Cooking your own food has health benefits. Unfortunately, not everyone does a good job in the kitchen.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably overseasoned a dish, ruined a recipe, and made food that tasted so bad no one would dare touch it.
But, here’s the thing: The internet is full of cooking tips. Reddit, for example, has a special place where chefs share their best tips in the kitchen.
If you’re trying to improve your cooking skills, check out 30 of their best cooking tips below.
1. Don’t throw that water!
“Save a little pasta water before you strain and use it to help the sauce thicken and bind to the pasta.” – Reddit/stella_the_diver
The next time you cook your pasta, treat the water like gold. It’s the secret to making that perfect pasta dish.
2. Stay away from ‘cooking wine’
“Only cook with wine you would actually drink yourself. This means, don’t use ‘cooking’ wine. As in, that garbage that is all salty from the grocery. Cheap wine is just fine, just stick to wines you’d find on the shelf that aren’t in the cooking aisle.” – Reddit/SetPhasersToStun00
This actually makes sense. Why add a wine that you know you won’t drink yourself? It’s a waste of money!
3. Don’t forget to clean as you go.
“Do the dishes / clean your workplace while cooking every time you have time. Makes a huge difference in the end.” – Reddit/yourbraindead
While you wait for your food to cook, wash the dishes and wipe the counter. That way, you won’t have to do them after.
4. Use the right kind of salt.
“Make sure it’s seasoned. And different sizes of salt depending on what you are doing. Typically, seared meat is better with coarse salt. Fine salt us best used when you don’t want the texture of course salt or you are worried it won’t incorporate properly into the food.” – Reddit/pizzalovingking
This is an excellent tip. Not everyone knows that there are different kinds of salt for cooking.
5. About that bottle of vanilla
“Vanilla extract comes out of the bottle REALLY fast.” – Reddit/IH8Clothing
A lot of us have learned about this the hard way. If you haven’t experienced it, you’re lucky. It’s not easy to redo an entire recipe just because you accidentally poured too much vanilla extract.
6. When to cut your meat
“Rest your meat! If you cut into it and the juices flow out, you are cutting too soon.” – Reddit/oogachaka123
If you don’t have a watch with you, this is an excellent tip. Cutting your meat at the perfect time allows it to stay tender and juicy.
“Cooking is an art, but baking is a science.” – Reddit/DFTBabben101
8. Getting garlic in bulbs
“When you see a recipe that calls for X cloves of garlic, just cross out cloves and write in bulbs.” – Reddit/Nickkon14
There’s no such thing as too much garlic. Most of the recipes require just a few and this chef thinks they’re wrong.
9. The proper way to cook meat
“One thing I see frequently done wrong is crowding the pan. If you want to brown your meat, don’t fill the pan to the brim. It will only boil in its own juices until it’s still pale but also tough. Just put a few pieces in at once, you can place them on a plate once they’re done and then do the next ones.” –Reddit/notapantsday
Cooking in batches can mean spending more time in the kitchen. However, it also means less chances of ruining your meat.
10. Understanding meat toughness
“Think of where on the animal the meat came from. If it’s a muscle they use a lot (legs, butt, etc) it probably needs low and slow cooking, if it’s a muscle they use a little (back, tenderloin, etc), it probably needs high heat and a faster cook time. There are exceptions to that rule but that works more often than not.” —Reddit/pizzalovingking
Apparently, cooking isn’t just about knowing how to measure ingredients. For you to cook your meat perfectly, you also have to be a bit more familiar with the anatomy of the animals. That way, you’d know where a certain slice of certain meat came from.
11. Prepare your ingredients first.
“Prepping ahead of time, getting everything ready like chopping up garlic or dicing onion. This will make cooking 80% stress free as you wont be racing against time / overcooking your food.” — Reddit/Krimzomk
Prepare everything you need even before you start cooking. That way, you’ll just grab the ingredients and add them to your pan while you cook.
12. Make reading a habit.
“Always always always read the recipe through before starting.” —Reddit/eclipse_sav
If it’s your first time cooking a certain recipe, make sure to read the entire recipe. That way, you won’t miss out a step or forget to add an ingredient.
13. Taking care of knives
“Sharp knives make every thing easier.” —Reddit/Kingsolomanhere
They make cutting ingredients faster and easier. Plus, they’re a bit safer, too. You won’t have to force the knife to cut something when it’s sharp.
14. The right number of knives you need
“You don’t need 10 kitchen knives. Three good knives of different sizes, properly sharpened and cared for, should be all you need. Then, only buy other knives if you have a need for them (like one for peeling, etc.)” —Reddit/kniebuiging
For cooking purposes, this person thinks that you only need three knives in your kitchen. Well, you can add more if you’re planning on putting the knives on display to decorate the room.
15. How to cook the perfect egg
“And once you’ve cracked your egg, cover it. Use a pot lid or something. This means your egg cooks from the top and the bottom, so you get a perfect runny yolk without any undercooked white around it.” —Reddit/tigerjess
This makes cooking eggs easier. And by not flipping, you’ll be able to prevent yolk breakagem too.
16. Don’t over-flip your food.
“In general, just leave your food alone while it’s cooking. Stirring and flipping it a lot might feel like you’re doing something but you’re only making it take longer. Just walk away and let it do its thing. For example, if your grilling or pan-frying a chicken breast, wait until it’s half-way cooked before flipping it to the other side. Flipping it more than once slows the cooking process and you won’t get that golden-brown coloring you’re looking for. You’ll also likely dry out the meat.” —Reddit/awwjeah
Patience is important when cooking. Don’t get too excited about flipping and stirring your food to make sure you don’t ruin the dish.
