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My goal here is to write the most comprehensive Rouxbe Cooking School Review that you can find online, when coupled with my interim Rouxbe review. It got rather detailed, which is definitely a synonym for long, so there’s an index here to let you jump around to the parts you most want to read.
Which Courses Does Rouxbe Offer?
How Much Time Will Rouxbe Take?
How Often/when are Rouxbe Courses Offered?
Tips to Finish on Time
The Cost of Rouxbe Cooking School
How Much Equipment Did I Have to Buy?
How Much Extra Did I Spend On Food?
How is Rouxbe Graded?
I Have Allergies – Can I Take a Rouxbe Course?
What Topics are Covered in Rouxbe?
The Surprise Benefits from Taking the Rouxbe Professional Cook Certification
What is the Customer/Teacher Support Like?
What Would I Change about Rouxbe Cooking School?
Did the Recipes & Assignments Taste Good?
Why Take Rouxbe Over Free YouTube Videos?
Other Thoughts on Rouxbe
In my initial Rouxbe review I covered my own motivation for undertaking an online cooking program. It was a fantastic decision and has absolutely been worthwhile. If you find this review helpful (and I hope you do, I’ve tried to address every single thing I could think of, to make sure you can make an informed decision), I would very much appreciate you choosing to purchase a Rouxbe course using one of the links in my post. It has zero cost to you, but pays me a small commission, which helps pay for the costs of hosting this site and being able to create more helpful content.
Which Courses Does Rouxbe Offer?
Over time, the list of course offerings has grown substantially. Here are their classics:
Culinary Rx – 60 Day Cooking & Nutrition Course
This course is absolutely perfect for someone looking to do a wholesale makeover of how they eat. It teaches the core techniques of cooking, so you don’t just get angry and frustrated in the kitchen. It’s also perfect for teens about to head off to school or life, who lack fundamental kitchen skills. This is a plant-based course, so great for anyone looking to increase the overall health and nutrition of what they eat each day.
Essential Vegan Desserts – 90 Day Course
This is the course I am planning to take next and I can’t wait. Whether you are vegan or not, it teaches the science behind making desserts, allowing you to truly understand what you are trying to achieve. Taught by a pastry chef with decades of experience, it’s a delicious and highly informative course. Plus, who doesn’t like an excuse to eat dessert each week?!
Forks Over Knives – 90 Day Course
If your skills are past the level of Culinary Rx, but you’ve recently switched to a plant-based diet, or you’re looking to increase the vegetables in your life, this is a great course. The commitment isn’t too high, but it covers a lot of ground. It was created in partnership with the famous blog of the same name. It is also fewer hours per week (5ish) than the Professional course (15ish), making it a great way to spice up your culinary repertoire.
Professional Cook Certification – 6 Month Course
This is the first Rouxbe course that I took and I wish I had taken it years earlier! It’s a comprehensive foundational course for all cooks, whether you’re on the line, at home, a blogger, a personal chef or a caterer. Until completing this course, I understood the general goals of recipes and the why, but now I understand the science behind the why. There’s so many basics that I now understand on a level I had no idea I could. Nothing was too hard to learn, either, just a piece by piece building up of my skills. I highly recommend this course for darn near everyone, it will change your future relationship with food for the better, forever.
Professional Plant-Based Certification – 6 Month Course
One of the keys to eating a delicious and healthy plant based diet is to have the skills to transform foods in a multitude of ways. This is the course that will give you that foundation. There’s not really anything else like it out there at the moment, an entire professional cooking certification dedicated to vegan methods. I plan to take this course in the future, to truly level up my culinary game. We eat a lot of vegan based dishes as it is. Some of the things that can be done with seemingly pedestrian ingredients are mind-blowing. Have you ever had vegan raw cashew cheesecake? It’s amazing!
How Much Time Will Rouxbe Take?
