We’ve scoured the Internet and collected a list of some of the most common cooking mistakes made by chefs, gourmet cooks, and home cooks. Is the list complete? If not, make sure to add any other cooking mistakes you can think of in the Comment area below.
Not Allowing Food to Rest after Cooking
This is especially true for meat because when it rests it forces the moisture that has collected in the inside of the meat to redistribute throughout the entire cut of meat, creating a perfectly tender, moist piece of meat every time.. If you cut into it right after cooking, the juices run all over and the meat ends up dry, tough and flavorless. Let your meat sit for 5-10 minutes after it is done cooking.
Don’t Cut Meat or Chicken to Check Doneness
If you do, the juice will leak out and you’ll lose the moisture and taste, leaving a dry and tough piece of meat or chicken. Instead, use a meat thermometer or give it the touch test. One commenter said this, “People do not touch things while they are cooking. Take a finger and push on it. The resistance will tell you. If it feels like your earlobe – rare; tip of your nose – med/med rare; chin – well (or as I like to call it – ruined).
Not Adding Ingredients in the Right Sequence
Vegetables and spices should be added according to their water content. If you don’t it can affect the taste and texture of the dish. For instance, salt draws out water, so leaving salt to sit on meat, poultry and fish could make it dry. If the ingredient is high in water content, such as mushrooms and tomatoes, and you don’t add salt before sautéing, they’ll end waterlogged and soggy.
Sometimes adding ingredients in the wrong sequence can have dangerous results. One commenter said, “I had a friend add water to hot (frying temperature) oil just as I shouted NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.”
Another said, “Once, without thinking, I dumped some marinated chicken into the deep fryer, along with the marinade. The resulting oil explosion gave me third degree burns over most of my forearms and would’ve blinded me if I hadn’t been looking in a different direction.”
Not Tasting Food While Cooking and Before Serving
It’s great to be a confident chef, but even the best of chefs taste their dishes while cooking and before plating. It’s very easy to not add enough seasoning or add too much if you are a chef who is more comfortable not using measuring spoons or measuring cups.
Not Following Baking Recipes Exactly
When cooking over the stove, it’s common to add a dash of this and a sprinkle of that – not so with baking. Baking requires exact measurement for the success of the dish. Baking is much less forgiving then cooking something like a casserole, stir fry, or sauce.
Not Using the Right Temperature
Don’t assume everyone’s ovens work the same way. Some are hotter than others. There is plenty online on how to check the temperature of your oven. Here’s a test by General Electric to check oven temperatures.
Sautéing, searing and pan-frying are the three most common forms of mastering heat in the kitchen. In all three, the idea is to cook food using high heat with a little bit of fat. Searing makes the outside crispy (especially chicken or fish skin) and provides a deep layer of flavor in a short amount of time. Sautéing is basically tossing food in a very hot pan. Sautéing vegetables correctly gives them a tinge of color and keeps them slightly crisp. Sautéing meat correctly turns it brown and keeps it moist.
Pan-frying requires more fat and more time, as well as less heat than the other two cooking methods in order to brown the food.
Not Using the Right Equipment
Don’t crowd a pan. Instead, select the right size pan to cook in. Many people use the smallest pan or pot they can find.
Not Managing Time Correctly
One commenter said, “I’ve made my slew of cooking mistakes but I think the most common error I commit is forgetting to push down the button to start the rice cooker. So many dinners have been delayed when I’m about to go serve fresh rice only to realize that it’s still uncooked in a cold puddle of water.”
Another said, “I once poached some pears in red wine. Pears were fine. I took them out and put the pan back on the hob to reduce the sauce a bit. Then I went away and forgot about it completely. Lesson learned: use a kitchen timer that beeps loudly.”
We’ve all made dishes that we’re less than proud of serving. What was yours? Share what you learned ‘not to do’ again.