Food shows have become one of TV’s most reliable genres, teaching viewers how to make exciting dishes or showing them the culinary wonders of other cultures. Here are 10 of the best hit food shows to binge-watch that will make your mouth water.
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If a true chef can make a great dish out of any ingredients, then Chopped is proof of that. Each episode features chefs competing head-to-head to create the best dishes from a selection of ingredients that don’t seem to fit together. No matter how unlikely the elements, these chefs come up with brilliant, delicious combinations to wow the judges. Watching all of that ingenuity condensed into timed bursts of energy is exciting, even when the results sometimes don’t live up to the effort put in.
Seasons 26-41 of Chopped are streaming on Hulu ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial).
The larger-than-life persona of Guy Fieri began with this road-trip series, featuring the bleached-blond mayor of Flavortown traveling to various greasy spoons around the United States (and later, to other parts of the world). Fieri discovers the unique dishes made in restaurants that are usually dismissed by foodies, and in the process, he highlights small, often family-owned businesses in each city that he visits. The episodes offer a slice of classic American culture alongside their helpings of comfort food.
Seasons 1-38 of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives are streaming on Discovery+ ($4.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial), and seasons 25-29 are streaming on Hulu ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial).
All cooking shows in America pretty much owe their existence to this long-running PBS series hosted by culinary legend Julia Child. Based on Child’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the show features the charming chef working her way through various recipes, which are all done without any retakes or room for error. In the 1960s and ’70s, Child brought gourmet cooking into average homes and made it accessible. In the process, she defined the pop-culture conception of a chef for decades to come.
With his goofy, affable personality and his geeky approach to the technical aspects of food preparation, Alton Brown falls somewhere between a TV chef and a mad scientist. His show is one of the longest-running programs in the history of the Food Network, making him one of the channel’s earliest superstars. Brown has since diversified into multiple different shows (including a revival of Good Eats), but his original home is still his best showcase.
Seasons 1-16 of Good Eats are streaming on Discovery+ ($4.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial).
Viewers looking for a gentler type of reality competition show can check out this U.K. import, which pits skilled bakers against each other in a series of challenges for a panel of judges. The format is similar to plenty of other food competition shows, but it’s the attitude of positivity and camaraderie, exemplified in a particularly British manner, that has made this show an international sensation. Contestants are committed to winning, but they’re also committed to an atmosphere of encouragement and enthusiasm.
Gordon Ramsay is very good at yelling at people, but there’s more to this show than just Ramsay’s angry tirades. The superstar chef oversees a fierce competition to win a spot as the head chef of a major restaurant with Ramsay’s endorsement. It’s an intense, sometimes grueling process for the contestants, but that trial by fire produces some amazing results. Ramsay may be demanding, but he knows exactly what makes for great food—and great TV.
Seasons 1-18 of Hell’s Kitchen are streaming for free with ads on Crackle, Peacock, Pluto TV, the Roku Channel, Tubi, and Vudu. Season 1 and seasons 10-19 are streaming on Hulu ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial).
The original Japanese version of Iron Chef introduced American audiences to the kind of bombastic cooking competition show that would later become ubiquitous. This American remake retains the spirit of the original, with accomplished chefs entering Kitchen Stadium to take on the culinary masters known as Iron Chefs. It’s a combination of cooking show and professional wrestling that highlights chefs’ big personalities alongside their culinary prowess.
Seasons 1-13 of Iron Chef America are streaming on Discovery+ ($4.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial).
Sometimes the most entertaining thing to see in a food show is the person making the food getting everything totally wrong. That’s the premise of this delightfully silly series, in which contestants with little to no baking skills attempt to recreate the kind of elaborate confections produced by top-level baking geniuses. The contestants are destined to fail, but their disastrous results are hilarious to behold, and the show has a good-natured tone of encouragement for everyone who’s hopeless in the kitchen.
Seasons 1-4 of Nailed It! are streaming on Netflix ($8.99+ per month).
The late Anthony Bourdain became a cultural ambassador with this combination food and travel series. Bourdain travels around the world sampling local cuisine and highlighting places and people that typical tourists would never encounter. Bourdain’s open mind and blunt manner endear him to pretty much anyone he meets, and he punctures the pretentiousness of many travel-show hosts. Bourdain makes finding a place to eat in an unfamiliar location a grand adventure.
Seasons 1-8 of No Reservations are streaming on Discovery+ ($4.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial). Two seasons are streaming on Hulu ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial), and five seasons are streaming for free with ads on Pluto TV.
One of the first reality competition shows to demonstrate the actual marketable skills of its contestants, Top Chef is more than just a contest to win various cooking challenges. It’s a reliable way for accomplished chefs to make their mark, leading to high-profile gigs and even their own restaurants. Quite a few actual top chefs got their start on Top Chef. It’s also an entertaining look at how people handle pressure, with plenty of interpersonal drama, plus amusing takedowns from the panel of expert judges.