When I signed up, Rouxbe suggested I dedicate 10-15 hours per week to finishing the course. I sort of laughed and figured that it wouldn’t take that much time…. but it did. You could probably get away with less time if you skipped doing some of the recipes that you do not have to submit for grading, but the more you skip, the less you get out of the course. There were a few times where I spent the entire weekend watching the videos and cooking, in order to offset the times we were on vacation or had other obligations for the weekend. The best thing I found was to work ahead in the lessons and then incorporate the recipes into our weeknight dinners.
How often/when are Rouxbe courses offered?
In my experience, Rouxbe courses open every 2 or 3 months, depending on the course. Due to the time commitment, I highly recommend registering now, to give yourself some time to plan for the start of the course. That way you can ensure you have all of the necessary equipment and time allotted for when the course starts. It took me about a month to get the kitchen equipment I didn’t have, with some casual shopping. Plus, you’ll be mentally ready for it!
Tips to Finish On Time
The Rouxbe Professional & Plant Based Pro Cook courses are six months long. It seems like a long time to commit, but it’s also a long time to manage adding in 10 hours per week of effort. Here are my tips to finishing on time, without needing to pay extra to extend your term.
Pace, Plan and Schedule
The first one is to pace yourself and to schedule the time into your week. I also recommend planning to finish 2-3 weeks early, so if something comes up over the next few months, it doesn’t put you finishing in jeopardy. Overall, you need to average one unit per week, however not all of the units are the same length. In particular, the first few units on sanitation and knife skills are much shorter than some of the later units. As well, some recipes lend themselves to completion in 45 minutes to 2 hours on a week night, but others may require 8 hours of simmering, like the soups unit.
To deal with the varying lengths of recipes, I recommend working ahead through all of the lessons and reading all of the recipes, before cooking for the unit. Then, I was able to plan to make complicated things on the weekend, simpler things on weekdays, and plan my grocery lists. Plus it meant making recipes that used the same fresh spices the same week, to try to minimize how many went to waste. On average, you will need to complete five recipes per week, which is quite a lot.
Pro tip: Create a plan for eating at the beginning, when you spend 3 hours dicing carrots but don’t make dinner. I wish I was kidding, but the carrot dicing assignment took me 3 hours and I was nearly in tears by the end. My spouse had to make quite a few meals at the beginning because I was spent and my efforts were not making dinner.
Invite People Over
Another thing I did to plow through recipes at a quick clip was to host a big egg brunch, a dessert party, and had friends over several times. We called it “Americas test kitchen” because I basically stayed in the kitchen, creating more food. It was super fun for our guests as more dishes to try kept appearing!
That said, I managed to cook every single recipe in the egg unit in one morning! It took a decent amount of planning to pull it off, but it was so worth it. My friends loved it and I loved being able to finish an entire unit at once. (As an aside, my spouse and I are both allergic to eggs, so we needed mouths to feed them to!) I loved the cornbread egg brunch recipe as a concept, so good! Food is all about relationships and friendship, and Rouxbe gives you more excuses to host parties.
Rouxbe does not hold your hand during the course, nor prescribe due dates, or send reminder emails. So, it is up to you to figure out how to stay on top of things. I made myself a tracking spreadsheet to show how many tasks I needed to complete on average, and how many recipes and units I had left to go.
The Cost of Rouxbe Cooking School
Rouxbe has several different courses, which range in cost from (at the time of me writing this) $200 to $1300. The tuition covers all of the education components, but does not cover the cost of food, equipment or online access. Compared to taking a single university course, or signing up for a culinary education school, it is a steal of a deal. Plus, you can work it around your existing schedule and job. That made it a perfect fit for me, though at first I was rather apprehensive about spending so much money on a single course. Now that I’ve completed the course, I have absolutely no regrets and I wish I had taken a course like this years earlier!
