Eating is loads of fun, but in order to do that, you’ve got to get off the couch and cook (let’s pretend that ordering pizza isn’t an option). The good news is that cooking can be incredibly enjoyable and it will put your creativity and dexterity to the test. The bad news is, watching Gordon Ramsay shout at amateur cooks for the 100th time on YouTube won’t make you a brilliant chef if you don’t hone your skills like a cuisine samurai.

Luckily, the internet is full of helpful professionals. These cooks are sharing some of their wisdom with amateurs and helping them avoid the most basic, common mistakes that some of us are guilty of. Personally, I overcrowd the pan. No wonder cooking’s harder than it should be.

Bored Panda has collected some of the best bits of cooking advice to improve your (and our) food making skills, so scroll on down and upvote your fave tips. Remember to share your own cooking advice in the comments, Pandas!

#1

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes Clean as you cook. Most dishes have some downtime while cooking them, use that time to clean up the mess you made.

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Ellen Ranks
Community Member
1 month ago

I do this every time. It is such a joy to have a clear countertop to fill your plates on as opposed to having to move dirty stuff around to even be able to put a plate on there. My kitchen is very small.

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#2

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes The most dangerous piece of equipment in a kitchen is a dull knife.

notmy2ndacct , Jaap Driest Report

Steve Barnett
Community Member
1 month ago

Get yourself a good whetstone. I use a dual whetstone, one side 2000 the other 6000. The 2000 side is used for when your knife is exceptionally dull and the 6000 (which is finer) I use for refining.

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#3

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes Taste as you cook. Continually adjust seasoning (salt level) as needed. Acidity is also a very overlooked aspect of seasoning. Tons of dishes light up with a little lemon juice or vinegar.

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Kubu
Community Member
1 month ago

This tip for me should be "don't eat a half of what you cook while cooking"

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Some people who are new to cooking might not realize that they can add salt to boiling pasta water instead of sprinkling it over it when it’s cooked. Pro-tip: this works with everything you boil. Rice—check. Broccoli—check. Buckwheat—check.

If you end up over-salting things, don’t worry—be happy (and add more water or decide that everything’s messed up and chuck a bucketload of potatoes and other veggies inside to make a really weird soup). Meanwhile, if you oversalt a soup or a sauce that you’re making, you can always chop up and add more ingredients to balance out the flavors.

#4

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes SLOW THE F**K DOWN! Just because you saw Gordon Ramsay chopping s**t at a thousand miles a minute on a youtube video doesn't mean that you can do that. Cut first, go slow, and speed will get there.

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wandile dludlu
Community Member
1 month ago

Gordon always says, get the technique right, speed will follow.

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#5

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes Pastry cook here, on the sweet side of things, my biggest piece of advice is to follow the recipe exactly if you don't know exactly what you're doing. Baking is basically science and if you don't calculate substitutions right, it's never going to come out right. Also make sure you have good ingredients. That box of baking soda from 5 years ago is not going to work that well anymore.

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Mimi777
Community Member
1 month ago

I’m a horrible cook so I always have to follow the recipe exactly. I have no idea what I’m doing sometimes.

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#6

Not a professional chef, but if you've put enough salt in your dish and feel that putting anymore would over-season it, but you still feel it's lacking in taste, add some sort of acid.

Lemon juice/zest, lime juice/zest, balsamic/red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar - you'll be surprised at how much this lifts the dish!

When I was getting interested in cooking, I would skip the acid completely because I honestly couldn't be bothered. I would always chuckle and joke at how much lemon/lime/vinegar chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Alton Brown put in their cooking.

Then I tried it once.

Now, every dish I make has some sort of acidity in it because it's just not the same without!

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Mimi777
Community Member
1 month ago

I needed to hear this! Thank you stranger.

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The Everygirl suggests that when chopping onions, you should keep the root intact to make all the slicing and dicing easier.

