Kristy is a licensed registered dietitian nutritionist and trained culinary professional. She has worked in a variety of settings, including the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Rouge Tomate.
Located in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C., CulinAerie offers the best all-around selection of recreational cooking classes for every experience level. Whether you want to learn basic techniques or more advanced skills, CulinAerie has a course for you.
The space is well-equipped with state-of-the-art kitchens that even feature flat-screen televisions. So, there's no need to worry about missing anything: There will be a projection of instructors demonstrating their recipes during lessons. So, there's no need to worry: You won't miss a thing. During the three-hour classes, you will work in small groups of two to four people to complete the dishes, all while enjoying complimentary wine (if you choose).
Learn how to make spiced pumpkin soup with truffle cheese crostini, red wine glazed bone-ribeye à la Bourgogne, and creamy garlic polenta in the Winter Steakhouse course, or cook queso fresco-stuffed flatbread on the grill with cherry tomato pico, and coffee-marinated, and rubbed flank steak with chimichurri salsa during the Latin Grill lesson.
CulinAerie also offers multiple Date Night-themed classes each weekend that are reserved for couples only and are always paired with a specialty cocktail or beverage. CulinAerie also offers a popular 12-week Masters series for those interested in a more serious commitment to honing their cooking chops.
Best National Chain:
Market Common At Clarendon
Williams-Sonoma is recognized as a storefront for kitchen and homewares, but the national chain also offers regular cooking classes. What makes them so appealing? They happen to be quite affordable and sometimes free.
Lessons are taught by Williams-Sonoma chefs and culinary specialists and are fairly small, typically hosting up to eight people that gather around a cooktop in the middle of the store. Due to limited space and the short duration of the class, these tend to be more demo-style than hands-on, but they serve as a great introduction for aspiring chefs. Plus, you'll quickly become a pro at using a range of your kitchen tools.
The courses at Williams-Sonoma are one-hour technique-based classes that tend to focus on the use of a specific piece of cooking equipment, such as a spiralizer or air fryer. But there are some other seasonally-themed sessions as well, such as Springtime Brunch.
Williams-Sonoma also offers theme-based Junior Chef courses for ages eight to 13, such as the Harry Potter Cookie Party and Peter Rabbit Cakelet Event. And, an added bonus for attending lessons at Williams-Sonoma is that you'll get 10% off any same-day in-store purchases.
Don’t see a topic on the calendar that interests you? No problem. Williams-Sonoma offers an option to customize the content of a session just for you. If you want to host a private cooking course at your home, the company has that covered, too. Simply call the store about one month in advance, and you can arrange for a chef to come to your home for a more one-on-one class.
Built in the unique historic setting of a former D.C. prison in Fairfax County, the Workhouse Arts Center is a non-profit cultural center that supports all aspects of visual and performing arts, including culinary classes.
Located on over 50 acres, the Center consists of six artist studio buildings, main galleries, dance studios, music rooms, an outdoor performance space, and a theatre. The Center offers a range of cooking lessons and workshops for all ages, including Junior Chef classes for ages eight to 14, where kids can learn basic culinary and pastry techniques. They can do so either on their own or together with their parents depending on the course description.
And, for slightly older kids who have demonstrated an early passion for cooking, a six-week Introduction to the Culinary Arts lesson is available for students to learn the basics of purchasing fresh ingredients, how to prepare them, the proper use of knives and kitchen tools, and essential cooking methods. This is a group class, but instructors can also give students individual attention. Each weekly course is three hours long and costs around $50 per session.
In addition to youth programs, The Center specializes in international foods, with a focus on cuisines from Africa, India, Mexico, Thailand, Korea, and Vietnam. Plus, there's a variety of fusion-style dishes to choose from.
Other course topics at The Center include bread-baking, basic knife skills, regional cuisine, pasta making, fermentation, and much more. If you're interested in taking multiple classes, try the Around the World Pass that admits one student to any four workshops for approximately $235 (less than $60 per lesson).
Culinaria Cooking School offers two formats of cooking classes: demonstration and participation.
