Beginner Tips And Tricks For Becoming A Better Cook

These are seriously useful.

Cooking can be intimidating, but if you practice and learn new techniques, it can also be a ton of fun. So people from r/cooking are sharing beginner tips that will help improve your cooking and help you feel more comfortable in the kitchen. Here’s some advice to get you started!

1.

To make chicken breasts cook evenly, slice and pound them first.


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“Part of the challenge when cooking chicken breasts is that a tapered piece of meat will always cook unevenly. If you are working with very large breasts, use a very sharp knife to slice that chicken breast in half horizontally. Once you have your portions ready, ensure they are all an even thickness by gently pounding them to about ¼”-½” thickness.” —u/96dpi

2.

Making flatbread from scratch is not complicated and only requires three ingredients: flour, salt, and water.


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“In fact, even the salt isn’t completely necessary. Just make a pile of flour on your cleaned countertop, make a little well in the center, and slowly mix in water with your hands until it forms a dough. Form the dough into a flatbread and toss it on a hot surface (like a heated pan or baking sheet), and you’ve got a basic flatbread that can be topped with whatever ingredients you’ve got.” —u/southerngentleman90

3.

Always keep some basics, canned items, non-perishables, and frozen food on hand.


Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

“Load your fridge and pantry with ingredients that last, such as eggs, tortillas, pasta, rice, flour, sugar, canned tomato, tuna fish, cheese, bouillon, cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic, frozen veggies and meat (such as ground beef or bacon) that can be divided and frozen in single serving portions.” —u/blub987

4.

When it comes to adding spices to your cooking, the order matters.


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“Whether you’re sautéing onions, carrots, and celery for soup or browning ground beef for Bolognese, add herbs and spices before you add any liquids. This gives your spices the chance to “bloom” directly in fat, which will boost the flavor of your dish.” —u/saltsearsavor

5.

A properly seasoned cast iron skillet is a kitchen game-changer that you can use to cook anything, even eggs.


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“If you season cast iron properly, food will never get stuck to it. After cooking, I just scrub my skillet with a dish brush under warm water, and it takes two minutes.” —u/javacharger

6.

Season to taste, not to what the recipe says.


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“I always feel like a recipe developer’s taste should be better than mine, so I try to follow recipes as precisely as possible, but I always find that my cooking comes out best when I trust myself and season with herbs and spices to taste.” —u/Losing_Face

7.

If you’re using a slow cooker or Instant Pot, opt for cheaper cuts of meat.


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“Cheap cuts of meat (pork shoulder, chuck steak, etc…) tend to fare better in the slow cooker than expensive ones due to the long cooking times. Also, if you’re cooking with ground beef, brown it in a pan before adding it to the slow cooker. Otherwise the texture will taste off.” —u/MattieShoes

8.

Cook vegetables in starchy pasta water for a perfect one-pot meal.


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“I always make one-pot pastas by adding vegetables during the last few minutes while the pasta boils. That way, the veggies soak up that starchy deliciousness.” —u/Krinklie

9.

Coat baked goods with granulated sugar instead of flour.


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“When I bake, I always grease my pans, but instead of using flour to coat the pan, I use granulated sugar. It makes the edges of whatever I’m baking sweet and crunchy, and saves me from needing to use extra icing or frosting.” —u/topazlacee

10.

Always de-glaze your pan.


Sydney Martin / BuzzFeed

“Steaks pretty much make their own sauces. That stuff that sticks to the bottom of the pan after you cook a ribeye? Deglaze it with some stock and use it as a pan sauce.” —u/MahjongNucleus

11.

Food continues to cook even when you remove it from a heat source.


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“Foods like steak, pork, chicken, and even scrambled eggs continue to cook when you turn off the grill or the stovetop. Take them off the stove well before they reach your desired consistency.” —u/413×820

12.

Learn to match flavors.


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“If you’re cooking something with bacon, use the bacon fat to sauté your vegetables. Cook a steak with butter. Use white wine if the food you’re cooking is light in color (like shrimp or chicken) and use red wine if the food is dark in color (Bolognese or beef stew). Use beef stock in a beef-based dish and vegetable/mushroom broth to a vegetarian meal. There are, or course, some exceptions, but following this general rule will make you a better cook.” —u/BenZonaa129

13.

