By Julia Millay Walsh
Updated January 06, 2015
© The Wicked Noodle

This piece originally appeared on

Learning to cook is a lifelong process. It will take years, so we find it helpful to use age markers to inspire ourselves to learn more! Now that we've tackled the most important cooking skills to master by 30, we're moving onto recipes, an equally important topic. Given where you live in the country or the world, your go-to recipes will of course vary, but we've devised a list that will serve you well on numerous occasions.

If you add these 15 dishes to your arsenal, you'll have something up your sleeve for any event on your calendar, be it a romantic dinner for two or a Super Bowl party for 25. They're all classics which allow a lot of flexibility in terms of what you can add to them (or what you can add them to). Several are easy, but many are intermediate, and dishes you should really push yourself to learn. Why? Because learning is fun. And it makes you smarter, stronger, and happier.

1. Pasta Carbonara

You can't find a more decadent, yet easy, pasta than pasta carbonara. Made with bacon, eggs, and cheese, carbonara sauce has a comforting creamy texture, and it's the perfect thing to whip up on a cold night. It's also a great option for when you're cooking for one—facile to make with ingredients you often have on hand.

2. Hollandaise Sauce

Every good home cook should learn to master hollandaise sauce. I use the word "master" because it's really not something you can just do. It requires study and practice. As chef Adam Steudel of Venice Beach's Barlo Kitchen + Cocktails tells me: "Hollandaise will impress people at breakfast, and it can be added to a variety of different dishes, but most importantly, Eggs Benedict"—the best breakfast of all, in our opinion.

3. Lasagna

Lasagna is one of the ultimate comfort foods, a classic Italian dish that has become wholly American with numerous iterations like butternut squash and sage lasagna. Perhaps the best thing about it is that it feeds a family (or friends). It can also easily be frozen, making it convenient, too. If you haven't made this one yet, you can start with no-bake pasta until you get the layer of the land, but lasagna made with fresh pasta (homemade or store-bought) is truly a tasty delight.

4. Pot Roast

What is a pot roast, you say? It's basically a braised beef dish made by browning a piece of beef to release its flavors and then slow-cooking it in or over liquid. With slow braising, beef becomes tender and more flavorsome; the tougher the meat, the longer it will require to cook. Carrots, potatoes, and onions, as well as seasonings like rosemary, salt, and pepper, are often added to a pot roast to simmer in the cooking liquid, making it a hearty, one-pot meal.

5. Beef Bourguignon

A well-known, traditional French recipe, beef bourguignon is a stew prepared with beef braised in red wine, flavored with onions, garlic, bouquet garni, and mushrooms. It's a simple, hearty dish that hits the spot on a cold Sunday evening, served with a side of mashed potatoes and a glass of red wine.

6. Chicken Pot Pie

Let's hear it for the one-pot meals again, shall we? Unlike traditional meat hand pies, American pot pies are basically baked casseroles with an indulgently delicious pastry crust. Chicken pot pie is the most common of the pot pie family, but you can basically fill yours with whatever protein and vegetables you like.

7. Potatoes Dauphinoise

PHOTO: Beloved Green

Every cook needs a simple and versatile side dish, and this is it. These creamy, garlicky, thin slices of potatoes play well with others and are fabulously decadent.

8. Chili Con Carne

PHOTO: Skinny Taste

There are a few better ways to please a hungry crowd at a casual get-together than with a hot pot of chili. This spicy stew containing chili peppers, beef (usually, and if you so please), tomatoes, and beans warmly welcomes a host of other flavors and seasonings, such as garlic, onions, cumin, even curry. Perfecting your signature chili recipe is a lifelong task, so we suggest you start now, if you haven't already. He who dies with the most beans wins.

For the rest of 15 recipes to master by the time you are 30 go to