130 Extremely Common Kitchen Mistakes and How to Fix Them
Don't panic, but chances are you've made one or two of these common kitchen missteps. Here's how to get it right next time.
What's Going Wrong With Your Roux
A roux only has two ingredients—fat and flour—but can go awry in many ways. Making a good roux is one of the backbones of cajun and creole cooking, but it's also useful for all kinds of sauces, from gravy to bechamel. A roux basically takes the consistency of a liquid from thin and drippy to a classic sauce consistency that coats the back of a spoon. It's not the only way you can achieve that thicker saucey consistency. A cornstarch slurry, simple roasted flour, or an uncooked combination of flour and butter known in French cuisine as a beurre manie can be used the same way in certain cases. But for a gumbo, for example, you're going to want to make a roux. Once you've made it a couple times, you'll know what to look out for, but here are some things that can go wrong that you'll want to avoid.
What's Going Wrong With Your Caramelized Onions
Here's the thing about caramelizing onions: It takes a while. Not 15 minutes. Not 30 minutes. For me, on my stove, it almost always takes at least an hour, and usually closer to 90 minutes. I'm sorry about this. I wish I could fix it. Caramelized onions are delicious, and if I could have them more rapidly, I would make them more often. But if any recipe tells you that you can get that deep brown color and complex sweet-umami flavor from caramelized onions in ten minutes, it is a lie and you should disregard it.
You Shouldn't Rinse Your Dishes Before You Put Them in the Dishwasher—Here's Why
You know those people—the ones who simply refuse to rinse their dishes before loading the dishwasher. Laziness aside, it’s just plain gross.Well, it looks like you might want to bite your tongue before chiding them next time. According to the Wall Street Journal, those disgusting jerks might be onto something!Here’s what the experts say.
4 Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes with Royal Icing
You might be the designated pie baker in your family. Or the person who makes everyone’s favorite birthday cake. Maybe you’ve even stolen the show at a few highly competitive cookie exchanges. And yet, you can’t decorate cookies with royal icing to save your life.Don’t despair. You’re not alone. Royal icing has a way of frustrating the most experienced bakers. In my opinion, people who are good at crafts—particularly tiny, fiddly crafts like painting miniature doll furniture or embroidering tiny pillows—have a way with royal icing. You need a steady hand and an eye for detail to make piped and frosted cookies that don’t look like a kindergarten project gone wrong.
7 Mashed Potato Mistakes Everyone Makes
For some—okay, most—holidays wouldn’t be complete without a big bowl of luscious buttery mashed potatoes. Everybody holds dear their quintessential ideal and while you might not be able to please everybody, there are a handful of do's, and definite don’t's, to keep in mind. So just in time for Mashed Potato Season, we're revealing what you're doing wrong and what to do instead when it comes to making your mash.
The One Homemade Gravy Mistake You’re Making—and How to Stop
Homemade gravy is so easy to make—really. In fact, turkey gravy takes just six ingredients to make, and that’s counting salt and pepper. Still, there’s a mistake that people commonly make when preparing homemade gravy, and it ruins the whole thing: they cook it in a pot from scratch, rather than in the pot with all the drippings and brown bits, which add so much flavor to the gravy. Don’t do that. For the most flavorful gravy, always make yours in the same pan you use for roasting your turkey. And another thing—make your gravy last. That way it will be hot and delicious when everyone sits down to eat.
Why You Should NEVER Cook Bacon in Your Air Fryer
Air fryer bacon sounds like a brilliant health hack. Imagine: perfectly crispy bacon with a fraction of the calories and fat. Besides, air frying can make foods like chicken wings, doughnuts, and fish and chips a little healthier, so shouldn’t it have the same effect on bacon?In theory, yes. But when I tried to cook bacon in my Philips Viva Collection HD9621 Air Fryer, it was a complete disaster. In fact, after about 3 minutes of cooking it at 350 degrees, my air fryer started spewing out thick white smoke.
