20 of the Best Podcasts on Spotify in Every Category
Curious about Spotify's podcast library but don't know where to get started? You've come to the right list.
Spotify has long been known for music, but in recent years, it’s invested in its podcast library and now is home to some of the best podcasts. The streaming service’s lineup is known for its star power—Spotify Original podcasts include Renegades: Born in the USA, the 2021 show co-hosted by President Barack Obama and rock legend Bruce Springsteen, as well as The Michelle Obama Podcast from the previous year.
Celebrities aren’t the only draw, though. The best podcasts on Spotify cover a wide range of topics, from food and culture to true crime, sports, and current events. You can listen online with a free account, and download episodes to listen offline with a premium subscription of $9.99 per month. Here are 20 favorites to get you started, whether you’re looking for a new weekly favorite, the smartest podcasts, or the best podcasts for a road trip.
Comedy Bang Bang
This unpredictable show is the quickest way to inject your week with energy and humor. Host and comedian Scott Aukerman even makes the ads entertaining. One of the longest-running and most beloved comedy podcasts, Comedy Bang Bang has its own universe of characters and jokes that continue across episodes and years. Every week, the show brings together comedy greats in a free-flowing, anything-goes format. Each episode runs for about 90 minutes and features an interview with a celebrity, followed by drop-in guests who perform improv and play games. Recurring guests include Jason Mantzoukas, Lauren Lapkus, Nick Kroll, Ego Nwodim, Reggie Watts, and even Weird Al Yankovic.
Spanish Aquí Presents
Spanish Aquí Presents started as a comedy group that performed sold-out shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Since 2019, hosts Raiza Licea, Oscar Montoya, Tony Rodríguez, and Carlos Santos have been hosting one of Spotify’s best podcasts. Each weekly hour-long episode is packed with hilarious banter, improv skills, and special guest chats. Recent guests have included comedians Jenny Yang, Ron Funches, and Sasha Merci. Along with being a comedy podcast, Spanish Aquí Presents also celebrates Latinx culture and the diversity within it.
In each 20- to 30-minute episode of Song Exploder, host Hrishikesh Hirway dissects every piece of a song with its creator. The podcast’s popularity exploded in 2020 when it aired as a Netflix show, but it’s actually been around since 2014. It still stands on its own as a fascinating study of songwriting and producing, and in some ways, it’s even more satisfying than the television version, since the podcast allows you to focus fully on the audio experience. The artists and song selections are eclectic, from Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas talking about her hit Everything I Wanted, to Yo-Yo Ma sharing how he learned and performed Johann Sebastian Bach.
In the Studio
One of the best podcasts on Spotify for creatives, In the Studio by the BBC World Service takes you directly into an artist’s creative space for 30 minutes. Take a walk with a poet to capture the rhythms and sounds she puts in her work, visit a playwright’s set as his vision comes to life, or sit in front of a blank page with a prolific novelist. No creative process is the same, and each episode is a fascinating look into what it takes to make a work of art. This podcast allows listeners to learn about many different creative practices and offers ideas you can try adding to your own routine. Are you having trouble starting on or getting back to your creative venture of choice? These motivational podcasts can help put you on the right path.
A weekly culture podcast from the New York Times, Still Processing covers every part of culture you can think of and then some. Listening to the banter between hosts Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham feels like listening to friends—your most cultured, funny, and informed friends. The podcast launched in September 2016 and delves into entertainment, art, dating, tech trends, and more. This season, they’ve already covered topics as varied as Disney, the N-word, public apologies, and Tina Turner. Each episode is about 40 minutes long and packed with layers. If you want to be in the know about pop culture, make Still Processing your first stop.
Hosted by “your culture consultants,” comedian Matt Rogers and Saturday Night Live cast member Bowen Yang, Las Culturistas feels like a party you can stream from Spotify. Each episode, the two friends invite a special guest for a free-flowing conversation. Their guest list this season has included RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio, stand-up comedian Shalewa Sharpe, and actor BD Wong. At some point in every show, the hosts ask their guests to share the pivotal experience that turned them into “culturistas.” If you haven’t had your Culturista moment yet, dive into any one of these episodes and you just might.
