If you like to cook and quarantine is giving you more time to do so, there is a world of cooking shows out there and YouTube is the place to find most of them.
While there are still some traditional shows hosted by well-known chefs, many have been replaced by millennial personalities, who cook in a much more casual (and entertaining) way.
Navigating streaming and subscription options can be bewildering and even overwhelming but I hope my research will be useful.
I avoided any channels or sites that require registration or a subscription, like the Food Network.
This list is by no means complete. There are tons of video cooking classes and shows to choose from.
Let’s start with the award-winning Kin Community. With more than 8 million followers on YouTube, each themed episode feels like you’re in the kitchen with a friend. On the main site is a big menu of episodes with different hosts. All are free and the recipes are varied and interesting, from honey-glazed ham to shepherd’s pie (hosted by actress Tori Spelling) to praline French toast.
Regular hosts also have their own channels, and you can scroll through them on either the home or videos sections.
Another big name is Genius Kitchen, an app from Food.com with thousands of recipes and cooking videos. Stream it though Apple TV or other streaming players. Some videos are free, and subscriptions (annually or monthly) give access to more features. Search the YouTube channel or download the app (link above).
There are also thousands of printed recipes. The screen will ask you what you want to make: simply type in an ingredient or the name of a dish, and up pops any number of recipes, with gorgeous pix and clear instructions.
The beautifully done videos have no narration; ingredient lists and instructions appear on the screen as the recipe is being made. Background music is soft and pleasant. Recipes include lots of international dishes, like Tandoori chicken, toffee pudding and fish masala.
Twenty-four years on the on the Food Network and more than a million subscribers can’t be wrong. Chef Tyler Florence and his newest channel, Wolf It Down Live, offer up-close-and-personal cooking lessons with menus you’ll want to make. There are two dishes per episode, like roasted root salad with balsamic, citrus and arugula, and mushroom chicken marsala with parmesan polenta.
With hundreds of videos of varying lengths made by chefs, farmers, producers, restaurateurs, food activists, and culinary personalities, the focus of MAD: A Global Cooking Community is more on food education than cooking, but its wide-ranging international scope is fascinating. From a soba master to a fermentation expert, how to make a crab omelet or clean an artichoke in 20 seconds, this channel can be addicting.
Google Arts & Culture has a wealth of information that includes in-depth video and interactive explorations of the cuisine of different countries. Spanish Gastronomy includes a wine map, online “exhibits” of the ingredients and foods from all the different regions and charming subtitled cooking videos for classic dishes like paella and tortilla de patatas.
It also examines iconic dishes like tapas and Iberian ham; in short, the series is an immersion into a country’s cooking, ingredients and culinary traditions. So far, Spain, Nigeria and Japan are profiled. Start at the main page and see where you end up.
Outside of Hell’s Kitchen, Chef Gordon Ramsey is actually kind of a sweetheart in the kitchen. Thirteen million followers can’t be wrong, right? A consummate professional, Ramsey guides viewers through basic and complex dishes, explaining technique and ingredients as he goes along.
His accent and his expressions – calling a ricer “posh” – are charming, and he knows how to work the camera. Episodes include showing an NFL star how to make the perfect rib-eye, mastering five basic cooking skills and making salmon scrambled eggs. You have to pay for the master class series, but Ramsey’s basic cooking show is free on his YouTube channel.
PBS has been presenting Martha Stewart’s Cooking School on YouTube for more than five years, with four themed recipes per episode. She shares cooking tips and techniques, explanations of ingredients and cooking techniques in her trademark calm, confident voice.
For the past few years, Stewart has teamed with rapper Snoop Dogg — with dark glasses and an X-rated vocabulary — and their cooking classes are entertaining as well as informative.
Watch “Making Mashed Potatoes” as they discuss white vs. black pepper, and why adding cognac to mashed potatoes is a good idea. For a huge laugh, watch them make brownies —minus the “greens,” to Snoop’s dismay.
Watching an accomplished chef like Jamie Oliver can be both inspiring and disheartening as he cooks everything so easily, from a make-at-home pizza from scratch to the perfect steak and tiramisu. He’s also able to adapt many recipes to be vegan or vegetarian as he’s cooking, plus you’ll find specialty recipes, like a veggie sausage roll. (“A proper mouthful of heaven.”)
Also on Oliver’s channel are classes from his mentor, popular Italian chef Gennaro Contaldo, like an easy tuna pasta that he somehow makes seem elegant, or his chicken with chile, garlic and rosemary, filmed on the Amalfi coast in an outdoor kitchen high up on the cliffs.
Contaldo is also known for the BBC television series Two Greedy Italians which ran for many years.
And then there’s outrageous, lovable Kalen Allen, with almost a million followers on his YouTube channel and a regular stint on The Ellen Show too. What Kalen does, with his own unique style, is “review” strange, weird, sometimes scary food videos. His reactions are — well, you just have to watch yourself.
Among my favorites are “Kalen Reacts To Seltzer Chicken,” where a can of orange soda is roasted inside a whole chicken (oh my), “Kalen Reacts to a Hot Dog Waffle,” and “Kalen Reacts to Day of the Dead Tamales.” () These are less instructional than entertaining, but hey, you never know.