Chefs Are Sharing 40+ Common Cooking Mistakes We All Should Avoid

Cooking Tips From Chefs

Cooking is likely a part of your everyday routine. However, that doesn’t mean it comes easy or that everyone knows how to whip up a meal like a professional chef. You might even make some common mistakes you learned from other home cooks. These chefs have a few tips to help you avoid common mistakes in the kitchen.

Prep First

A big part of cooking is time management. You have to make sure all the ingredients get where they need to go at the right time. A great step to help with this is to get everything ready first. Of course, this includes making sure you have everything.

Prep First

However, you should also take the time to prep each of your ingredients accordingly, whether that means shredding your cheese in advance or measuring out your ingredients for quick and easy access.

Don’t Shy Away From New Things

It’s easy to get the hang of a recipe or two and stick to what you know. If you want to improve your skills, though, you’ll want to branch out. Experimenting in the kitchen is a great way to find new combinations you love.

Don’t Shy Away From New Things

As this chef points out, you might even learn that food you thought you hated was actually delicious if prepared properly! Worse comes to worst, it’ll at least help you better understand what you like together and what you don’t.

Don’t Get Too Complicated

You probably see ads for or videos of people trying out new and nifty kitchen gadgets from time to time. It can be intimidating, though. It’s easy to see these gadgets and think you absolutely need to have them to make certain dishes.

Don’t Get Too Complicated

The truth is you can get away with a few key essentials. Not to mention, if you opt for too many gadgets, it can lead to a cluttered kitchen.

Boil and Then Roast

Roasted potatoes are a staple that a lot of people love. Getting the right consistency can seem like quite the challenge, unfortunately. The goal is to keep the inside of the potato soft and fluffy but you still want the outside to have a crunch.

Boil and Then Roast

To achieve this, you’ll want to make sure to roast your potatoes before you roast them. This will help make sure they’re cooked through properly.

Start With a Recipe

While we have plenty of tips about cooking, some chefs came in with great tips for the next time you’re baking up something sweet. Particularly in baking, everything is calculated incredibly carefully.

Start With a Recipe

So, it’s a good idea to follow the recipe carefully and make sure to account carefully for any changes you make. It’ll go a long way to use higher quality, fresher ingredients as well!

It’s Okay to Use Frozen

If you go to a restaurant and pay for a meal, you probably expect them to use fresh ingredients. They can go a long way in a dish, too!

It’s Okay to Use Frozen

When you’re busy and cooking at home, though, there’s nothing wrong with using a frozen shortcut as long as you defrost the items properly. Plus, frozen ingredients are likely going to taste better than their canned counterparts.

Correcting a Myth

As you learn to cook, you’ll hear a lot of common tips. The only problem is that they aren’t all true.

Correcting a Myth

For instance, many people have heard if you want water to boil faster, you should put cold water on to boil. Well, the truth is, it doesn’t make a difference. It’s not a mistake perse but opting for cold water over hot water isn’t really going to change the time it takes to boil.

No Cold Pans!

One cold item that will affect your cooking is a cold pan for your ingredients. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like it matters since it’s going to heat up. In truth, the best results will happen if you heat your pan up before you start tossing ingredients in.

No Cold Pans!

This tip has to do with the even and effective heating. To make things even better, heating your pan up ahead of time might even help with sticking ingredients.

Have a Little Faith

Steak can pose particular problems for home chefs. After all, the difference between a good steak and a bad one can sometimes seem like a fine line. This chef has a simple tip — stop touching your steak!

Have a Little Faith

You have to give it time to cook properly. It can’t cook through the way you want it to if you keep moving it around rather than letting the heat source do its job.

The Perfect Cookies

If you’ve read a cookie recipe, you’re probably familiar with the term “bake until golden brown.” Even pulling them out the moment they reach this shade often ends in disappointment, though.

The Perfect Cookies

This is because you can’t forget that once they’re out of the oven, they’re still on a hot surface. That piping hot baking sheet will still continue to cook them even outside of the oven. Instead, try taking the cookies out when just the edges of the cookie take on that classic golden-brown hue, the rest will come after!

Let it Preheat

Speaking of ovens, preheating is another important step. The concept is similar to why you want to preheat your pan as well. When you put something in the oven, the way it cooks changes it.

Let it Preheat

Altering that can lead to differences in how a recipe looks, tastes, and even feels when you eat it. It takes a few extra minutes but preheating your oven is worth the extra time.