Personally, I chop off both ends of the onion and slice it in half to make it easier to peel. I usually end up crying because a) onions make me cry; and b) I realize that I’ve once again forgotten to chill my onions which prevents a) from happening in the first place.

#7

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes My pro chef and former chemist friend gave me an earful for putting my tomatoes in the fridge.

He explained how the cold temp. changes the chemical composition and makes them taste s***tier.

I no longer put my tomatoes in the fridge and they are tastier.

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wandile dludlu
Community Member
1 month ago

Some of us can't afford to buy fresh all the time, we sometimes need to buy in bulk and that means keeping things in the fridge to make them last longer and not go bad

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#8

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes One really common mistake people make is putting food on a cold pan. You should let the pan heat up a bit before you put anything on it.

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Monday
Community Member
1 month ago

Wait...who puts food on a cold pan?

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#9

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes Now, this one is a weird one, but everyone is guilty of it, even some professional chefs. Stirring. Everyone has been stirring stuff wrong for generations. If you have a large pot of something like stew, soup, or sauce, you probably stir in a circular motion, usually clockwise or counter-clockwise, right? Perhaps along the edge of the pot, or in a spiral, either going inward or outward?

Well, you're doing it wrong. When stirring, do in one of two manners: First, in small circles, working from the outside and going inward. Similar to how you might draw a cloud or petals on a flower. Or, stir in a figure-8 motion. This is especially useful if stirring in an oval or square-shaped container. Also, stir upwards. How? Angle your spoon so that basically, you're bringing the part of the food that's closest to the heat source, up to the surface, and vice versa. This allows for a quicker and more even heat distribution. Also helps to prevent burning.

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What's In Your Head?
Community Member
1 month ago

HA! I actually do this! I am a shitty cook, so I'm glad I've at least always done this right. :-D

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Meanwhile, Insider suggests that you keep a close eye on the shelf life of the ingredients you use for cooking. From produce to spices, you want everything to be as fresh as possible. Don’t use black pepper that expired 5 years ago just because you don’t want to put on your anti-corona gear and go to the shop. Fresh ingredients make all the difference (and a pandemic is no excuse to eat poorly)!

Oh, and if you want to feel like a Michelin star chef (and know what to avoid doing), check out Bored Panda’s earlier posts about quarantine baking fails here, as well as hilarious cooking fails here and here. Isn’t it great how skilled we suddenly feel?

#10

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes If the recipe says an ingredient is supposed to be room temperature, make sure it’s room temperature! Eggs are particularly important for this rule — room temperature egg yolks break more easily and incorporate better into whatever you’re mixing. And for something like cheesecake, or anything else with high fat content, cold eggs can actually harden the fat and make your mixture lumpy.

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Pamela24
Community Member
1 month ago

A hack - put your eggs in warm water for a couple of minutes in case you forgot and want to fasten up the process.

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#11

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes Pressing burgers to make them cook faster. Don't you ever do that again.

Also, sharpen your knives. It makes them safer and way less frustrating to use.

Seriously though don't you ever press that f***ing burger again you bastard.

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Cathelijne van Weelden
Community Member
1 month ago

Why?

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#12

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes You take preheating the oven as a suggestion rather than a requirement. it can really affect the texture and appearance, as well as the timings. not preheating can lead to flat/hard cookies and dense/unevenly cooked cakes, among other things.

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Mimi777
Community Member
1 month ago

I’ve learned this the hard way.

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#13

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes If you don't have a good feel for how done meat should be, use a thermometer. Ignore any recipe that gives precise cooking times, because they're rarely going to be correct.

Bran_Solo , wikipedia Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
1 month ago

I found this out the other night. I have tried cooking Scotch fillets a few times following various methods and times but I either under cook it or over cook it. Well I cooked Scotch fillets on Monday following another technique that uses meat temperature and omg the steak was cooked perfectly for us. I have now bookmarked that site on my laptop for future reference.

