Nine Recipes to take your cooking to the next level! These are a easy recipe but each one focuses on a skill to help bring your cooking skills up a notch.
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Nine Recipes to Take Your Cooking to the Next Level

I think the most popular post in the food blog world is “Here are X number of recipes for beginner cooks”. These tend to be lists of really basic recipes for things like pasta sauce, macaroni and cheese, and other basic meals.

Then I guess you’re on your own!

For those home cooks that are interested in continuing to improve, it’s important to know where to go next. If you go from not baking bread to trying a four-day sourdough baguette, you will almost certainly be disappointed.

If you know how to cook scrambled eggs and try to make a complete eggs benedict brunch, it might end in tears.

Luckily, there’s this whole world of recipes that I consider really important for semi-beginner cooks who want to push themselves (and their tastebuds) a bit.

The key thing about these recipes is that they are all fairly easy, but they have ONE skill that you can take away from them. Plus, they are some of my personal favorite recipes from the last year or so!

Nine Recipes to take your cooking to the next level! These are a easy recipe but each one focuses on a skill to help bring your cooking skills up a notch.

Let’s start with a basic one since the cold months are on the way.


This coconut and carrot soup is probably my favorite soup recipe from the last few years. It doesn’t have many ingredients but their combination is great and probably a bit different than you are used to if you’re a beginner cook.

Also, you’ll have to learn how to puree vegetables which is a great skill.


Salad dressings are a great way to learn more about flavors and how herbs and spices work together. Save a few bucks and mix up one of my homemade salad dressing mixes and use it instead of the store-bought stuff.

Basically you’ll learn that most store-bought dressings are salt/sugar mixes and making one with real flavor is pretty straightforward.


You always hear that cooking eggs is the sign of a good cook. It can be overwhelming.

Learning how to really poach an egg is such a great first step. Start slow though with just the egg and forget about any fancy sauces. This quick little caprese breakfast has a perfect poached egg and uses a glug of good olive oil in place of a complicated sauce.


This next-level recipe is all about expanding boundaries. Beginning cooks frequently think of pasta as something with tomato sauce or some other jarred sauce. This Asian black bean pasta twist is totally new to most cooks.

You’ll also learn the importance of saving and using pasta water to make a sauce!

gamedayappI think it’s important to know how to feed a casual crowd of friends. For me, this is wings. I’ve noticed the price of wings going up in restaurants, but they are still dirt cheap to buy at the store.

Learning how to bake or fry them and toss them in a great, quick homemade sauce (like this sticky chili garlic sauce) is a great next-level recipe.


I frequently hear from people saying that salads are boring. They can be boring, but they can also be interesting. This beet and quinoa version is great for lunches and will give you a new perspective on what salads can be.


I think every beginner cook has a decent meatloaf recipe, but really… how great can meatloaf be? Taking it to the next level isn’t that hard and is a great warming meal.

My homemade salisbury steak recipe is basically a next-level meatloaf with a quick onion gravy. If you are feeding a meat and potatoes crew, this is as good as it gets.


Sometimes a good side can be the highlight of a meal. As you learn more about cooking, you can spend a little extra effort on a good side dish.

These crispy Brussels sprouts are a great side that will teach you how to really cook delicious sprouts and also try some new sauce ideas (fish sauce and lots of herbs!).


People think that baking bread is tough to do at home and it’s true for some kinds of breads. But there’s a whole world of quick breads that can be on the table in about 90 minutes.

Learning these is a great next step in baking! Try out my whole wheat quick beer bread for example!

Do You Have a Next Level Recipe?

Do you have a recipe that you’ve cooked recently that you feel like is just a small step up from a beginner recipe? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear other ideas!

5 comments on “Nine Recipes to Take Your Cooking to the Next Level

  1. Nick, do you have a good brunch casserole recipe. One that can be made a day ahead and baked off the next morning. I am having 10 for brunch next Saturday. Love your blog.

  2. The BBQ Sloppy Chicken recipe should be on this list too. This one is BIG hit and wicked easy. Love that you give slower cooker directions – makes it easy to cook for a crowd. The fun part? Choosing the BBQ sauce to use since there’s some great ones out there – I collect BBQ sauce from ‘Q places we try :)

  3. I made a great salad yesterday. I called it my “recover from vacation” salad. LOL
    Spinach, roasted butter nut squash, chick peas, tomatoes, small amt of chicken, then just squeezed a lime over it as the dressing. it was delish!

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