food and cooking shows

Photo credit: iStock/Hazal Ak

There’s never been a better time for a little guilt-free binge-watching. And if you love food as much as we do, you’re probably always looking for the next great foodie series to discover. To help you narrow down your options, we gathered our team of editors here at Farm Flavor together to compile a list of some of the best shows we’re watching right now. From educational docuseries to entertaining bake-offs and restaurant makeovers, our roundup includes something for every taste. So grab a bowl of popcorn and check out 12 of our favorite binge-worthy food and cooking shows available to stream now on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

Ugly Delicious

Streaming on Netflix

This show featuring Momofuku chef David Chang almost, but not quite, fills the hole left by Anthony Bourdain, one of Chang’s mentors. Instead of focusing on a location, as Bourdain did, each episode of “Ugly Delicious” is about a type of cuisine, which takes Chang and other chefs and food writers all over the world – often to unexpected places.

The fried rice episode included a surprising (to me, a Tennessean) segment on Knoxville, Tennessee, while the steak episode went from a high-end Japanese restaurant serving Wagyu to pastures in California to a men’s spa in Detroit to Outback Steakhouse. But the best episode, in my opinion, is the one called “Kids’ Menu” that highlights how chefs balance raising families, as Chang and his wife prepare to have their first child. It’s sweet, it’s funny, it’s entertaining – and it’s free on Netflix.

Chef’s Table

Streaming on Netflix

This Emmy-nominated documentary series tells the stories of some of the world’s most talented chefs. Created by Jiro Dreams of Sushi director David Gelb, every episode of “Chef’s Table” profiles a different visionary chef, digging deep into what inspires and motivates each of them. From leaders in the farm-to-table movement to award-winning pastry chefs and food anthropologists, “Chef’s Table” will give you a unique glimpse into the minds of some of the most creative culinary geniuses and a beautifully filmed escape into the world of food.

See more: Top 10 Farm-to-Table Dining Experiences Across America

Street Food

Streaming on Netflix

Get your travel and food fix all at the same time with “Street Food,” a Netflix original documentary series highlighting the importance of food in shaping cultures and societies around the world. From the creators of “Chef’s Table,” this series takes viewers outside the five-star restaurants to explore the opposite (and often equally delicious) end of the culinary spectrum – street food.

Season 1, “Asia,” premiered in 2019 and features nine episodes that each focus on a different Asian city. From the streets of Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City to Delhi, Singapore and Seoul, the series tells the stories of some of the most celebrated street-food cooks – not the kind who trained at culinary school, but those who learned their craft while cooking for the people at local markets and roadside stands.

The Great British Baking Show

Streaming on Netflix

I maintain that everything sounds better with a British accent, and “The Great British Baking Show” is no exception. Over the course of 10 weeks, 12 bakers compete against one another to earn the title of the best baker in Great Britain as they make pastries, breads, cakes and more. The show’s judges are beloved, and Mary Berry even scored a Christmas Special in 2019 with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Each episode consists of three challenges: a Signature Challenge, a Technical Challenge and a Showstopper Challenge. In the Signature Challenge, the bakers show off their tried-and-true “signature” recipes they’ve usually made before for family and friends. In the Technical Challenge, the judges surprise them with a difficult recipe (providing minimal instructions) that the bakers must make using their technical baking knowledge and experience. In the final Showstopper Challenge round, contestants get the chance to show off their skills and creativity in both baking and decorating.

The show has been running for an impressive 10 seasons so far, and you can watch seven of them on Netflix.

The French Chef With Julia Child

Streaming on Amazon

I was delighted to discover that “The French Chef,” the classic 1960s cooking show on PBS, is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. I used to watch the reruns as a kid (we didn’t have cable), but many of us are probably most familiar with Meryl Streep’s performance as Child in Julie & Julia. (I liked the book, but the movie is best if you fast-forward through all the Julie parts.) Or else Dan Aykroyd’s famous SNL skit. But the original show is a masterpiece and a trip back to a time of aspics and pates, as well as more relatable recipes like French bread and hard-boiled eggs.

For something a little more modern, you can also watch the 1990s show “Jacques & Julia Cooking at Home,” featuring French chef Jacques Pepin. Or lessen your screen time and read Julia’s memoir, My Life in France, one of my favorite culinary books of all time.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Streaming on Netflix

If you’re interested in the technical side of cooking and looking to explore the world of international cuisine, look no further than Samin Nosrat’s “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.” Adapted from her James-Beard award-winning book of the same title, the Netflix original series is a guide to understanding what makes food delicious. Throughout her travels on the show, Nosrat teaches viewers new skills and explores how basic cooking principles are incorporated throughout the world across different cultures and cuisines.

