The Best Cooking Classes in the Country (Including Online!)

Cooking classes are a great way for food aficionados to learn about and hone their skills. Though many are sponsored by culinary schools or led by professional chefs, they're still designed for the home cook.

Male chef and group of people at cooking classesPhoto: Shutterstock / Africa Studio

Depending on your skill set and the type of class you seek, options for cooking classes range from basic (like how to make challah bread) to advanced (such as how to debone and butterfly a leg of lamb), and even include some online courses. Here are 11 great examples of the best cooking classes around the nation.

For home cooks who want to say they attended a famous culinary school:

The Culinary Institute of America is highly acclaimed, boasting many top chefs on its list of alumni. It offers classes in each of its locations (New York, California and Texas), with topics ranging from “Holiday Pies” to “Gluten-Free Baking” to “The Flavors of Asia.”

The Institute of Culinary Education is probably the second best-known culinary school in America, and it actually has the largest program of hands-on recreational cooking classes and baking classes in the world. The classes are offered day and night, 355 days a year. Upcoming courses include “Poutine & More,” “Geode Macarons” and “Big, Bad Brunch Dishes.”

A lesser known but still esteemed cooking college is Johnson & Wales. Its classes for amateur cooks run the gamut from “Emulsions 101” to “Sushi and Sake Pairing” to “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” with renowned chef Peter Reinhart.

For dessert lovers:

Chicago is the home of The French Pastry School of Kennedy-King College, which offers classes aptly called Food Enthusiast workshops. In these courses, the students can learn how to make buttercream, how to make homemade ice cream, and how to execute French-style brunch ideas, among other skills.

Of all the academies in the world, the most awesome must be the Chocolate Academy, also in Chicago. Aficionados can learn everything there is to know about chocolate and practice skills like making chocolate figurines and designing chocolate centerpieces. (To me, this sounds like heaven on earth.)

For novice chefs:

Sur la Table is a store found in malls all over the United States. Not only can you find amazing cookware and ingredients there, but it also often offers basic cooking classes focusing on things like pasta making at home, knife techniques and cookie decorating.

Milk Street is a company similar to the ever popular America’s Test Kitchen in that it creates and tweaks recipes repeatedly until it has achieved perfection. (Makes sense…it was formed by Christopher Kimball after he left ATK.) Milk Street has a school in Boston where the home cook can learn skills such as spice blending and holiday cookie making.

For cooks who crave the unconventional:

Hipcooks is a unique cooking school where no recipes or measurements are used. Students are encouraged to rely on their instincts and imaginations to create the dish of the night. Cleverly named classes range from “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” (focusing on Argentinian cuisine) to “Thai One On” (an immersion into Thai foods).

NYC is home to the De Gustibus Cooking School, where tastings and demonstrations are as common as education in basic cooking skills. These classes are perfect for folks who value the eating as much as the cooking. Michael Solomonov of the highly rated restaurant Zahav is a recent guest teacher at this school.

For amateur chefs who’d rather cook in the comfort of their own home:

Science lovers will appreciate the Kitchen Chemistry course given by MIT (for free!). The syllabus includes classes on cheese, pancakes and, interestingly, wacky cake.

Fans of Bravo’s Top Chef will jump at the chance to take online courses taught by former contestants.  Top Chef University teaches things like the proper way to set up your kitchen and how to make duck confit. It even has several classes on the least favorite course of all Top Chef competitors: dessert.

Regardless of skill level or location, suitable cooking classes are within reach. They’re perfect for date night or a girlfriends’ getaway, and tickets to a cooking class would be a great gift idea for the home cook in your life.

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Grace Mannon
Grace is a full-time mom with a Master's degree in Food Science. She loves to experiment in the kitchen and writes about her hits (and misses) on her blog, A Southern Grace.