How to Cook Pork Belly

If you like bacon, you like pork belly. Bacon and pork belly are the same cut of meat, prepared and sold in slightly different forms. This versatile protein is an easy way to add savory decadence to dinner. Here’s how to get the most out of this delicious ingredient. 

What is pork belly?

Pork belly is a thick, fatty cut of meat from the belly of a pig. The fat is what makes this cut so special—it adds plenty of rich flavors. Unlike bacon, this product isn’t cured. While bacon comes pre-loaded with smoky and sweet flavors, this protein will have a pure and versatile pork flavor. It’s typically sold in a large slab and served in thick pieces. When compared to bacon, these thicker pieces are meatier and chewier.

How is Blue Apron’s pork belly made? 

Blue Apron’s pork belly arrives fully cooked. Before it’s shipped to you, the meat is seasoned and cooked in a water bath. This method, also known as sous vide, creates tender evenly cooked meat.

All about fat 

When you look at a slice, you can clearly see the striped layers of meat and white fat. You’ll also see an extra-thick stripe around the exterior, known as the fat cap. There’s no need to remove this. The extra fat is delicious, and much of it will render out during the cooking process. When the meat is cooked at a high temperature, the fat melts and renders out. The meat fries in the newly melted fat, creating a flavorful brown crust with a delightfully crispy texture.

slicing pork belly

How to cut it 

The best way to cut pork belly depends on your dish. We recommend using a sturdy chef’s knife to create ½ inch slices. Pieces this size will sear quickly and offer a combination of crispy and chewy textures.

Searing pork belly

Even though it’s fully cooked, we recommend searing the meat before serving. You don’t need to cook it all the way through. The goal is to warm it through and create a crispy crust. 

Keep the fat 

Once it’s in the pan, you’ll notice that a lot of fat is melting out. This is normal! When the meat is removed, some melted fat will remain behind in the pan. This bonus fat is a blessing, so be sure to save it. Leftover pork fat can be used in place of butter or olive oil in most recipes. Strain any leftovers and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week, and dispose of them if they starts to smell off. Try using your leftovers to fry breakfast potatoes or to make a rich pie dough.

Hungry for more recipe ideas? Try our recipe for Maple & Pumpkin Spice breakfast sandwiches.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

This guide to oven cooking with bacon was contributed by Jonathan Bender. Jonathan is a food writer who lives in Kansas City, Missouri. He’s the author of a pair of cookbooks: Stock, Broth & Bowl and Cookies & Beer.

types of bacon

Crispy. Fatty. Smoky. The sizzle is real. Let’s talk about bacon—the glorious strips on a B.L.T. and the crispy bits that make dish extra special. 

We’ve put together a guide that helps you learn about the different types of bacon, including the difference between bacon and pork belly. We’ll walk you through how to defrost and cook bacon, as well as what to do with bacon grease and (the unlikely event of) leftover bacon. 

Discover exactly what cookware you need and the right temperature, along with a few tips and tricks, for beautifully crispy bacon. Read on for a collection of recipes to let you enjoy your newfound bacon knowledge. 

Getting started: Choosing the right bacon 

The variety of bacon terminology can get confusing; but it’s also a helpful clue about what part of the pig was used to make the bacon. 

Bacon slices, sometimes called “streaky bacon” for the white runs of fat, are most commonly made from pork belly. Here, we’re talking crackling strips for BLTs, bacon-wrapped figs and backyard cheeseburgers. 

Canadian bacon or back bacon (loin),cottage bacon (shoulder), jowl bacon (cheek meat) and slab bacon (sides) are all different cuts you may encounter. The wide slices of back bacon and thin slices of lean cottage bacon can both anchor a breakfast sandwich, while fatty jowl bacon adds smokiness and depth to greens. 

Chop thick slices of slab bacon (cubed or sticks of slab bacon are often called lardons) and tuck them inside tortillas for tacos, sprinkle atop pasta, or sneak some pieces in a gooey grilled cheese. 

Try this recipe: Skate Wing with Crispy Lardons and Frisée

What’s the difference between bacon and pork belly? 

This is a bit of a square vs. rectangle situation. Bacon is usually (but not always) made from pork belly; but pork belly isn’t bacon unless it’s been cured. 

Bacon is typically cured (salt and seasoning is added to draw out moisture) and/or smoked before it’s packaged. Pork belly (named for the butcher’s cut, it comes from the belly of a pig) is sold fresh and often has a band of fat at the top, as well as fat marbled throughout the meat. Pork belly can be served in thick slices, crispy cubes, or thin strips.

