1. Cooking everything on “high” because you want it done faster.
2. For the love of god stop mucking about with whatever it is you’re cooking. Unless it’s something you specifically need to be mixing or stirring constantly, leave it alone! You’ll never get proper color on things if they make more contact with your spatula than your pan.
3. Incorrectly storing ingredients – seriously, you can get ill if you let raw chichken juice drip on your salad in the fridge.
4. Don’t follow a recipe too religiously. If it doesn’t taste well to you, don’t leave it because you followed the recipe exactly.
5. Pasta should never, ever be rinsed for a warm dish. The starch in the water is what helps the sauce adhere to your pasta. The only time you should ever rinse your pasta is when you are going to use it in a cold dish like a pasta salad or when you are not going to use it immediately.
6. Remember, you can’t get some stuff back after you add it. Go slow with seasonings, and lightly. You can always add more, but you can’t take it back. Don’t let your food taste like ocean water.
7. Pouring water to try to extinguish the flame.
It’ll only make it WORSE.
Water is the last thing you pour on a hot pan with oil on it.
8. Chopping vegetables that are to remain raw on the same cutting board for raw meat. Technically, you should never cut vegetables and raw meat on the same board, but if I’m throwing in onions to cook with my chicken, I’m not getting another one out. If I’m chopping lettuce for a salad, then hell yeah get another board.
9. Pre-ground pepper grinds my gears. Get a grinder and a 4 pepper blend from mccormicks.
10. Don’t put food on a cold pan. You should let it heat up a bit and then put what you are cooking on it, but there are some exceptions for things like bacon where it’s fine.
11. Not seasoning ANYTHING. There is a reason pretty much every recipe including candy and ice cream includes salt you morons.
12. When you’re getting ready to cook a steak, let it sit out and come to room temperature before you start cooking it. That way it all cooks to the same temp
13. Don’t boil frozen vegetables in cold water. Vegetables are cooked differently depending on if they’re tinned, frozen or fresh.
14. Don’t press your burgers down as they’re cooking. You’re releasing all the juice. It’ll give you a dry ass burger.
15. Cutting open your meat right away rather than letting it rest. You loose all the juiciness.
16. Overcooking. Meat should be red, vegetables and potatoes should have a bite. Pasta should be al dente. Chicken obviously needs to be cooked well, but don’t get it too dry.
It’s not hard, but it takes a while to get it right.
17. No rinsing your rice before you cook it. Get rid of the dust and extra starch. Side note, you can season the rice water before you cook it, salt and pepper go a long way.
18. Substitute ingredients in a recipe. I’m not talking about using garlic powder because you don’t have fresh garlic (fresh still better but not my point), I mean the completely crazy, wacky shit people will change out. It’s nuts to see reviews of recipes online saying “Awful, this looked bad and tasted worse. Also I was out of flour so I used orange tang instead.” WTF People.
19. Poor sanitation. Use clean utensils at each step of the process and when changing to raw vs cooked food. Wash between steps if needed. Clean your cutting surface and counter after handling raw meat. Wash your hands before touching surfaces. Sanitize surfaces when you are done.
These are things you learn in a commercial kitchen and become second nature if you are conscientious, but home cooks who have never worked in food service sometimes have no concept of cross contamination.
20. You can approximate measurements if cooking. You can -not- approximate measurements if baking.
21. Never salt scrambled eggs before they go into the pan. That’s what makes them lose their color and turn grayish. Wait until they’ve started to set and then season.
22. The microwave. Anything you’re thinking about cooking in the microwave will taste 100 times better if you use any other cooking method available.
23. Salt to bring out the flavor, not to make it taste salty. Let the people eating it add the salt they want.
24. Label and date when you open stuff and keep it near the front. Keeping it near the front is most important as it helps encourage you to remember, “Ah yes, I have this kale that I should use” before you open something else.
25. Clean as you go. It minimizes clutter and mess and makes everything easier.
26. When it comes to shopping, if possible, try to buy key ingredients for your meals the day of, and cook 2-3 days worth. Chicken, for example spoils so fucking fast, especially if your grocer is a dipshit (happens a lot in low-income areas).
You save money by buying in bulk, and although cleanup/prep takes longer, it’s actually less work than trying to make something new every day.
27. Dunno if this has been posted yet but you shouldn’t rinse your chicken in the sink. Anything you’re worried about making you sick can splash off into the sink or on the counter or on you and just hang out there. Plus, most all of that will cook off anywho if you’re doing it right.
28. Not using enough butter.
29. Keep an eye on your food, never leave the kitchen, you never know what is going to happen.
Also from personal experience, make sure you turn off all the burners when your done. I got done eating and realized I left the pan with oil on a burner still, (luckily it was on low heat) I spent a half hour scrubbing the burnt oil off the pan.
30. Never do your prep work as you go. Do all the prep work up front and your cooking experience will be so much better.
31. YOU CAN’T COOK WITHOUT ONIONS JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE THEM.
32. Adding salt as a matter of course, or just because the recipe says to. Taste first, and only add if needed. If you’ve used stock or a stock cube in your dish you might not even need salt, they already have it.
33. If it has touched raw meat, it can’t go anywhere near cooked meat.
34. Having ketchup as a pasta sauce, instead of making one, which is super easy and million times tastier.
35. Not washing your hands after touching certain things, like eggs.
36. Medium rare chicken. Works for steaks, but not for hen.
37. Coming anywhere near my non-stick pan with metal. If you scratch my pan I will scratch your soul.
38. Don’t leave a knife wet, even ones claiming to be stainless will often rust if left wet.
39. Do not mix hot cooking oil and cool sink water! I saw a girl burn the hell out of herself because she didn’t listen to the Home Ec. teacher. She threw her hot oil in a sink with some cool water running. Boom! Sprayed hot oil all over her arm and neck. Let your oil cool folks.
40. Learned this the hard way: don’t throw fresh chili peppers into a hot pan unless you want to pepper spray the whole house!
41. Don’t grab something that is on the stove without a towel or some type of heat protection.
42. Don’t let your baking powder get clumpy. Tiny rocks of baking powder ruin anything you bake.
43. Cutting with a dull knife. Get yourself a sharpener, even if it’s a cheap one.
44. Never and I mean never panic if you start a fire on accident, you need to be calm enough to know if you have to smother it (oil or grease fires) or grab the extinguisher. Panicking can get your house burned down.