Cooking can seem intimidating sometimes. While we love to cook, we’ve probably all had an experience were we tried a new recipe, and it didn’t turn out the way we expected. For some people, the recipe fail became even worse and resulted in an extreme cooking fail like a kitchen fire. Hopefully that has never happened to you!  Other times, cooking terms can seem foreign and confusing.

Cooking does not need to be complicated. There are very easy recipes that only take a few items yet taste amazing if you know a few tricks, and by tricks we mean that you know what not to do. Many home chefs who have been cooking for years and years probably still don’t know all of these secrets to cooking success. Even recipes that you think are perfect might be improved with a few tweaks.

Scroll down learn how to avoid 17 common cooking mistakes. Follow this advice to easily improve the taste and texture of the food you cook.

  1. Follow the Directions for Butter

    graham cracker chocolate chip cookies 1

    Some recipes call for melted butter. Some recipes call for cold butter. Some recipes call for room temp butter. If your butter needs to be soft but not melted, please refrain from sticking it in the microwave. It’s important to read a recipe ahead of time so that you’ll be more likely to have time to set the butter on the counter to come to room temperature if that’s what you’re supposed to do. Butter that’s too soft in a recipe like chocolate chip cookies will make the finished product too dense. Room temp butter is the secret to fluffy baked goods.

  2. Grate Butter Instead of Cubing It

    If your recipe calls for cold butter, instead of cutting it in cubes, use a grater. The grated butter will mix in easier and improve the texture of whatever you’re making (biscuits, for example).

  3. Rinse Rice Before Cooking It

    You probably already know to rinse potatoes before cooking them. This helps remove some of the starch and gives foods like mashed potatoes and potato soup a better texture. You should also rinse your rice for the same reason.

  4. Seasoning Is Your Friend

    If your food tastes bland, that’s probably because you’re under seasoning it. A sprinkle of salt can go a long way, but a great spice mix (you can pick one up at the grocery store or make your own custom blend) is the real secret to giving food amazing flavor.

  5. Season Food While Cooking It

    As a follow up to the last point, mix your seasonings into your food while you’re cooking not just when it’s done. Many recipes include precise measurements for seasonings, but if you’re not sure, you can always add a little bit, taste it, and add more to your liking. Adding seasoning while cooking will infuse the food with flavor.

  6. Taste as You Go

    little girl tasting tomato while her parents cooking in kitchen at home

    We eluded to this in the last point, but it’s important enough to deserve it’s own call out. You don’t need to wait until you serve your meal before you taste it. Tasting it as you go will help you know whether or not you need to add more of anything before it’s too late.

  7. Follow a Recipe Exactly

    If you decide to try a new recipe, commit to making the recipe exactly as written. Try to avoid substitutions or skipping ingredients. It will not turn out as intended unless you prepare it as written. Before starting to make the recipe, check your refrigerator and pantry to make sure you have all the necessary items.

  8. Read the Reviews for Recipes You Find Online

    Reviews can be a great way to know if the recipe really tastes as good as it looks and how hard the recipe is to make. Sometimes it’s also a great way to learn tips and tricks that work well for that particular recipe.

  9. Be Careful When Doubling Recipes

    If you have a big family or if you really love a particular dish, you might want to double the recipe from time to time. In theory, this works perfectly well, but in reality, mistakes are easy to make. It’s super easy to forget to double an item in the recipe or to miscalculate how much of something to add. Be extra cautious to double every single ingredient in the recipe.

  10. Read the Recipe Before You Start Cooking

    Reading a recipe before you start cooking is important for several reasons. We’ve already mentioned that it’s important so you can make sure you have all the necessary ingredients, but it’s also important so you know what steps to take. Do you need to preheat the oven before you get started? Do you need to wash your frying pan? Do you need to find your grater? Do you need to set the butter on the counter? Having all of your cooking tools ready ahead of time and having all of your ingredients ready will help you keep the recipe prep moving so that nothing cooks for too long and so you have the food ready when you need it. Be sure to plan ahead for cooking times. If dinner is at 6pm, you need to know what time to start cooking. A word of caution about the prep time estimate on recipes. We often find that it takes us a little bit longer than suggested the first time we make a new recipe. You might want to give yourself an extra few minutes especially if you need to have the food ready at a specific time.

  11. Heat Your Pan Before Cooking

    In order to get the perfect crust on your meat and perfectly sautéd vegetables, you need to start with a pan that’s sizzling hot.

  12. Let Meat Get to Room Temperature

    Herb and Garlic Prime Rib RoastTipHero

    Before cooking meat, you need to let it get to room temperature. About 15 to 30 minutes is enough for most meat. Letting the meat get to room temperature will help it cook more evenly and prevent the outside from being overcooked while the inside is still almost raw.

  13. Meat Needs to Rest

    Steaks in Cast IronTipHero

    We know, it’s super tempting to cut into that juicy steak or roast right after you finish cooking it, but waiting is worth it. The meat will be juicier and have more flavor if you let it rest before cutting it. Ideally, you want to wait until the internal temperature of your meat reaches 120°F before you cut it. A meat thermometer is your friend.

  14. Slice Meat Against the Grain

    Cutting Steak for Cheesesteak BitesTipHero

    How you cut meat is super important. Cutting it against the grain will make more tender.

  15. Don’t Handle Ground Meat Too Much

    There are many great recipes that require ground meat. Hamburgers, meatloaf, and meatballs are all wonderful. You can improve the flavor and texture of food that uses ground beef by simply handling it as little as possible. Don’t overwork it. You’ll taste the difference.

  16. Cooking Pasta

    pasta

    First, you boil the water. Then, you add the pasta. Seems simple enough, but we skipped a step. It is very important to add salt to your pasta water so that it flavors the pasta while it is cooking. Some people also think it is necessary to add oil to pasta water, but that is not true. That’s just a good way to waste oil.

  17. Measuring Ingredients

    Especially when you’re baking (which is basically science), make sure you measure out the exact ingredients. Too much baking soda or flour, for example, makes a big difference in the finished food. Don’t pack down your ingredients unless the recipe tells you too. Just lightly spoon the ingredients into your measuring cups and level them off at the top.