Anyone worth their salt in the kitchen—and those who are just learning their way around—should add these nine essential recipes to their repertoire, stat.

By Dawn Perry
June 15, 2018
Out of the hundreds of classic dishes Ina is famous for, her roast chicken may take the cake (but more on cake later). We'd prepare our slow-roasted chicken, seasoned with fresh herbs and lemon zest. Get the Recipe: Slow-Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken
Jennifer Causey

Whether you’re an experienced gourmand or just learning to cook, having a reliable collection of recipes you can turn to is key to cooking with confidence. A roast chicken, a hearty pasta, and a versatile vinaigrette are just a few of the dishes on which we build hundreds of meals.

We've handpicked these nine recipes as the essential dishes every home cook should know. Dig in!

Greg DuPree

Go-To Vinaigrette

Once you graduate to homemade salad dressing, you'll never go back. This recipe is a combination of ingredients you almost always have on hand, and you can modify each batch to suit your mood. Try agave or maple syrup in place of the honey or add some freshly grated lemon zest for extra floral tang. It’s great on greens, but equally delicious tossed with roasted vegetables or spooned over grilled fish.


John Block/Getty Images

How to Cook Rice That's Perfectly Fluffy

There are two keys to making fluffy, tender rice. First, never try to cook less than a cup of rice at a time: It’s really tough to get the ratios right. Second, set a timer. There’s no use in trying if you’re just going to forget about it on the stove (and even the best cooks do that). Read through these tips and watch the video for foolproof instructions. 

Get the recipe: Cooked Rice

Jennifer Causey

Slow-Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken

This method for slow-roasting chicken takes the guesswork out of what can be an intimidating task, that is, roasting a 3 ½ lb piece of meat. Cooking the chicken for 2 ½ to 3 hours at a relatively lower temperature (300°F) yields a meltingly tender, rotisserie-like finish. You may never fast-roast again.

Get the Recipe: Slow-Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken

Sang An

Spaghetti with Bacon Meatballs

Homemade meatballs simmered in prepared marinara sauce is one of our favorite dinner hacks: the meatballs lend long-cooked flavor to the sauce while the sauce keeps the meatballs moist and tender. Serve them with whatever pasta shape you like, or over polenta, or on a toasted hoagie roll. Make them with or without the bacon and consider yourself a weeknight hero.

Get the recipe: Spaghetti With Bacon Meatballs.

Greg DuPree

Salt-and-Pepper Shrimp With Cucumber Salad

It takes just 2 minutes to get this lean protein from skillet to plate making shrimp a great addition to weeknight rice bowls, pasta, and crunchy salads. Roast them on a tray with peppers and potatoes or sear them in a hot skillet and serve alongside a cooling cucumber salad.

Get the recipe: Salt and Pepper Shrimp with Cucumber Salad

Greg DuPree

Seared Hanger Steak and Warm Cabbage Wedges

No matter what you serve alongside it (although the roasted cabbage here is a nice choice), this method for seared hanger steak should be in your file. Give any generously seasoned steak a quick trip in a hot skillet until deeply browned. Transfer to a board and be sure to let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Get the recipe: Seared Hanger Steak with Warm Cabbage Wedges

fordeno/Getty Images

Hard Boiled Egg

Scrambled or poached, fried or fritatta’d, no egg is as important to master as the hard-boiled one. This comprehensive guide teaches you everything you need to know about how to boil eggs from dippably soft to egg salad-sturdy.

Get the recipe: Hard Boiled Eggs

Jennifer Causey

Birthday Cake

You'll find nothing mysterious in this quintessential cake batter—butter, sugar, flour, eggs—and nothing freaky in the frosting. Just an honest-to-goodness vanilla-scented base with a healthy smear of genuine chocolate ganache (which is just a fancy type of frosting). It's cake in its purest form, and that's something to celebrate.

Get the recipe: Birthday Cake

Sheri Giblin

Buttermilk Pancakes

Thanks to superior fluffiness, these buttery pancakes are the ones we turn to over and over again. Cook them on a hot griddle or large non-stick skillet. Keep them warm on a rack in a low oven and be sure to serve with more butter and plenty of warm maple syrup.

Get the recipe: Buttermilk Pancakes