Kitchen 101: Basic Cooking Mistakes You Might Be Making

Kitchen 101: Basic Cooking Mistakes You Might Be Making Vegetable steamer on a gas hob.

Nobody was ever born all-knowing and all-talented in the kitchen. We all have to start somewhere with the skills and the culinary experience. So maybe you are making some of these basic cooking mistakes. But don’t worry, knowing them is a step to doing way better in the future!

A lot of the seemingly simple instructions in recipes on the internet are not, in fact, for beginners, because they don’t mention some of the steps you have to take in order to get it right in the kitchen. So, if you’ve just started being on your own in front of the stove, you might be making some basic cooking mistakes. We’re here to help you with that!

11 basic cooking mistakes you might be making

1. You don’t clean your ingredients properly

Your produce has an astonishing amount of dirt and that’s why you have to be pretty careful when you wash it. Two quick rinses aren’t enough. Just look out for the water you use and make sure that after you wash it the water is clear.

Also, if you plan on cooking rice, rinse that pretty thoroughly as well. That is how you get rid of part of the starch, so the taste will be much better.

2. Don’t leave the pit in the guacamole

If you leave guacamole to interact with oxygen in the air, the enzyme in it will transform the guacamole and that leads to oxidation. So to prevent the guacamole from darkening, a lot of people suggest leaving the pit in the bowl, over the sauce. But that accomplishes next to nothing because only the tiny patches of guacamole covered by the pit will not oxidize.

So as long as you don’t have a bunch of extra pits to cover your bowl with, this tip is kind of useless. The best way to keep your guacamole fresh is to keep it in an air-tight container and add a little lime juice to it. Do you want more guacamole tips and possible mistakes? Check this out.

Kitchen 101: Basic Cooking Mistakes You Might Be Making

One avocado pit won’t protect your fruit or guacamole from oxidation.

3. You try to cook garlic and onions at the same time

If you want to sautee onions with garlic, then remember that garlic gets cooked way faster than an onion. So add the onion to the skillet first, and when it’s getting soft, throw in the garlic. That’s how you preserve the perfect flavor on both of them.

4. You are afraid of spices

Cooking is not just about getting the temperature on the meat right or turning veggies from raw to fried. You also have to flavor your dishes and you could use the help of herbs and spices. Don’t be afraid to experiment with parsley, rosemary, thyme, dill, or all the other tens of options out there.

There are very good condiment mixes out there or you can make your own. Try to learn how to tell them apart. Put some on the tip of your tongue and try to imagine what it could go with.

5. You season near the end

Just like with spices, salt and pepper make food taste better. But don’t add them at the end of the cooking process.

Sprinkle them in the dish throughout. That’s how the flavors get stronger, deeper, and tastier. And basically, if you’re going to cook for yourself, might as well start to think a little bit about your taste buds. So when we say in a recipe: add salt and pepper to taste, really try your food during different stages of preparation and seasoning if you feel you need it.

6. Fried bacon is better in the oven

As a huge lover of bacon, I’ve long experimented with cooking it the best possible way. And the pan is not good enough, plus you have to keep an eye on it constantly. That’s how you get grease stains on your walls.

So put your slices of bacon on an oven tray coated in tin foil. It will cook to perfection. It will be both crunchy and tasty, with no burns. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/204 degrees C, and cook the bacon for 15-20 minutes, to your preferred crunch level. If you don’t have an oven, here’s an excellent way to cook bacon.

Kitchen 101: Basic Cooking Mistakes You Might Be Making

Fried bacon probably turns out the tastiest when you make it in the oven.

7. You don’t follow the recipe

Sometimes, improving in the kitchen is good. I call it “food jazz” and sometimes I like to let the ingredients take me to a surprising result on the heat of the stove. But if you are a beginner, it’s great to first learn exactly how this cooking thing works, how certain foods taste when prepared in certain ways. A lot of basic cooking mistakes come from lack of experience.

That’s why it’s good to follow recipes at first, especially when baking and pretty rigid proportions are involved. Also, if you want to make 14 cupcakes but the recipe is for 7 cupcakes, don’t forget to double the quantity of every ingredient. Or the result will never work out.

And if you pick a recipe on the internet, check out the comments and see how other people did when cooking it, if they have any extra tips and if it was as good as advertised.

8. You’re not gentle with your ground meat

If you’re making meatballs, meatloaf, or hamburger patties, don’t handle the meat too much. Just try to be gentle with it. Because otherwise, you might make the meat tougher, and so its texture will be ruined, even after you cook it.

Don’t be obsessed with the beauty of the patty. If you try to make it too neat, you will have a tougher and drier end result. So make the meatballs or patties rougher and trust that after cooked, the result will be juicier and more tender.

9.You cook the omelet fillings with the eggs

When you cook fillings for omelets, they usually eliminate water in the pan or skillet. That could make your omelet runny and a bit disgusting. So it’s a way better idea to cook them, whether they’re mushrooms, bell peppers, even sausages, in another skillet first and then add them to the just-started-cooking eggs.

One more of the basic cooking mistakes for omelets? Don’t use too much of the filling. Just two tablespoons or the omelet will break when you fold it.

Kitchen 101: Basic Cooking Mistakes You Might Be Making

The trick to the perfect omelet lies in knowing how to work with your fillings.

10. You put oil in pasta water

Maybe you’ve heard or read somewhere that putting oil in the water you boil pasta in has some sort of benefits. Well, not only it is a myth and it has no benefit at all, but it actually makes your pasta worse. It makes it more slippery, so the sauce doesn’t cling to it.

To avoid this, one of the basic cooking mistakes, add a lot of salt to the boiling water, because that is about the only time you can season your pasta.

11. You boil Brussels sprouts

That is a surefire way to get a dish that looks mushy, smells and tastes bad. To get a tasty good-looking dish which stimulates your appetite, just sauté the sprouts. Cut them in half, add them to a skillet with heated olive oil and some garlic.

And you will definitely benefit more from their healthy cruciferous resources if you don’t boil all the nutrients out of them. They’re pretty effective against cancer, you know.

I’m a pop culture nerd who thinks too much about fried bacon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and life, the Universe and everything. I love food and sometimes you can see that on my hips, but I don't care that much about that.
What I do care more about is trying to eat healthier, even though I admit that I like to indulge in my food fantasies. I’m addicted to puns, so forgive me for that when you read my articles. I now know too much about nutrition to be fun to hang out with. So long and thanks for all the fish-based omega-3 fatty acids.

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