Everyone has a kitchen, so it's no surprise that YouTube is host to innumerable home-cooking shows. Unfortunately, that also means a huge variation in quality and entertainment value. Here are the best cooking shows on YouTube right now when judged by by production value, personality and accessibility.
Jamie Oliver's FoodTube
FoodTube is a sort of one-stop shop for casual kitchen personalities and great cooking. It’s the personal project of Jamie Oliver, and is the home to a large variety of charismatic online cooks that have been chosen by Jamie himself to host his channel, as well as common appearances from the famous UK chef himself.
FoodTubes hosts often go on to create their own personal side-project channels, if they didn’t already have them. These channels are themselves some of the best cooking channels on YouTube and are well-worth checking out. Notable mentions are:
- Gennaro Contaldo gave Jamie his first restaurant gig and his passion for Italian food borders on contagious.
- DJ BBQ, probably the most manic BBQ fanatic of all time.
- Kerryan Dunlop, a straight-forward young mother with a penchant for making impressive meals from meagre ingredients.
- Donal Skehan, himself an Irish TV personality with an unlikely abundance of charm and an obsession with desserts.
SORTED Food may have started out as four students making a buck from a student cookbook, but these days it’s hands-down one of the best places to go online for great recipes. The four hosts, Barry, Ben, Jamie and Mike, are old school friends with great chemistry and a real passion for food.
As the story goes, Ben, who is a trained chef, was appalled at the food the others were eating as students and took it upon himself to figure out delicious and cheap meals. Barry, the photographer of the bunch, saw the opportunity for everyone to make a few bucks and have a bit of fun and eventually they found themselves taking the internet by storm.
Their claimed motivation is to get more of their generation out of the loungeroom and in to the kitchen, but half the time it seems like they’re just after having a good time on camera. Whatever their true impetus, their videos are informative, well-produced and thoroughly entertaining.
Hilah’s channel focuses mostly on very simple recipes, but not necessarily those you would think of doing yourself. Hilah’s hosting style is relaxed and more than a little cheeky. She brings a lot of character to the kitchen.
On top of that the show is well-shot and edited with a production quality that is lacking from other ‘small-time’ cooking channels on YouTube.
Cooking with Dog
Just yes. What list of anything involving YouTube would be complete without at least one adorable animal? Cooking with Dog’s main attraction is its “host” and "narrator": Francis the dog. Of course, not having opposable thumbs, he leaves his mysterious and unnamed “Co-host” to do all of the real work. She’s a talented cook with what appears to be a wealth of experience, although that’s all we really get to know about her.
If you’re after authentic and traditional Japanese cooking then this channel is surprisingly informative. Recipes are prepared to exact specifications accompanied by careful explanation.
BBQ Pit Boys
This is a rough, ready, meaty channel for the BBQ enthusiast. The guys at BBQ Pit Boys take a straight-forward approach to food preparation. Their recipes are as far from the exact specifications of Cooking with Dog as you can get. Just about everything is flavored to taste. The show tells you how to cook the meat and the general ingredients to add, but just how the meal turns out is really up to you.
There’s something refreshingly simple about BBQ Pit Boys. After all, barbecuing is meant to be a simple, no-fuss activity. These guys manage to keep that attraction alive while adding delicious sauces and spices.
Tastemade is a great channel with no specific headlining show. Video makers sign up or are commissioned with great ideas and stick around for a season or more before moving on elsewhere. Even the boys from SORTED did a stint on there.
Our favorite show from Tastemade so far is Raw. Vegan. Not Gross. I know what you’re thinking, but it really is possible to love BBQ Pit Boys and still appreciate the ingenuity and careful preparation that goes in to a vegan cooking channel.
Moreover, it’s probably the best vegan show online. You’ve never seen a more chilled and contented host than Laura Miller, who is also the host and star of her own project SideSaddleKitchen. Even if you’re not vegan, seriously, just give Raw. Vegan. Not Gross. a go.
Finally, we have two YouTube shows that aren’t exactly what you’d call cooking shows, but they definitely center around the importance of food and the kitchen. The first is a BBC series called Two Greedy Italians, starring Gennaro Contaldo and the world-famous Antonio Carluccio. We've already told you that Gennaro taught Jamie Oliver how to cook, but did you know that he himself was taught by Carluccio?
These two now older, but wiser chefs return to their native Italy to see if the great cooking traditions of their memories are still strong. They travel the country giving insights about not just the regional flavors, but the history behind the cooking styles and their own personal experiences from growing up. The show probably hasn’t been given the green-light for YouTube distribution, but you may as well enjoy it before it's taken down.
Our second bonus channel is quite different in terms of production-style. Great Depression Cooking is a home-made show starring the late Clara Cannucciari and filmed by her son, Christopher. The food itself is not the focus of GDC. Rather, it’s Clara’s stories about what life was like during the Great Depression that enthral her audience.
Her calm recollections of hardships that since-generations can only imagine put in to perspective how good a lot of us have it, and remind you that no matter how bad things get you can always try to make them a bit better with a lovingly-prepared meal. Clara has unfortunately passed away since making the show, but with any luck her legacy will go on thanks to her son's filming and the internet’s fundamental inability to forget.