Anyone who’s ever set foot in a kitchen can tell you that cooking is a learning process. Whether you effortlessly whip up Michelin-worthy plates in no time or, on the contrary, hesitantly swirl around and manage to burn everything you come in contact with, it’s a skill that takes time to master. But it’s oh-so-rewarding when you prepare a mouth-watering dish that makes everyone squeal in excitement. And while you need proper practice and techniques to do it well, you can always benefit from the handy little tricks of others.
If you want to up your culinary game right away, this thread posted on the ‘Cooking’ subreddit has got you covered. “What is the single greatest cooking tip you ever got?” asked Redditor profligateclarity and invited hundreds of cooking enthusiasts to share their helpful advice.
People immediately typed out the things that changed and improved the way they approach food. We’ve gone through the thread and hand-picked some of the best responses to help you impress everyone at your next dinner party. So scroll down for some delicious nuggets of wisdom and upvote the ones you agree with most. Keep reading to also find an in-depth interview with food and travel blogger June d’Arville. Be sure to let us know which kitchen tips and tricks you find most useful in the comments, we’d love to hear them!
Gather all your ingredients before you begin. Read all the directions before you begin.
Don’t begin until you know what you’re doing.
Advice from my grandmother
Season, season, season.
I am gobsmacked at how people will sometimes proudly proclaim to me that they cook with no salt. Aah, that’s why your food tastes like cardboard.
Smash the garlic. It makes peeling and cuting it way easier/faster. Plus you get to smash the garlic. 10/10
Whether it’s the proper way to prepare your ingredients or genius fried mushroom and baking tricks, the Redditor’s question sparked an informative discussion that almost serves as a crash course in culinary knowledge. After all, everyone has a different relationship with cooking and brings their own lifetime of experiences and perspectives into the picture. But no matter how competent in the kitchen you may feel, there are always benefits to learning something new. For example, the Redditor kicked off the thread by revealing they always overcook everything — steak, chicken, eggs, etc. — to the max.
Since they enjoy creating delicious meals, they decided to look for a way to fix this mistake and boost their skills along the way. They turned to the culinary master Gordon Ramsay who explained in a video that food still continues to cook, even off the heat. “Mind was blown,” the user wrote. “I now turn the flame off, flip it over, and let the food sit in the pan for a few minutes, no flame. Total game changer in terms of not overcooking everything.”
It’s a baking tip:
If you’re going to be cutting butter into some kind of pastry (scones, pie crust, etc) **freeze the stick of butter and grate it**. It makes everything SO much easier. I’ll never ever go back to the older method of cubing the butter and then endlessly trying to cut it into smaller pieces etc. Plus doing that takes so long half the butter melts. Using the grated butter means I only have to spend about a minute mixing everything together so it’s much easier to avoid overworking the dough. Puffy scones, flaky crusts.
Clean as you go. Nothing worse than cooking a lovely meal and having a giant sink of dishes w waiting for you. I make sure I have an empty dishwasher before I start cooking and then every dish I dirty while cooking goes straight into the dishwasher. Once we are done eating the only plates to clean are the ones we ate off and any pots that need a scrub. It takes so much pressure off to clean as you go.
Cooking you can pretty much do with your heart, but baking recipes are architectural plans and every ingredient is a load bearing structure. You can make changes, but you better know what you are doing
To learn more about the joys of cooking and the ups and downs that inevitably arise in this journey, we reached out to Belgian food and travel blogger June d’Arville. Feeling a burning passion for everything kitchen-related ever since she was a child, June co-runs a blog with her husband called Luc & June that’s filled with pictures of delicious-looking food, fascinating stories, and advice on interesting travel destinations around the world.
As long as June can remember, she has always been interested in food and flavor combinations. So we were curious to hear her take on whether passion for cooking is something we’re born with, or is it a life-long process we cultivate throughout the years. “We are all born without knowing what taste or flavor is,” she told Bored Panda. “You grow up trying out several foods along the way, especially when you are a small kid. Some you like, some you don’t like at all.”
Use freshly grind pepper and not the powder. It’s true in general that freshly grind spices taste better (and/or smell better) but for pepper it is a difference between night and day.
The thing I learned it, a good sharp kitchen knife makes cooking more fun and even if you think your knife is sharp enough it probably isnt. Made all the difference for me.
The food blogger pointed out that parents can be very instrumental in raising a child in a world of flavors and different foods. However, she added that not everyone gets that head start when it comes to food and cooking. “But even then, you can always change that if you are interested, excited and eager enough to learn more when you grow older.”
READ THE COMMENTS of the recipe if you find it online. Of course you have to sift through the people who think half n half is spicy, buuuut there’s usually a lot of good feedback.
Sometimes when a dish is missing something, it’s not more salt but something acidic like lemon juice. Vinegar can also add a lot
Never cook something for the first time for an event. Try that new recipe out ahead of time.
