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Taking a cooking class abroad is one of the tastiest ways to unlock a region’s culinary secrets.
Food has the incredible power to connect us to the heart and soul of a country’s local culture.
From the ingredients and cooking techniques to how it is shared and savored, eating the local food specialties is an immersive experience.
Each time we visit a new destination, we take cooking classes to learn about the authentic dishes and local ingredients.
Moreover, the cooking classes are fun, and you always pick up new cooking skills.
Let this cooking classes guide inspire you to make your next trip a delicious and immersive feast for the senses.
What to Consider When Taking A Cooking Class on Your Travels
Cooking Class Structure
While all cooking classes will teach you about the local food, the experiences offered vary greatly.
Some cooking classes take place in cooking schools where everything is methodical and structured.
Other cooking classes are in small cooking studios or even in the instructor’s home. In these smaller settings, the setting is intimate and the structure more fluid.
Depending on the experience you want, you may be more comfortable with something more or less structured.
Cooking Class with Market Visits
Some cooking classes will offer a market visit before the class to pick up and learn about the local ingredients. These classes are longer as they include about an hour in the market.
Cooking classes that do not offer market visits will have the ingredients chopped up and ready for the cooking experience.
These classes are much shorter and you may not see the raw ingredients in their natural state.
If you have the possibility, we recommend cooking classes with market visits. We love visiting the markets, meeting the vendors, and then learning to cook the local ingredients.
Cooking Classes Can be Tailored To Meet Your Needs
If you have any special requests most cooking classes can accommodate your needs with advance notice.
Vegan & Vegetarian Options
If you have any dietary considerations you can still enjoy taking a cooking class.
Some cooking classes offer special menus for vegetarians or vegans. If not, most will be willing to adapt the local recipes to meet your needs.
Please let the cooking school know in advance so they can prepare ahead of time and ensure a great cooking experience.
Couples Cooking Classes
If you are looking for a unique and hands-on experience, consider taking a cooking class instead of visiting a restaurant.
This can be a fun alternative to a typical date night.
Depending on what kind of experience you want, you can take private in-person couple cooking classes or small group classes.
In some private cooking classes, you can choose the menu and the recipes you want to make.
Small group cooking classes, on the other hand, have a set number of recipes they offer and are much more affordable.
Cooking together as a couple, with others in the class is just as fun for a couple on a date night.
Where to Take Cooking Classes
When choosing your ideal location for cooking classes, it will largely depend on your travel plans and the cuisine you wish to explore.
Here are a few popular destinations known for their culinary traditions and exceptional cooking classes.
Europe Cooking Classes
Italian food has a reputation for being simple, ingredient-focused, and fiercely regional. While you can learn to make different dishes across the country, some of the most popular cooking classes are for pasta, pizza, and gelato.
We’ve taken cooking classes in Rome, Florence, Bologna, and Sicily, and highly recommend the experience.
Historically, France is viewed as the country with the most prestigious cuisine, and home to some of the world’s finest chefs. A lot of the terminology we use for cooking is rooted in the French language, including many techniques especially, for the sauces.
From Paris cooking classes to all across the country, you’ll find many options to choose from.
Home cooks looking to improve their French culinary skills should not miss taking a cooking class in France.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: 9 of The Best Cooking Vacations in France To Explore The Local Cuisine
Ranked as one of the best cuisines in the world, Greece’s popular food epitomizes healthy Mediterranean cooking.
Expertly blending herbs and citrus tastes with creamy textures and oils, along with fresh salads and delicious grilled meats: Greek dishes are both healthy and full of flavor.
You can learn the art of Greece’s unparalleled dips – from hummus to tzatziki to taramasalata – along with delicious marinades and grilling techniques from Pork Gyros to Hallumi.
Discover Portugal’s rich gastronomic traditions by taking a cooking class in Lisbon or Porto.
While many have heard of and tried Peri-Peri seasoning or Pastel de Nata, Portuguese cuisine has so much more to offer.
You can learn how to cook traditional Portuguese food in classes in Lisbon or Porto.
Asia Cooking Classes
For those that love heat and spice with noodles or rice, you’ll love learning authentic Thai cooking.
Thai curries and Pad Thai are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this country’s delicious array of dishes. From aromatic soup to papaya salads and fiery chili dips, your taste buds are sure to go wild.
Bangkok and Chiang Mai offer many hands-on cooking classes, many of which include market tours.
There’s no beating the hustle and bustle of a Thai food market so we highly recommend opting for a class with a tour.
Whether you’re a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan, Bali has got a recipe for you. The staple food in Indonesia is rice, which is paired with mains and an array of side dishes.
While Bali Satay is popular, the nation’s prized dish Babi Gugling or suckling pig is an absolute must-try.
You can learn how to make Nasi Goreng or Balinese fried rice along with many other Indonesian classics. Add an organic farm tour visit or a local market tour for a deeper culinary experience.