What’s the difference between pancetta and bacon?

Pancetta is also made from pork belly. Unlike bacon, pancetta is not cured or smoked before it is packaged. It’s generally ok to substitute chopped bacon for pancetta in most recipes, though it may add an additional smoky flavor. You can also substitute pancetta in recipes that use small pieces of bacon, or lardons.

A note on cooking cured versus uncured bacon 

Uncured bacon or pork belly is best when it can be cooked for a long time at a low temperature in order to let the fat slowly render down, transforming your slice into tender bites. Braising and smoking pork belly are popular choices. Overcooked pork belly—either at too high a temperature or for too long—can make your meat tough or rubbery in texture. 

Methods for defrosting bacon 

You have several options when it comes to thawing frozen bacon. If you know you’re making brunch on the weekend, place frozen bacon in the refrigerator on a plate or defrosting tray the day before you want to cook. 

Need bacon to thaw faster? Put your unopened package of frozen bacon on a wire rack in your sink. Then, run a slow, steady stream of cool water over the bacon. It should thaw in roughly 30 minutes. Once you’re able to separate the slices, cook them immediately. 

How to cook bacon on the stovetop 

There are lots of effective ways to cook bacon. The one you choose will likely depend on your available cookware, the amount of people you’re feeding, and your tolerance for cleaning up grease. Let’s work our way from the top of the stove to your oven.

A skillet that stretches over two burners is best if you’re trying to cook a whole package of bacon strips. Cooking for two people? You can fit six strips of bacon (a little less than half of a one-pound package) in a 12-inch nonstick pan or cast iron pan. 

Lay your bacon flat, making sure there’s a bit of space between each slice, on a cold skillet. Turn the heat to medium. When your bacon begins to curl at the edges, flip it to the other side. Flip your bacon frequently to ensure even cooking. 

Pro tip: If you want extra crispy bacon, add enough cold water to cover the bottom of the pan while the skillet is still cold. The water will boil off, but before it does, it helps render the fat and reduces splatter. Your bacon will take a little longer to cook; but will be beautifully browned and add a nice bit of crunch to a salad or sandwich. 

cooking with bacon for sandwiches
Classic B.L.T. Sandwiches with Tomato, Avocado & Cucumber Salad

How to cook bacon in the oven 

If you dread making bacon because of the mess and effort, you’ll want to try using a rimmed baking sheet in the oven. Remember the rimmed part—grease will spill over the edges of a flat cookie sheet onto your oven floor.  

cooking bacon in the oven
Cooking with bacon in the oven

For fewer dishes, line your baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, which will help trap some of the grease and make clean-up easier. Crinkle your foil lightly before you use it so your slices sit slightly above the foil and crisp up without being saturated in grease. 

You can also lay the bacon strips on a wire rack atop a rimmed baking sheet. The strips can be snug; but try to keep them from touching. While the strips cook, grease will drip through the rack (and be caught by the baking sheet) so your bacon is crispier. 

Start your baking sheet in a cold oven. Heat to 400℉ and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. If you prefer your bacon well-done, opt for 450℉ and roughly 20 minutes. Cook until the bacon is evenly browned. 

As for the microwave oven, save it for popcorn (with a bit of bacon grease). Bacon will brown and crisp up slightly—tuck slices between paper towels on top of a microwave safe plate—in your microwave; but it lacks crunch and char. 

What to do with bacon grease

Keep in mind that hot bacon grease can melt a garbage bag, and bacon grease poured down the drain can solidify and cause a back up in your pipes. You have to be a bit intentional with bacon grease. 

Let the grease cool slightly before you do anything else. If you’re not keeping your grease, pour it into a yogurt cup or empty metal can while it’s still warm. The grease will solidify as it cools. After it’s cooled, it can be safely tossed in the trash.

Before you head for the trash, consider saving bacon grease to reap the delicious dividends. Pour warm bacon grease into a heat-resistant container with an airtight lid. Use a fine mesh sieve or coffee filter to catch some of the solid bacon pieces. This will improve its shelf life in your fridge. 

Refrigerated bacon grease should last at least three months (frozen grease will keep much longer). Your nose will let you know when it’s time to make a new batch. 

Bacon grease is handy in the kitchen. It adds a bit of umami to roasted vegetables, fried chicken, or scrambled eggs. We love the depth that bacon grease, swapped for butter, lends to cookies and shortbreads. 

