10 Rookie Cooking Mistakes and How to Avoid Making Them

The worst cooking mistake in my book is not to taste as you go. This is disastrous for many recipes that require seasoning with herbs, and can ruin dishes when you add too much salt, too many times.

Another common mistake is overcrowding the pan, especially when you are in a hurry to finish a meal faster, or you cook for many people. Overcrowding, especially when you fry meats, returns a soggy, bland dish, instead of one with beautiful, crunchy bites. If you have a lot to fry, work in batches.

Number three in my top would be not shocking the vegetables in ice cold water after steaming or boiling them, to keep a fresh, vivid color and a crisp texture. This results in bland, flabby veggies, soggy and unappealing. Who wants to eat khaki soggy veg, instead of beautiful, crisp greens?

Boiling instead of simmering is also a common rookie mistake. Simmering makes beautiful, tender dishes, while boiling could make the meat taste like shoe leather.

Many people believe that cooking makes even low quality ingredients usable. But I strongly believe that not choosing fresh, organic and sustainable ingredients is a mistake, not only for cooking, but also for your health. In the long run, it is more expensive to cook with low quality produce that are detrimental for your health, than to pick something fresh, in season, filled with natural vitamins and nutrients.


Choose the freshest ingredients every time!

Too much dressing for salads ranks six in my top. Salad soaked in dressing turns limp and soggy fast. Dressing also “cuts” the natural taste of the ingredients, reducing the flavors, and transforming a salad into an uninteresting pot of mush.

Another rookie mistake: not using a meat thermometer when cooking meats, especially when you cook it the first time. Each meat cooks at different temperatures. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you should consider buying one.

Not following a recipe, or improvising too much: don’t expect your dish to taste good if you change the recipe, especially if you are new at cooking. Follow the steps, and wait till you gain experience to “show your skills” and “creativity.”

Overcooking fish: fried fish usually requires 4 minutes on each side, but not all fish is created equal. Some fish can be pan fried longer on the skin side, and less on the flesh side. Always respect the recipe. When in doubt, search online from recommendations from chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, and so on.

Finally, because I am passionate about teaching kids to eat their greens, one of the worse mistakes among moms is believing that their children don’t like peas, broccoli and so on. I believe eating habits are learned, and can be educated with patience and good home cooking. Just make the food interesting for kids, find new and exciting recipes, and involve the kids in the cooking process, and you will be amazed to see them eating everything they refused before.