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. But Becoming a GOOD home cook requires a little bit of intermediate next-level cooking. 

That’s what this list is! It’s not hard recipes, but it’s recipes that have a twist that will pay big dividends in the kitchen and really help you become a competent and wonderful home cook.

These are 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!

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

Make a Good Soup

This yam and chorizo stew is one of my favorite soup recipes on Macheesmo. 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.

Homemade Salad Dressing

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.

Eggs for Brunch

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 Tomato Burrata benedict has a perfect poached egg and uses a glug of good olive oil in place of a complicated sauce.

A Different Pasta

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 Chicken Mole Pasta twist is totally new to most cooks.

Game Day Appetizer

I 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.

An Interesting Salad

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

Updated Comfort Food

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.

A Genius Side Dish

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.

This Chili and Sesame Broccoli is a great side that will teach you how to really cook delicious broccoli and combines some nice spice mixes.

Learn a Quick Bread

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 Guinness Banana Bread for example!

Master the Multi Cooker

Multi-Cookers like the Instant Pot are all the rage these days and with good reason. They make cooking fast meals really easy. Master this piece of equipment and you are on your way to being a great home cook. Check out my Pressure Cooker Pork Ragu for a good recipe that combines different cooker settings.

Make A Good Snack

Becoming a good home cook is sometimes about knowing what to make when it isn’t meal time! Especially if you have kids, snacks are very important. Check out these No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Balls. Quick to make and always a hit!

Do You Have a Good Recipe for Next-Level Home Cooking?

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!