22 COOKING TIPS AND TRICKS
Do you want to start cooking but don’t know where to start? I’ve got you covered with these cooking tips and tricks for beginners. No matter how much experience you have in the kitchen, there are always little things that can make your life easier.
Brushing up on your cooking abilities and learning new kitchen cooking tips and tricks will put less stress put on your body and your wallet thanks to a healthy meal options that you can prepare yourself.
Cooking your own food at home as opposed to ordering food from outside or buying processed foods is not only healthy for you, as you will know exactly what ingredients you put in and how was it made, but also an investment for your future. Who knows you might start your own food blog and start making online or if you are into video creation you could even start a YouTube channel.
Well. You are in luck. I have done the hard work for you and gathered this list of best cooking tips for beginners. No matter if you are a novice or a competent home chef, these fun cooking tips will go a long way in your culinary journey.
This post will be filled with all sorts of shortcuts, points about common mistakes made by beginners, and trusted recipes that are easy enough even for a beginner chef. So start reading! You’ll thank me later!
1 - Get Fresh Ingredients
When you start cooking with only fresh ingredients you will notice a huge difference in how the food will taste. Most of the time meals cooked with processed foods that use preservatives will tend to lose its natural flavor.
Don’t get the cost of fresh ingredients get in the way of your health. Fresh ingredients are not expensive all the times. You can buy fresh ingredients in small portion that you know will be consumed in a few days.
2 - Prep Before Cooking
Completing your preparation before cooking will save you a lot of time and money as you will be getting the ingredients before you really start cooking.
Start off with a clean set of hands, clean kitchen surfaces and clean equipment and also try keep things tidy as you go along cooking.
The ingredients in your recipe that require to be cut, chopped, sliced and diced, should be done early to save you time when you actually start cooking.
3 - Measure the Ingredients
When new to cooking you need to be accurate and precise in the quantities of the ingredients you put in a recipe as this can make or break a meal.
The best measuring cups and spoons will improve the accuracy in during cooking and baking food. Dry ingredients to be used in your recipe can be measured and well ahead of time and stored into a Ziploc bag.
This will make much easier for you to just grab and add the ingredient while cooking. However, the wet ingredients should be measured and ready to g a 15-20 minutes before cooking.
4 - Mise en Place
“mise en place” which is French for “putting in place”. This basically refers to the best practices by a chef’s organization, discipline and good practices in the kitchen.
Your kitchen station should be set in such a way that everything that you will need when you begin cooking from tools to ingredients should be an arm’s reach away making it easy to grab things you need easily when you are juggling many things while cooking.
Always try to make a checklist of everything you will need before cooking to ensure and efficient and optimal cooking process
You don’t want to keep touching your phone while cooking and then touching food, as it can transfer germs into your food and also can cause a fire hazard if it gets close to the heat source.
Cooking creates air pollutants from heating the ingredients at high temperatures which have an impact your phone as well. You don’t want oils and other ingredients all over phone.
Don’t keep reading the recipe until the last minute. Always read the recipe you are going to prepare well before at least a couple of times to make sure you have everything you need when you actually start cooking. You don’t want yourself to be stuck in a situation during the course of cooking and realizing that you missed a critical step and forgot to measure or even add a certain ingredient.
6 - Don’t Experiment New Recipes when you have dinner guests over
When you are trying something new that you have not cooked before, it does not matter how good of a chef you are, there is possibility of things going horribly wrong. This is no time for experimentation. Try the recipe at least once before inviting someone over and cooking for them.
7 - Stabilize your chopping Board
You know that annoying feeling while chopping or dicing, your cutting board keeps slipping messing up your ingredient. Here’s a simple and helpful cooking tip to solve this problem.
All you need is a paper towel. Just wet it water, not soaking wet, just enough that it doesn’t move on the counter and place it under the cutting board. This will stop the cutting board from moving and slipping while slicing and dicing.
