Free Online Cooking Courses To Get You Ready For Turkey Day

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Photo by floodllama (38446022@N00), Flickr

Photo by floodllama (38446022@N00), Flickr

The countdown to turkey time is on! Next week the United States will celebrate the sesquicentennial of Thanksgiving otherwise known as 150th anniversary. An annual tradition since President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it in 1863, this federal holiday is a time to celebrate with family and friends, football and food.

History reveals that Pilgrims and American Indians feasted for three days during the first Thanksgiving. Today, that might not be possible or practical for most of us. Whether you’re having a Plymouth-sized party or a small group gathering knowing how to prepare a simple side dish or a main course is a great way to get involved in the holiday happenings.

If you’re a cooking novice or a culinary genius, it’s never too late to brush up on your kitchen skills. Thanks to technology, learning how to cook is as easy as, well, pie. We’ve pulled together a list of free online cooking courses offered by leading universities and other free resources to help with cooking basics and get you cooking like a pro in time for Thanksgiving.

Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter

This popular Harvard open course has received considerable media coverage since it launched in 2010. It won’t necessarily teach you how to make mashed potatoes, but it will explain some of the gastronomy involved with cooking, like diffusion and emulsion.

America’s Test Kitchen

Located just outside of Boston, ATK is an actual 2500 square foot facility that test recipes, equipment and more. They offer a free 14-day trial to their online cooking school site where you can choose from more than 100 different cooking courses. Learn at your own pace. After the free trial you have the option to upgrade to a paid membership starting at $19.95 per month.

Cooking Chicken & Poultry Basics

What better way to learn how to properly cook and dress a bird than from the experts at Rouxbe (pronounced roo-bee). During the 7-day trial period you can search their site and take a course free of charge. After the trial expires a paid membership is required, which consists of a $299.99 initiation fee upfront and then a $4.99 monthly membership thereafter.

BBC Food Techniques

Thanks to those witty Brits, the BBC provides more than 110 free online cooking videos to help with simple kitchen tasks, like grilling vegetables, to more complex endeavors, such as making pasta by hand.

Dinner Tonight

Offered by Texas A&M, this portal provides access to free online cooking courses that span more than 12 different categories. Visitors can watch videos with step-by-step instructions and learn how to prepare a variety of dishes. The option to print recipes that are being taught is also handy.

Kitchen Chemistry

MIT’s OpenCourseWare initiative is serving up a culinary course that teaches chemistry through cooking. The course itself is free and open, although the accompanying textbook is not. If you’re interested in learning about molecular gastronomy in relation to cheese, meringues and bread this class may be worth enrolling in.

How To Videos

Less of an open course set-up, is more of a how-to hub. They feature a collection of 102 videos to watch and learn from. Extremely helpful for Thanksgiving-related tasks that involve how to brine turkey and make a pie pastry dough.

Smart Kitchen

Sign-up for the free 7-day trial and discover 500-hours of different classes that provide instruction using a tiered approach to suit the skill level of and expertise of the user.  Beginner, intermediate and advanced buckets work to guide users through the building blocks of cooking. If you like what you see and learn you can subscribe to the paid membership for $9.99 a month.

Epicurious Online Cooking School

Paid bundled classes are offered by Epicurious, however, they also feature one free course to visitors who want to test out the format before making a financial commitment. Currently, their featured free course is cookies and bars, which covers learning a dessert for Thanksgiving.

Potato Risotto

This recipe from the Culinary Institute of America’s CIAProChef website offers a unique way to serve up taters for turkey day. Demonstrated by award winning chef Gary Danko of San Francisco, this risotto video is more advanced than some of the others featured in this post, however, it was selected to provide some variety for folks who want to challenge themselves.

Have you taken any online cooking courses? After learning about some of the above resources would you enroll in a free online cooking course? Share a reply in the comments below.

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Sarah Hartshorn is a marketing, public relations and social media professional with Vuze. She blogs about content, torrents, social media and a number of other tech topics. Sarah has been involved with traditional and digital marketing since 1998.