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#14

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes You throw all your ingredients together at once and mix them without thinking about their order. If you see butter (or any fat) and sugar listed first in a recipe, it’s a creaming method — which means you mix together the fat and sugar first, until it’s light and kind of airy. When you add the eggs, add them one by one to make sure they mix in well and so that your batter keeps its light texture.

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Misterscooter
Community Member
1 month ago

Read the recipe through completely before starting, too. This will help you understand the order and what's coming next. And maybe why it is in that order.

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#15

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes Using too much water when making top ramen

Source : Single Male

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Johnny
Community Member
1 month ago

Finally, a gourmet cooking tip I can actually use!

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#16

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes After you mix your cookie dough, REFRIGERATE IT so that the fat hardens and doesn't melt like cookie brittle or brownie bark — unless you like it that way!

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Beeps
Community Member
1 month ago

Thanks for the explanation. I already knew to do this, but didn’t know why it is important.

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#17

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes Too much or too little salt. Salt is one of the most magical ingredient known to mankind. It can make all the ingredients of the dish shine like stars. It can also f**k up all your hard work by overpowering the other ingredients. Cooking, like every other thing in the world, is about balance. It is the art of balancing flavors that compliment each other

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Chich
Community Member
1 month ago

Why do some people use so much salt? Do they not have any taste buds left? I have sent food back at restaurants because all I could taste was salt.

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#18

Hello, I am the chef at a 5 diamond hotel in San Francisco. The biggest thing to learn when just starting to cook, is mise en place. "Everything in its place." This is ultimately to get food timings correct and precise, and for safety and control reasons. The second biggest thing to learn in the kitchen is safety. I once had a cook with 25 years experience get complacent and splashed hot oil on his face. Now we call him twoface. Cooking is a creative release when done outside of a professional kitchen, so take your time and don't hurt yourself. The third biggest thing to learn, and I tell all my cooks this everyday, is taste, season, taste. Taste your food, season it, and taste it again. Most people (whether they believe it or not) have the same taste thresholds, so what tastes good for you will taste good for someone else. Last thing I can add if you want to improve your cooking, is to cook more! Cook everyday, because practice makes perfect. Eat. Eat everywhere and anything.

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Misterscooter
Community Member
1 month ago

Be adventurous. And try to get your kids to be adventurous with food, too. I know, that last one can be tough.

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#19

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes Don't overcrowd the pan

[deleted] , Marco Verch Professional Report

Ellen Ranks
Community Member
1 month ago

This is a presentation of cooked foods in a pan. No pan EVER looks like this while you're cooking.

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#20

A recipe is just a suggestion, not the law. If a recipe calls for garlic, and you don't much care for garlic, leave it out. Or, reduce the amount.

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Petra Schaap
Community Member
1 month ago

or better, tenfold the garlic

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#21

I know one mistake I used to make was to buy canned mushrooms and use those for recipes. The first time I used fresh mushrooms for something, I realized the dreadful error of my ways, and I haven't bought canned mushrooms since!

Always use fresh mushrooms, people!

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Some Cool Guy
Community Member
1 month ago

Canned anything really

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#22

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes Start with salt and pepper and get those right first. Seasonings make or break your food, but if you're just throwing s**t in because it sounds good you're gonna have a bad time. Also, keep in mind that you can pretty much always add more later but you can almost never take it back out.

[deleted] , rawdonfox Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

I very very rarely add salt or pepper to my dishes, I find that things like tomato paste, stock, etc has enough salt. And I am not a huge pepper fan. I see chefs putting sooo much salt in their dishes.

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#23

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes You don't weigh your ingredients. I cannot stress enough how important it is to weigh out all of your ingredients (all ahead of time, if you really want to bake like a pastry chef) on a digital scale. One cup of feathers does NOT weigh the same as one cup of pebbles, ya know? It's so easy to find volume to mass conversions online, and your baked goods will not only turn out better, but they will be more consistent.