Note: You will see the term mise en place a lot. The literal translation is “set in place,” but it refers to preparing all of your ingredients and putting them in little dishes. You’ve probably seen them on TV and rolled your eyes at the way chefs on TV often have everything pre-measured, sliced, etc. and just grab little dishes as they go. It’s a real thing, and you’ll do it as part of your course!
How much equipment did I have to buy?
I was lucky in that I had a rather well stocked kitchen before signing up for the course. Rouxbe provides a recommended equipment list as soon as you register. For some less-frequently-used items, try to arrange borrowing them from friends or family to cut down on your costs. Here is what was needed for my course, with some links to Amazon so you can check out the prices of things you may not yet own. I’ve also added a few comments:
Straining & Washing
- Large Colander
- Salad Spinner – I borrowed one from a friend
- 4–6 plastic containers (1–2 litres/quarts)
- Stainless or Glass Mixing Bowls (2 QT, 4 QT, 8 QT)
- Stainless Balloon Whisk
- Mixing Spoons (Slotted, Regular, Wooden)
Cutting & Prepping
- Chef’s Knife – You’ll need at least one high quality knife. Aim to have a $100+ chef’s knife.
- Paring Knife
- Serrated Knife
- Honing/Sharpening Steel
- Sharpening Stone – The course covers sharpening, you will need a stone.
- Kitchen Shears
- Box Grater
- Microplane Zester – Used frequently.
- Bench Scraper – Surprisingly useful, I had to buy one for the course.
- Food Processor – Used fairly regularly, but with planning you could borrow one and get by.
- Blender – If you need an excuse to buy a vitamix, this is it!
- Mandolin – Not used as often as I expected, though I already owned one.
- Stainless Steel Stockpot (8 QT)
- Saucepots (2 QT, 4 QT)
- Stainless Steel Sauté Pan (11–13”) – Crucial item. I had to go shopping for one. Make sure it has a very thick bottom so it doesn’t warp at high temperatures. I use mine regularly now.
- Bamboo Steam Basket – In the Pro Cook course, I only used them once. However, I already owed some.
- Sheet Pan
- Silicone Mat (a reusable substitute for parchment)
- Rectangular Roasting Pan or Casserole Dish
- Heat-Resistant Rubber Spatulas
- Tongs and Ladles
- Offset Spatula – I purchased one for the course but only used it once or twice.
- Rolling Pin
Mise En Place & Storage
- 4–6 Small Bowls (1/2–1 cup size) – I found square white dishes at the grocery store one day which were perfect. You’ll need more mise en place bowls than you expect!
- 4–6 Pinch Bowls for Spices – Mine were a gift from my Mom years ago. She got them at a dollar store.
- Liquid Measuring Cups (1 cup, 4 cup) – 4 cup measuring cups are so handy!
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Storage Containers/Freezer Bags/Mason Jars
Additional Specialty Items (Suggested by Rouxe)
- High-Speed Blender
- Hand-Held Stick or Immersion Blender
- Pasta Maker – You will need one at some point in the course. They are good to borrow from friends. I have a Kitchenaid Pasta Attachment set.
Not Listed Things I Found Very Useful
- Silicone Loaf Pans – At first I froze soup in large ziplock bags, but they were an awkward shape to thaw. Freezing soup into silicone loaf pans, then popping them out into ziplock bags made them very easy to fit into pots on the stove. They also fit nicely in blocks in the freezer.
- Round Glass Storage Containers – These are a great way to have appropriate dishes for mise en place of various sizes, plus storage for finished food.
- Stand Mixer – While not required, I definitely found having a stand mixer useful. I wouldn’t recommend you go out and buy one for the course, but do plan to use yours if you already have it.
Freezer space is also key, unless you have quite a few mouths to feed. I froze quite a few recipes and later used them for Meal Trains when friends had babies, and easy meals to defrost for ourselves.
How much extra did I spend on food?
This is a very difficult question. My spouse and I spend a generous amount on groceries to begin with, so we didn’t notice very much of a change, maybe an extra $50-$100, depending upon the month.
