Thanks to an ever-changing lineup of cooking shows, instructional YouTube clips, and, ahem, websites like this one, there are a ton of resources for beginning cooks and kitchen novices. If you don't understand a technique listed in a recipe or can't find (or even pronounce) an ingredient, you're usually just a Google search or two away from figuring out how to do it, where to buy it, or what you can use as a substitute.
On the other side, since it seems to be against the law to eat or prepare a meal without posting it on at least four social media platforms, cooking can also seem intimidating AF. Like, what if your recipe turns out less Nigella Lawson and more Nailed It? First, there's a good chance it will and, next, if it tastes good, who cares how it looks? (That outcome is SO MUCH BETTER than recipes that turn out the other way around.)
But a recent thread on the r/AskReddit subreddit is a must-read for those of us who have aspirations of being better at-home cooks, but don't quite have the skills — or the time — yet. "What dish is extremely easy to prepare, but makes you look like an incredible chef?" a user with the most Reddit name of all time asked. (It's Bucket-o-Buttholes. You're welcome.) Mr. or Ms. Buttholes' question attracted more than 10,000 responses, and these are some of our favorites.
"Pasta Aglio e Olio. Pasta, garlic, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, chili flakes (if that's your bag; I make without it and it tastes great). Takes about as long as it takes to boil dried pasta — maybe 12 minutes — and it's delicious. You can save time on chopping garlic by using Jacques Pépin's method. Serve it with roasted chicken thighs and a chilled-almost-to-frozen dry white wine." – Portarossa
"Vodka chili sauce. I picked it up from a student recipe book and now it's my go-to. So quick, pretty few ingredients, and people are always impressed (provided they like chili).
"Throw chopped garlic and chili (to taste) in a generous pan of melted butter for a few minutes, add tomato paste (or chopped, I don't care for chopped) and whole cream until desired ratio of tomato/cream is achieved and texture is smooth. Add a few tablespoons of vodka once it simmers and let it simmer for a few minutes, season to taste. Done. Serve with fresh pasta and your choice of meat (fish not recommended)!" – fjordling_
"Palmiers. They look fancy as hell, but literally roll out some puff pastry, coating the whole thing liberally with sugar, then roll the two sides into the middle and slice into pieces. Twelve minutes in a hot oven and you have a bunch of caramelized biscuits which look impressive and taste so good." – Dramallamadingdongle
"Came here to say that basically anything involving puff pastry fits this bill. I learned this from my sister, who used to make these ricotta- and pickled pepper-stuffed puff pastry hors d'oeuvres to bring to potlucks 'just to intimidate people' (her words). Store-bought puff pastry is like a prepackaged self-esteem boost [...] I believe it goes something like the following:
- Cut out circles of puff pastry with a drinking glass.
- Bake them (per package directions) in a muffin tin so they keep their shape.
- Let them cool slightly.
- Poke a hole in the top of each one with your finger or a spoon.
- Stick a whole pickled sweet pepper into the hole.
- Use a plastic bag with a corner cut off to squeeze ricotta into the middle of the pepper.
- Bring to event.
- Intimidate everyone." – sn0qualmie
"Caprese salad. Tomato slices + mozzarella cheese + olive oil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and basil. Looks and tastes amazing." – zoomies1
"I don't know why, but everyone loses their minds for this salad: It's just chunks of watermelon, feta, mint, arugula, and balsamic vinaigrette with a tiny bit of salt. It's been a huge hit at parties. I also make this (minus the arugula) on skewers sometimes, too." – DontHateMasticate
Nicely done, Reddit. Now you can go back to being obnoxious.