You Might Be Using That Drawer Under Your Oven Wrong
If you’re like me, you use the drawer below your oven to store cookie sheets, cutting boards, and whatever else you can cram in there.But that’s not how you’re supposed to be using it.
You Are (Probably) Ruining Your Kitchen Knives—Here's How to Stop
You are ruining your knives by using them in ways they should not be used. Don’t you dare take a knife out of your carving block and use it on anything that isn’t food. Do no open Amazon boxes, or pill bottles. Do not use it as a screwdriver on your kid’s birthday present. Do not cut twine off packages or trussed birds; this is why you have kitchen shears. Do not, for all that is good and holy, saw branches off your Christmas tree. Do not use them to pop open condiment tops. And, for real now, do not use them to clear the drain of your dish disposal.
12 Storage Mistakes That Are Spoiling Your Leftovers—And How to Fix Them
Few things are worse when you're hangry than pulling out a tupperware of Monday’s leftovers for today’s lunch, only to find it’s somehow already spoiled. Lots of things can cause this disappointing occurence, and all of them can be avoided. Here, a round-up of 12 common storage mistakes that are ruining your food along with expert advice for living that #leftoverslife right.
Everything You're Storing Incorrectly in Your Fridge
You’re bringing home fresh fruits and vegetables to get more whole foods on your plate, but you’re finding the tomatoes turn mealy, the onions sog out in the pan, and potatoes are oddly sweet just a few days after their cold storage. That’s not ideal—and it’s entirely reversible. Indeed, these fresh food faux pas are the result of improper storage. These tips can help you keep your goods from going bad before you’re able to chop, dice, or mince them into a meal.
You're Storing Plastic Wrap Completely Wrong
We've all done the plastic wrap shuffle. You know what we're talking about — when we just can't tear the right portion off of a roll, or a staticky piece of the stuff doesn't wrap properly. Then we strive to start anew and tear off a fresh piece, and the same battle encores. Sigh.
How to Completely Ruin a Recipe, a Step-By-Step Explanation
This year, for the first (and hopefully last) time, my father volunteered to cook Easter dinner. I was a bit wary.But hey—basically all he had to do was follow one recipe. Why? Because convenience is pretty much the only deal in the Hammonds household. That means the fewer home-cooked items, the better: This year's dinner consisted of a Costco ham, Sister Schubert’s rolls, and a salad kit still in its bag (we’re fancy).
6 Things You Shouldn't Do with Nonstick Pans
Have you ever tried to fry an egg in a pan that wasn’t nonstick? Let me just tell you—it’s not easy. Even if it’s not always the best pan for the job (say, if you’re cooking steak), nonstick cookware is so essential to the home cook because it truly makes cooking undeniably easier—and prevents you from wasting precious food due to it being stuck to the bottom of your pan. However, because of the miraculous nonstick surface, these pans can’t be treated like the other cookware in your cabinets. In order to get your money’s worth and ensure the longevity of your pans, you’ve got to be conscious of what the nonstick no-go’s are. There may very well be a few things that you’re doing wrong when it comes to caring for your favorite egg pan.
11 Mistakes to Avoid When Grilling Steak, According to Chefs
Purists assert that a good-quality cut of steak is done ill justice at the hands of an overzealous grill. Contrast that to cheaper cuts like chuck roast, for example, which come to their prime slowly and forgivingly when slowly cooked. Cooking steak, therefore, is a paradoxically delicate matter for a powerfully primal affair. So it’s understandable that many diners and home cooks err on the side of overcooking it, especially if the quality of the meat might not be top shelf.Regardless of what your preferences are—and we’re not knocking any of ‘em—here are eleven mistakes to avoid on your next steak night.
4 Common Ways to Ruin Your Garlic
Garlic is arguable one of the most popular members of the allium family, followed by its close cousins—the onion and shallot. And for obvious reasons, garlic’s pungent flavor completely transforms any dish where it’s added. Despite the lingering odor that it may leave on your breath, garlic stands strong as an OG aromatic flavor agent that has been used for centuries. After all this time, how is it that we (meaning me and fellow home cooks) keep managing to mess things up with this powerful bulb? Here are the most common ways people get it wrong and how to improve your relationship with garlic moving forward.