We spent more on fresh herbs. (Side note: For Christmas, I bought my spouse an aerogarden and we have been very impressed with how well it has produced for us, we wished we had it when I was taking the course.) I can only purchase herbs in large bundles. We ended up wasting a lot by not drying and storing them fast enough.
I live in a small town with two grocery stores, which was sufficient for most of my needs. Most of the fresh ingredients were common. I opted not to make the fried lotus root chips, which were optional, because I couldn’t buy any here. The students of Rouxbe are around the globe, which they know, and they are happy to help you find substitutes. Most of the recipes ask for generally available items. Some of the more obscure items are non-perishable, and Amazon is your friend. Black vinegar was one of the things I struggled to find, even in the city. I also wasn’t able to get star anise locally. I buy nuts and seeds twice a year from a wholesaling company, so had raw cashews in my pantry already, but they are an example of something you may need to purchase online.
It balances out
Some cuts of meat will likely be pricier than what you are used to buying. I was lucky that we had fresh salmon from a fishing trip in our freezer, but buying those, for example, would have set me back $30. There’s a roast (I made elk from my freezer), plus some higher quality cuts required. On the flip side, a lot of the soup, pasta and chicken recipes are very affordable.
If you have a modest to lower grocery budget, or a pantry that’s not fully stocked with spices and baking supplies, you can expect to spend up to twice as much as you currently do on food. It is in part because of the sheer volume of food you will produce while taking the course!
For the vegan desserts course, there are several more obscure, moderately expensive ingredients you will need, like agar agar.
There is a cost to extend by a month
Finally, if you do not finish your course on time, you can arrange to pay an additional fee to have 30 more days to complete. I highly recommend organizing your time to avoid this!
How is Rouxbe graded?
There are three types of grading in Rouxbe: unit/midterm/final exams, assignments and “black box” assignments.
Each unit has a set of review flashcards and then you take a multiple choice test. I was worried that they would be very difficult, but as long as you are doing all of the course work and reviewing the flash cards, they are really ok. They give you tons of time to complete the questions, too. Once you start a test, however, you have to finish it, so ensure you have the time set aside once you sit down to do it.
There are two midterms and one final exam, which work exactly the same way as the unit tests, but they are cumulative up until that point in the course. You can review all of the flashcards again, as well as your personal notes, which you can take electronically for any task in the whole course. The final exam took me the longest to prepare to write, with approximately 2 days of review. It was also the longest exam, taking me a bit more than an hour to complete.
Within units, there are certain recipes designated as assignments. For these, you have to take specific photos and write descriptions which answer specific questions. As long as you address all of the questions fully and your photos are of the requested steps, you can expect to get between 90 and 100%. Just don’t miss describing something that’s in the assignment! My kitchen is fairly dark, so I did struggle a bit to take good photographs. Thankfully, we don’t all have to be food bloggers to take the course, mediocre pictures of the right steps are A-OK! I would need to go back and count, but I would estimate that there are 25 assignments requiring photographs and descriptions.
The folks at Rouxbe want you to succeed. You can opt out, but there’s a leaderboard showing the marks of everyone in your cohort. No one, who managed to complete the course, finished below 85% in my cohort. Most marks were in the mid nineties. Do not be intimidated by their minimum passing grade! As long as you cover the flashcards and the assignments, you will be absolutely fine.
Who should take a Rouxbe Cooking Course?
I have allergies, can I take a Rouxbe Cooking Course?
Shhhh, please don’t tell the fine folks at Rouxbe, but there were times when I substituted things and didn’t mention it. Any time I was supposed to use cream or milk, I used full-fat coconut milk or regular coconut milk. There are some things that you’ll just have to go ahead and make and feed to friends, like I did in the egg unit. If you have an allergy that is too severe to be able to touch ingredients, please reach out prior to registration to see if you will be ok with that particular allergy. I do not have any that are that severe, so I was able to cook everything and just give it to people who aren’t allergic. There were a few recipes in my course (Professional Cook) requiring nuts, but not many.
