If you love to cook – or just like watching other people cook – you’ll love this list of the best food shows on Netflix.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration in your own kitchen or just interested in how and what we eat, this selection of Netflix shows provides hours of entertainment for the foodie in you.
Best of all, there’s a little everything on our list of the best food shows on Netflix — except pretention. Most of us can understand the appeal of TV shows featuring “genius” chefs and their creative ideas. But, sometimes we want something a bit more down to earth: both on our television and on our dining table.
So, let’s get started with my personal favorite:
‘Great British Bake Off’
“The Great British Bake Off” — knows as the “Great British Baking Show” in the United States has us in thrall. And many American carb addicts are wondering how we can return to our status as a colony. Luckily, we can maintain our independence and still enjoy a classic Victoria sponge.
This series – originally produced by the BBC – features 12 amateur bakers who work to produce top-quality baked goods and desserts. In each episode, they must master three separate challenges for the judges and a final ruling.
As the series progresses, a contestant is eliminated every episode until only three challengers remain for the finale. The challenges get harder and the deserts more complicated.
The show features two cooking expert judges and two personality hosts. Early seasons featured judges Mary Berry, a long-time British cookery stalwart. Also in attendance was Paul Hollywood, a renowned baker of humble origins who went on to become a celebrity chef.
I’ll admit that the first time I cued this show up on my TV, I thought “British baking” would mean lots of scones and tea cakes. And while the Great British Baking Show features plenty of British classics, it’s by no means exclusive.
What I discovered, however, was that by “British,” they meant in demeanor. This has to be the most polite cooking competition show to hit screens. In one episode, a competitor works furiously to help another contestant remove a tart from its pan by the tight deadline.
So, not only is this one of the best food shows on Netflix, it’s one of the most civilized. And our love of “Bake Off” proves that Americans will actually watch a cooking competition show without backbiting, dirty tricks, and the screaming of obscenities.
And luckily for us, there is so much British Baking on Netflix. You get four for the price of one!
‘The Great British Bake Off’ (U.K. Title)
You get six seasons (or collections, as they call them) under this title. Hosting for the initial seasons is comedy duo “Sue and Mel,” who add some humor and comic relief when things get tense in the tents.
Oh, and then there’s that – they have to cook in tents. Huge, party-size tents set up in the dead of summer on some historic property or another. These pastoral settings let the director occasionally cut to images of the countryside. You’ll get bleating sheep, some ducks, and lots of bees
Frankly, this is part of what makes the “Great British Baking Show” so charming.
‘Great British Baking Show, The Beginnings’
This is the first season of the show and appears to be under a separate distribution contract than other seasons. Netflix added it after the other seasons proved to be such a hit.
‘Great British Baking Show Masterclass’
If you’re looking for the best cooking shows on Netflix to learn from, cue up “Masterclass.” In each episode of the regular show, the contestants have to perform a “technical challenge” from one of the judge’s recipes. In this series, Paul and Mary show you how to make some of the delicious technical challenge deserts from the show.
You get five seasons that correspond with seasons of the show. So, if you’re looking to up your own baking game, you definitely want to check this one out.
Word to the wise: Some of the ingredients and measurements may be confusing to viewers from the U.S. I’ve never measured any ingredients in grams, and still don’t know what “double cream” is.
‘Great British Baking Show, Holidays’
And if you still can’t get enough, Netflix also carries two holiday “special episodes” to enjoy. In this limited series, contestants from previous shows are invited back to the tent to make holiday-themed desserts and goodies for another crack at the prize.
And in the end…
So, contestants spend weeks competing in a stuffy tent under adverse conditions. They travel out every weekend and spend two days baking their brains out. They commute through rain and heat. Their hands shake as they place the final touches.
And do you know what the very best part of “The Great British Baking Show” is? The prize.
The winner gets a fancy cake plate.
Nope, no contract for their own who, no book deal, no prize money … a cake plate.
