Cooking 101: Illustrated Recipes and Cooking Guides

A Go-To Reference With Culinary Basics

how to cook brussels sprouts illustration

The Spruce

Go back to basics with these illustrated guides to get you cooking with confidence. Whether you're wondering how to pan fry the perfect pork chop, what temperature to cook your steak for doneness, or how to tackle basic sides like steamed veggies or rice, these illustrated guides will teach you through the culinary basics or reinforce a technique you already know.

Cooking Proteins

Cooking bacon in the oven takes only 20 minutes at 400 F and saves you the mess.

Bacon in the Oven
 The Spruce / Catherine Song

Corned Beef

Three ways to prepare corned beef, whether boiling, baking, or tossing in a slow cooker.

Corned Beef Guide
 The Spruce


Boil, steam, or grill—any of these techniques will get crabs cooked in under 20 minutes.

Cooking Crab
 The Spruce


Reheating a fully cooked ham at 350 F for 8 to 10 minutes per pound.

Heating Ham
 The Spruce / Catherine Song

Pork Brine

Find a simple brine recipe for pork, along with a guide for how long each cut needs.

Brining Pork
 The Spruce

Pork Chops

How to cook perfect pork chops is as easy as following this guide: Let them rest, pat dry, season with plenty of salt, sear in a cast iron pan, and finish in a 400 F oven.

Pork Chop Cooking
 The Spruce / Alison Czinkota

Ribeye Steak

Cooking a ribeye steak at home doesn't have to be intimidating with the help of a quick sear in a cast iron pan.

Ribeye Steak Cooking Guide
 The Spruce / Alison Czinkota

Roast Beef

Follow this guide for a roast beef that's cooked to whatever your desired temperature of doneness.

Roast Beef Illustration
 The Spruce / Catherine Song


Here's a temperature guide for steak from rare to well done.

how to cook a steak illustration
Illustration: Melissa Ling. © The Spruce, 2018


Prepping tofu for the grill inludes pressing out excess liquid and allowing it to spend a little time floating in a marinade—this will help ensure a tasty end result.

Grilling Tofu
 The Spruce / Ashley Nicole DeLeon


How long to cook tuna steak is a question of personal preference—a light sear will only take seconds per side, while a fully cooked tuna steak will take a little under 10 minutes.

Tuna Cooking Guide
 The Spruce / Miguel Co.


How long to roast a whole turkey is quickly answered with this chart based on turkey weight, oven temperature, and whether the bird is stuffed or unstuffed.

Turkey Cooking Times
 The Spruce / Sage Youngblood

Cooking Grains, Beans, and Nuts

Toasting Almonds

Toasting almonds for a salad or dessert can be accomplished in a pan, oven, or even the microwave.

Toasting Almonds
 The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Black Beans

An overnight soak and a two-hour simmer will give you the perfect freshly cooked black beans.

Black bean cooking
 The Spruce / Ashley Nicole DeLeon


If you don't have time to overnight soak your chickpeas, follow this quick soaking guide which requires only a short boil and one hour rest before you can begin to cook the chickpeas. Bonus: this method works to quick soak any dried bean.

quick soak chickpeas
 The Spruce

Israeli Couscous

Israeli couscous, or pearl couscous, can be quickly pan toasted and then given a 10-minute simmer in water or broth.

Israeli Couscous
 The Spruce


The cooking time of pasta will vary based on if it is fresh or dried and on its respective shape.

pasta cooking times
The Spruce 


Cooking rice in the oven frees up stovetop space and ensures perfectly fluffy grains. Use a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1 2/3 cup of water and a bake in a 375 F oven for 25 minutes.

Bake Rice Illustration
 The Spruce / Catherine Song

Toasting Walnuts

Toasting walnuts is as easy as a 5 to 10 minute bake in a 375 oven, or on the stove top in a dry pan over medium high heat for about 5 minutes.

Toasting Walnuts
 The Spruce

Wild Rice

Wild rice can be cooked by steaming on the stovetop, with a bake in the oven, or even with the microwave.

How to cook wild rice
 The Spruce 

Cooking Vegetables

Steaming Vegetables

Use this all-purpose guide to steaming any vegetable on the stove or microwave.

Steaming Vegetables
 The Spruce

Acorn Squash

Cooking acorn squash in the oven for an hour or microwave if you have only 15 minutes to spare.

Cooking acorn squash
 The Spruce / Melissa Ling


Steamed broccoli cooking guide on the stovetop, with or without a steamer basket, or quickly in the microwave.

Cooking Broccoli
 The Spruce / Catherine Song

Brussels Sprouts

Steamed Brussels sprouts cooking guide on the stovetop, with or without a steamer basket, or quickly in the microwave.

brussel sprout cooking
 The Spruce


Steamed carrots cooking guide on the stovetop, with or without a steamer basket, or quickly in the microwave.

Steaming Carrots
 The Spruce 


Steamed cauliflower cooking guide on the stovetop, with or without a steamer basket, or quickly in the microwave.

Cauliflower Steaming
 The Spruce

Green Beans

Steamed green beans cooking guide on the stovetop, with or without a steamer basket, or quickly in the microwave.

green beans
 The Spruce


Grilling Halloumi Cheese

Grilling halloumi cheese over medium-high heat for just three minutes per side, will give perfect results and is a fantastic summer BBQ starter or side.

Grilling Halloumi Cheese
 The Spruce

Reheating Tortillas

Reheating tortillas can be done in a damp paper towel in the microwave for 30 seconds or a low oven for 20 minutes; or for a crisper result, griddle or directly reheat over an open flame.

reheating tortillas
 The Spruce

Tomato Paste

Homemade tomato paste is as simple as blending 1 can of tomatoes, then simmering and reducing over medium heat for 10 minutes until reduced by two-thirds.

Making tomato paste
 The Spruce / Miguel Co

Melting Chocolate

Melting chocolate can be done effectively in the microwave in short bursts of 30 seconds, stirring between, or in a double boiler over the stove. The most important tip when melting chocolate: be sure to keep water from getting in the chocolate or it will seize.

metling chocolate
 The Spruce

Fixing Seized or Overheated Chocolate

Fix seized or overheated chocolate with these easy step-by-step solutions.

fixing overheated chocolate
 The Spruce


Whip up a classic ice cream milkshake with 3 scoops of any flavor of ice cream, 1/4 cup of whole milk, and 1/4 cup of chocolate syrup (if desired) plus some vanilla extra for an added boost of flavor. Sip and enoy!

Milkshake recipe
 The Spruce / Catherine Song