Hello, Bailiwickers and other readers of our blog! Did you find our last post (Leftover Egg White Ideas) useful? Well, hopefully, you’ll find this article useful as well, especially if plenty of you are beginner home cooks. I’ll be talking about the best cooking tips for beginners.
In my years of trying to be a great cook, and in my experience of speaking with different chefs and watching videos of our classes, I’ve picked up quite a few cooking tips and tricks. I’m excited to share them with you!
But to summarize, here they are:
- Read the recipe.
- Take notes of your process.
- Prepare ingredients ahead of time.
- Have essential kitchen tools on hand.
But I don’t stop there! I’m also going to share with you the best cooking tips for beginners when it comes to actual cooking.
- Don’t fill up your pan or baking dish.
- Salt your pasta water.
- Be careful of high heat.
- Keep an eye on your dish.
- Add seasoning as you go along.
- Vinegar is your friend when it comes to peeling boiled eggs.
Not to worry – I will go into detail about each one.
Best Cooking Tip for Beginners 1: Read the recipe.
For me, this tip doesn’t get the emphasis it needs. But you really should read any recipe for anything you want to make. And don’t just read it like you’re skimming through it. Read the recipe thoroughly, twice, and absorb the steps you need to make the food.
Because you know what happens if you just glance at the recipe and start cooking? Well, from personal experience, I make plenty of mistakes. And the results become one super epic failure.
Also, don’t just read the recipe BEFORE you start cooking. Keep referring to the recipe as you cook, because you might miss out on ingredients or additional instructions.
Oh, and like we said in our post Basic Rules of Baking, make sure to follow the recipe, too! Remember, you’re just starting out. Perfect the recipe first, then make your own version later.
Which leads to my next tip…
Best Cooking Tip for Beginners 2: Take notes of your process.
So you’ve managed to memorize a recipe like it’s your password or PIN. That’s great! Now your next step is to truly make it your own. That means experimenting on what changes you can make, like using olive oil instead of the usual cooking oil or using a different spice blend from the recipe.
But of course, all of this will be useless if you don’t take notes of what you’ve been doing. Why? Well, let’s say you did use olive oil. How much did you use? Or did the use of olive oil have a positive result or not?
In short, if you don’t take notes, you won’t have a record of what worked and what didn’t. And the next time you cook the same dish, you might end up wondering what you did before that worked. Or worse, you’ll do the same thing that didn’t work, which might result in wasted time and ingredients.
So… take notes!
Best Cooking Tip for Beginners 3: Prepare ingredients ahead of time.
This is a very basic cooking tip and is still related to Cooking Tip 1. See, number 1 is that important!
Anyway, as you read through the recipe, you should take note of the ingredients and how to prepare them. Which ones need to be chopped, cleaned, diced, or prepared in any way?
This is where the French term “mise en place” comes in. You’ll see that term plenty of times in our classes with Chef Joey Prats. Anyway, it literally means put in place, which means getting your ingredients ready.
Doing your meal prep way before you actually even turn on your stove will help keep you from panicking and rushing through the cooking process. I’m sure you (like me!) have already experienced forgetting to defrost meats for example, which meant delayed cooking times, hungry bellies in the house, and even angry customers. Preparing ingredients ahead of time means you will finish faster, and you’ll be more relaxed during the whole process.
In short, this tip is one of the best cooking tips ever (at least for me!).
Oh, and speaking of ingredients, make sure to buy only fresh ones for better tasting dishes. It’s an investment you won’t regret!
And speaking of investments that you won’t regret…
Best Cooking Tip for Beginners 4: Have essential kitchen tools on hand.
Since we’re talking about the best cooking tips for beginners, you have to make sure you have the best kitchen tools on hand. I’m not saying you should splurge on the most expensive tools. But what I am saying is that you need tools to say, chop or actually cook, right? And if you don’t have them and you already started cooking, my big question is how can you cook properly?
I can’t think of any way that you actually can, to be honest!
So with that in mind, here are some tools you should have:
A sharp knife
You know, for cutting and chopping stuff. And make sure it’s sharp because it’s actually unsafe to cut or chop with a dull knife. You can also use this knife as a peeler if you don’t have one yet.