There are only a limited number of submission assignments, the majority of the recipes you’ll make are for your own benefit to practice and perfect your skills. If you are already familiar with substitutions, you should be just fine for many recipes. The exception I can think of is gluten, you will be hard pressed to make all of the recipes successfully while substituting gluten free flours, unless you are already very familiar with their properties.
What topics are covered in Rouxbe?
I am going to focus on the Professional Cook and the Plant-Based Pro, as I truly believe they are worth the extra effort and cost to complete versus the other courses.
Here are all of the units in the Professional Cook course:
- Overview & Intro
- Food & Kitchen Safety
- Knives, Knife Cuts & Sharpening
- Salads & Dressings
- How to Make Stock
- How to Make Soup
- Challenge Quiz
- Dry-Heat Cooking Methods
- Moist-Heat Cooking Methods
- Rice & Grains
- Challenge Quiz 2
- Baking Basics & Breads
- Plant-Based Alternatives
- Final Assignment & Exam
For the Plant Based Professional, here are the units:
- Orientation & Intro
- Getting Set Up
- Knives & Knife Cuts
- Basic Cooking Methods 1
- Basic Cooking Methods 2
- Batch Cooking
- Daily Meal Inspiration
- Flavor, Seasoning & Texture
- Plant-Based Staples
- Plant-Based Alternatives to Meat & Dairy
- Pasta & Noodles
- Oil-Free & Low Sodium Cooking
- Intro to Culinary Wellness
- Gluten-Free Cooking
- No-Heat Cooking | Raw Gastronomy
- Plant-Based World of Flavors
- Plant-Based Entertaining
- Final Assessment
No joke, writing out the units made me wish I was taking the Plant Based course right this second. My spouse would laugh if I said that out loud, because I am SO hooked on Rouxbe courses.
The surprise benefits from taking the Rouxbe Professional Cook Certification:
Here is a smattering of things I didn’t expect to do, going in to the course. One was learning about plant based foods, though that unit was rather helpful and introduced some new regular rotation vegan foods for us.
As I mentioned before, hosting parties “America’s test kitchen” style, plus egg day, plus dessert/snack/pastry night. All of those times spent with friends were lots of fun and very inspiring. So few people invest in themselves in courses and oh how I wish more did – everyone I know who takes a course for fun gets so much out of it! It is confidence building, skill building and it’s amazing how many friends share their inspiration and fears with you as a result. I really did not expect so many people to tell me what an inspiration and motivator I was by taking this course. It really brought me closer together with friends.
Deeper understanding and execution of recipes
Another result was that I am better at reading and executing any recipe I pick up now, because I have such a deeper understanding of the underlying principles. For example, the boursin scrambled eggs are DIVINE, and ridiculously easy. I told my friends who came to eat them that. They say they’ve tried but can’t replicate them. That’s because my technique was on-point, thanks to the course.
Improved food photo technique
As a food blogger, you’ll get practice taking good photographs. I am so used to looking at food pictures on Pinterest and food blogs, that I expect nothing but the best. Well… it takes a lot of practice to be able to create beautiful images, even if the food is on-point in person!
Faster and more organized in the kitchen
I’m a faster cook! All that time spent practicing knife skills, and learning about the science behind food, means that I can make dinner a lot faster than I used to be able to do. My ability to multitask and keep various dishes going at the same time has improved, too.
More wholesome meals
This will teach you to cook real, whole foods. If you’re raising a family, have health goals, etc. you will be able to turn seemingly pedestrian foods into delicious, wholesome meals for your family.
Is Rouxbe worth it or not?
My tips to make your Rouxbe cooking school experience worth it:
- Freeze soup in silicone loaf pans
- Have a bright contrasting colour dish cloth for photos (I bought a solid red one).