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Misterscooter
Community Member
1 month ago

I LOVE recipes that give me weights instead of volumes, especially for flour.

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#24

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes Underseason your food, taste it, then reseason to what you think tastes good. THEN RETASTE IT AGAIN. There's a reason there aren't salt and pepper shakers on higher end restaurants. The plate put on your table is what it SHOULD taste like.

I_smell_awesome , Kai Hendry Report

Mark Brown
Community Member
1 month ago

Mostly true, but not always. I went to a high-end steak house and ordered a steak with sauteed mushrooms and a side of mashed potatoes. Everything came out unseasoned. NO salt and pepper on anything. Not even on the table. I stopped the waitress and she explained that the chef doesn't believe in seasoning. He wants you to taste the food as nature made it. Then she walked away. The table next to ours had the same issue and had complained bitterly until the wait staff brought them small ramekins of salt and pepper, which they graciously shared with us. And even on cooking competitions on TV, I see so-called "chefs" get dismissed because their food was under seasoned. Sometimes even the pros get it wrong. So don't automatically assume that... "The plate put on your table is what it SHOULD taste like."

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#25

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes So many baking issues are solved by simply knowing what ingredients you need and when you’ll need them. And unless you really know what you’re doing, don’t mess with the recipe! Seemingly small changes — like decreasing the amount of sugar or substituting a different type of flour — can have huge effects on the finished product. I always recommend that the first time you try a recipe, you make it exactly as written. After you’ve done that successfully, THEN and ONLY then can you think about changing it up!

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JuJu
Community Member
1 month ago

I "love" people who ask you for a recipe and then come back bitching. "You must have written down the wrong thing. Your's tasted totally different. I did what you said and just changed the butter for olive oil and yoghurt (that really happend...it was a chocolate cake we call "happy heart attack") and took stevia instead of sugar..."

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#26

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes You frost hot cakes and always end up making a huge mess. Just stop. Be logical — if you apply icing to a hot surface it will melt. The cake should at the very least be room temp or even cold if you are doing more intricate decorating.

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Kathryn Baylis
Community Member
1 month ago

It only takes doing it once—-especially if the cake was going to be for someone else—-for the lesson to be learned.

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#27

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE MICROWAVE. Those cooking shows only show the highlights of cooking. Think of the food network as the facebook of cooking. You don't see the bad s**t that happens, only the highlights.

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bill marsano
Community Member
1 month ago

But never put bread in the micro. Except stale bread, in a damp cloth or paper bag, that you want to refresh.

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#28

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes When you put something in the oven to bake, its very tempting to peak inside. Try to do this as little as possible. When you open the oven door, all the hot air escapes, thus lowering the temperature of your oven. It's OK if that happens a couple times, but if you keep checking...it's going to take FOREVER to finish. Finally, invest in an oven thermometer to know the true temperature of your oven. Some ovens just aren't accurate when reading temperature.

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Astrid Nineor
Community Member
1 month ago

If you do it to a cake it might 'collapse'

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#29

You probably aren’t mixing certain things as much as you should be, like creaming butter and sugar isn’t just combining them, you need to beat them until they’re fluffy. The same goes for adding eggs...you’ll get better cookies and brownies if you beat again until fluffy when adding eggs to your creamed butter and sugar. However, you don’t want to over-mix once you add the flour, just mix until no more dry flour is visible. Over-mixing the flour can make your end product tough.

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Colin L
Community Member
1 month ago

Overmixing with flour activates the gluten strands that can make things tough or (overly) chewy. Also, clean up flour with COLD water. Warm/hot water will make it stickier.

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#30

Professional-Chefs-Share-Common-Mistakes Always sift your dry ingredients. This is especially important for powdered sugar when making buttercream, because you want the butter and powdered sugar to mix seamlessly.

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Maria Ribaulo
Community Member
1 month ago

I'll admit I don't do this often enough. I know it makes a difference but... well... lazy.

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