8 Next-Level Recipes to Master this Season

Break out of your comfort zone.

By Rachelle Shuttlesworth
home cook, apron, cooking, kitchen

I’ve always loved a challenge in the kitchen.  Anything that’s usually deemed “complicated,” I have a twisted urge to immediately try and replicate it. And while there have been some tasty results, I’ve also experienced my fair share of kitchen disasters. We’re talking thick, gummy risotto, paper-thin sheets of macaron shells, pie dough that never comes together… the list goes on.

I believe this fear of failure is what stops many people from skipping the store-bought pie crust to try their hand at a classic, made-from-scratch recipe. And while failure can be incredibly frustrating in the moment, that experience is important. Don’t get me wrong: successfully nailing something difficult is one of my favorite feelings. But you can’t get there overnight.

Experiencing failure in the kitchen teaches you to pay close attention, think about what you’re making, and most of all, problem solve.

Scroll on for 8 recipes that are generally viewed as “intimidating” for the average home cook, but (I can personally attest) are fun, rewarding, and delicious. And with the perfectly spelled-out instructions accompanying each one, I promise you can do this.

So choose a recipe below, block off some time this weekend, and become a master!

image by trevor ekanger

image by trevor ekanger

Fresh Pasta

There are two kinds of fresh pasta you can make: one with semolina flour and water, and one with egg yolk, water, and “00” flour. This instructional video below is for the latter. It’s very simple and will totally wow your guests (and their tastebuds).

Difficulty level: Easy

Time commitment: 1 hour (40 active minutes)

Special items needed: a pasta machine and 00 flour

video from seasoned cookery school

Focaccia Bread

If you haven’t made bread before, focaccia is the place to start! It’s yeast-based, so it still has to rise and rest for an extended period of time, but that’s the extent of its difficulty. This Bon Appetit recipe offers incredibly detailed instructions and, as you probably expected, it’s perfectly scrumptious.

Difficulty level: Easy

Time commitment: 15 hours (1.5 active hours)

Special items needed: none!

image from bon appetit

Homemade Croissants

Croissants are, in my opinion, perfection. While they aren’t too difficult to make, they are quite time consuming. A recommended timeline is noted in the notes of this instructional video (below) and I highly recommend following it. Other than time, you don’t need anything special to make croissants!

Difficulty level: Moderate

Time commitment: 18 hours (3 active hours)

Special items needed: none!

video from joshua weissman

Pie Dough

For whatever reason, pie dough tends to be intimidating for many people. But in reality, it’s very easy to make. Tessa from Style Sweet does a great job with her pie dough recipe, giving step by step instructions and helpful notes along the way.

Difficulty level: Easy 

Time commitment: at least 1 hour (30 active minutes)

Special items needed: none!

image from style sweet

Cheese Soufflé

Does anything sound fancier than a cheese soufflé? The most difficult part of this recipe is separating the eggs and whipping the egg whites to the right consistency. The helpful instructional video below shows step by step instructions so that you can easily whip up a cheese soufflé! Braggin rights, here you come!

Difficulty level: Moderate

Time commitment: 1 hour (30 active minutes)

Special items needed: four personal-sized ramekins

video from home cooking adventure

French Macarons

Ah yes, the elusive french macaron cookie. Not to be mistaken for the macaroon (a coconut cookie), the macaron is a sandwich cookie made of two almond flour + powdered sugar + egg whites shells and buttercream or ganache in the middle. The instructional video below shows exactly how much to whip the eggs and exactly how long to mix the eggs into the flour. With these tips, you should be good to go. Don’t be sad if they don’t turn out on first try, though. It takes most people a few tries before they’re successful!

Difficulty level: Hard

Time commitment: 2.5 hours (35 active minutes)

Special items needed: a food processor or sifter and piping bag + round tip

video from joshua weissman

Roasted Pork Shoulder

Cooking large amounts of meat always seems daunting, but this recipe from Food & Wine makes it very attainable! Plus, there are a ton of ways to use pork shoulder. Enjoy!

Difficulty level: Easy

Time commitment: 7 hours (45 active minutes)

Special items needed: large enamel cast iron dutch oven

image from food & wine

Italian Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that I’m always in awe of at restaurants. But, funnily enough, that I never think to make at home. Maybe it feels too decadent? In any case, this instructional video (below) shows just how easy it is to make risotto at home. It just takes a bit of stirring and bam: risotto alla casa!

Difficulty level: Moderate

Time commitment: 1 hour

Special items needed: none!

video from everyday food