See more: What’s Cooking in Culinary Tourism

MasterChef Junior

Streaming on Hulu

Once you go Junior, you’ll never go back. Trust me. I used to watch “MasterChef” religiously. I loved the competition and creativity of the challenges and rooting for the home chefs. And then I saw “MasterChef Junior” … and that was it. Take everything that’s great about “MasterChef” and multiply it by a cuteness factor of 10, and you’ll have “MasterChef Junior.” The judges are the same, but the contestants are children who legitimately cook with more skill than the average adult. The kids are adorable, but the true joy is watching these chef judges (who are usually so critical and harsh) transform into wonderful human beings that encourage and uplift the young contestants.

To make it fun for the kids, the show incorporates challenges with over-the-top prizes – like the winning team getting to slam a whipped cream pie into the face of a judge, or the judge of the losing team getting maple syrup poured all over him or her from above. It’s hilarious to watch. Plus, there’s an element of positivity and encouragement that you just don’t have in the adult version. It’s cute, it’s uplifting. Watch it. 

Sugar Rush

Streaming on Netflix

In this Netflix original, the most important ingredient is time – and racing the clock takes on a new twist. Judged by Australian favorite Adriano Zumbo and Cupcake Wars alum Candice Nelson (plus an additional guest judge each episode), “Sugar Rush” contestants bake their way through three rounds, all with a common theme. The first round is cupcakes, the second is confections and the third is cake – it’s the best of all worlds!

So here’s the kicker: the teams are given three hours to complete the first two tasks, and however much extra time they have to spare at the end is added to their time allotment for the third round. It’s a real balancing act because the contestants need to make something tasty and complicated enough that impresses the judges … without spending too much time on it. They buzz in to freeze the clock once they’ve completed a round, and the judges do their tastings live in real time. The show is basically a hodgepodge of “Cupcake Wars” and “Cake Wars,” but with the added challenge of the timer. But I’m not complaining – I’ve been missing those shows for years and I’m glad to have some version of them back in my life.

Cooked

Streaming on Netflix

Netflix’s “Cooked” follows acclaimed food writer Michael Pollan as he explores the evolution of cooking through the four natural elements – fire, water, air and earth. Based on Pollan’s bestselling book, the four-episode documentary series features one episode for each element as he takes a closer look at the history and traditions of food preparation and how it connects us all. While learning to bake bread, cook with fire, ferment cheese and more, Pollan shines a spotlight on the universal practice of cooking and why we should return to the kitchen to preserve our culinary traditions.

For more foodie content by Michael Pollan, check out some of his other bestselling books, too, including The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food.

Zumbo’s Just Desserts

Streaming on Netflix

Imagine if Willy Wonka had a secret love child that moved to Australia, changed his name and lost all of his hair – you’d get Adriano Zumbo, chef extraordinaire, master pâtissier and host of the Netflix original series “Zumbo’s Just Desserts.”

In this show, contestants enter the explosively colorful dessert factory and let their imaginations run wild as they make their way through two rounds of competition in each episode. In the first round, the “Sweet Sensations” task, the dessert-makers get an assignment (like creating a tall, edible structure or making something to fit a theme like “Out of this World”). Then, Zumbo and co-host Rachel Khoo judge their creations to determine the bottom two contestants. The bottom two then undertake the “Zumbo Test,” in which they try (and almost never succeed!) to recreate a ridiculously complicated and delicious dessert invented by the master dessert-maker himself.

Bright colors, Australian accents and fun, quirky contestants – seriously, what more could you ask for in a culinary competition show? I loved the fun, dynamic energy of this one. It’s like “The Great British Baking Show” … but down under.

24 Hours: To Hell and Back

Streaming on Hulu

Fans of Gordon Ramsey will enjoy this new-and-improved twist on his classic show, “Kitchen Nightmares.” Instead of spending a week helping failing restaurants, Ramsey has cut the timeline down to a single 24-hour period in “24 Hours to Hell and Back.” The stakes are higher, the yelling matches are louder and the premise is … ridiculous. You can’t fix a restaurant in 24 hours. But you can give it a facelift, redo the menu and have a couple of heart-to-heart pep talks, which is what you can expect to see throughout each episode. If you’re like me and love a good restaurant makeover, you’ll enjoy this show.

Tasty 101

Streaming on Hulu and YouTube

If you’re someone who hardly ever cooks and are now scrambling to learn, “Tasty 101” has got you covered. This series of short, easy-to-follow videos covers all the bases, from how to cook rice and perfectly fry food to basic knife skills. If you’re a true beginner, this is a really good place to start. Plus, with episodes that are only 4 to 10 minutes long each, you won’t get bored or overwhelmed.

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