10 Simple Cooking Tips That Everyone Should Know

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Cooking tips are like little wisdom nuggets that can transform kitchen adventures from awful to delightful.

Two guys standing in a kitchen.
Dan and Scott from Platter Talk share their top cooking tips with you.

Read on, and you’ll find useful advice, handy techniques, and important cooking tips that can make cooking easier and more fun and help you create yummy dishes.

Cooking tips for beginners

Today, I want to share some old-fashioned cooking tips. For beginner cooks and bakers, these tips are the guiding stars that light up the path to success in the kitchen. 

So, put on your apron, and let’s jump in and discover the secrets of the kitchen together!

A man standing in a kitchen.

1. Read the recipe all the way through

Read the recipe thoroughly before starting to ensure you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment. It’s the first step in the cooking process and the best way to set yourself up for success. This basic cooking tip is where to start for any recipe.

Take a moment to gather all the ingredients, like fresh herbs and tomato sauce, and make sure you have your favorite knife and cutting board at arm’s reach.

Take a few minutes to see what your recipe calls for, and then see what you have on hand for pantry staples. Simple steps like these will give you better results every time. 

2. Measure ingredients with care

Measure ingredients accurately using measuring cups and spoons for consistent results. This essential cooking tip is the key to achieving the best recipe results.

Whether it’s a large bowl of cookie dough or a pinch of salt, measuring accurately ensures that your flavors are balanced and your dishes turn out just right.

Because measuring cups and spoons can vary in their accuracy, consider investing in a good kitchen scale. They are inexpensive and an easy way to ensure you use the correct amount of ingredients every time.

Expert Cooking Tip: Invest in stainless steel measuring cups and spoon. They are more durable and consistently more accurate than cheaper plastic measuring cups and spoons.

3. Preheat your oven or stove

Preheat your oven or stove to the specified temperature to ensure even cooking. This is an essential part of any recipe that calls for baking or stovetop cooking.

Whether for a pumpkin pie or a sizzling stir-fry in a cast-iron skillet, preheating your oven or stove ensures that your food cooks evenly and thoroughly.

You may be making a delicious homemade pizza or baking one of your favorite homemade pie recipes, but you don’t stand a fighting chance if you are baking at the wrong temperature. Follow this important cooking tip for the best results.

Pick up a small oven thermometer if your oven is off (like our 1960 GE one). They’re super cheap and can be a lifesaver the next time you use your oven. 

4. Follow the recipe steps in order

Follow the order of steps in the recipe to achieve the desired outcome. Recipes are like roadmaps that guide us through the cooking process.  To become a better cook, follow the steps in a particular order, using mise en place.  

Mise en place (pronounced “meez ahn plahs”) is a fancy French term that simply means “putting everything in its place.” It’s a fundamental concept in the culinary world and an essential skill to master.  

To implement mise en place, begin by carefully reading through your recipe. Take note of all the ingredients listed and gather them together. Chop, dice, and slice your vegetables, herbs, and other items as needed, and keep them organized in separate bowls or containers.

Measure out your spices, oils, and liquids and place them within reach. Preheat your oven, if necessary, and get your pans and utensils ready. These simple organizational cooking tips will make everything go better!

5. Taste and season

Taste and season your food throughout the cooking process to adjust the flavors. As you cook, make it a habit to taste your food and adjust the seasoning. This cooking tip is a great way to develop your taste buds and ensure that your dish has the perfect balance of flavors.  

A squeeze of lemon juice to some homemade soup or adding a couple of chocolate chips to some yummy cookies can make the best recipes even better. Just grab a wooden spoon and take a little taste along the way. 

6. Use a timer

Use a timer to avoid overcooking or burning your dish. Time management is crucial to cooking.

A timer can be your secret weapon to prevent overcooking or burning your dish. It adds an extra layer of precision to your cooking process, giving you more control over the outcome of your culinary creations.

Here are a few times in the kitchen when the timing cooking tip is crucial:

When boiling pasta

If you don’t keep track of the cooking time, you might end up with mushy noodles or, on the other hand, overly firm pasta that’s far from al dente perfection.

By setting a timer for the recommended cooking time mentioned in the recipe or on the package, you ensure that you achieve that ideal texture every time. The timer serves as your trusty reminder, prompting you to drain the pasta at just the right moment, saving you from disappointment.

When Making Cookies

When you’re baking cookies, a timer becomes your best friend. Different recipes call for varying baking times; even a few extra minutes in the oven can turn your cookies from golden and delicious to dark and burnt.