Oh, and all the finalists get a big bouquet of flowers.
‘Salt Fat Acid Heat ‘
I delayed watching “Salt Fat Acid Heat” for weeks, even though many reviewers had placed it at the top of their cooking shows list to binge. It kept appearing on my profile as a suggestion, but I passed it over for weeks.
But how could I resist a show that opens with someone saying, “Fat: It’s nothing short of a miracle.”
After 40 years of hearing about the evils of fat, this Keto devotee was hooked. This is one of the best food shows on Netflix for people who just love regular food.
Although it’s packaged as yet another stylized cooking show by the latest celebrity chef, Samrin Nosrat is delightfully down to earth. And best of all, she makes no pretentions about what actually makes food delicious: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.
These subjects aren’t covered in the order on the label. But Nasrat travels around the world to offer us an international take on how each of these is handled in the cuisines of different cultures.
Opening with “Fat,” Nosrat travels to Italy to explore their reliance on olive oil, cheese, and pork in their beloved cooking style.
Other episodes include a trip to Japan to learn about the importance of salt in their cooking, including the making of traditional soy sauce and miso. The segment on harvesting salt is not just fascinating; it’s a revelation. I select and use salt in a completely different way now.
Samrin Nosrat is the home cooks celebrity chef. If you want to learn some great tricks, you should definitely check out this show.
‘Million Pound Menu’
This foodie take on “Shark Tank” is a fun watch. With just one season and only six episodes, it’s a short binge that may inspire you to try new things in the kitchen.
In each episode, two different restaurant entrepreneurs get a chance to pitch their concept to a group of investors. They’re given a couple of days to translate their ideas into a popup restaurant and cook their menu for the potential money bags.
The fun in this show is seeing which themes and cooking styles are trending. This is definitely one of the best food shows on Netflix if you’re interested in the hospitality industry. While some look amazing, a few seem a bit silly.
But don’t expect the investors to agree with your opinions. You may be surprised at which endeavors they tag as probable money makers. And even more fascinating, you’ll find out why they think these concepts will fly. Some are perfect as boutique affairs, while others offer the potential for scaling up into full-blown brands and franchising.
By the time you’ve finished the season, you’ll be checking up on the contestants to see if they’re still in business.
The contestants come from varied backgrounds, with some working as chefs and managers in established restaurants. Others run food stalls in London markets. One soul-food aficionado cooks out of his mom’s council flat and has hustled himself into the good books of many happy customers.
No spoilers, but once after your binge, see where the contestants are now.
If you’ve ever been flustered by an extra unexpected dinner guest or two, you may want to catch “Mega Food.” For sheer entertainment value, this is one of the best Netflix food documentaries I’ve seen.
If you’ve found yourself wondering how caterers and professional kitchens churn out food for the masses, “Mega Food” will fascinate you.
How do airlines manage to turn out thousands of meals for hungry travelers? How do theme parks manage dozens of dining rooms on their grounds, with different menus for a wide range of price points? And those cruise ships with endless buffets – what’s up with that?
From a massive pub in Australia to Fashion Week in Florence, Italy, the tactical skills of these kitchens are nothing less than impressive.
Episode 3 features the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore that caters to over 2,500 guest rooms along with 20 restaurants and countless private events.
At SeaWorld, in Orlando, Florida, the park kitchens cook for 13 restaurants and 50 food carts and kiosks. They manage a range of dining rooms from full service to casual eats, as well as hundreds of themed snacks and treats.
In Episode 5, you’ll meet the chefs from Gate Gourmet in Zurich, who cook 50,000 meals every day for airline travelers. And these aren’t just box lunches. Along with menus for special diets, they also offer a range of menus for business class and first-class seats. It’s real food with many menu choices served on real china.
How do they do it?
You’ll have to watch to find out!