More ingredients doesn’t always mean more delicious.


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“Keep it simple. A dish with three or four ingredients that go really well together is better than something with 12 ingredients that clash with each other.” —u/daneoid

14.

If a dish tastes bland, don’t just assume it needs more salt.


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“When salt isn’t helping whatever it is you’re cooking, what’s missing is probably acid. Lemon juice or vinegar can transform a dish in a surprising way. Instead of continuing to add salt, add a squeeze of citrus.” —u/FoodandWhining

15.

Instead of kneading bread, let it rise at room temperature.


u/arden30 / Via reddit.com

“For example if you’re making focaccia bread, just let it rise at room temperature for 8-12 hours. You can skip the step of kneading completely.” —u/arden30

16.

If you’re cooking pasta, boil it until al dente and let it finish cooking in the sauce.


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Drain your pasta one or two minutes before the package directions instruct so that the pasta is still a but undercooked. Heat your sauce in a wide skillet and add back the cooked pasta over heat until it’s cooked to your liking.” —u/noworryhatebombstill

17.

Focus on a few high quality ingredients.


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“To make delicious homemade pasta sauce, you don’t need many ingredients. But high quality tomatoes are incredibly important. Pair it with fresh basil for a restaurant-quality meal. I even cook my pasta sauce with a whole basil branch.” —u/night_and_fog

18.

Keep your leftover pickle brine and put it to use.


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“I use olive, caper, or pickle brine to add flavor to lots of dishes like casseroles, stews, vinaigrettes, and more. It adds a ton of savory depth. You can even use the brine to marinate chicken.” —u/skakkuru

19.

Use oven-roasted cherry tomatoes to elevate tons of dishes.


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“Toss cherry tomatoes in the oven with a bit of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. They caramelize into the perfect blend of salty, sweet, acidic goodness. Add them to anything from pasta or chicken to fish or bruschetta.” —u/Lys_456

20.

Cooking is like a science, and the best dishes follow a simple formula.


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“Remember salt + sweet + acid + spice. It’s a formula that translates to pretty much anything you could be cooking. If something seems off in your flavor profile, you’re probably missing or at short on one of these four basic flavors.” —u/deleted

21.

Taste as you go and make adjustments accordingly.


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“If it’s too spicy, stir in some cream. If it’s too sour, stir in some brown sugar. If it’s too sweet, try some lemon or lime juice. If it’s too salty…you’re mostly screwed so salt a little bit at a time.” —u/TheWrongFusebox

22.

If you’re following an online recipe, read the comments first.


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“Starting with online recipes is a great way to start cooking, but not every recipe that’s posted is perfectly accurate or even good. People often comment with their own results and modifications, so their comments can help you. Read them before you begin cooking.” —u/punkrocklurker

23.

Your sense of smell and taste are connected, so let your nose guide you.


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“When seasoning your food, smell the herbs at the same time before you add them into whatever you’re cooking. If they smell good together, they’ll probably taste good together too.” —u/quoth_teh_raven

24.

Three words: Mise en place.


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“It’s a fancy French term that means ‘putting in place,’ and it basically means prepping everything you’ll need for a dish before you start cooking it. Have everything pre-cut, pre-measured, and ready to throw in the pot or pan. It fixes all of your timing issues, prevents you scrambling, and gives you a heads-up if you are missing ingredients or tools.” —u/meadhawg

25.

Keep broth on hand and cook with it often.


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“Cook rice or other grains like quinoa or farro in broth (chicken, vegetable. Or beef) instead of water to add instant flavor.” —u/deleted

26.

When it comes to herbs, fresh is best.


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“Fresh herbs make a huge difference, and you can freeze fresh herbs so they stay good as new. I never knew how much I loved thyme until I started buying it fresh rather than dried.” —u/Jkayer

27.

Never over-crowd the pan.


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“Never overcrowd the pan. Too much meat (or anything) in one pan releases too much water. You end up boiling your food rather than frying/giving it a nice sear.” —u/DonCharco

Do you have a cooking tip that has helped you become more comfortable and better skilled in the kitchen? Tell us in the comments below.

Theresa D. Begay

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