By using a timer and keeping an eye on the clock, this cooking tip allows you to accurately gauge when it’s time to remove those scrumptious treats from the oven, ensuring they’re perfectly baked to a delightful, chewy, or crispy perfection.

For Sauces and More

A timer can also be helpful when you’re simmering sauces, soups, or stews on the stovetop.

Recipes often specify a recommended simmering time to allow the flavors to meld together, and using a timer allows you to keep track of it precisely. This way, you won’t end up with a sauce undercooked and lacking depth or one simmering for too long, losing its vibrant flavors.

7. Let meat rest after cooking it

Let meat rest after cooking to allow the juices to redistribute This cooking tip will keep it juicy and prevent it from turning out dry and chewy.

Patience is key when it comes to cooking meat. Once you’ve cooked your steak or roast to perfection on a hot pan or grill, let it rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring a tender and juicy result when you finally sit down to enjoy your home-cooked meal.

Speaking of meat, cooking it to the proper internal temperature is critical for food safety and getting tit o the right level of doneness.

You also need to consider carry-over cooking. Carry-over cooking is the process where food continues to cook even after it’s been removed from a heat source due to the residual heat trapped inside the food.

For example, we take our smoked beef tenderloin off the smoker when it reaches an internal temperature of 125°. After allowing it to rest for 15 minutes, it will be a nice medium-rare with an internal temperature closer to 135°.

Beef Doneness Level    Internal Temperature
Rare125°F (52°C)
Medium Rare135°F (57°C)
Medium145°F (63°C)
Well Done160°F (71°C) or higher

It’s important to note that these temperatures are guidelines and can vary slightly depending on personal preference and the cut of beef being cooked. Using a reliable meat thermometer is the best way to ensure accurate results and achieve your desired level of doneness.

Expert Cooking Tip: Remember to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat without touching any bone for an accurate reading.

8. Clean as you go

Clean as you go to maintain an organized and efficient cooking space. As a home cook, keeping a clean and organized cooking space is important. This cooking tip will make ultimately make your cooking experiences more enjoyable.

Wipe down your cutting board with a damp towel, clean your cast-iron skillet with a dish towel, and gather any trash in a garbage bowl. This not only helps maintain hygiene but also makes the cooking process more enjoyable and efficient.

The more you find yourself cooking and making delicious recipes, you’ll likely find yourself using various tools, utensils, and equipment, such as cutting boards, knives, pans, and mixing bowls.

Instead of letting dirty items pile up, take a moment to clean them as you go. For example, after using a cutting board, give it a quick wipe with a damp paper towel to remove any residue and prevent cross-contamination when you move on to the next ingredient. This simple step helps maintain hygiene and ensures that flavors won’t mix unintentionally.

If you’re working with a cast-iron skillet or other cookware, take a moment to clean it while it’s still warm. Use a dish towel to wipe away any food particles or excess grease. This prevents the food from drying and becoming stubborn to remove later and helps preserve the seasoning and longevity of your cookware.

Expert Cooking Tip: Keeping a garbage bowl nearby is another useful practice. Instead of making multiple trips to the trash bin with each ingredient’s peelings, wrappers, or other waste, collect them in a designated bowl or container. This saves time and minimizes unnecessary movements, allowing you to stay focused on your cooking process.

9. Use quality ingredients

Use high-quality ingredients for better flavor and overall dish quality. When it comes to cooking, using high-quality ingredients is a game-changer. Here’s why it matters:


High-quality ingredients tend to have superior flavor profiles. Fresh, seasonal produce, premium cuts of meat, and artisanal products often have richer, more vibrant tastes compared to their lower-quality counterparts. When you use high-quality ingredients, their natural flavors shine through, enhancing the overall taste of your dish.

Texture and appearance

Quality ingredients also contribute to the texture and appearance of your culinary creations. Fresh vegetables and fruits have a pleasing crunch or juiciness, while well-marbled meats are tender and succulent. The colors and textures of quality ingredients can make your dishes visually appealing, enticing both the eyes and taste buds.

Nutritional value

High-quality ingredients are generally more nutritious. Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, while whole grains offer fiber and essential nutrients.

Opting for quality ingredients ensures that you’re providing your body with wholesome and nourishing components, promoting overall health and well-being.

