove
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Broccoli and Feta Frittata

This Broccoli and Feta Frittata can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This recipe is straightforward and easy. Once all ingredients are gently cooked over the stovetop, the skillet makes its way to the oven to finish cooking. You will know the frittata is done when it is slightly puffy and the surface springs back when lightly pressed. There are many ways to customize a frittata by switching up the fillings. I prefer mushroom and spinach, but the meat lovers might be enticed to try chorizo and potato. [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
12 large eggs
⅓ cup whole milk
Salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces broccoli florets
Pinch red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus ½ teaspoon juice
4 ounces feta cheese