graphic collage of cooking videos
Credit: Photo of Meryl Streep, Daniel Levy, Catherine O'Hara by Getty; video stills via Youtube

25 Downright Delightful Videos That Will Restore Your Joy in Cooking

updated Oct 8, 2020
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If 2020 was a movie, you’d never believe the plot twists. There’s just too much going on! You’d fire the screenwriter and tell the new guy to reel it in because the whole thing is exhausting to watch. In between doomscrolling on Twitter, following the looming election, and seeing the mounting number of COVID-19 cases in the United States, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else — let alone what to make for dinner. If we talked about feeling burned out in the kitchen back in May, where are we now?

One of the things that this year has taught me is to grab joy wherever I can. And when it comes to finding a renewed sense of pleasure in the kitchen, I’ve regularly turned to the funny, heartwarming, and often educational videos across YouTube and Instagram. A scene from It’s Complicated reminds me how much I love chocolate croissants (fall baking project?) and a video from a blogger in Yunnan, China, makes me want to practice my knife skills. These are the small things I hold onto when the world is on fire and I still have to cook.

If you’re feeling the same way and could use a tiny boost, I asked my colleagues to share the videos that have recently restored their joy in cooking. They might just make you smile and turn on your oven (once again).

1. Julia Child makes spaghetti with Mister Rogers (awwwww).

We’ve found it: the most wholesome cooking video that ever existed. The pair, alongside Chef Brockett, make spaghetti Marco Polo — which is spaghetti mixed with walnuts, black olives, green onions, Swiss cheese, cherry peppers, and canned tuna. You can watch the entire video here.

2. Carrot bacon (!!!) from the incredible Tabitha Brown.

Tabitha Brown is encouraging, wise, and always finds joy in whatever she does (“because that’s my business”). But besides just being soothing to watch, this recipe for carrot bacon is actually brilliant. Tabitha takes some shaved carrot strips and marinates them in liquid smoke, maple syrup, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and onion powder. Then she puts the strips in the air fryer or oven, et voila! Magic vegan bacon.

3. Dianxi Xiaoge’s tripe-wrapped pork (it takes over 2 months to make!)

This is one of the only YouTube channels that I actually subscribe to. I could watch Dianxi make absolutely anything, but this is the video I tell people to watch first if they’re new to her channel. She lives in a small village in Yunnan, where she makes wildly work-intensive recipes for her family (and her dog, Dawang). In this particular video, she makes tripe-wrapped pork, which she notes is usually reserved for distinguished guests. It takes two months to dry out the meat!

4. The home cooking of a Mexican grandmother with more followers than Ina Garten.

Doña Ángela launched her YouTube channel in August 2019, and has since amassed an incredible 3.2 million followers. The 70-year-old grandmother is known for her traditional Mexican home cooking and for using fresh ingredients from her garden. In this popular video (with over 7 million views!), she shows viewers how to make Mole de Rancho — a recipe she says was highly requested.

5. Ina Garten’s BIG lockdown cocktail.

Honestly this entire list of videos could just be episodes of the Barefoot Contessa, but her viral cocktail video on Instagram will have to suffice. Towards the beginning of the pandemic, when life with COVID still felt new, Ina Garten decided to cheer everyone up by making a massive drink — and yes, her charm worked, if only for a minute.

6. A trick for the juiciest, crispiest Japanese fried chicken ever.

In this video, MasterChef Australia winner Adam Liaw shows us how to make the very best karaage, a Japanese cooking technique in which food (meat or vegetables, but often chicken) are deep-fried in oil. Adam’s secret? Deep-frying the chicken three times. “Fun fact: Adam Liaw’s victory on MasterChef Australia is still the most watched non-sporting television event in Australian history,” Grace Elkus, Kitchn’s deputy food director, explains. “Since the show, Adam has continued to charm fans with his presence on his YouTube channel, where he demonstrates how to make some of his favorite Asian recipes. I find them to strike the perfect balance between informative (he shares tons of great tips) and entertaining.”

7. A very important grilled cheese scene from Chef.

Chef is full of great cooking scenes, but this one where Jon Favreau makes his son a perfect grilled cheese is definitely the best. He butters the bread, heats it up on a flat-top grill, and then adds a variety of different cheeses. “Watching this clip makes me want to stop everything I’m doing, queue up a great Spotify playlist, heat up a griddle, and dig into a downright luxurious grilled cheese,” Lauren Masur, Kitchn’s lifestyle editor, explains.

8. Jacques Pépin’s perfect technique for cutting a whole chicken.

When you give a mouse a cookie? More like when you give Jacques Pépin a chicken! In this video the French chef shows you how to easily cut a whole chicken. It’s flawless and it works every time. Amelia Rampe, studio food editor, agrees and says, “He’s an icon and this video is classique!”

9. The cheesiest biscuits in all the land.

Danni Rose of Stove Top Kisses is known for her Southern comfort food recipes and her bubbly personality. In this recipe, with over 1 million views, she makes cheesy-stuffed biscuit garlic bread (seriously, how good does that sound?). Stay tuned until the end where she sings and does multiple cheese pulls!

10. The sad, inspiring moment in Bridesmaids where Kristen Wiig makes a single cupcake.

This scene from Bridesmaids is kind of sad, but also … delicious? “I love the scene in Bridesmaids when Kristin Wiig tries to bake again after her business fails and she creates a beautiful cupcake that she then eats,” Nicoletta Richardson, Apartment Therapy’s senior associate news & culture editor, says. “It embodies that random spontaneous desire to make something and then being like, welp, guess all there is to do now is to eat it.”