A note on splatter: Once splatter has cooled slightly, spray an all-purpose cleaner on your stovetop or counter. Wait a minute, then wipe it up with paper towels or a sponge. If you’re cooking bacon often, consider getting a splatter screen which will keep the grease contained. 

Can bacon be saved? 

It sounds impossible; but sometimes there is leftover bacon. Cooked slices in a sealed container or bag will keep for five days in the fridge. Freezing bacon? Place slices individually on wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet for several hours (or overnight) before transferring to a bag you can seal to avoid large frozen clumps of bacon. Bacon will keep for at least a month in the freezer. 

Recipes we love with bacon 

Pancetta & Onion Jam Cheeseburger with Smoky Fingerlings

Pan-Seared Chicken Legs with Purple Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts & Bacon Vinaigrette

Triple Pork Mazeman with Roasted Garlic & Pea Tips

For more cooking tips and tricks, click here.

Asian-Style Sautéed Aromatics Recipe

If you’ve ordered dishes like Korean Pork & Rice Cakes with Bok Choy or One-Pan Udon Noodle & Spicy Peanut Stir-Fry then you’ve cooked with Blue Apron’s Asian-style sautéed aromatics. 

It might seem like this prepackaged blend is a magical substance that makes every meal delicious, but it’s actually just a mix of common ingredients found in many Asian-inspired meals. We pre-package the mixture to save you cooking time, but if you want to recreate any of these recipes at home, it’s easy to make your own version with a few ingredients and a good knife. 

Chef Lili shows us how to make Asian-Style Sautéed Aromatics

Recipe for Asian-Style Sautéed Aromatics 

  • 3 Tbsps finely chopped peeled ginger, about one 3” piece 
  • 3 Tbsps finely chopped scallions 
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 3 Tbsps neutral oil  

Prep and finely chop the ginger, scallions, and garlic. Use both the white and the green portions of the scallions.  

In a small sauce pot, heat the oil. Add the chopped aromatics, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5-7 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the aromatics are softened.

Use as a base for flavorful stir frys, noodle dishes, and more! 

Here are some of our favorite dishes using Asian-Style sautéed aromatics 

General Tso’s Chicken with Bok Choy & Jasmine Rice

General Tso's Chicken with Asian-Style Sautéed Aromatics 

Try making this classic takeout dish at home. Our recipe features a sweet and tangy sauce, bok choy, and soft jasmine rice. 

Chicken & Wonton Noodle Stir-Fry with Peas, Carrots & Cabbage

Chicken & Wonton Noodle Stir-Fry with asian-style sauteed aromatics

For this comforting stir-fry, we’re making a sweet and savory sauce to coat fresh wonton noodles, tender chicken, and crisp veggies—first cooked with our fragrant blend of sautéed aromatics for a boost of bright flavor.

Sweet & Savory Sesame Chicken with Vegetables & Jasmine Rice

Sweet & Savory Sesame Chicken asian-style sautéed aromatics

Tender chicken, bok choy, and carrots come together in the pan with a simple, flavorful sauce of tahini (a nutty paste made from sesame seeds), sweet hoisin, and ponzu. The fluffy rice soaks up any extra sauce. 

Korean-Style Beef Bowls with Bok Choy & Gochujang Mayo

Korean-Style Beef Bowls with Bok Choy & Gochujang Mayo

A simple drizzle of mayo mixed with gochujang—a savory paste made from chiles and fermented soybeans—deliciously brings together contrasting textures of tender beef, crisp bok choy, and crunchy marinated radishes.

Soy-Glazed Wonton Noodles with Red Cabbage & Soft-Boiled Eggs

Soy-Glazed Wonton Noodles with Red Cabbage & Soft-Boiled Eggs

In this quick-cooking dish, delightfully chewy wonton noodles and a duo of vibrant veggies are tossed with an umami-filled combination of black bean sauce, sweet chili sauce, and soy glaze. A rich soft-boiled egg served on top lends even more savory flavor to the noodles.

Hoisin Pork & Gochujang Rice Bowls with Mushrooms, Radishes & Marinated Cucumbers

Hoisin Pork & Gochujang Rice Bowls with Mushrooms, Radishes & Marinated Cucumbers

For these bowls, we’re mixing fluffy white rice with spicy gochujang, then topping it off with pork cooked with lightly sweet hoisin sauce. Crispy marinated radishes and cucumbers provide delightful cooling contrast.

Find more recipes like these with the online Blue Apron Cookbook.