You can choose from a variety of categories including Baking, Couples Cooking, Kids and Teens, Healthy Dining, Skills and Techniques, Regional and Ethnic Cuisine, and Wine and Food.
Try the Louisiana Lunch, where you'll learn how to make a shrimp boil, muffuletta sandwich, and braised collard greens with ham, or take the Breakfast in Bed class, where you'll cook a crab cake benedict, a lemon ricotta Dutch baby, and breakfast potatoes.
If you like the idea of a culinary lesson for a special occasion or a date night, but don’t necessarily want to give up your party attire, demonstration-style is a perfect fit. You can watch professional chefs prepare a multi-course meal while you sit back and enjoy the wine provided by the school. The chef will explain the ingredients and techniques during the demonstration and present each dish before you eat.
During the lesson, you will be given recipes to follow along and are encouraged to ask questions. So, you can gain as much knowledge as possible without getting your hands dirty.
However, if you enjoy a more hands-on experience, go for the participation-style class where you will prepare the recipes of a multi-course meal yourself, after an initial demonstration by the chef-instructor. And, not to worry: Wine will still be served there, too.
Owned by celebrity chef José Andrés, Jaleo offers cooking classes led by Daniel Lugo, the head chef of the Bethesda location of the restaurant.
Cooking courses are led by Chef Lugo, but are hands-on. And, since Jaleo specializes in Spanish tapas, the lessons are all about them. Specific classes are broken down by classic, seasonal, and festive tapas.
While the types of dishes featured in each course aren't listed, appetizer items at the Bethesda location include pan de cristal con tomate (bread with fresh tomato), caña de cabra (goat cheese with raisin walnut bread and fig jam), tortilla de patatas al momento (a Spanish omelette with potatoes and onions), and more.
Date night-themed classes for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day are also offered. In true Spanish tradition, cava sparkling wine and sangria will be served during each session, along with a variety of tapas prepared from the restaurant.
At the end of the lesson, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the meal in the dining room with a complimentary dessert. Space is limited, so advanced booking is recommended.
The award-winning bakery and dessert chain founded by Chef Christina Tosi and the Manhattan-based Momofuku restaurant group offers classes to the public on how they make some of their famous creations.
There are several courses to choose from, including Birthday Cake, Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Cake, and Chocolate Raspberry Jam Cake. And, if you have dietary restrictions, not to worry: Milk Bar will even have gluten-free versions available if notified in advance.
During these sessions, you can expect to spend two hours learning how to meticulously layer and decorate cakes, but will not do any actual baking. If you want to do more mixing and baking, sign up for the Milk Bar Pie class. For two hours, you will make a pie from start-to-finish and craft truffles while your dessert bakes.
Want to give your little ones an extra treat? Sign them up for the Kids Cookie Decorating or Truffle Making classes for around $35 per 30-minute lesson. They'll come home with five, decorated cookies or a dozen truffles, plus, their own apron and a jug of sprinkles.
What Is a Cooking Class?
A cooking class is an in-person event where you can learn various cooking techniques or regional cooking styles from a professional chef. You may choose a cooking class specific to a region, such as French or Italian cooking, or choose one based on a particular technique you'd like to learn, such as desserts, baking, or making items such as pizza or pasta.
How Long Are Cooking Classes?
Most cooking classes have a prep period, followed by the actual cooking process led by a chef. After, you'll sit down and enjoy the meal as a class. Many classes allow you to bring a drink of your choice to enjoy with the meal. Classes last two to four hours, depending on the topic.
Are There Virtual Options for Cooking Classes?
While the options in this article are focused on in-person classes, some of the companies, such as CulinAerie and Williams-Sonoma, offer online classes as well.
How We Chose the Best Washington, D.C. Cooking Classes
We chose the best cooking classes based on a variety of criteria, including those that offer regional cooking, date night options, and even dessert-centric classes.
For example, we chose Jaleo for its Spanish cooking classes; and Workhouse Arts Center for its kids' classes. And, for dessert classes, we chose Milk Bar.