“I grew up in a vegetarian family. Once I turned 18 and left the house, I didn’t have a clue how to cook a steak, or how a chicken breast was cooked. But I was eager to learn and to start exploring new flavors and cooking skills,” she said. Improving your culinary skills can open doors to brand new experiences, and expanding your palette is always exciting. Just think about the colorful cuisines of other cultures you haven’t tried yet, and the exciting adventures awaiting with every meal you decide to test out.
Alton Brown said it best when it comes to scrambled eggs (and the same is 100% true for bacon); if it looks cooked in the pan, it will be over cooked on the plate. That was a huge one for me.
If you want the best fried mushrooms, fry them without any butter or oil.
There is so much liquid in mushrooms, that the won’t burn for quite some time. Frying them like that, makes them sort of hyper concentrated. Once all the water has cooked of, add butter. They will suck up all that flavor.
People sometimes say that the beauty of cooking at home often lies in the improvisation and experimentation in the kitchen. But if you’re a novice cook who feels overwhelmed by myriads of rules and techniques, you may be hesitant to go all adventurous with your meals. If you describe your cooking skills as “fine” at best but feel this sizzling desire to elevate your culinary know-how, June has a few pieces of advice to help you out.
According to her, even the smallest tweaks and changes can make a positive impact on your cooking. For example, “Getting organized and prepping your ingredients before you start cooking is essential. Timing as well, know how long it takes to cook each component of your meal.”
“Seasoning is another part of cooking that is underestimated,” she continued. “You can make a meal so much more exciting by adding a touch of salt or spices and fresh herbs. It lights up food, makes it vibrant and so much more enjoyable.”
I grew up in Southern California and have owned a catering business. My greatest failure in the kitchen was always that I simply could NOT make corn tortillas. They were awful no matter what I tried. Then I found an article online that mentioned the masa being the consistency of play-doh. 80’s kid lightbulb went off in my brain, and now I make tortillas better than my Mexican mother in law.
Just because you chopped all those onions (garlic, herbs, etc.), doesn’t mean they all have to go into the dish.
If you ever feel discouraged or inept in the kitchen, “Don’t give up”, June said. “See cooking as a learning curve, not a job that you have to get right every single day. Perhaps it is best to focus on one cooking skill only that you want to improve, such as baking, making fresh pasta, or cooking Thai dishes. Read about it, watch cooking videos, write down what you do, and try again to see how you improve,” she advised.
Don’t whisk eggs in a circle, whisk them in a back and forth motion. I can still hear chef saying “You’re chasing the eggs around the bowl!” when we did it wrong.
Use a scale to measure things. It’s even easier if you set the scale to grams, not ounces. Much easier to scale a recipe up and down that way.
I was surprised that I had to teach my husband the stove had settings other than high, and things WILL cook on lower settings !
An art form, a skill, a science, a basic tool for human survival — whatever you want to call it — cooking is an important part of our lives that keeps us going and brings us together. Even if you’ve never picked up a skillet or a whisk, improving your culinary skills can significantly improve your quality of life. June added that even the best chefs, who dedicated years of training to master the skill, still make mistakes. So don’t feel discouraged when it comes to cooking because it takes time and practice, and the more you do it, the easier it will get.
And as June told us, the culinary world keeps changing all the time. “New cooking techniques come up, and you can often find new ingredients at your local supermarket or farmers market. It is a never-ending story. You decide whether these new influences or flavors would really up your culinary game,” she concluded.
Oven controls are wildly inaccurate. Get an oven thermometer and figure out how hot it really gets.
I don’t think this is the single greatest tip, but it’s something I’ve only been doing for a few years and have no idea why I didn’t start earlier – I add notes to my recipes saying *exactly* which bowls and pans I use. I just made some Pots de Creme and discovered I didn’t have bowl notes. Then discovered that I pulled too small a bowl – lots of splashing. Now I’ll never do that again – even if I don’t make it for another year!
Taste as you go, even when for instance making meatballs: season them and cook a tiny simple then adjust if needed.
A falling knife has no handle.
Something that is hot enough to give you 3rd degree burns looks the same as it would at room temperature.
If you have to walk with a knife, do not change directions in the stabby direction (counterclockwise for right handed people).
Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
If it’s bland, add something fermented! A spoonful of miso will add so much depth and flavor to even a western style stew, and alcohol can save a sauce.
1) Clean as you go.
2) If you’re breading anything, always keep one hand dry at all times.
3) Always lay a protein away from you in a pan to prevent any splash back on you.
4) Wear gloves when you handle hot peppers. I don’t care how high your tolerance is for spice, you do NOT want to touch your eyes later or, god forbid, go to bed with your partner later and remember when it’s too late “oh yeah, I chopped a bunch of Serranos earlier.”
When I was 19, the grandmother of a friend taught me that it’s easier to brown flour without any fat, just all by itself in the pan.
Brown the flour, let it cool, put it in a jar, add your liquid, cap and shake the hell out of it. Return to the pan, bring up to temp, THEN add your butter.
Life changing! I really used to struggle with fat coated raw flour trying to brown it.
Brown your ground beef like you’re frying a giant burger. Get it nice and charred on both sides and only THEN break up the meat.
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