A word about 30 minute meals and how long it takes to cook my recipes

Occasionally we get notes from people telling us that they love a recipe, but that it took them over 30 minutes to prepare.  I wanted to post a note about this in case there’s anyone else out there thinking the same thing.

First of all, if you are a newbie in the kitchen, any recipe will take you longer than it should because you are just getting familiar with your bearings.  If you are holding a knife for the first time or still figuring out where you hid the paprika, cut yourself some slack.  Once you get more comfortable with your cooking routine and preparation skills, things will move a whole lot smoother and faster.  A few shortcuts that will help you from day one-

  • keep the garbage bowl handy.  If you have a bowl in front of you for garlic peels and onion skins and anything else you want to throw away, you will save time rather than having to run back and forth to the garbage can.
  • wash your fruits, veggies and herbs when you get home from the grocery store.  It sounds like a pain, but you will be happy you took the time to do this when you go to grab a bunch of mint or parsley, for instance, and it is ready for you to use and you don’t have to spend the extra time washing and drying.
  • Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with the basics.  If you find yourself in the middle of a recipe and you realize you are out of something, that’ll set you back while someone runs to the store. Here’s a good list of things to keep on hand.
  • I had the kids in my kitchen at the show put together a list of their favorite short-cut ingredients to keep handy.  These things will make your life alot easier when you try to whip up a dish.

Also, if you use the Advanced Search recipe tool, you can find 15 minute meals and 60 minute meals-not all are 30 minute meals.  So if you are really in a hurry, go for the 15 minute meals, but if you want to take your time and hang out in the kitchen, try one of the other meals.

Most of all , have fun in the kitchen and keep at it.  You’ll get better and faster with a little practice.

88 Responses to “A word about 30 minute meals and how long it takes to cook my recipes”

  1. pennysuzie says:

    Hey Rach… I have almost every cookbook you have ever published. I have almost always taken longer than the “30 minutes” when trying a new recipe… but the more you make the same recipe over… it becomes almost second nature… especially when you make them so easy and fun. The way I figure it… you are so extremely familiar with your cooking recipes… that you can make them so quickly. Even so… even if it takes a little bit longer than 30 minutes, it’s great in the “long term”. Thanks Rach! You are so awesome!

  2. Patricia Struglia says:

    It is true that some of the meals do take longer than 30 minutes but it’s also true that with practice all the procedures get faster but I also agree if it takes longer than 30 minutes that’s ok everything comes out delicious with a ton of flavor so I don’t mind, I have used the 30 minute meals for a long time now and sure enough I am pretty much down to 30 minutes. But any new cook shoud give themselves some time and maybe not worry about how long it takes. The results are well worth it!!! Thanks Rachael for all your recipes and especially the methods they reall do work and all of who make them are eating healthier and delish!!!

  3. Bridget says:

    I agree….I’m still getting my bearings in the kitchen and take my time chopping b/c I have cut myself on the sharp knives a few too many times! I also have two nosy dogs under my feet and a phone that won’t stop ringing as I’m trying to cook. Though the recipes may take me 5 to 10 minutes longer, my husband and I love the results! Thank you so much for the fast, healthy, and tasty meals!! Keep up your amazing work!

  4. Joni says:

    this has nothing to do w/ this blog HOWEVER I have been trying to figure out how to email you a question. I had noticed something on the Food Network website which stated something to the effect that you had recently lost a bunch of weight & “click here to see how she did it”. so my question is “How did you do it”. I have a chunk (no pun intended) of weight to lose, am inspired by several people (including Valerie who looks FABULOUS). So what is YOUR secret? i am trying to find something that works for me. thank you, joni
    Love your shows, recipes & website. You are always fresh, fun and REAL! glad yr throat is better, had noticed how you were having trouble…

  5. Stephan says:

    I love Rachel Ray !!! She is so natural and funny !!!
    I actually DO “Laugh out Loud” while watching.
    This is coming from a 30 year seasoned professional,
    CIA trained Pastry Chef.
    Keep it up Rach and congrats on your 500th show !!!

  6. Rose P says:

    Really Rach? You have to explain this to people? Your meals are great and fast and I love to cook them whether they take me under or over 30… Seriously people.