11. Li Ziqi’s glorious pot of wine.

“Confession: I spend very little time watching YouTube videos, save for this channel after the NYT tipped me off early in quarantine,” Carey Polis, executive editor, says. “Now, anytime I’m feeling stressed at night or can’t go to sleep, I watch an episode from Li Ziqi and feel at least 15% more calm afterwards. It’s the soothing food channel I didn’t know I needed.”

12. A delicious tutorial on how to make pav bhaji.

Here’s your cooking inspiration for tonight! This hands-and-pans video shows a super-satisfying weeknight meal. “As an Indian, I LOVE her easy-cooking videos,” Pari Sampath, digital media coordinator, explains of this YouTube channel. “Every time I’m bored, if I watch a quick, easy-looking recipe I’m motivated to start cooking.”

13. A burger that is not actually a burger.

Secret cakes — or cakes that appear to be other things — are pretty divisive. You either find them endlessly fascinating or they annoy you. If you fall into the latter camp, please look away. But if you fall into the former camp, I have one of the BEST tutorials for you. In this video, Yolanda Gampp makes vanilla cake looks like buns, and chocolate Rice Krispies look like the burger. It’s truly remarkable (and makes me want to play around in the kitchen).

14. A new way to chop an onion.

When you’re first learning how to cook, there are a lot of tried-and-true techniques you’re taught. One of those things is how to cut an onion. It goes something like this: You slice the onion lengthwise, then horizontally, and then you chop, chop, chop. But what if you’ve been lied to? What if there’s a better way? That’s what Alex, this French YouTuber, tried to figure out in this video, and the results are fascinating.

15. “Fold in the cheese.”

The number of times this scene from Schitt’s Creek has been brought up amongst Kitchn staffers is … well, it’s just a lot. “Schitt’s Creek never fails to cheer me up,” says Managing Editor, Lauren Kodiak. “This enchilada-making scene, in particular, is my favorite. ‘You just … fold it in!’ So, so good. But it also reminds me that sometimes the phrases we cavalierly throw around in food writing are not intuitive to new cooks. David and Moira are proof positive of that.”

16. Braised tofu (alongside a sweet story).

“I adore the Korean Vegan‘s mesmerizing IG videos,” Lauren Johnson, VP of Sales, says. In this video, Joanne shares a simple recipe for braised tofu alongside calming music and a story about her dad on her wedding day. Dinner and a movie? Sold.

17. A dreamy, easy tres leches cake.

On her YouTube page Sweet y Salado, Diana shows viewers how to make easy and delicious recipes from her home country of Columbia. She lives in the United States now, and uses this channel to connect with her culture. This video for tres leches cake has close to 7 millions views and is simply mesmerizing.

18. A 91-year old Pasta Granny makes the best lasagna.

Watching Italian grandmas making pasta on YouTube and Instagram is one of my all-time favorite pastimes (or should I say pastatimes). In this sweet video with over 3.6 million views (!), 91-year-old Maria shows us all how to make green lasagna. There’s just so much joy in everything this woman makes, and it’s heartwarming to watch.

19. VahChef’s guide to chicken tikka.

“The thing I love most about VahChef is that he was the one who taught me how to make all of the Indian dishes I knew as a kid, both from at home and in restaurants,” Vijay Nathan, director of Product, says of this YouTube channel. “He’s South Indian by background (like me!) but is a professionally-trained chef and has worked in some of the top kitchens in India. If you search through his older recipes, you’ll find literally any recipe, from homestyle to restaurant, from North to South India, and everything in between.”

20. Meryl Streep and Steve Martin make chocolate croissants.

One of the most magical food moments in any movie is in It’s Complicated. In this scene, Meryl Streep takes Steve Martin on a date to her bakery and teaches him how to make buttery chocolate croissants. I haven’t made croissants since culinary school, but after watching this clip a few dozen times I need to rectify that.

21. Maangchi’s cheap and easy cabbage pancakes.

With over 5 million subscribers, Emily Kim — aka Maangchi — is one of the most popular cooking YouTubers out there. She specializes in traditional Korean recipes, and is just generally an excellent, warm teacher. In this video, she shows us how to make easy cabbage pancakes with a dipping sauce that takes mere minutes to make.

22. The Pasta Queen’s spaghetti al limone.

Yes, another pasta video! And this one looks easy: You just need spaghetti, heavy cream, lemon, butter, garlic, olive oil, and parsley. Jesse Szewczyk, studio food editor, loves the Pasta Queen because “a lot of the cooking content on TikTok can feel inauthentic or chaotic — but The Pasta Queen does her own thing,” he explains. “Her videos are soothing, fun, wholesome, and thoroughly entertaining. And, of course, her food always looks incredible and makes me want to get into the kitchen.”

23. The fluffiest Japanese soufflé cheesecake.

Cooking with Dog is a true gem on YouTube. The channel started back in 2007, and has been cranking out informative, sometimes hilarious videos featuring an unnamed Japanese chef (“Chef”) and a dog named Francis who narrates viewers through the recipe. In this video, the pair cooks one of their most popular desserts.

24. A 300-year-old recipe for fried chicken.

This YouTube channel is dedicated to recreating recipes from the 18th century — and it’s just a delight. James Townsend goes all out and gets deep into the history of each dish. In this popular video, he recreates a fried chicken recipe from a cookbook dating back to 1736. “It’ll change the way you make fried chicken,” he says in the beginning — find out for yourself if that’s true.

25. And, of course, Jennifer Garner’s playful pretend cooking show.

Jennifer Garner started her “pretend cooking show” series on Instagram towards the end of 2017, and we’ve loved ever installment since then. “I love that her cooking videos are well-intentioned, messy, hilarious (because she sometimes forgets a few ingredients), flawed at times, but, most importantly, honest,” Pari Sampath explains. “Her videos are a reflection of my life in the kitchen and that’s incredibly reassuring.”

What videos have inspired your cooking lately? Let us know in the comments.