This story is part of, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.
Last-minute gifting takes focus and creativity but it can be done well. If you’ve got a foodie you need to buy for and are feeling strapped for time, you still have options — don’t panic yet. Ais one. Another is one of the to give them a break from recipe planning and save on trips to the store. Online cooking classes are yet another option for a home chef and there are many to choose from in 2020.
Because of the pandemic, you may not want to get someone an in-person cooking class just yet, but this year has seen a spike in the number of online cooking classes and other remote culinary tutorials and experiences. There are online cooking classes for nearly every level of cook too, so if the person on your list is a full beginner in the kitchen looking to learn the basics, there’s a cooking class for them — even kids! If they’re more on the experienced side, hoping to perfect a béarnaise sauce or beef Wellington, there are loads of cooking classes for seasoned chefs too.
You can also find online cooking classes for just about every cuisine on the planet, wine education and mixology. The internet famously has everything, and that extends to cooking classes: Want to learn to make dim sum or take a class on cooking Indian curries? There are plenty to choose from. More of a baker? There are classes to learn bread baking and others focused on pastry and desserts.
There are also many different online cooking class formats — some are live and some are prerecorded. Some are held over Zoom and other platforms so you can interact with the instructor and ask questions. These tend to be more expensive, for obvious reasons, but have a fun energy and feel very special. Others like MasterClass and America’s Test Kitchen feature prerecorded lessons and classes to be watched on your own schedule. The benefit of a prerecorded cooking class or tutorial is twofold: You’re able to tap into some of the best cooking talent in the world like Thomas Keller, Alice Waters and Gordon Ramsey. Also, once you buy or subscribe to one of these services with recorded cooking lessons, you’ve got them forever and can easily navigate to specific parts of the class, if and when you ever need a brush up.
From celebrity chef-led lessons to cooking classes for kids, these are some of the most popular online cooking classes to give as gifts in 2020.
If your previous food TV consumption has left you longing for the opportunity to get screamed at by Gordon Ramsay, MasterClass may be the easiest way to have that dream realized. Not only a cooking resource, MasterClass is a roundup of video tutorials, available for $90 for the entire library, which includes lessons in art, business, music and more.
On the cooking side, Ramsay’s contemporaries include other legendary chefs such as Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Dominique Ansel (of cronut fame) and others. You can even receive instruction in wine appreciation from Wine Spectator’s James Suckling or have Aaron Franklin walk you through his famous Texas-style BBQ secrets. MasterClass is currently running a holiday sale and you can snare two memberships to the full library of classes for the price of one.
The Chef and the Dish
The Chef and The Dish will connect you with real, live pro chefs from all over the world who will join you in your kitchen in real time, via Skype. Global cuisine is represented authentically by chefs from the actual places they originate, whether you want to explore Brazilian steak, Hungarian goulash or sushi from Japan. Some classes are as inexpensive as $99, but most others start at around $299 for two people with an additional cost for extra students. You can also expect to pay around $50 or so for groceries and ingredients.
With so many cooking class options available through the Chef and the Dish, your best bet might be to send a personalized gift certificate, which you can buy in any amount.
America’s Test Kitchen
America’s Test Kitchen is one of the most respected names in food education. Besides a huge library of cookbooks rooted in the science of cooking, ATK recently broke into the online cooking class category too. That includes the Young Chef’s Club, which is designed for kids as young as 5. The program delivers themed boxes every month along with access to exclusive instructional videos, recipes and other food and cooking activities. The Young Chef’s Club is $25 per month, but gets cheaper if you commit to a six- or 12-month membership.
Rouxbe is a leading online culinary school and is certified by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation. So, yeah, it’s some serious stuff. Rouxbe offers both individual lessons, but also professional certificate programs, so this would be best for experienced chefs looking to take things to the next level.
Gifting someone a Rouxbe membership makes the most sense and comes in at an affordable $70 for an entire year. With it, you’ll gain access to 75 recorded video lessons, and hundreds of recipes with personalized instructor support. Lessons include those on Knife Cuts & Knife Sharpening, Eggs, Dry-Heat Cooking Methods, How to Make Soup, How to Make Salad Dressing and more.
Udemy’s online cooking courses feature experts delivering lectures on specific food and drink topics such as Bartending Mastery, if you’re hoping to put your new bar gear to good use, or Sourdough 101 and French Macarons for aspiring bakers. Classes are individually priced and most are $20 or $30. Any one of them can be gifted.
The New York Times
The New York Times has one of the best collections of recipes anywhere in the world. What you may not know is it also has an extensive library of cooking tutorials and classes to tap into when you sign up. Cooking is now its own membership separate from the newspaper. A year’s membership costs just $40 (or $5 per month) and includes over 19,000 recipes and hundreds of supplementary videos that’ll walk you through various dishes and cooking techniques from top talent such as Samin Nosrat, Melissa Clark and Yotam Ottolenghi.