  7. Ruth says:

    Rach, great advice.
    I know how it is to be a newbie in the kitchen that for me was 6 years ago.I remember my mother and grandmother telling that i would get better as time went by and me only thinking yeah right.But you are right after about 6 months i actually got a whoe lot better and now what takes my mother and hour only takes me half the time to prepr, but then again my kitche is ordganized in a way that i know whereto find everyting.lol.

  8. Neely Belle says:

    Maybe the “30 Minute Meals” would go faster if we all had prep kitchens? :)

  9. Angie says:

    I love your shows and its better to take alittle longer cooking the meals then rushin though them anyways who cares if some meals take alittle longer I’m still learning in the kitchen and I’m sure it will take me awhile to get alittle faster. People just need to understand alittle better thats all. Keep up the good work love the shows.

  10. Sue says:

    I believe what takes the extra time is we have to read the recipe at every step to see what comes next, how much of this do I put in and how long do I cook this? Rachael can just put things in and cook until it looks right because it’s just for show so if there’s too much of something or something is forgotten it doesn’t matter. Reading directions is the big time sucker. I know that after I make something 4-5 times I just have to glance occasionally to see if I forgot anything and I breeze right through it.

  11. Natalie says:

    I agree with Rachael,If you do not have anything in front of you, yes of course it will take longer but if you do your prep earlier and have everyhting in front of you it takes 30 mins or less.
    By the way your recipes are the best!

  12. Mary B says:

    Don’t know where to write about this.I receive your Everyday magazine and print out alot of your recipes. What I have done is to buy magazine holders that look like a book to store my magazines in them and also got sprial book to keep my recipes in and have them listed in by catagory e.g. Chicken pork pasta

  13. Dawndie says:

    Rach –
    I have always had great success when preparing your 30 minute meals.. Here is why. YEars ago when I started watching your show and other cooking shows on the food network I didnt just pay attention to the the recipes I paid attention to the techniques. Today I know how to peel and dice an entire onion in less than one minute. I now have a trash can and trash bowl on my counter when I cook. I always get ALL my ingredients together BEFORE I cook. The basic tools that I need for success I now own and am not constantly trying to improvise! I have also become very astute at overlapping several items and their preparation at once. The recipes I have learned from your shows are wonderful but the skills I have adopted from watching are out of this world. I thank you for the 30 minute recipes and the 30 minutes of education. I am a better person and LIVE in the kitchen with my children. If any recipe has ever taken me more than 30 minutes I am glad, its just a few more minutes in the kitchen with the kiddos.

  14. Ang says:

    It’s all about being efficient!Rachael is an expert!!It has never taken me longer then 30 minutes.
    #1 rule for me Everything is ALWAYS in the same place.Also,gather all that you can in one trip.
    Sharp knifes chop faster and are safer.
    Flexible plastic cutting boards in assorted colors are your friend!
    And most people tend to overcook everything,not cook at a high enough temperature and not preheat.All of those little things matter.

  15. Sabine says:

    Hi Rachel, I am not sure that this is the right way to contact you but I thought that I would try anyway. I wanted to let you know that my duaghter, Sophia, is one of your favorite fans and knows you by site. This is no big deal except that she is 4.7 years old. We recently where in Maui (we live in Chicago) and visited the Lahaina Grill in Lahaina. Sophia knew that you had been there and also what dishes you ordered on your show. The hostess was so impressed that she gave both Sophia and my son, Jimmy, personal tours of the kitchen, pre and post meal service. Anyways, I could go on and on. But I do have a question. Sophia’s 5 year old birthday is coming soon in July and we will be hosting it for her and her preschool friends at a local cooking school for kids. Would you care to join us at the party? We would all be so thrilled to have you there! It would be the biggest day in her life for sure!! I know that this is a lonh shot but I thought that I would try. She is your biggest littlest fan!

    Kind Regards, Sabine

  16. Lorie Frazier says:

    Dear Racheal Ray,
    I am a huge fan of yours, but i have a problem. I am a mother of 4 boys ages 10, 7,7,and 3. and for the past 2 years the only thing i have wanted for Christmas is your pots and pans set but cannot afford them. i have entered every contest i can to win them but still no luck. No offense but could you please go a little cheaper on your set so maybe my husband can afford to get me on this year. Thanks (I love your show) Lorie Frazier from Owasso, Oklahoma

  17. Alison says:

    Most of the “30 minute meal” shows that I watch almost always has mushrooms. Could you do some recipes that do not have mushrooms? Thanks!

