11 Instagram accounts to follow for instant DIY dinner inspiration (and a little life envy)

Chef and recipe writer Danielle Alvarez is one of the most user-friendly chefs on Instagram.
Chef and recipe writer Danielle Alvarez is one of the most user-friendly chefs on Instagram.  Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

 Step away from the food delivery app. Instead, scroll through some of the dinner inspiration being served up in kitchens on Instagram both here and abroad, in lockdown and not.

Chefs and home cooks are sharing everything from videos to back-of-the-napkin suggestions, so you can throw together a simple vegetarian pasta or plan an elaborate banquet worthy of yet another Saturday night at home. And if you like what you see, the good news is many of them have cookbooks on the way or already out in the world.

Ixta Belfrage @ixta.belfrage

This London-born chef with Brazilian, Cuban and Mexican heritage may have co-authored Flavour with Yotam Ottolenghi, but she can also keep it real for home cooks. Belfrage's Instagram Highlights (the circles that sit above her posts) are full of step-by-step recipes with videos, quantities and annotations so you can make things like chiles rellenos or biang biang noodles. Her posts are a little more concise but they're sure to inspire you. We like the cheesy polenta with curried and buttered onions or black pepper pork with pineapple, lime and basil.

Sohla El-Waylly @sohlae

It's a grand old time over on Sohla El-Waylly's profile. The contributor to Food52 and New York Times Cooking not only makes delicious food, she manages to have a giggle at herself along the way. You might remember her from the Bon Appetit test kitchen videos, which explains why she's a natural in front of the camera, whether she's making a super versatile gozleme of greens and feta or procrastinating with a blooming onion inspired by her time cooking in Australia. She also shares loads of tips including how to make deliciously sticky chicken wings or the perfect pound cake.


A post shared by Sohla El-Waylly (@sohlae)

Dan Hong @hongsta_gram

Living it up doesn't need to be something you only do when restaurants are open. Armed with a few of Dan Hong's lockdown cooking videos, you could soon be throwing together dishes like live southern rock lobster with XO sauce or dry-aged rib-eye finished in an Airfryer. The chef who made his name at Mr Wong and Ms G's started his lockdown videos in 2020 but has revived them for his fellow Sydneysiders. Stay tuned for more Shandong Mama-inspired dumplings, tips on cooking steak and recipes for salt and pepper calamari.


A post shared by Dan Hong (@hongsta_gram)

Joe Woodhouse @joe_woodhouse

He's an ex-chef who switched to food and travel photography. He's been a vegetarian since the age of 10 and he's also the husband of chef and author Olia Hercules. Do we need to say more? The gorgeous photos on Joe Woodhouse's feed are a given, but everything he shares is also extremely achievable at home. You'll walk away with more than a few tricks to add to your repertoire, from a parmesan mash where you add a parmesan rind to the water when you boil the potatoes to using oat groats in your grain salads.


 Danielle Alvarez @daniellemariealvarez

One of the joys of 2020 was getting a peek at how your heroes cook at home - and Danielle Alvarez quickly emerged as one of the most user-friendly chefs on Instagram. No elaborate gadgets, no rare ingredients or tricky techniques, just homely recipes that you wanted to cook, like, immediately. Her rhubarb and custard hand pies, tips for preparing globe artichokes and back-pocket recipes like chermoula or flaky pastry felt like a gift. And the silver lining of this winter is that she's back, baby.

Lucy Tweed @everynightoftheweek

What's now a cookbook celebrating the ingenuity of getting dinner on the table night after night started life as a stream-of-consciousness Instagram feed of no-recipe recipes. Stylist Lucy Tweed writes posts that sound as though she's jotted down notes in between wrangling her family of five and eating her own dinner. "Whatever you have, however much you like" she might say about the greens on the side of some steak. "Ling. Flour. Pan fry. Season." is how you cook white fish. Her shortcuts, flavour hacks and celebration of mistakes are refreshing in the Insta-verse of perfection. Here's to demystifying the process of cooking.

Analiese Gregory @analiesegregory

Less instructional, more "I want her life", Analiese Gregory's posts of her mid-week meals might look a little different to yours or mine. (Put "Char sui pork ribs, from a pig we grew" in that column.) But they're a wonderful reminder of the power of small details when making this month's 94th home-cooked meal feel extra special. Gregory recently went through a purple patch of domestic deliciousness while completing 14 days of quarantine so there are plenty of cues to follow. Take the time to mince those chives evenly, get out your favourite dish to serve those potatoes in, light some candles and treat yourself to your own hospitality.

Julius Roberts @telltalefood

Take a keen young cook, a farmhouse and an iPhone and you end up with one Julius Roberts. After working briefly at London wine bar Noble Rot, Roberts wanted to get closer to the ingredients he was working with and decided to live on the land. Lucky for us, he documents a huge chunk of what he gets up to, with super thorough videos of dhals, pies, handmade pasta and more. Much of what he cooks is vegetable-forward and many things can be taken in four or five different directions, depending on what you feel like or have in your pantry. But be warned: everything is super seasonal so you could be dreaming of tomatoes and stone fruit tonight.

Elizabeth Hewson @elizabethhewson

She brought you Saturday Night Pasta, the weekly ritual that spawned a cookbook, but Sydneysider Elizabeth Hewson has plenty more tricks up her sleeve. And boy is she generous. Almost every recipe she shares is screen-capped in full and some also come with process shots, so you can make a hot chocolate and marshmallow tart that's just as symmetrical as hers. Expect golden roast chicken, the occasional salad or tart and, of course, pasta in all shapes and sizes, with sauces to suit the season. Did we mention she also owns a beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog?

Anna Jones @we_are_food

Scattered among the dishes from her four cookbooks, this vegetarian queen will share recipes that are simple enough to be squeezed into an Instagram post. Jones worked alongside Jamie Oliver for more than seven years and is all about the simple road to maximum flavour, which you've got to love when you're cooking three meals a day at home. While she lives in the UK, many recipes can be tweaked for our seasons. Or just scroll back through her feed to find wintery one-pot dinners, curries and more.


A post shared by Anna Jones (@we_are_food)

Skye McAlpine @skyemcalpine

Warning: you may end up with serious life envy after a week of following Skye McAlpine. The UK-born, Venice-based author and chef shares lots of shots of sun-drenched rooms with gorgeously mismatched vintage furniture, but ignore those and zero in on the food. Beautiful sponge cakes layered with stewed fruit or the blush-pink roast beef and salads she whips up for Sunday lunch make regular appearances on her table. She also shares what she's made from her favourite cookbooks, so there's inspiration aplenty.