The Splendid Table
Francis Lam, host of The Splendid Table, has been called the “voice of America’s food culture” by the Washington Post. He is a journalist, cookbook editor, and winner of multiple James Beard awards. A former cook, Lam’s love and knowledge of food shine in every episode, which features guests including chefs, food writers, cookbook authors, and food-loving celebrities. The weekly podcast explores cuisine on a global level, providing listeners with knowledge on food, culture, sustainability, and more. Each episode comes in at just under an hour. If you don’t know where to start, browse the episode list and see what you’re craving. Cheese, perhaps? Sea urchin? A glass of something bubbly? Whatever it is, The Splendid Table will have an episode for you. If you’re looking for something to listen to with little ones, try these podcasts for kids even adults will love.
The Sporkful proclaims itself to be a podcast not for foodies, but for eaters. Sometimes it features guests like cookbook author Ayesha Curry or memoirist and musician Michelle Zauner. Other times it features quests, like a search for Rosa Parks’ Pancakes or a journey around Texas to find the best taco in the state. And recently, it featured the invention of a brand-new pasta shape: Host Dan Pashman caused quite a buzz by inventing a new pasta, designed for the most discerning of pasta eaters. The journey was documented on the podcast in a multipart series dubbed “Mission: ImPASTAble.” You can catch up with all the ImPASTAble episodes on Spotify, and even purchase the pasta (cascatelli) if Pashman convinces you of its superiority to spaghetti. While we’re on the subject, check out these pasta puns that will spice up your daily rotini. (Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves.)
Ear Hustle brings you inside San Quentin Prison for in-depth stories of inmates and former prisoners. Easily one of the best podcasts on Spotify or anywhere, this is a rare show that will move you to both laughter and tears, as well as provoke deeper thought about the justice system, redemption, and what we take for granted in our own lives on the outside. Start listening from Season 1, Episode 1 (“Cellies”) to get to know the hosts and follow along on a truly moving journey. The podcast was started as a project in San Quentin’s media lab by sound designer Antwan Williams and cohosts Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods. By Season 4, they were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, along with new host Rahsaan “New York” Thomas.
Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People
Also known as Beautiful/Anonymous, this unique podcast takes a chance on people and their stories. Comedian and author Chris Gethard hosts the show by tweeting out a phone number and taking one call per episode. The call is anonymous and lasts for one hour. The show always follows this format, but you never know what kind of conversation you’ll get, and that is part of the beauty of it. While anonymity online can sometimes bring out people’s ugly sides, these anonymous strangers are often incredibly honest, generous, and vulnerable. In recent episodes, Gethard has had conversations with a Black teacher in Minneapolis, a 27-year-old dating a 53-year-old, a Chinese American adoptee, and a surrogate.
Hidden Brain was first on the air as part of NPR’s Morning Edition, then launched as a podcast in 2015. It’s a favorite among fans of science, psychology, fascinating stories, and soothing radio voices. Host and executive editor Shankar Vedantam leads listeners on a mind-expanding journey each episode. Topics are often things you may never have thought about before—but can’t stop thinking about afterward. Popular episodes include “Why No One Feels Rich,” “Creating God,” and “Why Conversations Go Wrong.” Choose any episode from the show’s vast vault and you’re sure to learn something new.
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Another podcast about invisible things, Invisibilia debuted to a #1 spot on the iTunes podcast chart back in 2015. Lulu Miller (formerly of Radiolab) and Alix Spiegel (formerly of This American Life) were its first hosts, who were joined by Hanna Rosen of The Atlantic in Season 2. Together, they researched and presented beautifully stitched-together episodes about thoughts, fears, personalities, and emotions. In 2021, two reporters and producers of Invisibilia (Kia Miakka Natisse and Yowei Shaw) became the new hosts, continuing the line of women’s voices on the show. In an industry where only a third of podcasts are hosted by women, this is a meaningful tradition to uphold.
Today, Explained is your friendly weekday news show produced by Vox. The podcast aims to help listeners make sense of the day’s most important headlines, no matter how complex the topic. Host Sean Rameswaram was formerly a correspondent for Radiolab‘s Supreme Court podcast More Perfect, and his warm voice and energetic delivery make the news feel more approachable. Each episode focuses on one topic that Rameswaram explores with Vox reporters and experts, and usually lasts under 30 minutes. Recent episodes have covered job growth, the election in Chile, and the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. If you’re looking to get deeper into politics, these political podcasts will keep you informed.
