How do three online cooking schools stack up? Here’s a rundown.
Courses available: 15
Price: Free to $18. Our Chewy Candy class was free.
How the class was set up: Intro; section on “confection geekery” with definitions and scientific explanations; six recipes, featuring three videos and lots of photos; reading list; discussion section at end for questions and answers (which can also be posted on different pages throughout the class).
Pros: Free! Good, interesting recipe selection. Attractive photography. Recipe steps include how much you need of each ingredient rather than just relying on list at the top. Will probably teach you a lot about science of food.
Cons: Requires ingredients most people don’t have on hand. Staff doesn’t routinely answer questions, more often leaving troubleshooting to the community. Reading materials don’t always explain unfamiliar terminology. Videos, while fun and punchy, aren’t good if you want to see every step. Instructions occasionally vague, especially in terms of time. No system for note-taking.
Courses available: 79
Price: Free to $39.99. Our Homemade Italian Pasta class with Giuliano Hazan cost $39.99.
How the class was set up: Almost entirely video-driven, with downloadable supply list and recipes. Seven lessons with individual sections for a total video time of about 100 minutes.
Pros: Excellent production values on the videos, which are step-by-step from start to finish. Interface full of useful tools, such as ability to annotate videos with notes and ask questions at specific points. Video transcript search helps if you can’t remember when you saw something you wanted to return to. Handy 30-second replay tool on the video, which you can play at faster or slower speeds.
Cons: Video instructions don’t always match printable recipes. Instructor pretty good about answering students’ questions, though not all are addressed. App not compatible with Kindle Fire tablets.
America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School, www.onlinecookingschool.com
Courses available: 45 technique lessons, 168 recipe lessons, 4 in-depth courses, 11 cooking basics (there is some overlap)
Price: Subscription with unlimited classes costs $19.95 per month ($39.95 per month if you want access to instructors). We took Frying Without Fear.
How the class was set up: Video overview; quiz to test your frying knowledge; large section on how frying works, featuring information on techniques, scientific explanations and safety tips; video explainers on shallow- and deep-frying; review quiz; three recipes with tutorials and self-evaluations to complete after you finish cooking.
Pros: Thorough, easy-to-understand explanations. Very detailed recipes. Step-by-step photo galleries. Many resources, such as glossary of terms, conversion charts and ingredient reviews. Helpful self-evaluation guidance. Access to instructor gets you prompt, informative answers; instructors also are pretty engaged in online comments.
Cons: Amount of reading can feel a little overwhelming at times. Only one of three recipes has a video that lets you cook along in real time. Requires monthly financial commitment. Can bookmark only topics, not their subsections. No note-taking feature.