How to Pit Olives

Olives add a salty complexity to salads, flatbreads, and cheeseboards. These fruits are native to Southern Europe and Northern Africa, and are an essential part of many traditional recipes from those regions. After harvesting, they’re packed in a salty brine that gives them their characteristic kick. Olives grow on trees, and have a hard stone-like pit. Pits are fine for a cheeseboard or snacking situation, but it’s best to remove them if you’re incorporating olives into a recipe. You don’t want to be happily chomping through a pizza only to crack down on a hard pit. Ouch! 

Pitted vs. Unpitted olives 

The main difference here is obvious: pitted olives come with the pit already removed. Removing the pit breaks down the structure of the olive a little bit. In the jar, these olives will continue to break down and absorb flavors from the brine. Pitted olives tend to be slightly mushier and slightly saltier than their pit-containing counterparts. They’ll still have plenty of flavor, but for the best olive experience, we recommend buying them whole. Working with whole olives is easy. Just remove the pit before you move on with your recipe. The easiest way to do this is to apply a little bit of force. 

How to pit olives 

Lay the olives on a cutting board. Working one at a time, place the flat side of a chef’s knife on the olive and smack it firmly with the heel of your hand. This will crush the olive. After it’s crushed, you should be able to pull the pit right out. Set the pits aside, and proceed with your recipe, either by chopping or leaving the crushed olives whole. Watch our chef demonstrate this technique in the video below. 

Recipes we love with olives 

Oregano Chicken & Olive Pan Sauce with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Onion & Spinach

chicken with pitted olives

Oregano chicken gets a lift from a bright, zesty pan sauce of olives, lemon juice, butter, red pepper flakes, and sweet date syrup.

Greek Chicken with Olive Tapenade & Creamy Orzo

feta chicken and orzo

This chicken gets its exciting Greek flavor from a coating of dried oregano and a topping of tapenade—a briny, punchy paste made with niçoise olives. For a simple, flavorful side, we’re tossing orzo with roasted Brussels sprouts and Feta cheese.

Orange-Olive Chicken Thighs & Couscous with Vegetables, Feta & Dates

chicken and cous cous and olives

In this dish, you’ll marinate chicken thighs in a zesty combination of our shawarma spice blend, olives, and fresh orange juice, before roasting them in the oven. You’ll serve it alongside sweet peppers, tangy feta, and mint––all over a bed of harissa couscous studded with plump medjool dates for pops of sweetness.

Feta & Olive Pizza with Spicy Tomato Sauce

feta olive pizza

Crisp, golden brown crust is layered with a classic, lightly spicy red sauce and creamy mozzarella. It’s the perfect base for a marinated topping of briny olives, crumbly feta, and piquante peppers, which garnishes the pizza after baking—adding tangy bursts of flavor in every bite.

Greek Panzanella Salad with Feta & Olives

greek salad

This vibrant Greek salad features classic ingredients like tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and tangy feta—mixed with crunchy homemade croutons, fresh arugula, and a simple oregano dressing.

How to Make Baked Pasta: Our Favorite Recipes & More

Most of your favorite pasta dishes start out the same way: by bringing a large pot of salted water to boil. Of course, we stand by this tried and true method, but for busy nights when you’re craving a hands-off meal, there’s another way. You can make pasta oven by baking it in a pan with water. The best part is that all of your other ingredients cook at the same. You’ll end up with a flavorful pasta bake and minimal cleanup.

How to make pasta in the oven 

Choose the right pan 

Put your half sheets away! To make pasta in the oven you need a deep baking dish. The pasta will bubble as it bakes, and you don’t want any sauce to overflow in your oven. You’ll also need space to reach into the dish with a spoon and mix things around, so a little extra room is good. We recommend a 9x 15-inch baking pan. Our Blue Apron ready-to-cook meals come with a recyclable aluminum tray for baking. 

Add enough liquid 

Even though we’re not boiling a pot, our pasta still needs liquid to cook. In your baking dish, combine your noodles with all of your other ingredients and around ½ a cup of water. The noodles will absorb the water as they cook. The final dish will be saucy and moist, but not watery. 

Don’t forget the seasoning 

When you cook pasta on the stovetop, you add salt to season the inside of the noodles. The same principle applies when you’re making pasta in the oven. Create a flavorful base for the noodles with seasoning. Don’t skimp on the salt. The great thing about making pasta in the oven is that the noodles absorb flavors from your other ingredients too. The entire dish will bake up into a saucy, creamy, delight. 

