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How long does it take to learn to cook?
Well, that depends on how many YouTube videos you can watch in a day.
Just kidding. Sort of.
You could, theoretically, learn to cook in a matter of 48 hours if by “learn to cook” you mean watching every cooking video on YouTube and memorizing several cookbooks.
You then, technically, would have adequate knowledge of “how to cook” and could claim to understand the fundamentals of cooking.
However, without actually practicing anything that you learned online in an actual kitchen, have you really learned anything?
For some, basic cooking techniques come very easily, and they are able to master the basics in a concise amount of time. For others, learning to cook may as well be learning Mandarin Chinese.
So, as you might expect, the honest answer to how long does it take to learn to cook is: it depends.
I know, not a great answer but really there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because the journey of learning how to cook is different for everyone.
And life (and cooking) is, after all, all about the journey amirite?
So here we’ll take a look at several methods to help get you there and a few pro tips to speed up the process if you’re short on time. (and who isn’t?)
Ready to have some fun?
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[Related: “The Best Beginner’s Guide On How To Learn Cooking Techniques“]
How long it takes to learn to cook is highly dependent on how much of your time you are able to devote to the process.
Just like anything else, the more frequently you practice cooking techniques, the faster you’ll master them.
Obviously, you can’t spend all day every day in the kitchen (or maybe you can?), so set a schedule and stick with it.
Maybe you try cooking dinner at least 3 times per week? Or, maybe you are super ambitious and want to cook every day until you’ve got the cooking basics down?
Whatever you decide, commit to it!
The more committed you are, the faster you will see results.
[Related: “The Top 7 Reasons Why You Should Learn How To Cook”]
Focus on basic cooking skills first before even attempting a recipe.
I recommend watching YouTube cooking videos on knife skills and other techniques so 1. you don’t cut your finger off and 2. you’ll be more efficient and less frustrated when doing it yourself.
I like this simple knife tutorial from Tasty:
[RELATED: “7 Of The Best YouTube Videos To Learn How To Cook“]
How long does it take to learn to cook? Well, half of your effort is in the preparation.
Prepare ahead of time and know what you want to cook before you head toward the kitchen.
Try watching a YouTube video all the way through to understand the process before watching again while actually doing the cooking.
Here’s a great beginner cooking video to get you started:
There are A LOT of excellent cooking videos, tutorials, recipes, cookbooks, blogs, etc. out there at your disposal.
However, there are also a ton of terrible recipes out there so you need to be careful where you turn when you’re first starting to learn how to cook.
[Related: “5 Unexpected Lessons Learned From Cooking“]
YouTube is an amazing resource when learning how to do basically anything. And cooking is no exception.
There are several excellent YouTube cooking channels and series that will teach you basic cooking skills and then when you’re ready, more advanced techniques and recipes.
Get in the habit of watching a YouTube cooking video at least once per day to stay on track and learn a new technique or recipe.
If you prefer to learn by reading rather than watching, cookbooks are the way to go.
Although cookbooks may seem a bit antiquated in today’s world, they are still one of the best resources for learning how to cook.
Here are a few excellent choices for those just starting out:
C. Cooking Shows & Documentaries
While the typical cooking show on Food Network may not be designed to actually teach you how to cook, they still have a place in your resource arsenal when learning how to cook.
I love to have a cooking show on in the background while working, or watching one while eating dinner.
Hearing the common cooking terms, ingredients, and tricks used regularly by chefs will give you a better understanding and a quicker mastery of the art of cooking.
I love to listen to Ina Garten’s commentary while she prepares pretty much anything. You can catch her on Food Network.
Netflix is also a great place to find food documentaries and specials.
Make sure to catch Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat – it is one of the most entertaining cooking series around and will actually teach you the fundamentals of cooking.
Then, grab the cookbook and practice what you’ve learned. It’s filled with helpful instruction and is one of my favorite cookbooks for beginner cooks.
[Related: “10 Fun Things To Learn How To Cook Like A Pro“]
3. What to Cook
How long does it take to learn to cook? Well, that depends on what types of dishes you’re hoping to learn to cook as well.
Sure, you may want to have the cooking chops to grill up a perfect lobster tail, pan sear the best steak ever (or both!) right out of the gate.
But some of these more advanced techniques will take a little more time and effort to learn.
So start small, and focus on meals that are easy to prepare, healthy-ish, and totally delicious.
Here are a few to get you started:
Fish Tacos with Spicy Jalapeño Sauce
Baked Rigatoni with Spinach & Sausage
How to Make a Frittata With Just About Anything
[Related: “Learn How To Use Spices In Cooking Like The Best Chefs“]
With these easy, quick meals you’ll gain confidence in the kitchen and will soon realize that learning how to cook isn’t as hard as you thought. In fact, it’s no more challenging than brewing your morning coffee.
In fact, you might find that you have basic cooking instincts that you didn’t even know you had!
So, the honest answer to how long does it take to learn to cook is different for each person who poses it.
Basic cooking skills can be mastered in as little as a day or two for some, for others it may take a bit more practice and repetition.
So keep at it!
In fact, how long does it take to learn to cook is actually a trick question.
The real secret is to have as much fun as possible along the way so by the time you’ve learned how to cook you don’t even care how long it took to get there.
Cooking is all about the journey, remember?
So go get in the kitchen and savor every minute! Salúd!
Now that you’ve committed to learning how to cook, check out my Beginner’s Guide on How to Learn Cooking Techniques!