Anyone with a recording device can start a podcast—that’s the blessing and the curse of the medium. And with the proliferation of podcasts over the past decade, it can be hard to know where to start, or learn more about what’s out there. If you have even a passing interest in food, there are thousands of series just waiting to be discovered.
Here are some of our favorite podcasts about food, from shows that take you deep inside the restaurant industry to those designed to devolve into petty arguments. You’ll walk away from each one with a better understanding or appreciation of what we put on our plates—even if you’re one of those weirdos who listens at 1.5x speed.
Two things make 77 Flavors of Chicago a must listen: the simplicity of its conceit—visit every one of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods and sample the food that defines each one—and the animated conversation that adds complexity to it. Comedian Dario Durham and chef Sara Faddah have a comfortable rapport as they take listeners through the history of each neighborhood and the dishes they tasted at various restaurants—indeed, the bustling background noise of real restaurant environments can sometimes be heard as our hosts traverse the city’s food scene. Other times, it’s more like an episode of “Check, Please!” in which meals are recapped book-report-style. Even people who don’t live in the city can learn a lot about the evolution of a neighborhood.
From the minds of the wildly popular Mythical Kitchen YouTube channel, A Hot Dog Is a Sandwich spends way too much time delving into pointless food arguments and getting nowhere. These are substance-free conversations about food, which many listeners swear is the best kind. Hosts Josh Scherer and Nicole Enayati tackle such important questions as: Are nachos a salad? What’s the correct way to eat a bagel? Is ketchup a smoothie? By the end of each episode, you’ll discover you have a passionate stance on a topic you’ve never thought to think about before.
Chefs Candace Boyd and Tonorria Askew (who competed in season seven of MasterChef) come together every other week to celebrate black culture in the culinary world and examine how that culture has influenced what everyone eats on Black Girls Eating. In recent episodes, the pair has been joined by guests to talk about food justice, luxury chocolate, and algebra—yes, algebra. They can really take any topic and turn it into a fun, tasty, food-focused conversation.
Released in 2016, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio puts what sounds like a serious budget behind food podcasting, taking listeners on a global tour of culinary curiosities with all the confidence of a glossy magazine. Kimball, co-founder of America’s Test Kitchen, seems eager to further build upon his brand here as elder statesman of the coastal food media scene. There’s nothing the least bit scrappy about this production, which often includes interviews with famous chefs; sometimes you want the audio equivalent of a gleaming white kitchen, an aspirational space with spotless marble countertops and all.
Cocktail College is for mixology obsessives who want to know every detail about the origin and history of classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned, trendy drinks like the Espresso Martini, and the best bartender hacks. To give you an idea of just how in-depth host Tim McKirdy and guests can get, a recent episode on the Sidecar clocked in at almost 90 minutes. But don’t be scared by the academic name and length—those entertaining and educational minutes fly by, and you’ll walk away with the perfect drink recipes.
From NPR and WAMU, Dish City is a podcast dedicated to turning over every rock in one particular food scene: that of Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital has the unique task of representing an entirely global cuisine, not only to reflect the city’s population but to cater to its visitors from all over the world. Hosts Ruth Tam and Patrick Fort team up and descend down rabbit holes about the largely invisible infrastructure that forms a city’s food scene: the problems gig workers face, the mechanics of food delivery, the battle between restaurants and their landlords. Even if you don’t care much about food, this series is chock-full of human interest stories.
Comedians Mike Mitchell and Nick Wiger, also known as Spoonman/Mr. Slice and Burger Boy, respectively, have been reviewing chain restaurants on their weekly podcast, Doughboys, since May 2015. A typical episode features guests (ranging from comedians to musicians to journalists to Mitchell’s childhood friends from Quincy, Massachusetts) helping the hosts to review a particular chain restaurant, awarding a final score on a “five forks” scale. The top-rated restaurants enter the Golden Plate Club (or Platinum Plate Club, as the case may be), while the worst ones simply live on in infamy, never to be eaten on the show again. The podcast is a hilarious and unpretentious look at the world of fast food and chain restaurants, and over the years the series has not only built a devoted following but its own impressive lore.
We’ll level with you: Food Network Obsessed is just a thin promotional extension of the Food Network’s slate of TV programming, and it shows. But if you’re a fan of those shows (and their hosts), then who cares? It’s a fun way to consume more content from Food Network stars, including various anecdotes and insights that lend each of them a little more dimension than what you might see onscreen. If you’ve ever caught yourself idly wondering, “I wonder when Trisha Yearwood decided to transition from country musician to celebrity chef,” or “What’s it like for Hunter Fieri to tour America’s greatest diners, drive-ins, and dives alongside his dad?” then you will find the answers you seek here. You could probably find them elsewhere pretty easily, too, but audio is a nice low-effort medium.
Gastropod, part of the Vox Media Podcast Network in partnership with Eater, investigates a different culinary topic each episode, excavating it layer by layer with precision and enthusiasm. There’s a density of new information to be gleaned from each episode, a bounty that’s virtually unmatched in the audio space; scientific, historical, and cultural contexts are all woven into the production. Gastropod strikes the balance between clean presentation and organic delivery, giving everything from coffee to dates to offal the close look it deserves.
Whether you’re an expert brewer or a casual lager sipper, there are nuggets of wisdom and entertainment to be had while listening to Good Beer Hunting. A rotating roster of hosts who double as the site’s editorial staff bring on guests ranging from brewers of national beer brands to musicians and artists to journalists, all deftly covering beer history, the bar industry, and the tasty brews we drink. In the latest episode—the show’s 100th!—former Takeout managing editor Kate Bernot dives deep into the history and success of Boston Beer Company’s Twisted Tea.
In the early days of the pandemic, everyone was in peak “oh god, now I have to learn to cook?” mode. It was the perfect moment for beloved chef and cookbook author Samin Nosrat (Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat) and her friend Hrishikesh Hirway (Song Exploder) to release Home Cooking, a podcast that sought to reassure inexperienced home chefs and bring joy into the kitchen. An eclectic slate of guests from Stella Parks to Yo-Yo Ma made this brief but shining series a perpetual delight. This podcast is mostly defunct now, but there’s always a chance that its hosts will drop surprise episodes into the feed in the future, so don’t unsubscribe!
From America’s Test Kitchen, Proof “plunges into history, culture, science, and the psyche to uncover the hidden backstories that feed your food-obsessed brain.” It’s got a similar vibe to the Smithsonian’s Sidedoor podcast, always uncovering new information just off to the side of the story we think we already know. Plus, it’s hosted by Kevin Pang, founder and former editor in chief of The Takeout. So you know it’s good.
Is there an ingredient that always stumps you? Maybe you think your go-to ratios for a classic cocktail are superior. Well, with Recipe Club, Dave Chang and Chris Yang dive deep into ingredients and dishes both common and obscure to figure out the best preparation. Every week the hosts along with a guest present three preparations of that week’s given topic (all were chosen in a draft in the season opener), sometimes including listener-submitted suggestions, and have a thoughtful but entertaining discussion about the merits of each before choosing the winner—you can check out all the winning recipes so far here. Upcoming ingredients in season two of the show include King’s Hawaiian rolls, broccoli, and quesadillas.
Katherine Spiers, food anthropologist, has a rare skill for conveying the resonant history in seemingly average foodstuffs. On each episode of Smart Mouth, Spiers finds an entirely new entry point into the food conversation, depending on who her guest is and which topic they cover; for example, while some podcasts would be content to cover the rosy history of community cookbooks, a Smart Mouth conversation isn’t afraid to ask if these artifacts are just a little too WASPy. Listening to this show will make you eager to think harder about the foods you eat every day, and why exactly you eat them.
It’s almost like BBC’s The Food Chain was conceived when a team of creators sat down and said, “Okay, there are a lot of food podcasts out there—let’s list every single topic that slips through their nets and make episodes out of those, shall we?”
“The Food Chain examines the business, science and cultural significance of food, and what it takes to put food on your plate,” reads the show’s description, which rather undersells how compelling each episode can be. In 2022 alone, topics have ranged from extreme fitness and how it can change one’s relationship to food; what food will look like in the metaverse; how climate change can impact the flavor of food; and the pervasive issue of… constipation. Subscribe to this show if you’re looking for something that’ll surprise you every week with its wild swings.
The Sporkful is good at many things, but one of them is taglines. “It’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters,” host Dan Pashman assures listeners each week at the top of the episode. “We obsess about food to learn more about people.” Across its twelve (!!) years on the scene, The Sporkful has only grown more ambitious over time, widening its scope of coverage to include conversations about the intersection of food, race, and culture, and has gone so far as to invent and market a whole new shape of pasta in a special miniseries. Who doesn’t want to listen in on that kind of adventure?