Recipes for baking noodles in the oven

Oven-Baked Three Cheese Lasagna with Pesto & Spinach

pasta in the oven

This crowd-pleasing lasagna features layers of ricotta and fontina, fresh pasta sheets, tomato sauce, and mirepoix—a classic mixture of carrots, celery, and onion. It’s finished off with melty mozzarella and a drizzle of our herbaceous basil pesto.

Oven-Baked Hoisin Turkey Meatballs & Udon with Green Beans

udon noodles baked in the oven

Delightfully chewy udon noodles and green beans are coated in a spicy-sweet combination of soy glaze and sambal oelek before being baked in the oven with togarashi turkey meatballs. A drizzle of slightly sweet hoisin sauce and garnish of crispy onions round out the dish.

Oven-Baked Salsa Verde Orzo & Eggs with Feta, Tomatoes & Spinach

orzo pasta baked in the oven

Rich eggs are nestled in a bed of orzo, juicy tomatoes, and spinach all coated in our herbaceous salsa verde. You’ll top the dish off with tangy feta and bright pickled peppers.

Oven-Baked Romesco Beef & Ditali Pasta with Spinach & Tomatoes

Bake tender beef, ditali pasta, and vegetables in a bold tomato and romesco sauce—a smoky, Spanish-style sauce made with almonds, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. You’ll finish the dish off by stirring in tangy crème fraîche before topping with crunchy almonds.

Oven-Baked Sweet Chili Udon & Vegetables with Coconut Chips & Sesame Seeds

For this dish, you’ll coat tender udon noodles, broccoli, and green beans in a sweet and spicy combination of soy glaze, sweet chili sauce, sambal oelek, and more.

Oven-Baked Pesto Chicken & Orzo with Spinach, Tomatoes & Ricotta

Cook tender bites of Italian-seasoned chicken over a bed of orzo pasta, spinach, and juicy tomatoes, before finishing the dish with a dollop of creamy ricotta.

Try this method at home with Blue Apron. Our ready-to-cook meals include everything you need to make pasta in the oven, including the pan.

How To Make Bread Bowls For Your Favorite Soups

soup in a bread bowl

Building a flavorful soup is one of the great pleasures of fall. You can make a great soup with just about anything in the pantry. Use vegetables scraps to start a beautiful homemade broth, and then layer in ingredients until you’ve created a flavor explosion.  If you want to take it a step further, don’t stop when you’ve finished the soup. Learn how to make bread bowl at home for an surprising, edible presentation.

What’s the best bread for a bread bowl?

how to make a bread bowl

Technically, you could hollow out any crusty piece of bread and fill it with soup. Some of these just might not be very easy to enjoy (no offense to the baguette). When is comes to making bread bowls, we prefer a round crusty loaf of artisanal or sourdough bread. This shape is sometimes referred to as a boule, which comes from the French word for ball. We use boules to create bread bowls for French Onion Soup. The bread is delicious with caramelized onions and melted cheese, but it would also be an incredible (edible!) container for Butternut-Sausage Soup or MinestroneA crusty exterior is important, an extremely squishy soft loaf of bread would get too soggy.

How to make a bread bowl

To create the bowl shape simply take one or two bread boules, cut off the tops, and hollow them out. If your bread isn’t straight-from-the-oven fresh, you can re-crisp the hollowed-out boules in the oven for a few minutes.

More! VIDEO: Here’s How to Re-Crisp Your Bread

serve soup in a bread bowl

To serve, fill the hollowed-out bread up with soup. In the case of French Onion Soup, top with cheese and pop them in the oven.

french onion soup bread bowl

Set your bread bowl on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Eat the soup with a spoon and eat the delicious, broth-soaked bread with your hands!

A Guide to Your First Blue Apron Box

what you need to make a blue apron box

Congratulations on your first Blue Apron order! When you see that blue cardboard box on your doorstep, you’ll know that a delicious meal is in your future. Making the most of your delivery is easy. All the instructions you need are in the box and on the app. We’re making things even easier with this guide to your first order. To learn what you need to make a Blue Apron meal, let’s start at the very beginning. 

Unpacking a Blue Apron Box 

After the box arrives at your door, it’s time to get everything into your refrigerator. Keep your protein and produce chilled before cooking. For best practices, store protein below produce or prepared foods. This will prevent any cross contamination in the case of unwanted drips. We recommend preparing all of your Blue Apron meals within a week of delivery.

After you unpack, recycle your box. The included ice pack is filled drain-safe gel. After it thaws, cut it open, drain the contents, and dispose of the lining. 