8 - Dull end of a knife to scrape Food
You can the dull end of your knife to scrape the chopped ingredients to transport them. Don’t use the sharp blade end to scrape the contents off a cutting board as this can dull the blade or even damage it.
9 - Keep Knives Sharp
A dull blade is much more dangerous than you might think because it will require much more pressure to cut and slice increasing the possibility of the knife slipping onto your finger.
A sharp knife will also make your cooking much more fun when you can just chop, slice and cut through your meats and vegetables effortlessly. Hone your knives at least alternate days to keep the blade in shape. FYI Honing doesn’t really sharpen the blade but basically keeps the blade aligned. Keep a good quality stone for sharpening your knives.
10 - Store Cut Vegetables in Cold Water
Storing cut vegetables can come in handy if you are short on time and want your ingredients ready to go when you start to cook.
There is one major downside to store pre-cut vegetables in the fridge. They will turn brown and spoil faster losing valuable nutrients during the process.
One great way to preserve the pre-cut vegetables is to store them in cold water. This will prolong their freshness for a few days making your life easier by keeping your ingredients recipe-ready.
11 - Pre-Heat Your Pans and Pots
Cooking without preheating your pan will result in a sticky pan in addition to having unevenly cooked food, be it, fish, meats or even a simple egg. It will take just a couple of minutes to preheat the pan so never skip this helpful cooking tip.
In preheating the surface of the pan or skillet will expand and will keep your food from sticking to the metal surface and save you the resulting scrubbing at the sink to remove that sticky food.
12 - Use the right pans
Some recipes, in addition to the ingredients and directions, have mentioned the type of cookware needed. This will save you the trouble of deciding what pot, pan or skillet you will need.
But if you are unsure then here are a few things to keep in mind while selecting the cookware before cooking a recipe. How deep a pan or pot is will determine how fast liquids will evaporate, so if you plan to cook soup, rice or pasta then a deep pot is the way to go. To cook sauces a low-rimmed saucepan should do the trick.
13 - Don’t Cook Meat from Frozen
Although it is generally safe to cook meat straight from frozen but it’s not considered as ideal to avoid any chance of bacteria contaminating the food. It’s always better and safer to cook meat after thawing it.
Frozen meat cooked straight in the pot can take much longer to cook and more likely not reach the required core temperature during cooking comprising the taste. Thawing in the refrigerator is the best option, just make sure to use a plate and try to avoid the dripping doesn’t spill of the food while cooking.
14 - Keep Meat thermometer during cooking
Investing in a meat thermometer will go a long way in making your recipes better and avoiding overcooked or undercooked meat.
You don’t want to ask yourself the question “Is it done yet”? while cooking meat and trying to guess the answer. You don’t want to take a chance and risk foodborne diseases as a result of undercooked or overcooked meat.
15 - Taste Test and Season as you go
The recipe you are cooking will have instructions for a precise amount of seasoning, but it’s very important to get the right balance of seasoning to make your food taste the way you want it to.
The seasoning amounts in the recipe should be changed and corrected during cooking to get the perfect balance because the ingredients in the recipe will have a huge effect on the flavors. Therefore, it is very important to taste and season as you go along every step of the recipe to infuse the flavors into the dish.
16 - Add lemon juice or Vinegar to Bland Foods
We all have been dressing our salad’s with vinegar, making pickles but never thought of this easy cooking tip. This is my cooking tip of the day. Certain types of acids like citric and acetic acid can bring amazing flavors to your dish that you thought was not achievable.
So next time you feel that you dish did not turn out the way you wanted, don’t throw it in the trash, instead add a spoon of either lemon juice or vinegar and feel the food brighten up.
Lemon juice and vinegar tends to brings out the intrinsic nature of the ingredients and will round out the flavor and counterbalance excessive flavors in your dish.
17 - Crack eggs on a flat surface
We’ve all seen our moms crack the eggs on the rim of the bowl and it seems to work right. Well not really. Cracking eggs on an edge or rim of a bowl can cause more shell shatter and increase the chances of tiny shards of egg shell making way into the dish. Not fun to find bits of egg shells while chewing food.