A chopping board
Some call it a cutting board. But whatever you want to call it, it’s an important companion to your knife. You can place whatever you want to cut on this, and you’re good to go. And to be even safer, place a wet paper towel under your board when you start cutting so that it won’t move around.
Various cooking utensils
Examples of these are wooden utensils like spatulas are spoons. They help prolong the life of your non-stick pans. Others are tongs, whisks, and so on.
Non-stick frying pan and sauce pan
If you have recipes that involve, say, tomato sauce and meat, and you have to cook them separately, you’ll finish faster if you have these two. Besides, recipes that involve a lot of liquid would really require a sauce pan, since a frying pan wouldn’t be deep enough.
Measuring cups and spoons
You need exact measurements for plenty of recipes. And you can’t measure without these!
You can open a can using your knife, but it will take more time, and you might ruin your knife. Why risk that? Get a basic can opener.
As long as you have these basic tools, you’ll be able to cook whatever you want. And you can just add as necessary later, so you won’t be overwhelmed by so many tool options.
If you want to add more tools and level up as home chefs or home cooks, you can check out tools from either The TBA Shop or at Buji.
Best cooking tips for beginners when it comes to actual cooking
Of course, I’m not going to end this blog without actually talking about the best cooking tips and tricks for beginners I learned, such as:
Don’t fill up your pan or baking dish.
At first glance, it might seem like your pan has plenty of space to add more food. But if you fill up your pan too much, the heat may not be distributed evenly to your food, which means some parts may become undercooked. Resist the temptation to fill up the pan!
Salt your pasta water.
I found this weird too when I first heard about it, but if celebrity chef Mario Batali says it, it must be true! So don’t be afraid to add salt to your pasta water. The salt will make your pasta taste better, since the noodles will be seasoned from the inside out. It will also help bring out the flavor of your pasta sauce.
And since we’re on the topic of pasta, don’t add pasta to your water immediately. Wait until the water becomes boiling water. That way, you avoid sticky and gummy pasta.
Be careful with high heat.
Unless you’re going to just boil water, never cook anything with super high heat. You might be thinking that you’ll finish faster with higher heat, but you won’t. You might end up with a lot of burned food, though. Just be patient and follow the recipe’s recommendations regarding heat (usually medium or low), and you’ll be just fine.
Keep an eye on your dish.
This is a simple cooking tip, but it’s also very important. If the recipe calls for you to wait for 30 minutes or so for the soup to boil (for example), you might be tempted to leave the kitchen first to do whatever. Don’t! Resist the urge! You might come back to your kitchen with a totally ruined recipe, or worse, a fire. Keep an eye on your cooking!
Add seasoning as you go along.
For recipes that need seasoning, there may be recommended amounts, but I suggest you immediately season according to your preferences. Don’t season when you’re nearly done, as adding seasoning at that point will do nothing. Keep tasting until you get the taste you like! And season from a distance, so that seasoning is distributed evenly.
Vinegar is your friend when it comes to peeling boiled eggs.
Here’s another of those cooking tricks that I didn’t know about until recently. And it’s one of the best cooking tips not only for beginners but generally for people who want to eat boiled eggs like me. If you find peeling eggs hard, I do too! And it’s worse when the eggs end up with various holes and stuck shells. So what you do is add vinegar to the water when making hard-boiled eggs. The vinegar softens the shells, making them easier to peel. And you won’t taste the vinegar, don’t worry.
One last note: the more eggs you boil, the more vinegar you need to use.
Knowledge is great, but the application of these cooking tips is better!
Now that I’ve shared with you some top cooking tips I know, do you know what you should do next?
What else but to start cooking?
You can try re-making your favorite dishes armed with these best cooking tips for beginners and come up with better, more delicious results…
Or, you can take being a home chef to the next level by enrolling in The Bailiwick Academy! We have plenty of cooking classes (around 38, with more to be added in the future). Choose a cooking class that you really like and want to produce, then apply any cooking tip that’s on this list.
And you know the best part? Study any cooking class of ours and you’ll learn even more of the best cooking tips from chefs who know what they’re talking about!
So what are you waiting for? Enroll in The Bailiwick Academy today!
Keep coming back to The Bailiwick Academy blog for more tips, tricks, and more!