For a long time I listened exclusively to music while cooking, occasionally getting annoyed when a song I didn't like popped up on the playlist and I had to clean off my hands in order to skip it. That all changed when podcasts started taking off a few years ago.
If, like me, you live alone or tend to do much of your cooking by yourself, listening to podcasts will help pass the time away. I've found that listening to podcasts while I'm chopping and prepping ingredients or standing over my stove helps hold my attention for any recipe that takes longer than five minutes to prepare.
Generally, I don't listen to food-related podcasts while cooking. I find it difficult to follow a recipe when what's being talked about in the podcast includes other types of food or cuisines. Luckily, there are endless engrossing non-food related podcasts worth listening to. I'm a huge fan of narrative and true crime podcasts, and any podcasts that feature engaging or enlightening interviews.
Here's a list of my favorite podcasts of the moment for you to check out the next time you're cooking.
"How are you?" It's a question we're asked all the time, a question you likely answer "fine" out of instinct, even when you're not. Host Nora McInerny knows the feeling. In 2014, her husband died from brain cancer. Six weeks before that, she lost her father (also to cancer), and days before that she miscarried her second child.
In her podcast, Nora tackles the opposite of small talk, delving into piercing personal stories of pain, death, loss, and overcoming trauma. The topics are neither easy nor breezy, but I always feel more empathetic and appreciative of other people's experiences after finishing an episode.
This is the podcast that put podcasts on the map back in 2014. This fall, Serial is back with a third season, which shines a spotlight on Cleveland's criminal justice system — who has the power and who remains powerless. Host Sarah Koenig narrates the nonfiction story over multiple episodes, and it's just as ambitious as the megahit first Serial season.
This investigative reporting podcast goes deep into stories you aren't necessarily hearing about on the news or in newspapers. In hour-long episodes, Reveal host Al Letson explores topics related to injustice and secrecy such as immigrant children being separated from parents at the border, the history of California's deadliest wildfires, and racial disparities in home mortgage lending.
4. Dr. Death
Over seven episodes, Dr. Death tells the story of Christopher Duntsch, a reckless and incompetent neurosurgeon who performed many operations in Dallas that resulted in severe injury and death. Reporter Laura Beil explores the mystery of why he did this, and how he got away with it for so long in this gripping podcast, one you'll want to binge from start to finish.
Malcom Gladwell, author of bestselling books like The Tipping Point and Outliers, hosts this thought-provoking podcast all about the events, people, and ideas throughout history that have been overlooked and/or misunderstood. There are three seasons for you to catch up on — a total of 30 episodes that will guide you through reinterpreting and reconsidering stories from the past.
6. Last Seen
In 1990, two thieves stoles 13 irreplaceable artworks from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, including paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Manet. The true crime podcast Last Seen delves into the heist (which remains the biggest unsolved art heist in history), and through interviews with key people, attempts to unravel what, exactly, happened that night.
Seasoned food writer Julia Bainbridge interviews people about loneliness, aloneness, and solitude in The Lonely Hour, a fitting podcast to listen to when cooking by yourself. Episode topics vary — everything from abandonment to feeling like an outsider to what having a solitary profession is like. It may be a podcast all about loneliness, but I always manage to feel less alone after listening to an episode. The Lonely Hour has been on hiatus for a while, but new episodes are in the works.
8. Happy Face
This new podcast explores what it's like to have a serial killer for a dad. In weekly episodes of Happy Face, Melissa Moore grapples with her father's crimes and her own childhood. It's ultimately a true story of overcoming adversity.
Hosted by comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Harstark, My Favorite Murder is a true crime podcast with a touch of humor, and has garnered a huge following of fans that have dubbed themselves "Murderinos." In largely improvisational episodes, they discuss murders, true crime stories, or survivor stories with a tone that isn't overly serious. (The show's credo is "Stay sexy, and don't get murdered!")
10. Dear Sugars
A podcast "for the lost, lonely, and heartsick," the format of Dear Sugars is like an audible advice column, with hosts Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond answering questions from listeners about various topics. After four years, Dear Sugars aired their final episode in September, but there are hundreds of episodes archived that are still worth discovering (or rediscovering). Standout episodes in the final season include ones about emotional labor, emotional abuse, and privilege.
What are some of your favorite podcasts?