Japanese cooking has taken the world by storm, with sushi and ramen widely available.
However, there is nothing quite like learning how to master the techniques of Japanese cuisine in the country.
Take your culinary skills to new heights as you master the blend of sweetness, sharpness, and saltiness in the country’s flavor king, Umami.
Perfect the art of rolling sushi like a pro and how to make other culinary delights from tempura to versatile soba noodles and the delicate desert Purin.
Cooking Classes in the Americas
In a melting pot of diverse culinary traditions, you’ll find a wide array of cuisines and cooking classes offered around the country.
From regional cuisines to international flavors, you can pick up new skills from any country around the world.
Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook, you’ll find a class to suit your tastes and expand your cooking skills.
Peruvian gastronomy is one of the most awarded in the world. Central Restaurant in Lima was named the best restaurant in the world in 2023.
While ceviche is the most famous dish, you can learn to make other popular dishes. Choose Lomo Saltado or stir-fried beef, Papas a la Huancaina potatoes-based dish, or stuffed Rocoto Relleno peppers.
Both Lima and Cusco offer a variety of cooking classes, some with market visits and all with Pisco Sour, the national alcoholic beverage.
Meixco’s vibrant cuisine varies by region, from the coast to the sea. The food is also influenced by indigenous communities like the Aztecs, Mayans, or Zapotec combined with Spanish and European flavors.
Taking cooking lessons in Mexico is a delicious way to explore popular dishes and regional recipes.
You can learn to make traditional dishes like guacamole, enchiladas, and tacos. Or beloved foods like Mole, Pozole, Chiles Rellenos, and much more.
Push your culinary boundaries as you learn new skills in a cooking class in Mexico.
Cooking Classes in Africa
Morocco – Marrakech
Moroccan cuisine is one of the top cuisines in the world, with Arab, Berber, and European influences.
Beyond Tagine, one of the most sought-after dishes, you can also learn to make pastries, bread, desserts, and more.
The country’s vibrant capital, Marrakech, is renowned for its amazing Souk markets where you can learn about the local vegetables, spices, and more.
The city also has many cooking courses to choose from. So, whether you want a half-day class taught by a local chef or a multi-day culinary vacation, Morocco has a cooking class for you.
Online Cooking Classes
If you’re not traveling but don’t want to miss out on learning how to cook authentic cuisines then you can take an online cooking class with chefs from across the world.
The Chef & The Dish offers a range of virtual culinary classes with instructors in their native countries.
From individual or group classes, master your favorite cuisines with a Chef & The Dish virtual class.
How to Book Your Cooking Classes
Cookly is our go-to platform for cooking classes around the world. The website is dedicated to offering a range of authentic cooking classes in primarily Asia and Europe.
Cook the world with a Cookly cooking class.
Viator is an online platform that offers a variety of travel experiences, including cooking classes.
A platform we use regularly, you can easily book cooking classes, food tours, and more from just about any country around the world. See more cooking classes and experiences on Viator
BookCulinaryVacations for Cooking Vacations
BookCulinaryVacations.com, a part of Tripaneer.com offer a large selection of cooking vacations. The chef-driven cooking classes take place over multiple days in many countries around the world.
Our favorite and most popular culinary vacation is in Tuscany, Italy. See more culinary vacations on BookCulinaryVacations.com
The Chef and The Dish
Take virtual cooking classes in your home kitchen with a chef from around the world. Learn how to prepare the traditional dishes of your favorite cuisine in a fun Chef & The Dish cooking class.
A well-known learning and streaming platform, MasterClass offers a range of video lessons from the world’s best.
There is a category dedicated to food where you can improve your cooking skills and gain more confidence with cooking lessons from Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Wolfgang Puck, and many others. See more on MasterClass.
Discover and learn the recipes, techniques, and secrets of the world’s best chefs with Yes Chef.
This online cooking platform offers video lessons anytime and anywhere with top chefs like Francis Mallmann, Nancy Silverton, Jamie Oliver, and more. Get inspired with delicious recipes on Yes Chef.
Are Cooking Classes Worth It?
The short answer is Yes!
While traveling, taking a cooking class is so much more than just a lesson, it’s an immersive experience into the culture.
Learning to cook a local dish is a way of learning part of that region’s history.
You can spend several hours in a class. This gives you the chance to learn food preparation techniques you might not have come across before as well as have the chance to ask an expert any questions you have.
The cost of cooking classes ranges depending on the country, the number of dishes, private or group classes, and the season or time of year.
You can expect to pay from about $50 for a two to three-hour class to $2,000 or more for a multi-day cooking vacation.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Make your culinary travels worry-free! With the right travel insurance, you’ll enjoy a delicious experience. From medical emergencies, flight cancelations, car rental protection, or tour cancelations, a good travel insurance has got you covered. Check out our travel insurance review for food lovers to get started.
