Dining

The Young & the Seamless

20 recipes every twentysomething should know how to make
Photo: Tasting Table
Easy Meatball Recipe

Remember when Chandler, Rachel and Joey ate a cheesecake off the floor of their hallway, because it was so damn good they couldn’t stop themselves? Yeah, we’ve all had those desperate food moments.

Despite what the stereotypes might suggest, are all twentysomethings really that desperate for a good meal? Is Generation Y actually surviving on dry ramen and boxed mac and cheese out of laziness and lack of funds, longing for the days of Mom’s delicious home cooking? Probably (hopefully) not.

Instead, we’d like to think that today’s twentysomethings are hungry for more: for easy, classic recipes that will get them through a long workweek, a dinner party with friends or (God forbid) a visit from the parents.

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So for those nights when you want to say no to another Seamless delivery, we’ve got the basics covered. These are 20 of the most timeless and delicious dishes, sides, drinks and desserts every twentysomething should know how to make. Yes, they may take a bit of practice, but each recipe will help make that bumpy journey into adulthood just a little bit smoother.

Especially the margarita recipe.

  • Steak

    OK, so this one is a bit of a luxury. No, you can’t afford to have a juicy steak every night, but when you do indulge, make sure you’re getting your money’s worth by cooking it right.

  • Red Sauce

    Whether or not you were lucky enough to have an Italian grandma make you vats of perfect red sauce on Sundays, there’s nothing like a fresh pot of this tomato goodness. The jarred stuff is great in a pinch, but it doesn’t come close to the real thing.

  • Chicken Thighs

    Someday, when you grow older and wiser, you’ll learn that chicken breasts are boring and that chicken thighs are crispy, buttery, tender and beautiful. Here’s how to perfect that crispy skin while maintaining a tender center.

  • A Burger

    Yes, you can buy a pretty decent burger just about anywhere these days, but there’s something to be said for making it yourself. Gather a few friends, fire up the grill (or the cast iron) and cook those babies to your exact liking.

  • Meatballs

    Whether they’re on top of spaghetti or tucked into a Tupperware container for the best work lunch ever, meatballs are the comforting, classic dish you need to master. Nonna would be proud.

  • Mashed Potatoes

    Throwing a dinner party? Mashed potatoes are the answer. Everyone loves this starchy, buttery, creamy side, and you truly can’t go wrong with it. Still, instead of winging it, we suggest sticking with this recipe. Your guests will thank you.

  • Guacamole

    No Super Bowl shindig, Game of Thrones premiere or Friday-night pity party is complete without a bowl of fresh, vibrant guac. Buy yourself some perfectly ripe avocados and get smashing: It’s a lot easier than you think.

  • Fish

    Any kind of fish, really. It’s simple, healthy and often pretty affordable, making it the perfect way to end a workday or impress a date with your cooking skills. We especially like this recipe, which cooks right in parchment paper.

  • Margaritas (or martinis or Manhattans or whatever you need after a long day)

    This requires little explanation. You need a margarita, and you need it now.

  • Brownies

    Master the art of baking rich, fudgy, chocolaty brownies at home, then do with them what you will.

  • Chicken Noodle Soup

    Nothing says adulthood like cooking up a big batch of homemade chicken noodle soup for your sick, needy friend. This recipe will win you major best-friend points.

  • Cheesecake

    Arguably one of the less essential recipes on this list, but that depends on who you ask. Sometimes, a thick, creamy slice of cheesecake you made yourself is everything you need in life.

  • Chicken Parmesan

    Is there anything better than fried, breaded chicken covered in gooey cheese and tangy red sauce? We didn’t think so. Make sure you know how to do it right.

  • Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

    Pasta in general can be a lifesaver when it comes to easy weeknight meals, and this creamy classic is a particular winner. Set a big bowl of this on the table and watch your roommates flock to your side.

  • Pork Chops

    Pork is the somewhat underrated meat you need to get acquainted with in your 20s. A thick, perfectly cooked pork chop is a true delight, and it’s a recipe you should absolutely have in your arsenal.

  • Roast Chicken

    Yes, this bird is the word. The beauty of a juicy, blistered whole chicken pulled from the oven and covered in seasoning is truly unparalleled, and you’re going to want to experience it again and again.

  • Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

    We’re not talking just Kraft Singles on white bread here. This elevated grilled cheese and tomato soup will transport you back to elementary school lunches, when your biggest problem was the cheese burning the roof of your mouth. Those were the days.

  • An Omelet

    Sure, making messy, scrambled eggs can sometimes be hard enough on a busy morning. But on those rare Sundays when you want to sit down with your coffee and the crossword and eat a real meal, this classic French omelet is there for you.

  • Pizza

    Wondering why you’d ever want to eat anything other than the pizza that comes hot and ready to your door? Hear us out. When the dough is fresh, the toppings handmade and the cheese melted just to perfection, pizza becomes a different animal altogether. Plus, there’s no risk of the topping loss while in transit.

  • Meat Loaf

    Nothing takes you back to your childhood days like a thick slab of meat loaf. (Whether that’s a good or bad memory really depends on your secret family recipe.) Make sure you’re making positive meat loaf memories moving forward with this elevated take on the classic, complete with homemade ketchup.

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