Everybody is bound to make mistakes in the kitchen. The old saying is true when it comes to cooking, practice makes perfect. Professional chefs understand the need to practice a recipe until it comes out just right. Many fellow amateur chefs, a.k.a friends and family, will tell you their tips and tricks to try and improve your own cooking style. Some of these might work but many of these “food hacks” will actually hurt your recipes more than help.
Here are 35 common cooking mistakes that you should avoid for all your recipes.
1. Browning Apples
It is frustrating to cut apple slices for an appetizer dish or your children’s lunches and they instantly brown. To still have an apple cut but not brown as quickly, cut the apple into its slices but assemble the apple slices back into its original shape. Then you will want to tie the apple pieces back together with a rubber band.
2. Peeling Ginger
The shape of ginger makes it difficult to peel to a peeler or knife. One easy solution is peeling ginger with a teaspoon. Don’t waste the chunks that do peel off, save those for ginger tea for when your tummy is upset.
3. Eggs and Milk
A common misconception that is widely spread is adding milk to scrambled eggs will make them more fluffy. This is a myth. Adding milk to eggs while scrambling them might actually thin out the eggs and make them less fluffy.
4. Sticky Pasta and Oil
Have you been told that adding oil to boiling pasta will keep the pasta from sticking? I know I have. Adding oil to the boiling water and pasta will keep the noodles from sticking to each other but it also stops other ingredients from sticking to the pasta. Such as the delicious sauces and herbs. Instead of adding oil, just stir the noodles more than usual while they cook.
5. Steel Cut Vs. Rolled Oats
Steel cut oats have become the new trend in the oatmeal world. Many claim that steel cut oats are better for you than rolled oats. That is not as true as people claim. As long as you are eating oats, you are making a healthy choice.
6. Stew Meat
Everyone loves a great stew recipe because it can be an easy slow cooker recipe. Add all the ingredients into the cooker and wait for the meal. One big mistake is missing for many people’s stews and that is searing the meat. Many believe they do not have to sear the meat because it will cook in the slow cooker. This is true but searing the meat will add flavor to your stew.
7. Guacamole Timing
Never make guacamole early. It has to be made fresh because it will start browning quickly, even by a day. The added ingredients will not keep the avocado fresh. So, make your guacamole right when you need it.
8. Cooling Pasta
Many people will wash their cooked pasta in cool water. This is great if your recipe is for a cold pasta or need the pasta to stop cooking. This is a not a needed step for a hot pasta dish. Washing the pasta in cold water will take away the outer layer of starch. This layer is what helps keep the sauce stick to the pasta. Everyone wants a saucy pasta dish!
9. Fresh Cookies
Everyone loves a soft and fresh cookie. Cookies can get hard pretty quickly and lose that soft yumminess. One great tip to keep your cookies soft are by storing them in a plastic bag with one piece of bread. It sounds random but it works!
10. Slicing Mushrooms
Slicing mushrooms can make an amateur cook very nervous for their fingers. The odd and small shape takes talent to slice. If you don’t want to risk your fingers, slice mushrooms with an egg slicer. It is the perfect fit and will slice perfectly.
11. Soda Cans Vs. Straws
The carbonation in soda cans have it in for straws. Putting a straw in a soda can can be annoying because the straw will keep rising out of the can. One great trick is twisting the soda can tab over the hole and using it as a straw holder. No more rising straws.
12. Upside Down Orange Juice
This hack is to make everyone’s life a tad bit easier. Try pouring out an orange juice container from the opposite direction. This makes orange juice pour out much easier. It might not make much sense but it works!
13. Flipping Steaks
Men are firm in their steak grilling styles. Many believe their way is the best way and cannot be told otherwise. One misconception is that a steak should only be flipped once. It is believed that a steak will lose flavor or texture by flipping it multiple times. This is not true and flipping steaks more than once will also help the steak be cooked more evenly.
14. Peppers and their Seeds
Have you been told that removing the seeds from a pepper will make it less spicy? Yes, the seeds are spicy but they are not the spiciest part of the pepper. The membrane, or pith, of the pepper holds the most spice. The pepper, with or without the seeds, will keep the level of spice it was created with.
15. Softening Butter
Everyone has been guilty of putting hard butter into the microwave just to soften it up a bit, not melt it completely just to soften it. This actually can change the taste of your recipe. The composition of the butter is important in a recipe and microwaving it can change the entire composition. Instead of microwaving butter to soften it, grate the stick of butter. This will soften it without changing it.
16. Perfect French Toast
Fresh bread for french toast is a no-no. Stale or dried bread is the preferred bread for the delicious breakfast meal. Have no stale bread? All you have to do is put some fresh bread in the oven for about ten minutes to dry it out. The taste difference between fresh and dried out bread for your french toast will have you never using fresh bread again.
17. Marinades and Textures
It is a common myth that marinading meats will also tenderize the meat. This is not true. Marinades only enhance the flavor of meat but it will not change the texture of the meat. If a marinade has yogurt or papaya in the marinade than it will tenderize the meat but all other marinades will not.
