The Most Fun Cooking Projects to Fill 3 Hours of Your Weekend

updated Nov 28, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

With most of us cooking (way) more than usual, it can be hard to remember that being in the kitchen can actually be fun. I mean, hello, have you heard about homemade croissants? Just like playing Animal Crossing or reading a good book, spending hours standing over the stove making Bolognese can be something to look forward to and enjoy. Forget the things you have to cook, or things you should cook — what is the recipe you’d make if you had copious amounts of time in the kitchen and you wanted to have fun? What’s something that would make you happy and would also be incredibly delicious?

To get some project-based cooking inspiration, we asked our editors: If you are going to spend three hours having true fun in the kitchen, what are you making? Here’s what we all have to say (I’m definitely stealing Grace’s idea for pierogis).

1 / 14
Soft Pretzels

Making soft pretzels from scratch is one of my favorite fun cooking projects because they feel a little frivolous despite being totally delicious. Homemade soft pretzels take just a few hours from start to finish, but are super satisfying to make. My kids will definitely get in on the twisting and shaping step (for better or worse) and while mustard is really great for serving, we’re into making a cheese dip instead. — Meghan Splawn, Associate Food Editor

Go to Recipe
2 / 14
Lamb Bolognese

I would make a slow, time-consuming pasta. It’s not difficult and I don’t have to worry about it turning out — it’s just a project that takes a long time. A few weeks back I put a pork shoulder in tomato sauce and let it go forever — shredded it into the sauce — and served it over pasta. It was good. Kind of like Bolognese meets pulled pork. — Jesse Szewczyk, Studio Food Editor

Go to Recipe
3 / 14
Cheesy Vegetarian Lasagna

Back around Christmas, Sheela and I were both hosting a crowd and we were talking for a long time about what to make, and lasagna was one of the things she was considering. A ton of work, but the kind of thing that is super satisfying. So, if I had three hours in the kitchen right now I’d definitely make some kind of lasagna. — Kelli Foster, Associate Food Editor

Go to Recipe
4 / 14
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
A recipe for a towering four-layer carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and a soothing video on how to create a scalloped frosting finish.
Go to Recipe
5 / 14
A step-by-step guide to making easy, classic potato and cheese pierogies.
Go to Recipe
6 / 14
Caramelized Figs and Ravioli with Rosemary Brown Butter & Crispy Prosciutto

When eyeing a package of cheese ravioli at the grocery store for dinner, know that it can go in two very different directions. Boil it and toss it with a jar of marinara and you’ve got something simple and satisfying, albeit a little uninspiring. Or, caramelize some figs in brown butter, crisp up some prosciutto, and toss the pasta in the whole delicious mix and you’ve got something seriously fancy and impressive. Oh, and it doesn’t take any more time to make.

Go to Recipe
7 / 14

I’ve also been toying with the idea of making croissants — it’s just something that I would never, ever want to do before, but it sounds like true fun right now because there’s no reason not to waste three hours. — Sheela Prakash, Senior Contributing Food Editor

Go to Recipe
8 / 14
French Onion Soup
Step-by-step recipe for making the best French onion soup you've ever eaten. French restaurant food in your own kitchen.
Go to Recipe
9 / 14
Chocolate-Almond Toffee
This buttery, crunchy toffee covered in a layer of dark chocolate and toasty almonds comes together on one sheet pan.
Go to Recipe
10 / 14
Sweet Braided Czech Bread with Almonds & Raisins

It’s so dense, soft, and a little flaky — not springy or airy. The braided construction makes for a spectacular holiday centerpiece, and its sweet buttery flavor will have everyone reaching for a second (and third, and fourth) slice. It may look complicated, but it’s quite straightforward and the rich dough is forgiving. I included some step-by-step photos to show how it all comes together.

Go to Recipe
11 / 14
Crispy, Juicy Fried Chicken (That's Better than KFC)
Using the recently leaked secret spice blend from KFC and best frying practices, we make finger-licking chicken that tastes better than the Colonel.
Go to Recipe
12 / 14
Classic Glazed Doughnuts
This recipe for yeasted doughnuts with classic vanilla glaze will walk you through the step-by-step process for making the dough, frying, and glazing doughnuts at home.
Go to Recipe
13 / 14
Credit: The Vanilla Bean Blog
Pillowy Soft Cinnamon Rolls (the best!) | The Vanilla Bean Blog
This recipe for homemade cinnamon rolls produces pillowy soft cinnamon buns every time, and dough can be refrigerated overnight!
Go to Recipe
14 / 14
Credit: GFF Magazine
Gluten-Free Chocolate, Olive Oil, and Citrus Cake | GFF Magazine
This gluten free chocolate cake with citrus hails from the great Aran Goyoaga's gluten free cookbook Cannelle et Vanille.
Go to Recipe