Don’t Overdo It

There’s nothing quite like a good sear on your meat. It’s a flavorful technique that many chefs — professional and home alike — strive for. However, just like any other cooking technique, it’s easy to overdo it.

Don’t Overdo It

If you do, you’ll likely find that when you bite into the meat, it’s dry. This is because you’re locking the juices in and if you lock them in too far, you’re going to lose them.

Don’t Forget About Acidity!

When you taste your dish and it’s missing something, do you reach for the salt? Sometimes, it can really help!

Don’t Forget About Acidity!

On the contrary, oversalting a dish is only going to ruin it and sometimes salt isn’t what you need. If you haven’t considered all that acidity can do to bring out the flavors in a dis, ingredients like citrus or vinegar are great for adding a touch of acidity.

Rely on a Meat Thermometer

Cooking meat correctly is crucial. Aside from taste, it’s important to cook most meats for long enough that it’s safe to consume them.

Rely on a Meat Thermometer

Of course, you want to achieve this without going too far and burning them either. If you want to make sure your meat is perfect, a meat thermometer is the most reliable tool to have on hand. It’s especially helpful when you’re first learning to prepare different meats.

On Cracking an Egg

Cracking an egg correctly is more than just satisfying. A clean crack will also keep eggshells from getting into your eggs or breaking the yolk.

On Cracking an Egg

To do this, you’ll actually want to ditch the method of cracking an egg open on the side of the bowl. Instead, you’ll want to crack your egg on something flat like a cutting board or countertop. This won’t push the shell inward as it breaks.

Changing the Grip

Earlier, we talked about the importance of a sharp knife not only for ease of use but for your safety as well. Another important part of food prep and safety is how you hold your knife.

Changing the Grip

The advice this person gives helps to make sure you don’t have your fingers where they don’t need to be, which would put them in a vulnerable position. Guiding the knife helps reduce the chance of a painful mistake, too.

No Potato Magic

As we touched on earlier, there are some common cooking tips you hear when you’re learning to cook that simply aren’t true. For example, the concept that potatoes will help suck the salt out of a dish is completely made up.

No Potato Magic

In reality, you’re just adding an ingredient to accommodate the additional spices. The only difference about potatoes is they don’t naturally add a lot of salt to a dish on their own.

Season Properly

Seasoning can really make or break a dish. With the right blend, you have a flavorful option when you create your lunch or dinner. When you’re frying something, you might, like many people, season the breading of the food.

Season Properly

Yet, this actually isn’t the best way to get the most flavor out of your fry. Instead, season your frying medium to help make sure the flavors really pop. Seasoning in the flour isn’t going to taste as strong or effective.

Go at Your Own Pace

If you’ve ever seen a professional chef at work on TV, you’ll probably notice a bit of flair. It’s pretty impressive to see something prepped in mere seconds. In your own kitchen, you probably won’t be able to pull off the same feats.

Go at Your Own Pace

Those skills come with years of practice, often in fast-paced environments. In your own home, it’s better to take your time and prep the ingredients correctly and safely, and speed up as it feels natural.

Timing Is Everything

Onions and garlic are both flavorful ingredients. Not to mention, you probably start to notice how aromatic they are shortly after they hit the pan.

Timing Is Everything

One rule of thumb to follow is to never put the two in the pan at the same time, though. Onions cook much slower than garlic does. As such, putting them in at the same time isn’t going to accomplish much but burning your garlic or undercooking your onions.

Find the Fundamentals

Learning a new dish can feel intimidating. Even when you directly search a recipe, you likely get thousands upon thousands of results in return. The key here is actually not to just choose one recipe to try.

Find the Fundamentals

Look around at your options, find a few that seem promising, and look at their common steps. This way, you can figure out the base recipe and experiment with add-ons here and there.

When Passing a Recipe Along

This tip is a little different. It’s particularly helpful if you want to give a recipe to a friend who isn’t as familiar with cooking.

When Passing a Recipe Along

If you say “season to taste” or similar advice, it only really works if someone already knows how different seasonings work well together. Even if you estimate the measurements in the recipe yourself, try to estimate measurements when you’re teaching the recipe to someone else.

Knives Don’t Go in Drawers

In an earlier tip, we discussed how important a sharp knife is both for your recipe and prep work as well as your safety. Once you’re done with those knives, make sure you don’t just put them in a drawer.

