The biggest food holiday of the year is nearly upon us!
With just a few days to go until Thanksgiving, I’ve been practicing my annual tradition of marathon-watching cooking shows as inspiration. Unlike years past where I might’ve tuned in to the Food Network or some such, these days all the best cooking shows are online.
Whether you’re Binging with Babish, watching Matty Matheson scream around a kitchen, or going traditional with Julia Child, there are plenty of great options on YouTube right now to get you ready for the big day.
These are my favorites!
1. Food Wishes
Chef John’s Food Wishes is my personal favorite YouTube channel about cooking. Not only does he have years of experience with cooking, but he’s a hilariously quirky man.
Moreover, Chef John’s been doing the YouTube thing longer than most in the game – his videos go back 10 years! Before that, he was doing the actual chef thing as John Mitzewich, working in kitchens for years and eventually teaching at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
His videos range from simple to complex, American comfort food to ancient Roman throwbacks. And yes, of course, he has a ton of Thanksgiving recipe ideas and techniques for you to gobble down.
And here’s Chef John’s main turkey video, aimed directly at first-time turkey roasters:
2. Matty Matheson (and Munchies in general)
Matty Matheson is abrasive and loud and he swears a lot, which is exactly what makes him so delightful. He’s the punk rock chef the internet needs.
Maybe you’ve seen him on his excellent, often ridiculous show, “Keep It Canada.” Or maybe you’ve seen him on his newer show, “Dead Set On Life.” Before he was doing any of that stuff, he was making excellent how-to videos for Vice’s food publication, Munchies.
Matty was a working chef for years before he became a food star on YouTube (and now, on TV, with Viceland). He brings years of professional experience to his lessons, and his presentation is unlike anyone else before him in food programming.
Here’s the main Thanksgiving cooking episode of How To starring Matty Matheson:
3. Binging with Babish
Andrew Rea is the host of “Binging with Babish” and “Basics with Babish” – two excellent shows on his YouTube cooking channel.
“Binging with Babish focuses on adapting foods from pop culture, which sounds fluffy but is surprisingly dense with useful cooking information. His take on Spaghetti Carbonara from “Master of None,” for instance, demonstrates how to make pasta from scratch, among many other useful techniques.
“Basics with Babish,” however, is even better for pre-Thanksgiving prep. It’s the kind of basics-focused cooking show that reinforces crucial foundational aspects of cooking that you’ll need for the upcoming holiday. Ever wondered why some gravies are better than others? His episode on sauces will answer your questions. As we all know, Thanksgiving is really about the gravy.
Here’s that sauces episode of Basics with Babish to get you started:
4. Laura in the Kitchen
Maybe you know Laura Vitale from her show on the Cooking Channel, “Simply Laura”? Or maybe you have her book? Or maybe, like me, you’d never heard of her until stumbling upon her YouTube channel, which is jam-packed with episodes of her show “Laura in the Kitchen.”
Like the best cooking shows, Vitale’s “Laura in the Kitchen” is a great way to learn vital lessons that apply to a wide variety of dishes. She dots her recipe walkthroughs with tips and tricks that apply to regular home cooks because she is a regular home cook.
And here’s the “Laura in the Kitchen” episode that focuses on turkey roasting:
5. Bon Appétit
Despite Bon Appétit sounding like a highfalutin publication aimed at monocle-wearing Daddy Warbucks types, the magazine’s video arm on YouTube is full of excellent, approachable videos that run the gamut from instructional to silly to – yes – the occasionally fancy aside.
There’s a good reason why Bon Appétit is still relevant over 60 years after its founding: Because its writers and editors really know food, and know how to present cooking in a way that’s approachable. In short, the magazine’s YouTube channel is delightfully modern and smart. It’s also full of recipes and techniques that’ll give you a leg up on the big day.
And here’s a great Bon Appétit video on roasting turkey:
6. Everyday Food
Everyday Food is the Martha Stewart experience that you might get from her magazine, but in video form. There are shows about healthy meals, and shows about baking, and – my favorite – a show about solving common cooking problems (named “Kitchen Conundrums”).
Since these are from Martha Stewart’s company, they come with extraordinarily high production values and trained on-air talent. It also means that there’s a somewhat cookie-cutter style to them that I personally don’t love. YouTube, after all, is all about personality.
All that said, there’s a wealth of information on recipes and technique and loads of other great stuff to be mined from this YouTube channel.
Maybe you were thinking of spatchcocking your turkey? Everyday Food has you covered:
7. Serious Eats
If you’ve ever watched and enjoyed Alton Brown’s “Good Eats,” or “America’s Test Kitchen,” then Serious Eats is for you.
Frequent host and culinary director J. Kenji López-Alt takes a scientific approach to cooking that does more than offer recipes – it offers explanations. It’s those explanations that are often the strongest building blocks for new cooks. He is occasionally a bit over-the-top when it comes to devices and techniques, but his madness is always rooted in logic.
And here’s a simple roast turkey recipe from Serious Eats:
You know Tasty, right? Everyone knows Tasty, even if they don’t intend to know Tasty. That’s because Tasty specializes in going viral – it’s BuzzFeed’s food-focused, video-only publication. You’ve no doubt seen one of their videos on Facebook if you haven’t seen them on YouTube.
When they’re not making college dorm-friendly nonsense, they’re making outrageously smart and beautiful instructional videos under the “Tasty 101” moniker. These videos go deep on basics of cooking, and help shepherd the uninitiated into being self-sufficient.
If you’re ready to move on from the trance-like monotony of usual Tasty videos, Tasty 101 is a great place to start. I genuinely wish all Tasty videos were as incredibly well-made as Tasty 101’s stuff.
Tasty’s video on roasting a turkey is second to none:
This one isn’t totally on YouTube – you’ll have to navigate to PBS.org and punch in your local affiliate station. But after you do that, you’ll have access to a glorious archive of Julia Child and Jacques Pépin cooking content.
If you’re really hurting to watch this stuff on a TV, many of the classic “The French Chef” episodes can be found on YouTube with a simple search. Additionally, many of her other shows are available on Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, and other streaming services for rental (and sometimes for free as part of your subscription).
10. And, yes, Food Network!
- Food Network
Yes, even Food Network has acquiesced and now puts much of its content on YouTube for all to see – cable subscribers and cord-cutters alike.
That means if you’re looking for that one particular clip of Alton Brown roasting a turkey, or the one with Guy Fieri making triple smashed potatoes with donkey sauce, you can almost certainly find it online without too much trouble.
How about a cauliflower gratin care of everyone’s favorite contessa, Ina Garten? Check it out: