NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — If you consider yourself among the culinary challenged, your best dishes probably run somewhere along the lines of scrambled eggs and Rice Krispies treats. But if you're faced with entertaining guests at your home this holiday season, serving a poor man's omelette and a snack made from cereal just isn't going to cut it, and buying everything premade can cost you a fortune.

Don't have the time or energy to take cooking classes in person? Not to worry. There are a variety of online cooking schools open to all levels that allow you to receive video instruction right from your computer—anytime, anywhere. They're a great option for busy people who are looking to learn everything from cooking basics to more advanced skills, and if you start now, you could learn how to roast a succulent Thanksgiving turkey or bake a perfect apple pie just in time for the holidays.

Read on for the details on four of the best online cooking schools we've found. Although the schools don't offer actual course credit, they can teach you the skills you need to impress even the toughest critics this holiday season.

Epicurious Online Cooking School

You might have visited Epicurious.com for its wide array of recipes and food articles, but the popular website also offers innovative cooking classes taught by experts at The Culinary Institute of America. Each course in the Epicurious Online Cooking School is designed to give you detailed instruction on cuisines from around the world, and there are no prerequisites before you begin.

The course "Globe Trotting: Mexican Classics," for instance, includes more than four hours of video instruction and teaches you how to make Mexican favorites such as salsas, ceviches and moles. You'll also learn culinary techniques popular in Mexican cooking, such as frying for flavor, dry roasting and steaming ($49 for eight classes). Or take the course "Dessert: American Classics," in which you'll learn how to make everything from cookies, bars, cakes and pies to cobblers, pudding and frozen desserts (includes more than five hours of video instruction; $49 for eight classes).

Top Chef University

The instructors at this online cooking school are actually contestants from Bravo's "Top Chef" reality cooking competition, including Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard and Season 6 finalist Kevin Gillespie .

Top Chef University offers 12 culinary courses and more than 200 video lessons, with an average of 18 lessons per course ranging from 5 to 30 minutes each. Membership fees cost $24.95 per month or $199.95 per year, but once you join, you can take as many classes as you want.

Courses include "Pork & Poultry," where you'll learn how to make such dishes as stuffed turkey roulade and orange-glazed duck breast; and "Entertaining & Advanced," which teaches recipes great for a holiday party, including Swedish meatballs with blackcurrant sauce, saffron arancini stuffed with manchego cheese and quince, and oysters with cocktail sauce sorbet.