  18. candy says:

    my friends and i are trying to get the recipes for the final two women in your recipe contest(chicken chili and bq chicken cresent appet. my tivo went off and i missed the segment. thank you for your help. enjoy your show.

  19. WALDIEBLINT says:


  20. Amber says:

    Hi Rachael, I love you. I just wanted to say that I’m not a chef but I haven’t had much trouble staying within the 30 minutes, my father-in-law says its impossible, but I know that it is. He’s just too particular. Thank you for being you. It’s so refreshing everytime I sit down to watch one of your shows, I immediately go to the computer to print up your recipes and I love trying them out on my family. I also own a few of your books and I am continuing my collection. Thanks again, your fan Amber

  21. You are correct in that the more familiar you are in the kitchen the quicker the cooking time will be.

    So often I realize that if only I multi-tasked on a few things that some recipes would take less time. I just wish that more recipes would point out what to do in what order, and what to do while waiting for something else so that you can accomplish more in less time.

  22. nancy says:

    hi,rachael, sorry i don write well in english,i am from mexico tutla gutierrez chiapas, and i watch you in home and health, but my huge questions is that i want to buy your cookwhere like pangrill, casseroles pans ecetera.. but i want to buythem here in mexico, so please tell me if you sellthem here, because i dont have passsport to go there. please sell yours products here in mexico. please ANSWERME IN MY EMAIL.

  23. Agnes, Allentown, PA says:

    Made the meal from the Chicken Cordon Blue Plate Special with the Mac & Cheese. It was awesome and my family loved it. What a great meal. Thanks for the great meal

  24. DonateJDM says:

    Hi Rachael,

    April 22nd is Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s birthday. We have organized a Happy Birthday project, whereby funds are collected by DonateJDM and then donated to an animal charity in Jeff’s name.

    On the DonateJDM site there is a guestbook page, and it would be great if some of Jeff’s professional friends were to leave a birthday message for him.

    If you have a moment between now and Tuesday evening, it would be fantastic if you could you leave a birthday hello.

    The address for the guestbook is: http://www.donatejdm.org/guestbook/gbook.php


    The DonateJDM.org Team

  25. ana vaquera says:

    hey rach,

    I totally loovveee you. I am in 8th grade and I’m this project for speech on a person you consider your idol and look up to and i chose you!! I am so exited to get to know you better. I think your are a great row-model for me.
    truly yours
    Ana from texas
    ps.never miss your show. lol.

  26. Bonnie says:

    Ms.Ray this comment is not about cooking –I have been trying to contact you about Isaboo –you see I love pits and I am sick and tried of the way the only that is reported about them is bad so I am in the process of putting together a book about pits and I wanted to see if there was any way you might help this– I wanted to see if I could use the picture and story from Modern Dog about you and Isaboo in my book? Or maybe you could even add a little something to it? I would greatly appreciate any help.


  27. Troy says:

    Hey Racheal, I just bought a travel trailer and was wondering if you have written an rving or camping cookbook? This would be very handy since I’m single and would only be cooking for myself.
    Your shows are great and you have the personality of a Saint.

  28. jon says:

    I really enjoy the $40 a day show. Since I purchased some of Rachels pots and pans I have no money left to spend on food, so anytime I can get some tips on how to save it helps.

  29. Donna says:

    I don’t always follow the complete 30 minute meals. I like to take parts of your meals to use at different times. Like the salad from one and the burger from another. I’m not concerned with the time it takes because I know I work slow and just allow for that. It still comes together in under an hour if I prepare ahead of time. However, it’s a little confusing to flip around to find all the different recipes when they are all mixed up in each meal’s directions.

    I was wondering if you would ever do a mix and match type cookbook? I think it would be a good idea if you could separate each recipe like a traditional cookbook with – salads/dressing, soup, sides, grilled, burgers,etc… and just make suggestions for what would go together.

    Thanks for helping me be a better cook.

  30. lisa says:

    Hi Rachel, I was wondering if you have an ideas on what to do with leftover chicken soup. I made too much and the family is getting sick of eating it. Is there any recipes out there that anyone could give me to, I hate to throw it away. Thanks!!

  31. Amberle says:


    I totally adore you! THANK you for being SO amazing!
    I <3 your 30 Minute Meals and they make life soo yum-o!
    You’re the BEST!!