Authenticity and origin

High-quality ingredients often come from specific regions or have distinct production methods that contribute to their unique flavors. Using authentic ingredients can help you recreate traditional dishes or evoke certain culinary experiences, providing a more authentic and memorable dining experience.

Less need for seasoning

When your ingredients are of high quality, they already possess robust flavors, reducing the need for excessive seasoning or artificial flavor enhancers. This cooking tip allows you to rely more on the natural qualities of the ingredients, allowing their inherent goodness to shine through in your dishes.

Confidence and satisfaction

Cooking with high-quality ingredients can boost your confidence and satisfaction in the kitchen. When you invest in quality ingredients, you’re setting yourself up for success and maximizing your chances of creating a delicious meal. It’s a rewarding experience to know that you’ve selected the best ingredients and can taste the difference in the final result.

Whether choosing the best olive oil or using fresh herbs and spices, using high-quality ingredients elevates the flavors of your dishes and creates a more enjoyable culinary experience.

Of course, it’s important to consider your budget and availability when seeking out high-quality ingredients. While it may not be feasible to use top-tier ingredients for every meal, you can prioritize certain key components, such as fresh herbs, spices, or a premium cut of meat, to elevate your dishes on special occasions or when you want to indulge.

Remember, cooking is an art, and the quality of your ingredients plays a vital role in achieving culinary excellence. By using high-quality ingredients, you enhance the flavors, textures, and overall quality of your dishes, ensuring a memorable and satisfying dining experience. So, explore local markets, seek out trusted suppliers, and savor the difference that quality ingredients can make in your cooking adventures.

10. Make it fun

This is the most important cooking tip I have to offer. If you enjoy the process, you will do it again and again. And remember hearing that practice makes perfect? It is the absolute truth in the kitchen!

Have fun and experiment with flavors and techniques to make the recipe your own.  Cooking is not just about following a recipe to the letter—it’s also about expressing your creativity and personal taste. Here’s why having fun and experimenting with flavors and techniques can elevate your cooking and make each dish your own:

Here are some cooking tips to help you think outside the box when in the kitchen. You’ll be amazed at the dishes you can create by putting the following cooking methods into practice!

Unleash your creativity

Cooking is an art; like any form of artistic expression, it’s an opportunity to let your creativity run wild. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, swap ingredients, or add your own unique twist to a recipe.

By experimenting with flavors and techniques, you can create something truly original and tailor it to your preferences.

Personalize your dishes

Everyone has different tastes and preferences when it comes to food. By experimenting, you can personalize recipes to suit your liking.

Adjusting the spice levels, adding extra herbs, or incorporating ingredients you love can elevate the flavor profile and make the dish truly yours. It’s an opportunity to showcase your culinary identity and create meals that resonate with your individual palate.

Learn and grow

Experimenting in the kitchen allows you to expand your culinary knowledge and skills. Trying out new flavors, ingredients, and techniques exposes you to different culinary traditions and can help you develop a deeper understanding of various cuisines. It’s an opportunity to broaden your culinary horizons and grow as a cook.

Overcome the fear of failure

Cooking should be enjoyable; part of the joy comes from taking risks and embracing the possibility of failure. Having patience with learning how to cook is one of the most important cooking tips to remember!

Not every experiment will be a resounding success, and that’s okay! Embracing and learning from mistakes is an important part of the culinary journey. By allowing yourself to experiment, you become more confident in the kitchen and open yourself up to new culinary discoveries.

A great example of this is learning how to bake homemade bread. It will likely take an attempt or two before you get it perfect! Just remember: It’s only flour and water!!! Try again if you need to!

Remember, while it’s essential to follow basic cooking principles, such as understanding cooking times and flavors, don’t be afraid to break the rules and make the recipe your own. Embrace the joy of experimentation, trust your taste buds, and let your imagination guide you. Cooking is an opportunity for self-expression, so have fun, be bold, and let your creativity shine in every dish you create!

Cooking is an art, and you are the artist in the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to try new recipes, like those from Bobby Flay, or experiment with different ingredients and techniques.

Let your taste buds guide you, have fun along the way, and enjoy the joy of cooking!  Cooking tips from home cooks and professional cooks alike can help the most experienced chef to the beginner cook. Experience is the most important thing for you to get a better result for your next meal and 

More great cooking tips and kitchen hacks

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Meet the Platter Talk Guys

Dan & Scott split their time between Wisconsin and Southwest Florida and are dads to six boys. Good food runs through their veins, and they love showing others how to cook easy recipes.

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