- DO all the assignments, like whoa. Look ahead and plan your weeks. Some recipe tasks repeat themselves, so verify the list before starting and plan everything out.
- Take pictures of more dishes, as you will need to submit your favourite platings, plus having a record of all the great dishes you made is handy. Publish them to Facebook and make your friends jealous!
- Watch the videos in the plating unit at the beginning of the course, instead of the end. That way you’ll be able to put the principles to use during the entire course.
What is the customer/teacher support like?
They were very responsive when I was an idiot and uploaded the wrong assignment to a task. They were also good about answering questions regarding dishes or technical support.
What I would change about Rouxbe Cooking School?
I would have more videos in the final units, they were more reading heavy. Given that they were more toward the end, I kind of suspect Rouxbe will be adding more to videos to those units as they go.
I’d also like to see more engagement with the class, perhaps on Facebook. As a student, I highly recommend posting dishes in the Facebook group and commenting on other’s posts. It’s a great place to meet people in other cohorts beyond your own, too.
I’d love more guidance on plating. They cover the basics, but I still seem to be missing some je ne sais quoi that will really give my dishes the wow factor. I received amazingly detailed feedback on this unit, which I really valued, as it’s important to me. I haven’t managed to crack the code to be fully satisfied with how I plate my dishes, though.
The videos are somewhat robotic, not casual. My spouse likes to opine, “then you put the transistors in the mirepoix” to make fun of the robot voicing. Every once in awhile there’s a joke and they sound hilarious due to the voice over style.
Did the recipes and assignments taste good?
There was only one recipe that was not good. It wasn’t so bad that we threw it out, but neither of us looked forward to those leftovers the next day. There were many that were absolutely delicious, though. We’ve made several of them again since I finished the course and I have made variations from memory on several others. The udon noodles were amazing, and some of the pasta dishes were delicious, despite their absolute simplicity. Learning to properly sear chicken medallions was life-changing. Yum.
Why take Rouxbe over free YouTube videos?
Having watched many a culinary video on YouTube, I can state unequivocally that Rouxbe is wildy more worthwhile. There’s a set order, with topics and details that you would never find on your own while perusing YouTube, even from the best playlists out there. Plus, there’s assignments that you’re forced to do. There’s also a structure, building upon layers of knowledge, that you won’t get from YouTube. Rouxbe is also a much, much more involved course than those I have seen advertised on MasterClass, Udemy and similar platforms. I’ve been looking at some of those, now that I’ve got Rouxbe under my belt, though.
Rouxbe has given me a base level understanding which enables me to learn more culinary skills, much more easily, going forward.
Other Thoughts on Rouxbe
When we started, the goal was to have my spouse watch along for some of the videos on topics of interest. The workload quickly became too much for us to try to coordinate our schedules.
If your goal is to become a red seal chef, or you have the option to attend a 6 month + full-time culinary institution, then I recommend taking that path. For everyone else, taking the Rouxbe course is one of the best things I’ve done. Plus, it’s a less expensive habit than learning all about wine! You can even use it every day 😉
Having finished Rouxbe’s Professional Cook Certification, my next plans include taking the Essential Vegan Desserts course, and I have purchased The Professional Chef and Garde Manger, to read. I’d also like to take Anova’s sous vide course and a molecular gastronomy course. The more interest you have in culinary arts going in to this course, the more you will get out of it, as well, as you’ll be inspired to do additional learning outside of the course. I had to create a list or myself of “things to do when I’m done” otherwise I would have become so distracted I wouldn’t have finished!
Naturally, while doing all of this, I was also increasing my knowledge of wine 😉 I recently received the French Wine Professional designation from Fine Vintage Ltd, watch for a review of that program soon.
If you’ve found this post helpful, again I would be so extremely thankful for your support in enrolling via one of my links. There is no cost at all to you, and I earn a small commission. If you’re looking for even more information before joining the Rouxbe club, you can check out my Interim Review of Rouxbe Cooking School.