Benefits of Taking A Cooking Class on Your Travels
There are many benefits to taking a cooking class while traveling. Here are some of the main reasons why we believe a cooking class should be part of your travel adventures.
1. Improve Your Cooking Skills
In cooking classes, you learn simple techniques and skills that can make cooking at home so much easier and more delicious.
This could be anything from seasoning condiments, knife skills, how to filet fish, and even dessert-making techniques.
If you want to have more confidence and fun in your kitchen at home, take a cooking class, and you’ll be surprised at what new skills you’ll pick up.
2. Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture
Taking a cooking class is not just about learning to cook, its about learning the traditions and customs around the cuisine.
Food can be like a country’s love language to its people and those who visit.
Immersing yourself in the local culture through cooking may well be the highlight of any foodie’s trip.
Even more than the cooking, you’ll learn the ingredients and recipes and their cultural significance.
Taking a cooking class on your travels is an immersive way to experience the local culture.
3. Learn about the Stories Behind the Food
Cooking classes provide insights into food that visitors would often miss. For example, in Thailand, we were surprised to learn that Pad Thai was created by the government.
When Thailand was going through political turmoil In the 1930s and 40s, the Prime Minister held a public competition to find a national noodle dish to build Thai nationalism.
Rice noodles of Chinese origin and Pad Thai emerged as the winner. And today, Pad Thai is the celebrated national dish of the country.
Food stories like this can be gained from cooking classes. This is just another one of the benefits of taking a cooking class while traveling.
4. Make New Friends With Other Food Travelers
One of the exciting aspects of traveling is meeting other travelers. When you take a cooking class, the people you’ll meet are open and friendly.
With a shared passion for cooking, the conversation flows naturally around food and local food-related activities.
This gives you the opportunity to meet people from countries you have not visited who can share their own kitchen secrets and top tips with you.
You never know who you’ll meet while taking a cooking class, but you can be assured of interesting conversations centered around food.
5. Connect With Locals and Get the Inside Scoop
Local cooking instructors are a wealth of knowledge. Some of the best experiences we’ve had have been around the kitchen, cooking and eating while building connections.
Passionate about food and cooking, the instructors can share a lot about the locals and culinary traditions.
You can pick their brains about their favorite local markets, restaurants, food stores, and more.
Connecting with local cooking instructors is a wonderful way to get honest answers to local food questions you may have.
6. Get a Deeper Eating Experience
One of the key learnings from taking cooking classes is a deeper appreciation for the meals you’ll prepare.
Prior to taking a class, you may not realize how long and arduous the food preparation process can be.
In Thailand, we were surprised by the weight of the cooking wok. Making sticky rice in Laos was detailed and long while making fresh pasta in Italy was surprisingly simple.
When it becomes time to eat your meal, you’ll know the effort that went into making each dish.
This strongly deepens your awareness and appreciation for your food.
7. Explore the Wonders at the Local Markets
Local markets are often the beating heart of the community. The colors and scents of seasonal fruits and vegetables stacked high are captivating.
Spice merchants tend to their mountains of spices like jewels. While displays of meats, poultry, and fish ooze in freshness.
Many cooking classes offer guided market visits. Exploring the local markets with a guide can introduce you to unique and unusual ingredients.
Bridging the language barrier with a local guide also makes the experience much richer.
The insights you’ll learn from your guide and the farmers behind the food will deepen your appreciation for the local cuisine.
8. Cooking Classes Support the Local Community and Culture
One of the benefits when you take a cooking class on your travels is supporting the local community.
Many of the classes are run by a family or local community. Taking a cooking class with them is the best way to support their work and their culture.
In many countries, the cooking class aims to preserve the culinary tradition and support the local community.
You help preserve the local culture and support the local community when you take a cooking class on your travels.
9. Eat a Delicious Meal
While eating at restaurants and local eateries is an experience, sometimes making your own food is even better.
In a cooking class with a passionate local chef, you get to create meals you typically don’t make.
There is learning, laughter, sharing, and always something new to try. You’ll be proud of what you make and surprised by how tasty it can be.
In these hands-on cooking classes, your efforts pay off in a delicious way. Accompanied by local wines and the instructor’s and fellow travelers’ fascinating stories, you’re sure to enjoy an incredible feast.
10. Recreate Dishes At Home and Relieve Your Travel Memories
Taking cooking classes is a great way to discover local recipes, new ingredients and then recreate them at home.
Every time you cook a meal with ingredients from our travels, you will relive your cooking class experiences and taste the country again.
Taking a cooking class may inspire you to learn more. In addition to the recipes you learn, you might even want to buy a cookbook or take another class back home.
Your travel experience doesn’t have to end when you get home. Sign up for a local cooking class at home and keep broadening your knowledge of the food in a particular country or region.
Do you like taking a cooking class on your travels? What’s been your favorite experience? Please let us know in the comments below.
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Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
Find out more about Authentic Food Quest