Avoid These 5 Common Cooking Mistakes


Even the most experienced cooks still make mistakes in the kitchen. Whether it’s a bad habit, lack of time, or simply not knowing any better, we all get a few things wrong every now and then. This doesn’t mean you aren’t a good cook, many great cooks share these same mistakes!


In order to avoid the bad habits and continue making great meals, I’ve highlighted five of the most common mistakes made when cooking. This is only a few of a very long list, but ones that I believe is essential to most of the meals you create.


Not Reading Through The Entire Recipe

This one may not always turn out to be a mistake, but when it does it can be detrimental to your dish. We’ve all done it and can probably tell a story or two about an evening gone horribly wrong by not reading through the whole recipe. Most of us are fairly good at getting all the necessary ingredients for the meal (our grocery lists help with this), but we don’t always read every step of the recipe before beginning it.


Mistakes like forgetting to marinade the meat, not reserving some of the cooking water, or realizing half way through that the dish takes a few hours to make, can and WILL happen if you rush into the recipe.


My advice is to always take five minutes to not only check your ingredients, but read all of the steps involved. This will help you avoid any surprises come dinner time, when you are tired and want to get food on the table before midnight. Remember that the recipes themselves can sometimes have mistakes. So be sure to check the reader comments to see if anything should be altered before you begin cooking.


Cooking Wet Vegetables

You may not even realize that you are making this common mistake. Washing your veggies is great, but not patting them dry before cooking can ruin a dish. When the they are too wet the water creates a steam which results in mushy food. By thoroughly drying them, your veggies will remain bright and crisp. Wet food can also be a danger when placed in a hot pan of oil. Who hasn’t made this mistake at least once!? Ouch! Before cooking your vegetables, place them on a clean dishtowel or paper towel and pat them dry. This will help you get the most out of your meal and is worth the extra bit of time.


Cooking Meat Straight From The Refrigerator

Cooking meat right after it’s taken out of the fridge can result in uneven heating. This mistake leaves you with meat that is under-cooked on the inside and over-cooked on the outside. It  happens because the meat is too cold right out of the fridge.


Make sure to let your meat stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before cooking. This extra bit of time will allow it to get to an even temperature throughout.


While you are letting the meat sit, take the opportunity to get the rest of your recipe prepared. Chopping, pulling out ingredients and measuring tools, and starting other parts of the meal can all be done while you wait. The extra patience involved in avoiding this mistake will make certain that the money you spent on meat doesn’t go to waste.


Using Too Small of a Pot For Pasta

You know that you need the pasta to fit into the pot of water, but did you know that might not be good enough? This is a classic mistake that most people don’t even know they are making. The problem with using too small of a pot is that the temperature of the water drops when pasta is added. If you have too much pasta compared to water, it’ll take a long time to heat back up, and during that time the noodles will get mushy. Probably not the perfect pasta dish you were anticipating.


Save yourself from mushy noodles and simply use a big enough pot. A general rule is to use 5 quarts of water for every pound of pasta. This is an easy mistake to avoid, and getting it right will significantly improve your pasta night!


Overcrowding The Pan

Maybe you don’t feel like doing tons of dishes, spending more time on dinner, or you simply don’t know that this is a cooking mistake. Whatever the reason, overcrowding your pan can ruin your food. This goes for anything from frying meat, cooking vegetables, boiling pasta, to baking.


Why does it ruin the food? Basically, moisture gets trapped if there is too much food in the pan/pot. This creates a steam that has nowhere to go and ends up cooking your food. This prevents it from getting crisp or seared, and sucks the flavor out of whatever you are making.


In order to prevent this from ruining your recipe, be sure to either use a big enough pan, utilize several of them, or cook the food in batches. There should only be a single layer of food, and it should have a decent amount of space between the other pieces.


There are many more cooking mistakes that are all too common in the kitchen. But if you start with avoiding these five, you will be well on your way to creating great meals every time you cook.


Check out my weekly Meal Plans and Grocery Lists HERE to help make planning dinner even easier. Happy cooking!

1 Comment

  1. Rick Jones says:

    I’ll be sure to read the whole recipe before cooking a meal. That way I don’t waste anything. Or use too much of one thing.

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