  32. Julie Buote says:

    First of all we love your show. I would like to see some recipes that are heart healthy. The amount of salt and fats in your recipes are not too good for someone who just suffered a heart attack. You learn pretty quick to read labels after a heart attack.
    Would like to see some good recipes with little or no salt and low in fats also anyone taking blood thinners have to watch the green vegetables they eat as well because it counteracts the blood thinning meds. Vitamin K is a clotting agent. Looking forward to some new recipes.

  33. Mama C says:

    Can the Bubble and Brown sets be used under the broiler?

  34. Karen O'Herron says:

    Hi Rach, I love your show and your magazine. If I ever get a chance to come to New York I would love to visit your show. I have actually become a better cook because of watching your shows. I am not scared to just throw things together without measuring. It will probably be quite awhile before we get to New York, because we don’t have lots of money to travel. I love that you are so down to earth and I feel like if I ever saw you I could actually walk up to you and have a conversation. Thanks and keep up the great work.

  35. yesica says:

    Hey ray I love ya girl best show i ever seen in my life I love to see your show i am a sixth grader and i love to cook the food u cook. my family loves it to i wish i can go to your show i cook every day dinner because my mom comes tired from work i love ya take care

  36. Rachel says:

    Rachael!! I just wanted you to know that I think you are awesome and I love watching your shows!! they have inspired me to come up with my own recipes and to keep it as healthy and simple as possible!! I made a quick healthy dinner last night that cost about $2.50 for the WHOLE MEAL!! and it fed my family of four perfectly!! now I am trying to figure out the challenge of feeding a family of FIVE since we just found out we are pregnant again!! (SURPRISE!!!)
    so thank you for being an awesome fellow Rachael :)

  37. Chris Harper says:

    Hi Rachael,

    I just wanted to thank you. I made your Chicken Parm Pasta Toss last night and I was a bit skeptical because like most kids, mine don’t like onions, but this dish they ate like it was pizza. It was absolutely delicious. I am going to try a different version called Ranch Ramono pasta. I will let you know how it goes and maybe shoot you the recipe. Thanks again. Chris

  38. Aimee says:

    Hi Rachael,

    I must say that I have never responded to something like this, but I just had to let you know a somewhat amusing story. As you know, there are basically two types of people out there: those who absolutely adore you, and those who don’t. I must admit, I don’t really fit into either category (and that goes for pretty much everything anyway), but I do enjoy watching your various shows–does that mean that there are actually 3 kinds of people out there? Anyway, the other night I prepared your “Golden Bloom Chicken.” (Again, as other posters have mentioned, it took me a bit longer than advertised, but I know that with practice it will get a lot smoother and faster.) As I was saying… I prepared it for guests who RAVED about it. I did not disclose the source of my recipe except that I had seen it on TV. As one guest actually started to make fun of you within the compliments of my dish, I revealed that the source of the recipe was none other than, YOU!! Wow. What a fantastic surprise to see the look on the person’s face! Perhaps she will reconsider watching your show.

    Thank you for a great dish and, ultimately, a great dinner conversation!!

  39. Gary says:

    I am a military chef. If there is one thing that holds a crew together, it’s the cook. I have my wife send me your 30 minute meal recipes and then I up-grade them to feed a crew of 25. In my 20 some years in service I find your meals to be the best to follow and the crew is happy too (and a little over weight). Thank you…. and keep up the great recipes

  40. Steve says:

    This girl is HOT !!!!!!! Just luv-ya.

  41. Jennifer says:

    I find that your recipes are very simple and easy to make, I love being in the Kitchen, so I wouldn’t say I’m a “newbie” I have all of your cookbooks, and have to say your Chicken Riggies are now second nature to me- definately done in 30—
    Here’s something I would like to see– More Salads- particulary lettuce salads with different combinations. different vegatables, even fruit and meats along with make your own dressings that are healthy and taste good. I eat salad for lunch and get tired of the lettuce, tomato, cheese, carrots and ranch/italian dressing–

  42. Shari says:

    Dear Rachael, I always love watching your show. I saw the show where you were using alot of Herbes De Provence and you were saying when you went to Provence you brought back a large bag and used it in everything and you used the bag in about a month. Well I found it in the store and used it and I pretty much did the same thing I used it in my sauce, roasting chicken and anything else I could think of. Thanks for the tip. I am getting ready to try That’s Shallota Flavor Spaghetti. Can’t Wait. Shari from St. Petersburg, Fla.