‘Chef vs. Science; The Ultimate Cooking Challenge’
If you love Alton Brown, you’ll also think “Chef vs. Science” is one of the best cooking shows on Netflix.
This short but enlightening and amusing show features a Chef using traditional cooling methods against materialist scientist Mark Miodownik using physics to attempt to get the same result.
Chef Marcus Wareing uses his years of experience and the two Michelin stars to turn out his dishes. Miodownik uses molecular science and state-of-the-art technology to try to duplicate the same effect as real cooking methods.
They go head to head on a classic menu comprising tomato bisque, steak, mashed potatoes, and chocolate lava cake.
The hoops that Miodownik jumps through to cook his food “scientifically” is actually pretty hilarious. But it’s fair to say that Wareing doesn’t fight fair by using a great deal of butter.
See who wins and who loses in this ultimate cooking challenge.
Many of the Netflix food documentaries can be pretty depressing. With factory farming, fake food, and the horrible effects of industrial farming. “Sustainable” is an uplifting answer to these.
What’s most exciting is seeing how end users like restaurant chefs and home cooks are sourcing more sustainable produce and supporting and growing small farms.
It’s such a relief to see a return to real, natural foods grown in a partnership with nature. And it’s glorious to see farm families find a way to survive after years of struggling in the face of big agriculture.
In this documentary, you’ll discover successful farms using age-old sustainable methods like crop rotation to produce nutrient-dense food and still make a profit.
You’ll also meet small farmers who manage their business by producing a wide range of products for the market. Rather than focusing on one or two crops, they can make a living by making more efficient use of their land. Rather than just selling to commodity buyers, they feed themselves and sell to their local community. This allows them to make less of an impact on the soil and their carbon footprint.
If you want to feel good about American food and the American farmer again, “Sustainable” is one of the best food shows on Netflix for your next docu-binge.
Similar to Nosrat’s examination of various aspects of cookery, in “Cooked,” food writer Michael Pollan looks at how cooking influences human society.
Pollan posits that the act of cooking has driven our species, from our development of technology to our family bonds. In this Netflix food documentary, he explores aspects of cooking in various cultures. He also talks to anthropologists about the origins of cooking.
Pollan even discusses why we love watching the best food shows – we’re drawn to the hearth. Even in the modern world, we still crave that circle around the fire where our ancestors shared food, warmth, and safety.
In the first episode, “Fire,” he visits with Australian aborigines, one of the oldest cultures on earth, to discuss their ancient hunting and cooking methods. In Episode 2, he talks to female street food vendors in India and how they use their traditional roles as home cooks to make an income to support their families.
If you like your food shows rich with fascinating detail surrounding the history and culture of food, “Cooked” is one of the best food shows on Netflix for you.
‘Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown’
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Anthony Bourdain hosted some of the best food shows ever. While you could argue that they focused on travel, food always served as a pivot point for every destination.
First premiering in 2013, “Parts Unknown” earned Bourdain 10 Primetime Emmies and a host of fans. Netflix currently offers Seasons 7 through 11.
Bourdain was known for traveling to hidden corners of the world, where, bless him, he’d try nearly anything the locals would eat. Season 7 starts us in Manilla, where the show opens with the show’s signature opening song in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines.
Closer to home, he also hits Chicago and Montana in Season 7, but his take on every location is classic Bourdain. Because Bourdain wasn’t interested in pretentions, either. And each location seems to feature its own unique, quirky culture.
One of my favorite episodes in the 11th season features Bourdain near New Orleans. But rather than the usual tourist version, we learn about Cajun Mardi Gras, and it’s rather eccentric traditions.
Best food shows on Netflix
If you’re looking for the best food shows on Netflix, consider some of the streaming Networks more laid back choices. While watching Gordan Ramsey scream at people can be fun, it always helps to get back to the basics.
Gather round the flickering circle that is your SmartTV and enjoy some polite competition, hear some good news about the environment, and dive deep into cultures both near and far with the best food shows on Netflix.