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MyRecipes is officially 15 years old this year! To celebrate, we are going back to basics with this list of 15 classic dishes: the foods, from scrambled eggs to chocolate layer cake, that every home cook should know how to make. To make it easier, we’ve pulled our favorite recipes to match. Master these 15 recipes and you will always be able to create a meal for yourself or the family at the drop of a hat.
Scrambled eggs aren’t just for breakfast; they are a simple and quick way to get some protein. When you’ve had a crazy busy day and don’t even have the bandwidth to order a pizza? Scrambled eggs will always have your back. Check out my secret recipe for perfect scrambled eggs every time.
Photographer: Antara Sinha; Food Stylist: Briana Riddock
When it comes to breakfast and brunch, everyone needs a dish that is a step up from the everyday. Whether you have a family that needs a special Sunday sleep-in treat or houseguests who might want something more fun than cereal, a great hot breakfast dish is just the thing. But pancakes take some practice, and even the best flipper can falter after a long night, or with an audience. So, our pick? French toast. Less fussy than pancakes, with all the great syrup and butter delivery, and much easier and faster to whip up. Check out this guide to all our favorite French toast recipes.
Get the recipe: How to Make Your Best French Toast Yet
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Whether you need a brunch meat for a crowd, crumbles for salads, or the basis for perfect BLT sandwiches or toppers for your backyard burgers, perfectly cooked bacon is a skill that will serve you well. And for us, there is no simpler, cleaner way to make it than to cook it in the oven. No standing over a spitting pan, a great way to make a lot at once, and much more forgiving on the level of cook, so you can get that ideal slice, no matter if you like yours floppy or extra-crisp.
Get the recipe: How to Cook Bacon in the Oven
Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Anna Hampton
Homemade vinaigrette is the easiest salad dressing to make, and nothing says fancy like salad dressing from scratch. Whether you make a batch once a week to have around for all your salads, or whip one up when you have company, a basic vinaigrette is one of those back pocket recipes that is always worth the effort. You can shake up the simplest version with a 1:3 ratio of acid to oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. Or you can go a step further with some flavor boosters, like a classic Dijon version. Pro tip: A good vinaigrette goes beyond salad, and is a great sauce, so drizzle on steamed vegetables or boiled potatoes or add some to the juices from cooking meat or fish for a quick pan sauce.
Get the recipe: The Only Vinaigrette Ratio You Really Need
Of all the basic foods, there is just something about a grilled cheese sandwich that gives that amazing pairing of indulgence and comfort, all in a super-fast, simple cook. Just the thing when you are feeling under the weather and need a partner for your soup, or when the day is blustery and a hot lunch will keep you going, or when you need a way to get dinner ready in under five minutes. Check out this version to get you started, and then adapt to your personal preference by changing out the type of cheese or bread or adding extra ingredients.
Get the recipe: Our 30 Best Meltworthy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Iain Bagwell; Styling: Victor Protazio
Good for what ails you, whether you are under the weather, or the weather is making you blue, chicken soup is the ultimate in homemade healing. This is the dish you want to be able to drop off at a friend’s house during tough times, or to cook up for your kid’s first heartbreak. Browse these 40 versions for your next heartwarming bowl.
Get the recipe: 40 Heartwarming Chicken Soup Recipes
Greg DuPreeFood Styling: Rishon HannersProp Styling: Thom Driver
If you ask almost any chef what they want for their last supper, roasted chicken is often top of the list for the entrée. And for good reason! With bronzed crispy skin, juicy meat, the balance of light meat to dark, a well-made roasted chicken is a thing of beauty. And easier to pull off than most people think. Want that skin extra-crispy? Salt the day before you are going to make it, and put on a rack over a sheet pan, and pop in your fridge uncovered overnight. The skin will dry out and tighten, and you’ll get that snap.
Get the recipe: Classic Roast Chicken
Jen Causey; Prop Styling: Kashara Johnson; Food Styling: Marianne Williams
A pot of rice is the base of so many meals. Topped with stir fry, beans, curry, or stew, spooned into soup to bulk it up, buttered and seasoned to sit beside a chop or piece of fish, a way to make a second meal with leftovers or even turned into next-day rice pudding, rice is a home cook’s best friend. So mastering rice is key. Sure, you can buy a rice cooker to do the hard part (I have one and it gets a lot of use). But it is still worthwhile to learn to make it the old-fashioned way, so that you can make it anywhere and anytime, from over a camping stove to in a rented vacation home or at that business hotel with the kitchenette.
Get the recipe: Perfect 3-Step Rice
PHOTO: CAITLIN BENSEL
This bright tomato sauce is useful for more than just pasta. You can use it as a pizza sauce, a braising sauce for meats, the start to a shakshuka, or a fast bruschetta. Dunk your mozzarella sticks or chicken nuggets in it, even add chicken stock and turn it into a quick soup. And once you master marinara, a lot of other pasta sauces are just around the corner!
Get the recipe: Quick Marinara Sauce
CREDIT: DYLAN AND JENI; STYLING: SCOTT HORNE
Being able to cook a great steak takes practice, but it is a skill worth developing. So, start with one that is a little less pricey, a lot more forgiving than your usual ribeye or strip, and is faster to boot! Skirt steak is great as a steak, but also ideal for sandwiches, fajitas, and tacos, and the marbling makes it juicy even if cooked to medium. From a health perspective, it is one of the leaner beef options, and much easier to cook than flank steak.
Get the recipe: What Is Skirt Steak and Why It’s the Unsung Hero Cut of Meat
Often the difference between a basic Tuesday supper and something dinner-party ready is just a sauce. Gravy isn’t just for holiday meals, and knowing how to make a good one is a nice thing all year long. Bonus? Gravy is salvation for any meat that might have gotten slightly overcooked, so it is my secret weapon if I have let the chicken or chops go too far.
Get the recipe: Your Complete Guide to Cooking Every Kind of Gravy
Whether you need a healthy protein that is budget friendly, a dish to serve family or friends who are vegetarian or vegan, or you just enjoy a good pot of beans, now is the time to learn to make them from scratch. Dried beans often intimidate, since there is a lot of discussion about soaking, which also means they are not a day-of dish. But, follow our guidance for mastering dried beans and you will get this powerhouse legume on your table more often, and deliciously.
Get the recipe: Master Dried Beans
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Anna Theoktisto
Everyone should know how to make one sweet quick bread, and if you are only going to learn one, banana is the obvious choice. You can serve it for breakfast or dessert or as a snack; plus, it uses up those sad bananas that over ripened when you weren’t looking. Also, banana bread is the perfect host gift when you want to bring something homemade.
Get the recipe: Classic Banana Bread
Caroline Arcangeli; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Sarah Epperson
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cookies are the bake of non-bakers, and while you can always go with store-bought dough, homemade is easy and always better. It is also a dough you can make in bulk, portion out, and freeze for last minute cravings or unexpected guests. If you are going to learn to make a great cookie, make it a great chocolate chip. It’s the most popular cookie for a reason.
Get the recipe: Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Antonis Achilleos; Styling: Gerri Williams for James Reps
Chocolate Layer Cake
If you can bake a simple two-layer cake, you can celebrate any occasion from a birthday to an anniversary, or you can offer consolation for any heartache or heartbreak. A basic two-layer chocolate cake is a simple endeavor, but one that packs plenty of punch. One of our favorite versions has a fluffy marshmallow frosting but use whatever frosting you love or just frost with whipped cream.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Frosting