No list of best podcasts on Spotify would be complete without including The Daily. This popular New York Times podcast summarizes one news story every weekday, with a bonus “Sunday Read” episode each week. Since it launched in 2017, millions of listeners have relied on it to stay informed. Host and longtime journalist Michael Barbaro brings on Times reporters and special guests to keep listeners up to speed with the most relevant events in global politics, tech, health, and more.
This American Life
If you’ve only heard of one podcast, it very well may be This American Life. Ira Glass began his career in public radio in 1978, and he has one of the most recognizable voices on air. He became the host of This American Life in 1995, which means the show has an archive of more than 700 episodes and counting. If that sounds overwhelming, they’ve put together some thoughtfully curated lists of recommended episodes on their website for you to get started. No matter where you dive in, you’re sure to find entertaining, heartwarming, and often surprising stories, told with finely tuned pacing that has been perfected over decades.
You’ll recognize a Radiolab episode when you hear its mix of static blips, deep tones, and crisp voices. Started in 2002, the podcast has had a distinctive sound from the beginning. Its sound design dances between your ears, and it’s both engaging and innovative, signaling that you’re in expert hands. The show has won several awards over the years, including a MacArthur Genius grant for its creator Jad Abumrad. Radiolab‘s first season had a scientific angle, but it has since leaned into broader long-form journalism, covering everything from music for morgues to the songs of cicadas. Jump in at any episode to see why this is one of the best podcasts on Spotify. Looking for something a little less brainy? Try these best new fiction podcasts you’ll obsess over.
The Bill Simmons Podcast
Spotify made headlines in 2020 when it spent nearly $200 million to acquire The Ringer and, with it, more than 30 podcast titles. The Ringer was founded by former ESPN sportswriter Bill Simmons, and his eponymous show is one of the most downloaded sports podcasts of all time. It airs multiple times a week and keeps you up to date with everything happening in the world of sports. Recent episodes have covered the PGA Tour, NBA picks, the NFL schedule, and WrestleMania, to name just a few topics. Mixed in with the comprehensive sports coverage, Simmons and his guests also manage to fit in entertainment news and the occasional chat about politics.
The ETCs with Kevin Durant
This one is for all the basketball fans out there! In 2020, NBA champion Kevin Durant launched this podcast that airs approximately twice a month. Durant, also known as KD, cohosts with his friend Eddie Gonzalez. This is not your typical sports show: Durant and Gonzalez didn’t want to be boxed in to only talking about stats and rankings. The ETCs gets into everything that contributes to sports culture. The two hosts and their guests explore the world of basketball and where it intersects with music, fashion, entertainment, and more. Guests range from players like Kyrie Irving and Draymond Green to sports reporter Shams Charania and the editors of Slam magazine.
My Favorite Murder
True crime podcasts took off with the hit show Serial in 2014. Its first season was an instant hit, sparking animated conversations among fans who couldn’t get enough. My Favorite Murder is like the best of those fan conversations. Tuning in feels like getting together with your closest friends to gossip about the latest shocking story. Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are not investigative journalists, criminal law experts, or former detectives. They are true crime enthusiasts with a knack for storytelling and dark humor—Kilgariff is also a comedian, Hardstark an actress, and both women are writers. The episodes are a mix of longer sessions up to two hours, shorter “minisodes,” and recordings of live shows (which consistently sell out), and their podcast consistently ranks among the top ten.
If you prefer your true crime stories in a scripted format, Casefile might be the podcast for you. An anonymous host unwinds stories of true crimes in detail. His narratives are informed by research and interviews, and they’re presented in a way that feels like listening to a novel, complete with dialogue and visual descriptions. The podcast is based in Australia, and many of the early cases take place there, but over the years, the show has covered crimes all over the world. There are nearly 200 episodes now, so if you’re new to the show, you have plenty of stories to choose from. For the most part, you can listen to episodes in any order, though there are a few serialized episodes that delve into the most complex cases. Next, check out the scary podcasts that will keep you up at night.
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