Store your recipe cards for safe keeping. Don’t give up on dinner if they go missing. You can always find directions online in the cookbook or with the Blue Apron app. 

What’s in a Blue Apron meal kit?

We supply the produce, protein, and all of the delicious condiments that you’ll need to make a special meal. The only things you’ll need to stock in your kitchen are salt, pepper, and olive oil. 

What cookware do I need for Blue Apron? 

The world of kitchen gadgets is thrilling. There’s always a new tool that promises exciting results, but to prepare a Blue Apron box you’ll just need the essentials. Don’t worry if you’re missing a few items, you can always stock up with the Blue Apron market. These are the tools that we recommend having on hand. 


A chef’s knife is a must for every kitchen. A few other knives, like a small paring knife, can make tasks like peeling garlic easier.


We recommend a small pot for cooking grains, a medium saucepan, and a large pot for pasta. 

Frying pans

For tasks like sautéing vegetables or searing chicken breasts, you’ll need a good frying pan. We stock our kitchens with a trusty nonstick and a heavy-duty cast iron. 

Baking pans

A sheet pan is the best way to roast vegetables or bake cookies. We love lining ours with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. For dishes like enchiladas, we recommend a baking dish with sides approximately 2.5 inches tall. 

A strainer 

To strain noodles or steamed vegetables you’ll need a colander or wire mesh strainer. 

Wooden spoons 

Stir sauces or sauté vegetables with a wooden spoon. The soft edges won’t scratch your pan, and the handle is non-conductive, so it won’t get too hot to handle. 

Cutting boards 

We use wooden cutting boards for fruits and vegetables and silicone or plastic boards for protein. 

A Spatula 

Use a silicone or metal spatula for lifting, scooting, or flipping everything from fish to pancakes. 

Mixing bowls

Use a set of mixing bowls to keep ingredients organized, mix batters, or assemble salads. 

A ladle 

A ladle is a simple way to transfer liquid from one vessel to another. You’ll use your ladle for serving dishes like soup or chili. 

A whisk 

A whisk is an essential tool for beating eggs and mixing salad dressing. Whisks mix ingredients thoroughly and incorporate air for a fluffy texture. 

A Microplane or box grater

We love using a microplane to make garlic paste or zest citrus. A box grater is useful for shredding cheese, or taking the place of a microplane in a pinch. 

Still waiting for your delivery? Get excited with our top 10 Blue Apron recipes of all time.

How to Make the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich

perfect grilled cheese

Grilled cheese is delicious any time of day. Two slices of white bread with gooey American cheese is a perfect lunch order at your favorite diner. Whole wheat toast with melted slices of Swiss makes a perfect snack after a stressful day. For a full-on dinner, we love to create gourmet sandwiches with great artisan bread, imported cheese, and fresh vegetables.

For example—try pairing sourdough bread with Danish fontina cheese, which melts into an extraordinarily gooey filling. For veggies, try adding a few summer heirloom tomatoes, spicy leaves of rocket, and rings of red onion.

Once you’ve picked your ingredients, it’s time to focus on technique. The goal is to crisp the bread at the same rate that the cheese melts. You’ve got to use enough fat—butter olive oil, or mayo—in the pan so that the bread gets really golden. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite tips for making great grilled cheese sandwiches. Read on to become a sandwich pro!

Grilled Cheese Toppings & Pan Grilling

Our Tips for Making the Best Grilled Cheese

The Best Cheese for Grilled Cheese

Cheese is arguably the most important ingredient in this sandwich. Use a melty cheese for the best results. For a flavor, fontina and gruyere are two of our favorite options. For pure meltiness and nostalgia, American Cheese is the answer. Avoid soft cheeses like goat cheese and feta, which don’t melt easily.

The Best Bread for Grilled Cheese

When it comes to bread, any loaf that you like will work well. What matters most is how you prepare if. For the best results, toast your bread first. A quick toast will help your bread develop the golden edges and luscious crisp that you’re after. It’ll also help prevent the bread from getting soggy, no matter how many fillings you add.

Apply Pressure

Press down on the sandwich with your spatula. This flattens the exterior against the hot pan, ensuring even cooking.

Fillings for Grilled Cheese

Add flavor with great filling ingredients, like fresh or sautéed vegetables, avocado slices, bacon, or pesto. Hearty fillings can transform this simple sandwich from snack into dinner. Try the recipes below for inspiration.


Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce Salad & Creamy Fig Dressing

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce Salad & Creamy Fig Dressing

Sweet Pepper & Fig Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce & Peach Salad

Sweet Pepper & Fig Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce & Peach Salad

Muffuletta-Style Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Baby Romaine & Pistachio Salad

Muffuletta-Style Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Baby Romaine & Pistachio Salad

Fan Favorite tips

The best version has a THIN layer of mayo on the grilled-sides of both pieces of bread instead of butter. No grease, crispier bread, and meltier cheese! —Alyssa Kevlahan

Melt butter in the microwave, then brush the bread before putting it on the pan. Makes for the perfect medium browning throughout. Can use olive oil, in place of butter. But butter is better! — Christopher Perusse

Sounds weird but bread and butter pickles and potato chips- on the sandwich. Yum! — Danni Skaricki

Dijon mustard and multi-grain or sourdough bread. —Jane Rizza Scammon

My son’s grilled cheese trick, at the age of 8, was to toast his bread in the toaster. Butter both sides of both bread slices, place cheese between the bread slices and microwave for 40 seconds. He made me one once, it was actually pretty good. — Doug Riggle

3 Ways to Improve your Pantry Pasta

A pantry pasta is always there for you. Even if you don’t particularly feel like cooking, you can make a satisfying dinner with a few basic ingredients on hand.

The formula is simple. Our favorite pantry pastas start with noodles, whatever alliums you have around (garlic, onions, and shallots are all invited to the party), and pretty much any green vegetable. Start with a little olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes, and you’ve got an easy dinner ready to go. 

When we feel like transforming this dish into something special, we like to add a fun topping. These toppings bring in more texture and flavor. They can turn a humble weeknight dinner into a rustic main that could happily grace the table at a dinner party. 

pantry pasta with breadcrumbs
A simple pasta topped with breadcrumbs

The best part is, the fun doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve learned how to make these toppings you can use them to add flavor and oomph to salads, steaks, and roasted vegetables. Watch the video to see chef Lili Dagan demonstrate how it’s done, and find the topping recipes below. 

Three ways to take your pantry pasta to the next level 

Toasted breadcrumbs 

Garlicky breadcrumbs will add a spicy crunch to pasta, roasted cauliflower, or salads. Follow step three in the recipe above to learn how to make this simple topping at home. You can make this at home with flaky Panko breadcrumbs, or make your own bread crumbs by throwing some stale bread in the food processor. 

Fried herbs 

Fried herbs, nuts, and brown butter instantly bring rich fall flavors and a pleasant crunch to any dish. These topping pairs beautifully with pasta, but would also turn roasted squash into a stunning side. Our recipe starts with fried sage, but you could substitute sage for another hearty herb, like rosemary or thyme. 

Lemon caper compound butter

Compound butter can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. If you already have a batch chilled, adding it to pasta is as simple as slicing off a piece, melting it in a pan, and then tossing noodles to coat. If you don’t, you can mix up a batch as you’re making dinner, and then save the rest for your next steak dinner. Adding this lemon caper butter to noodles adds a silky text and a bright pop of lemon caper flavor. 

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How to Make a Perfect Steak

Making yourself a steak? That’s self-care. There’s something so satisfying about creating a golden brown sear on a beautiful piece of meat. If you learn how to make a perfect steak, you’ll always be able to create a meal for at-home dates, special occasions, or occasions where you’re simply very hungry. Follow our tips for the best results.

how to make a perfect steak

How to make a steak at home

Bring the meat to room temperature

To achieve a golden brown exterior without overcooking the interior, you want to cook the meat quickly. If you start out with cold meat it has to warm up before it begins to caramelize.

Heat up the pan

You want your steak to start sizzling as soon as it hits the pan. If the pan isn’t hot enough, the steak will steam instead of searing. Any moisture lingering in the pan will prevent browning.

make a perfect steak in a pan

Season both sides

Adding salt and pepper to both sides of the steak adds flavor and helps create a golden brown crust.

Feel for texture

Sear the steak on both sides for several minutes. The exact timing will depend on the thickness of your cut, but you’ll be able to tell when the steak is done by feel. Press on the steak with the tip of a finger (be careful not to burn yourself!) It should feel firm to the touch, but still slightly springy.

Let it rest

Letting meat rest preserves moisture. A few minutes on the cutting board will give the juices time to redistribute themselves. That way they won’t all run out when the steak is sliced. This is a perfect time to use the browned fond to create a pan sauce.