  43. diana sanchez says:

    hi rachael!
    i love your show, i watch it on american network. I´m from guadalajara,mexico and i´ve noticed you´ve been cooking some mexican dishes these days.. i want to thank you about that because it is a way to support my country in this hard time we are having and make people remember we have some good stuff to share..
    thank you

  44. Hi Rachel I enjoy your show very much you are always
    up beat and jovial your recipes are to die for. So easy and economical. On your show you use potholders connected into a dishtowels I have looked all over for them but unable to locate one. Would you please let me know where I can purchase it. Many thanks keep up the good work.

    Cindy from Philadelphia, PA 3856 Spring Garden ST 19104

  45. A Girl says:

    hi rechael… i like u so much
    u r funny.and smart. and surly butefull…
    Im an arabian girl exactly from alferia
    in 16 years old

    i lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvve u so much

    please email me

    with my respect

  46. Pourscha says:

    Hi Rachel girl. Often time people try to find fault in a thing by displaying disbelief I say. Do what I did. Those that feel it takes more than 30 min put your table in front of the TV and follow along, I did it, and it works. Rachel I have some recipes I want to share with you. Can you have a member of your staff e-mail me how to instructions. I Love Your Show. It is child friendly and educational. I sponsor Nebo hood kids in my area and cooking and life skills are two of our main topics. Your show is a big help and the kids enjoy pretending to be you Guy and other members of the food network family.

  47. Gloria Holder says:

    Rach, HELP! On alot of your shows, you cook with “sliced” Charizo Sausage. Where do you get it? Here in San Antonio, TX, if you ask for Charizo Sausage, they give you this sausage that you peel the casing off, remove the amount you want to use in the pan, and it “melts” and you mix it with your eggs or whatever. I can not find the actual Charizo Sausage you slice. PLEASE HELP!

  48. lynn says:

    hey rach, i’m lynn from bahrain and i’m 12 years old. Suprisingly i would love to learn any easy meal that dosn’t involve the oven, and that i can prepare in case i get hungry when i’m alone.
    So here’s my question do you know any meals that fit my description ofcourse other than sandwiches

  49. Larry Smile says:

    Hi, Rachael!

    I think that the idea of ‘30 minute meals’ is a concept rather than a contest time limit to prepare food with a countdown clock running.

    You are correct about practice in the kitchen. Some folks will take a little longer; some can chop faster. But, the fun idea is that you don’t have to slave over a hot stove to prepare a nice meal for yourself and loved ones.

    Actually, Rachael’s on-air time for her show is about 22 minutes. The other 8 minutes are for commercials. So, use a stop watch and time the show sometimes. So some items have to be prepared ahead of time. The idea is to show you how to put together the meal so that is looks simple and easy to undertake.

    When I make my annual Thanksgiving Feast I spend 4 hours the night before preparing my ‘Dad’s Super Salad.’ (My super salad usually costs about $30 to make but it is worth it!)

    It takes that long to do the advance preparations so that on Turkey Day all I have to do is put the turkey into the oven and let him cook. Actually, the turkey is the simplest part of a Thanksgiving dinner!

    All the extra side dishes are what takes up all the time and kitchen counter space!

    Timing is everything. Make sure you learn how to time the cooking of the different foods so that they all come out at the same time – equally hot and enjoyable.

    And, if you don’t want to cut your own veggie trays then go to the supermarket-megamart and get one already prepared in the deli-section. For about $15 you will have your crudities all ready to go for your guests to munch on.

    Anyway, every home cook needs a ’sous-chef de cuisine.’ So, train your young ones to help out in the kitchen doing the preparations for you. Buy them a chef’s hat and chef’s apron and you will be surprised how they will take to the kitchen! My 12 year old grandson did his first Thanksgiving Dinner in 2008 helping his Grandpa with the meal.

    OK. BE WELL, Rachael. You ROCK!

    Larry Smith

    P.S. Rachael, see if the webmaster can add a spell checker and or edit feature before folks submit their comments. It would help the column interact better. Thanks.

  50. carolina gomez says:

    hi rachel,

    like i already sayd my name is carolina , i am from dominican republic and i love your show i see it everytime i can. i most say sorry because my english is not very good but, i think you can understand me.anyway all i want to say is that i love u and your show , god bless you .

    ps:i love, love, love your budget meals, they work here too…lol

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