18. Eating Hack Part One
Eating a burger can get messy. All the yummy toppings start to fall out and you lose some of the burger’s best ingredients. How do you eat a burger without losing all its goodness with every bite? Eat the burger upside down. It might look weird but you will have better control of all the toppings when they are on top.
19. Eating Hack Part Two
Burgers are not the only messy foods, tacos can get messy. Losing all the yummy ingredients from a taco shell is always a sad event. You did not take all that time to make a yummy meal only to lose half of it onto your plate. This has an easy fix, wrap your taco shell with a large piece of lettuce. When the taco ingredients start to fall, they will fall into the lettuce wrap and stay in the taco.
20. Overcrowding Your Pan
No matter what you are cooking in your pan, you do not want to overcrowd the pan. If the pan is too crowded the heat will not distribute evenly. If you are cooking meat, every piece of meat will be at different temperatures and that is never good. The best way to fill your pan is by making sure no piece of food is touching another. They want their space.
21. With the Grain or Against the Grain
Cutting meat with the grain is the easiest way to cut. Yet, many professional chefs argue against the easier technique. If you cut against the grain it will help the meat be more tender and more flavorful.
22. Losing Track of Time
We all live busy lives, there is no way around it. It is easy to put your recipe into the oven and go check off other items on your to do list. Before you know it, you have lost track of time and forgotten all about your meal in the oven. No matter what you are cooking, always keep track of your cooking time. Staying in the kitchen or setting alarms will easily help combat this common mistake.
23. No Rushing
When it comes to caramelizing or browning certain veggies, it is important to not rush the process. Certain flavors within veggies need the process to release all their yumminess. If a recipe calls for browning any ingredients, make sure you have the time to not rush the process. No turning up the heat and hurrying, slow it down and stay to the recipe.
24. Hot and Cold
Rushing the browning process is not the only way to ruin a recipe by rushing. A common mistake is putting cold meats into a hot pan. If your meat is still cold from the refrigerator or freezer, you will want to thaw it out or let it warm before putting in the pan. Cold meats in a hot pan will cook unevenly.
25. Taste As You Go
How are you supposed to know if your recipe is turning out well if you are not tasting it as you go? Tasting as you go will help you realize if any seasoning is missing or if anything needs added to really make your dish stand out. You do not want to put in your time for a whole recipe only to be disappointed at the end. Taste testing will help that mistake.
26. Let it Rest
Meat needs to rest. This is a very important step to cooking meat that many amateurs skip. Letting your meat rest will help keep all the yummy juices soak into the meat. If you cut into the meat too early all those juices will squeeze out onto the plate. Juicy steaks are always the best, make sure to let them rest.
27. Know What You Are Doing
It is always enjoyable to try a new recipe. Expanding your cooking skills is always a great idea, but it is important to read the recipe before starting. A common mistake is to read the recipe as you cook. This can lead to a mishap during the cooking process, which can lead to a bigger kitchen disaster. If you read and understand the recipe before starting you are more likely to have a great new recipe in your personal cookbook.
28. Under Seasoning Pasta Water
The boiling water for your pasta needs to be seasoned. A great tip is for every pound of pasta you should have 1.5 tablespoons of salt to the water. Pasta soaks up salt and seasoning, so the more the better.
29. Soggy Salads
No enjoys a soggy salad. There are two main mistakes that can be done that will create a soggy salad. When you wash your lettuce, make sure to use a salad spinner or dry the lettuce with paper towels. Leaving the water on the lettuce can make the lettuce soggy from the get go. The second mistake is adding the dressing too early. You do not want to add the dressing until it is about to be served.
30. Dry Poultry
Poultry is an easy meat to dry out. When poultry is in the cooking process it loses fat at a higher rate than other. One way to combat losing all that fatty is to baste the poultry. Adding a bit of butter or oil to the chicken will add in some more needed fats to keep the poultry juicy.
31. Leftover Pizza
Are you not in the mood for cooking? Does that leftover pizza look pretty appetizing? If it does, do not throw that piece in the microwave. To keep the pizza as crispy as it was, throw that pizza slice in a skillet! The crust will stay crispy and the toppings will heat nicely.
32. Oily Peanut Butter
If you have every bought organic peanut butter, you will know all the oil settles at the top. This makes it a pain to evenly spread the peanut butter to your liking. If you keep your peanut butter jar upside this will keep the oil from always rising to the top of the jar.
33. Peeling Oranges
Peeling oranges can be a messy affair. A trick is to put an orange into the freezer about fifteen minutes before you plan on eating it. The orange will be much easier to peel and the juice won’t go everywhere either.
34. Cracked Eggs
There is nothing more annoying than a small piece of an egg shell falling into your recipe. No one wants to use their fingers to try and get the small egg shell out. So what is an easier way to get it out? Use the bigger egg shell to scoop it right on out.
35. Sliced Watermelon
Next time you are ready for a great summertime treat with watermelon slices, you can make your life easier by slicing the watermelon in a new technique. Instead of slicing the watermelon into triangular slices, slice the watermelon in half and cut them into long straight slices. It will be a lot easier and a less messy way of slicing.