Also if you are cracking the egg right over the bowl, when it shatters, where do you think the shattered pieces of egg shell will land? Bingo. Inside the bowl.
Always crack eggs on a flat surface like your countertop. Rap the egg on the countertop on its side in one sharp go (Not too hard) and split it open into the bowl. This will lower the chances of egg shell shatter because the membrane inside the egg will remain intact and hold the shell pieces together.
18 - Cold Water for Dry, Boiling Water for Wet Pasta
One of my favorites, Pasta, is generally cooked in 2 different ways. One by tossing the pasta in cold water and then turning the flame on or the second way by putting pasta into already boiling water. So, which one is the right way to go.
You might have heard that it will make no difference on how cold or hot the water is before tossing in the pasta, but the reality is that it does depending on what type of pasta you are using.
Pasta is generally cooked in 2 stages. Hydration and Gelatinization. A dry pasta needs to be hydrated first in the pot after which the Gelatinization or the actual cooking starts, whereas fresh pasta is already hydrated which only requires the second stage of gelatinization or the actual cooking of pasta.
For fresh prepared pasta it is best to add it to boiling water as the fresh pasta is already hydrated and all it needs is to do is cook.
And for Dry pasta it is best to add it to cold water which will start hydrating the pasta initially and when the water starts to boil, the hydration should be completed and Gelatinization of the pasta will start. For dried pasta you should keep stirring during cooking to avoid sticking.
19 -No overcrowding in the pan
Adding any type of ingredients to a pot or a pan in quantities that it overwhelms the container will result in an unappetizing dish. Filling the cookware to its capacity will lower the cooking temperature inside, make your food stick and the food will be cooked unevenly.
You have to give your ingredients space they need while cooking helping the heat to circulate resulting a more flavorful and rich textured dish.
To avoid overcrowding the pan, you can either use a larger pot or cook the food in batches. I know this can take more time to cook but will not ruin your dish which more likely to happen if you overcrowding the pan.
20 -Sauté vegetables in stages
If you try to sauté all the vegetables together in one go you will increase the chances to overcooking or even burn them. As discussed earlier that overcrowding is a NO NO anyways, so it’s best to sauté your vegetables in stages.
Every vegetable has a different sauté time depending on how hard or soft the vegetable is, therefore having info about the vegetable is important before you begin to cook.
Vegetables that hard like carrots will take more time to sauté, Medium firm one’s likes celery will take less time than hard ones and soft vegetables will take just a couple of minutes to sauté. So you can create of batch of the vegetables based on how firm they are to save time and avoid over cooking or burning them.
21 -Rest meat after cooking
When you take the meat off the pan after cooking onto a plate and immediately slice it, you will find the juices from the meat start to pour out onto the plate draining the flavor along and compromising the taste value.
This happens because of the heat during cooking. While cooking the heat pushes the moisture from the sides and surface of the meat inwards it and gets concentrated in the center of the meat. Unless you let the meat rest after cooking and immediately cut into it, you will see a deluge of juices pouring out and you will end up losing most of the flavors.
Letting the meat rest after cooking will allow the moisture inside to redistribute itself evenly throughout out meat.
22 -Use unsalted butter for recipes
Both salted and unsalted butters are made of same churned milk or cream and the difference is exactly what it says in each’s name, one contains salt and the other doesn’t. One other difference is that salt in butter also acts as a preservative increasing the shelf life of the butter.
How is choosing the right type of butter in cooking important? By adding salted butter into a recipe you will lose track of how much salt is actually added into the recipe vs how much was needed. Therefore, unsalted butter is always preferred in cooking as it will give you full control over the salt quantity in your recipe giving you the flavors in your dish that you want.
Salted butter can be used in recipes where you are not too much bothered about the salt quantity or as spread for bread.