17. A guide to using herbs and spices
“When tasting something like soup or sauce here’s a guide to adding herbs and spices:
• Salt: You can taste instantly. After stirring it in, if it tastes bland, add more.
• Black pepper/dry herbs/most other seasonings: After adding more, don’t taste until at least 15 minutes have passed. These ingredients infuse and release over time and you can really overdo it.
• Beer/wine/alcohol: Alcohol should be added before the other ingredients and simmered. Taste it after 20 minutes. If it still tastes alcohol-y after this, remove the lid and let it cook off more.
• Fresh herbs: Add late and as close to serving as possible (in the last 15 minutes of cooking). These are full of flavor and are generally best added near serving time for best flavor.” —Reddit/charizard_72
Adding herbs and spices is tricky, particularly if you’re new to cooking. Fortunately, this person shared these tips. They’re easy to understand even for people who don’t have formal training in cooking.
18. Finish sauces with vinegar.
“For sauces and gravies, a splash of apple cider vinegar gives a lot of complexity to an otherwise simple sauce.” —Reddit/Soranic
People should start doing this more often. It’s a nice way to make your regular sauce taste better.
19. Make your own stock.
“Save remnants from the veggies you don’t use while cooking (ends, tops, scraps, stuff that may be just past pretty) and chicken bones (the more bones, the better) in the freezer. When you have enough to fill a large pot you can make your own stock.” —Reddit/stella_the_diver
Don’t throw away the scraps right away. Save them later and make your own stock.
20. The proper way of preparing onions
“Learn how to properly dice an onion into small and even-sized chunks. Raw white onion belongs on way less food than you think it does, especially when it’s cut into large uneven chunks. If you want onions on something, try sweating, roasting, caramelizing, or seasoning them with some acid or salt.” —Reddit/pizzalovingking
Apparently, this person thinks that onions don’t belong in every recipe. If you do decide to add them to your food, he suggests cooking them first in certain ways.
21. Say no to cold plates.
“Heat your plates before serving. Cold plates leech the heat right out of an otherwise tasty meal. This is especially true if you don’t have everything set to finish at the same time.” Reddit/OrdinaryPanda
This is what they do in restaurants so why not do it at home? It doesn’t take a lot of time to heat your plates.
22. Don’t overcook your eggs.
“When scrambling eggs, get them out of the pan before they look done. If they look done in the pan, they’ll be overdone on the plate. Carry-over heat does a lot more cooking out of the pan than it gets credit for.” —Reddit/just_a_handle
You have to be quick when cooking eggs. Don’t leave them on the pan if you don’t want to eat overcooked eggs.
23. Season slowly.
“Season in small amounts and taste as you go, you can always add more but once you’ve over done it you’ve over done it.” —Reddit/ChicagoCowboy
Go slow when adding seasoning. It’ll be hard to fix your food once it’s been overseasoned.
24. Don’t forget about acids.
“If there is one ‘a ha!’ moment I’ve had in the last 20 years of cooking, it’s that when salt isn’t ‘helping’ a dish, what’s missing is acid. Lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid (if you have some) transforms a dish in a surprising way.” —Reddit/FoodandWhining
If salt isn’t working, give up on it. Instead, grab a lemon or a bottle of vinegar.
25. Less is more.
“Something with three or four ingredients that go really well together is better than something with 12 ingredients that clash with each other.” —Reddit/daneoid
Achieving that complex flavor usually doesn’t eman using every ingredient under the sun. Just find what you actually need to achieve the flavor you want.
26. Be familiar with cooking techniques.
“Don’t approach recipes like they’re magic spells in the Harry Potter universe. If you wiggle your nose wrong or put in a bit too much of some seasoning, you’re not going to end up with a completely different dish. Alton Brown does an incredible job of teaching a cooking technique and then showing you a recipe that applies that technique. If you learn a process instead of a rote recipe, you will know how to cook dozens of dishes, and it’s really the only way to develop skills in the kitchen.” —Reddit/gkevinkramer
Learning cooking processes is better than being familiar with a specific recipe. You’ll be able to cook dozens of recipes with just one cooking technique.
27. Taste, taste, and taste.
“Taste often, and at every stage of cooking. Make sure you taste it before you serve it.” – Reddit/pizzalovingking
Always check your work. You wouldn’t want to serve a bland dish just because you didn’t taste it before serving.
28. Buy a timer.
“Timers. I always forget I have something going on the stove while I’m cutting something across the kitchen. Timers save lives.” – Reddit/squirreledstar
It’s easy to forget that you’re cooking something when you’re working on another dish. With a timer, you’ll be able to avoid burning food just because you’re multitasking.
29. Use your nose.
“As a lifelong make-up-the-recipe-as-I-go chef, always smell your herbs/spices before adding them to whatever it is you’re cooking. It will help you determine what flavors will pair well.” –Reddit/isthatacatinyour
Your nose will give you an idea about how well certain spices go together. Don’t add them without smelling first, particularly if you’re just making up your recipe.
30. When cutting ingredients
“Cut meat, vegetables, etc. into evenly sized pieces so they will cook at the same rate. Prevents bigger cuts from being undercooked and smaller ones over.” -Reddit/oogachaka123
They don’t really have to be the exact same size. You just have to make sure that you cut them into evenly sized pieces.