From big to small, there is a wide variety of cooking mistakes that we've all made at least once. While some mistakes can make trivial changes to the end result, others can create a taste or texture that is just plain unappetizing. Avoid these mistakes by changing a few simple things you do in the kitchen.
You don’t know your oven.
Know if your oven's temperature gauge is a little off, know where hot spots in your oven are and cook according to your oven's quirks. Every oven is different and usually not perfect.
You over-soften butter.
The best way to soften butter is to let it sit out at room temperature for about 30 to 45 minutes. You can cut the butter into pieces to help it soften faster. But, chances are if you do it in the microwave, you'll just melt it. For some recipes that doesn't matter, but for other recipes it can make a big difference.
You over-heat low fat milk products.
While boiling cream works just fine, the same can not be said for lower fat milk products. If heated too high, they will just curdle and no one wants that. Instead, make sure to only heat low fat milk products to 180 degrees.
You don’t taste the food you’re making as you go.
Grab a clean spoon and taste throughout your cooking process. This is the easiest way to catch mistakes or tweak a recipe to fit your taste buds.
You overheat chocolate.
The best way to melt chocolate is to heat it gently, slowly and to remove it from the heat before it is completely melted. Chocolate can burn easily and once it does, there's no way to salvage it.
You overpopulate the pan.
Food gives off moisture when it is cooked so it needs room for that moisture to escape. By crowding a bunch of meat in a pan for it to brown, there's little room for the moisture to get out. Give your meat some breathing room.
You make ingredient substitutions that don’t always work the same way.
For example, if you want to make a recipe a little healthier, don't get rid of oil completely for applesauce. Use a combo of the two. Make sure you know the substitute ingredient you want to use will work the same way as the one you are wanting to replace.
You don’t take measuring seriously.
We know, measuring exactly is time consuming, but sometimes it is necessary.
You boil a dish instead of simmering it.
A simmer is when a bubble reaches the surface about every one to two seconds. Anything more than that and it's boiling. Just because boiling might get the job done faster, doesn't always mean it's better for the recipe.
You don’t read the entire recipe before you start cooking.
It's important to read through the recipe before you start cooking. You never know what you need to save, use, or start at the same time.
You over-work low-fat dough.
In dough recipes that don't use a lot of fat (butter), if you over-knead the dough it's no big deal because the fat keeps it moist. In lower fat dough, you have to be careful with kneading otherwise your dough may turn out tough and dry.
You turn the food too often.
Let meat cook on the same side and resist the urge to flip it. If you flip it too early, you may loose some of the breading to the pan.
You don’t let your meat rest after cooking.
If given time to rest before being cut, the meat retains more of its juice. Who doesn't like juicier and tastier steak? Depending on size, let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes.
You neglect the nuts.
If you're toasting nuts, don't neglect them! It doesn't take long to burn nuts so watch them carefully. Toast them at 350 degrees for about 2 minutes for coconut flakes and up to 5 minutes for denser nuts. Shake and toss them throughout the cooking process so they toast evenly.
You don’t use a meat thermometer.
Meat varies by size and thickness so it is hard to assign a definitive time for cooking. Meat thermometers are safer and will result in better prepared food.
You put all the salt in the marinade.
Instead, put the salt directly on the meat after you take it out of the marinade. If you're breading food, put salt on the meat and then bread it.
You under-bake your cake.
Even if your tooth pick comes out clean, if the cake is pale, leave it in a little longer until the top is golden brown.
You don’t get the pan hot enough before you add your food.
We know, we get a little impatient too, but it is important to give your pan time to warm up before you cook with it. This is lead to more even cooking.
You slice meat with the grain.
Instead of cutting meat with the grain (muscle fibers), cut against the grain. You will get cleaner cuts. This is more important for tougher cuts of meat, like flank or skirt steak.
Your vegetables aren’t getting shocked.
When cooking vegetables, toss them in boiling water for three to seven minutes. Once done, immediately toss them into ice water to stop the cooking process. Otherwise, the heat will still be on the veggies and make them mushy.
You don’t know when to just start over.
Cooking fails happen to the best of us. Some things can be salvaged, but sometimes it's better to learn from our mistakes and try again.
You put meat straight from the fridge to the grill or oven.
Let meat stand at room temperature for about 15 to 30 minutes. They will cook more evenly this way.
You don’t use the best ingredients.
Just like Papa John's says, "Better ingredients, better pizza." No matter what you're cooking, if you use better ingredients you're going to create better food.