How YouTube Taught Me to Cook More (and Order Out Less)

I'll admit it: I'm kinda lazy when it comes to cooking. While a meager three dishes make up my repertoire (a mean guac, excellent Chinese sesame noodles and the cheesiest grilled cheese), I would make them rather sporadically, relying on Seamless far more than I should.

Credit: Munchies/Vice via YouTube

(Image credit: Munchies/Vice via YouTube)

Then, I saw that my friend Brian posted video clips of a shocking reinvention of a classic: a bacon, egg and cheese quesadilla. But while his Instagram story post was interesting, it didn't give me enough information about how to actually make the dish, information I found via YouTube.

Yes, YouTube isn't just for gamers, movie trailers and … well, problematic individuals. The cooking content on the video-sharing site is an ultimate resource for aspiring chefs. I discovered this because Brian admitted he was inspired by an episode of Munchies' "The Cooking Show" in which Farideh Sadeghin makes a sausage, egg and cheese quesadilla.

  • Unblock region-restricted recipes with the best YouTube VPN

In the video, Sadeghin presents her recipe with a laid-back attitude, making cooking feel more approachable. The clip even linked to a website with the recipe written out, so I could grab the ingredient rundown for a shopping list I made in the productivity app Things.

And unlike cooking shows on cable, YouTube's app makes it supereasy to rewind and make sure you don't miss a step. With my iPhone propped up in the kitchen and the ingredients spread out in front of me, I was soon cracking eggs and marveling at Sadeghin's supersoft scrambled eggs recipe, which calls for folding cubed cream cheese into the eggs as they cook.

When I finished cooking the quesadillas and chowed down, I thought about why it took me so long to get the itch to prep in the kitchen. I've been watching food-related YouTube videos for years, but my favorite, the "Binging With Babish" series, never seemed to imbue me with any creativity, as his TV and movie-inspired dishes were often too outlandish.

Inspired to continue by the satisfaction of making the meal myself , I looked for something less rich, buttery and artery-clogging than the butter-, cheese- and cream cheese-filled dish I'd just made After clicking around a bit, I discovered that "Binging With Babish" has its own spinoff show, "Basics With Babish," in which the chef tackles entry-level dishes, stuff like burgers, which I've somehow never been happy with when I tried in past years.

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In that playlist, though, I found my next YouTube-in-the-kitchen project: chicken breasts. The cook is practically appealing to my own experience, with a video titled "Chicken Breasts That Don't Suck." And looking at its list of ingredients, I'm confident that I've found a recipe I can craft repeatedly without having to worry about my health (though, seriously, that quesadilla was amazing).

If this sounds like a path you'd like to travel, I'd say check out both the "Basics With Babish" channel plus his website for more details in a more traditional, relaxed environment. And if you're looking for something with a sense of humor, here's the Munchies "Cooking Show" channel.

Also, you might want to check out our Best Tablets page for good touch-screen displays to bring into the kitchen. My iPhone XS Max's 6.5-inch screen may be big enough to suffice, but if your phone isn't that huge, an iPad might be your best bet.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

  • aquielisunari
    First you need to change your life before Youtube can change it. We've known YouTube can teach us any number of skills but it's investing the time that is sometimes tricky. I don't have enough hours in the day and now we need to find some where none exists? I know I have my idle time where I could be being more productive. I can set down my Oculus quest for 30 minutes and cook instead.

    Believe me, cooking does have its own rewards besides flavor. It's something I've loved doing for decades. It offers instant gratification too.

    For those who are looking for something different and sometimes a LOT more outlandish you might check out Emmymadeinjapan. She explains everything so simply and even when she gets down to the meat of the lesson she still is easily understandable. It's a food taste channel but she also regularly cooks and she also regularly challenges herself.

    The biggest secret with some of the more challenging meats, like chicken breast is MARINATING!!!! 30 minutes is enough for some thinner breasts. Can you poke the breast with a skewer more than a few times to let the marinate stretch its legs? Yep. I prefer cooking my breasts hot(medium high heat) and fast which imo keeps them from getting tough. Does letting your meat rest after cooking help anything?

    The biggest secret in cooking is that recipe's are not written in stone. They can be changed to meet you or your family's needs. I don't like kidney beans in my chili(actually I really do). I can easily replace then with Pinto beans. Just be careful when you substitute or omit stuff. That meringue recipe calls for baking soda and cream of tartar in addition to the other ingredients. You don't have any cream of tartar but you have some vinegar. Can it be used in place of cream of tartar? Yes but I would use lemon instead which is still acidic enough to dance with the baking soda and allow your baked good to rise.