Knives Don’t Go in Drawers

If you do, it’s more likely to dull your knives faster, given that the blade is unprotected. An option like a magnetic strip or knife block offers a lot more protection to your blades.

Don’t Rush It

If you’re not a huge fan of cooking, it’s really tempting to rush along. That’s why many home cooks are tempted to crank up the heat.

Don’t Rush It

When it comes to cutting corners, increasing the heat and shortening the time your cook a dish isn’t a great approach. Low and slow isn’t all about the time it takes to cook something but how it cooks as well. Changing it can fundamentally change a dish.

Smell Your Tomatoes

Choosing the freshest ingredients is a great way to make sure you make a dish packed with flavor. This means knowing what signals quality. If you’re out picking tomatoes at the store, don’t stop at feeling around for soft spots.

Smell Your Tomatoes

Take a second to, quite literally, stop and smell the tomatoes. A strong scent, plus red or yellow skin, are great signs. Scentless tomatoes typically need more time to ripen before they’re ready.

The Perfect Hashbrowns

If you want to cook the perfect hashbrowns with your breakfast, it’s important to make sure you boil the potatoes first for the best results. Once your potatoes have boiled or even baked, you can focus on throwing them in a pan with oil.

The Perfect Hashbrowns

If you don’t leave them alone, though, they won’t brown. You need to leave them alone in the pan long enough to crisp up and get that golden-brown hue.

Learn a Salt Balance

Salt is a basic tool for a lot of dishes. Yet, it’s also really easy to mess up how much salt a recipe needs. Too little salt and you’ll find it drowns out the taste of anything else.

Learn a Salt Balance

Too little and you won’t get the effect that you want in your dish. As you practice in your kitchen, play around with your favorite recipes to get an idea of the perfect balance.

A Pinch of Salt

Speaking of salt, there are some places you don’t want to forget it either. This includes your pasta water. According to this person, that doesn’t mean putting the smallest pinch in either but rather taking a more liberal approach.

A Pinch of Salt

Believe it or not, this will go a long way in helping you add flavor to your pasta. Even further, it’ll help you keep the sauce on the pasta and help to thicken it up a bit.

But Not Oil!

When you’re making pasta, you might have heard there’s an even better option for your pasta water than salt — just add a splash of oil! In reality, this is something you really want to avoid.

But Not Oil!

If you add oil to your pasta water, it’s going to make your pasta sauce slip and slide right off your noodles. Not to mention, you want your pasta water starchy for the best results!

Simplify Things

Boiled eggs are an easier recipe that’s generally easy to pull off. As such, it’s a staple in a lot of homes around the world! On the other hand, peeling your boiled eggs isn’t always the easiest part of the process.

Simplify Things

To make it a little easier, right after you’re done cooking them, shock them in some icy water. Then, the shells should come off fairly easily. This way, you don’t have to worry about fighting the shells off the eggs and potentially damaging them.

Take Advantage of Plate Warmers

When you’re ready to serve a dish, you probably just grab a plate from the shelf. The only problem is that your plate is probably cold. If you put food on a cold plate, you’re likely to chill your food a bit as well.

Take Advantage of Plate Warmers

For better results, try putting your food on a warm plate. Luckily, a lot of ovens and dishwashers have settings you can take advantage of to warm your plate up in just a few minutes.

Overlooking Thighs

When you buy meat from an animal, you still have a few options. For instance, what part of the meat do you want? Many people jump straight towards leaner options like chicken breast.

Overlooking Thighs

Yet, trying to use them to replace thighs isn’t going to work. If you opt for thighs, you have a fattier cut of the meat and it’s going to be more flavorful when you’re done cooking your meal.

No Peeking!

Cooking anything in the oven is an exercise in patience. After all, most times you’re waiting for the item to finish cooking unless you’re working on another part of the dish.

No Peeking!

This waiting can make it tempting to sneak a peek at what’s going on in the oven. In truth, if you open the oven over and over again, you aren’t doing much but letting the heat out of the oven. As a bonus tip, this person suggested an oven thermometer as well.

On More Thorough Mixing

When you’re mixing ingredients for a recipe, you want to make sure that they’re fully incorporated into one another. To make sure you do this effectively, you’ll want to have a sifter around.

On More Thorough Mixing

Use it to sift any dry ingredients. This way, the material is finer and not clumping into masses, making it harder to incorporate it into your mixture. Plus, it doesn’t add too much prep time either!