Slice against the grain

For the best texture, slice meat against the muscle the grain. Once the meat is cooked, you should be able to see the lines of the muscle fibers running across it. Slice perpendicular to these lines to create tender pieces of steak that will fall apart in your mouth.

Once your steak is sliced, pour a glass of wine and enjoy. If you liked the video, subscribe to our channel.

How to Dice Carrots

how to dice a whole carrot
Whole carrots, pre small dicing

For chefs, knife skills are a non-negotiable. To work in a restaurant, you have to have several styles of cut down pat. Small dicing is one of these essential kitchen techniques. Whether it’s a potato, onion, or carrot, a small dice is about 1/4 inch square. This would be extremely simple if all vegetables started out as perfect cubes. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Rounded vegetables like carrots tend to roll around, and can be tricky to dice evenly. Learn how to dice a carrot safely with these easy tips.

Start by washing and peeling your carrots to prepare for chopping.

Next, create a flat surface. Cut your carrot in half lengthwise to form two long planks.

Lay the planks down on the newly formed flat sides, this will create stability for the rest of your cuts.

Cut each plank in half lengthwise to form 4 long carrot sticks.

Line the sticks up, so that you can cut across all 4 sticks at the same time. Make even cuts all the way across, about 1/4 inch apart.

Watch the video below to see our chef demonstrate just how easy this knife cut is.

Now that you know how to dice carrot, you’re ready to get cooking. Try this technique for recipes like. Try some of our favorite recipes with diced carrots.

Recipe with diced carrots

Za’atar Beef & Carrots with Zucchini Rice & Lemon Mayo

A hearty duo of spiced beef and carrots is perfectly matched by white rice laden with tender bites of zucchini and currants.

Seared Chicken & Glazed Carrots with Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

The flavor of fig—a Mediterranean fruit beloved for its rich, densely sweet complexity—elevates the irresistible glaze for tender sautéed carrots in this dish. 

how to dice and glaze a carrot

Smoky Chicken & Creamy Cilantro Sauce over Spicy Carrots & Farro

This vibrant dish is bursting with exciting flavors thanks to the blend of smoky spices.

chicken with diced carrots

Ramen Noodle & Spicy Peanut Stir-Fry with Mushrooms, Carrots & Bok Choy

Hearty, delightfully chewy ramen noodles are a comfort food staple perfect for pairing with umami-rich sauces, like the combo of smooth peanut butter spread, soy sauce, sambal oelek, and more that we’re using in this dish

Want to try this at home? You’ll need a good knife. Check out our guide to essential knives for your home kitchen.

How To Make Onions Less Strong: Taming The Taste of Raw Onion

This post was contributed by Lori Yates from Foxes Love Lemons. Today we’re talking raw onions, one of the most common, most flavorful ingredients in our pantry.

raw red onion

I have a love-hate relationship with red onions. My grocery store sells the most amazing chicken salad sandwiches. They’re made with just a few simple ingredients—chicken, celery, dried cherries, red onions, and mayonnaise. One day I attempted to save money by making them myself at home. Unfortunately, my first attempt was a disappointment. The problem? The harsh flavor of the raw onion overpowered everything else in the sandwich, even when I significantly reduced the amount. The whole thing just tasted like an onion salad sandwich, and it left my breath in a sad state of affairs for hours after.

raw onion on a burger

My struggles came to an end in culinary school. During several of my classes, the students were in charge of running the restaurant at the front of the school. One of the most boring (but necessary) tasks was prepping ingredients for side salads. We peeled and thinly slice red onions and then soak them in a big bowl of ice water. The onions soaked in the water at least 10 minutes, but they can really sit in there for several hours while you finish the rest of your daily tasks. After soaking, the onions were drained, patted dry, and refrigerated until lunch service started.

The sulfur compounds that give the raw onions their pungent, harsh flavor dissipate in the bowl of water, leaving the resulting onion with a more mellow flavor. When you use cold water, the onion remains super crunchy. In fact, if you have a slightly older onion that is getting a bit soft, the cold water will make it crunchy again.

soaking raw onion

I’ve had hundreds (thousands?) of simple restaurant side salads in my life, but none are as good as the ones we made at my school. The harsh bite of the red onion was completely tamed by the cold water. The flavor of the onion came through without that spicy, burning feeling in your mouth and nose. Better yet, there was no terrible onion aftertaste for the rest of the day.

Try this trick for salads, sandwiches, tacos, or any dish where you want a little flavor of onion, but don’t want that to be the only thing you taste.