Don’t Overcrowd the Pan

We’ve all made the same mistake from time to time. You grab a pan for your ingredients but it just isn’t big enough. The answer here actually isn’t to just make all the ingredients fit.

Don’t Overcrowd the Pan

It’s going to be harder for heat to distribute evenly and you won’t get the sear you’re hoping for. Another effect that’s bad for cooking and cleanup is that an overcrowded pan is more likely to stick.

Safety First

Remember, when you’re cooking, you have to worry about more than how the food tastes. You also want to incorporate safe practices in your cooking. This is especially important in correctly preparing meats like chicken.

Safety First

It’s crucial to thoroughly wash your hands and any items you’ve used with the raw chicken before touching everything or using those utensils again. On the same note, you shouldn’t use the same sponge you use for all of your dishes to clean items contaminated with raw chicken.

Put a Towel Down

Like many people cooking in their home, you might grab your cutting board, place it down on your counter, and start cutting. The only problem is that your counter is likely to let your cutting board slide around a bit.

Put a Towel Down

To prevent this, you can place a dish towel down before your cutting board. This will help keep everything in place while you use your knife for a safer and more efficient experience.

Give it Some Time!

A lot of people stir the pan a lot when they’re cooking something. This is usually in an effort to stop items from burning. If you over-stir your pot, though, you risk undercooking everything too.

Give it Some Time!

At the very least, you won’t get a sear on your food, which can make items like vegetables rather lackluster. The same goes for meat-like steak that you want a good sear on!

Wait Before Decorating

Baking the perfect cake is only part of the job for most bakers. After it’s baked, you still need to add icing to finish everything off. Here, patience is key once again.

Wait Before Decorating

If you try to frost a cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, you’ll only end up with unmanageable, melted icing. Instead, give your cake plenty of time to cool down so you can add the icing without the added heat changing its consistency.

Learn as You Go

Earlier, we discussed that when you’re starting out, you should make sure to follow the recipe. This is true when you’re trying something out and you aren’t too confident in your skills. Once you get your feet under you, don’t be afraid to experiment.

Learn as You Go

If you don’t like a certain type of seasoning, for example, you don’t necessarily have to include it when making dinner for yourself. Just remember that baking recipes are often much more exact in their science than seasoning a savory dish.

Stop Smashing Your Burgers

Burgers are a great lunch or dinner any time of the year. They’re especially a staple when grilling season rolls around. No matter how you make your burgers, there’s one step you’ll want to avoid — don’t smash your burgers with your spatula!

Stop Smashing Your Burgers

When you do this, you’re actually squeezing out the moisture in the meat, leaving you with a much drier burger by the time you take it off the grill.

No Hand Mixers in the Potatoes

This user had a tip for a job that can seem rather labor-intensive if you don’t follow the right steps — making mashed potatoes. To start, make sure you boil your potatoes first.

No Hand Mixers in the Potatoes

When they’re soft enough to mash, use a potato masher or a fork. While it might seem like a time-saver, using a tool like a hand mixer is actually likely to give you thick, sticky mashed potatoes rather than light and fluffy ones.

Keep on Tasting

While you’re cooking, the goal is to end with a delicious meal. You’re heavily catering to your sense of taste, to put it simply. So, why wouldn’t you use that sense while you’re cooking?

Keep on Tasting

Obviously, you don’t want to taste any raw or unsafe ingredients but, when it’s possible, there’s no better way to tell if something tastes the way you want than to just try it out as you go. This way, you’ll know for sure if it needs changes.

Stay Tidy!

Last but not least, it’s a really common mistake to leave cleanup until you’re done cooking. This can really clutter your workspace and impede your progress. This doesn’t mean you have to do every dish the minute that you use it.

Stay Tidy!

Rather, it just means to keep your workspace clear. Once you’re done with a dish, put it in the sink so it’s out of the way. If you have trash, toss it. This way, you can keep our workspace focused on your present work.

Sharpen Your Knives

Knives are essential for most recipes. As such, having a good set on hand is a great way to prepare for cooking. On top of that, you should make sure your knives are sharp before you use them.

Sharpen Your Knives

For one, they’ll cut through materials much easier, simplifying your prep work. Sharp knives are also less likely to lead you to injury as well since you don’t have to put as much force behind them when you cut something.