7 Baking Mistakes You Can Stop Making Today
I admit it. I’ve been guilty of diving straight into a bag of flour with my measuring cup, packing the cup to the brim while gently sweeping off any excess flour with my finger. However, according to Pam Lolley, recipe developer and tester for the Time Inc. Food Studios, I (and I’m sure most of you all, too) have been doing it wrong all along. I recently sat down with Lolley and she schooled me on how to be a better baker with a few key tips that are sure to take your baking game to the next level.
6 Do’s and Don’ts of Storing Dry Spices
Spices are some of the longest-lasting ingredients you have in your kitchen, usually with a lifespan of many months to years for peak flavor and quality. But that doesn’t mean they’re completely invincible. If you’re looking for optimal flavor and longevity, tossing them in the back of your cabinet and shaking them over a hot pot every few weeks (or months) isn’t going to cut it—here’s how you store spices for peak potency.
Are You Cooking Your Chicken Upside-Down?
Some kitchen habits aren’t corrected until someone calls you on it. I vividly recall the first roommate who watched me dump French press grounds down the kitchen sink drain with horror. Then there were the post-sear pans I’d throw in the sink without deglazing (and making an awesome, three-minute sauce).Same goes with roast chickens. My first ones were less than ideal. I’d throw them in the oven still wet from the sink where I’d rinsed them. (I no longer rinse, and know that drying well is key to a crisp-skinned bird.)
Are You Drinking Champagne Wrong? 5 Tips From a Pro
So many clichés accompany Champagne that it’s tough to know where to start. Some open it dramatically, letting it spray everywhere (and wasting a quarter of the bottle). Others pop strawberries into flutes of the good stuff (two errors there). Then there’s that ice bucket, intended to keep bubbly super-cold—and thus blunting its gorgeous bouquet.When you’re drinking cheap Cava, Prosecco, or other sparkling wines, sure, it’s fine to get it very cold, mix it into cocktails, or enjoy it however you like. There’s no disputing taste, after all. But if you’ve splurged on a very fine bottle of French Champagne, you want to let it shine.
6 Mistakes You’re Probably Making When Cooking Rice
No doubt, everybody loves this super versatile grain—it can be used in dishes such as stir-fry, risotto, burritos, sushi, and Chinese takeout. A life without rice would be pretty sad.Yet rice needs to be cooked well in order to taste good, and if you’re messing up the cooking time or technique, you could be left with raw or lower quality rice that won’t enhance your dish the way it should.
4 Cooking Mistakes You’re Probably Making With Frozen Vegetables
When it comes to getting your greens in, it doesn’t matter if they’re bought fresh or frozen—you’re still getting that nutritional punch. If a vegetable is in season or on sale as fresh, or if you’re going to be cooking with it within a day or two or whipping up a crudité appetizer, it could be the right purchase at the time.However, for when you’re looking to keep veggies on hand for easy, spontaneous weeknight meals, or you want to get a better bang for your buck, frozen is totally the way to go.
Never Make this Mistake When Baking Cherry Pie
Making a fruit pie is like walking a tightrope—it’s all a matter of balance. Fruit is finicky and filled to the brim with moisture, which makes it a challenge to get a pie filling to cook and set properly. There’s a secret ingredient to making a fruit pie with the right consistency that we talk about here, but in addition to making a pie with good structure, there’s a surprising element of pie making that is sometimes neglected: flavor.I have a “nameless” relative who, without fail, succeeds in making the worst cherry pies in human history. They’re face-puckeringly tart—and she makes them every summer. Once, I found the courage to ask about her recipe and (not to my surprise) learned that she never changes it. That’s the problem.
9 Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Chicken, According to Chefs
While there are whole schools of thought on cooking steak—grilling evangelist Meathead Goldwyn pushes the reverse sear method, for example—chicken, for whatever reason, hasn’t inspired the same fervor. No one gets as excited about it.But according to the chefs we talked to, chicken is actually much harder to cook than steak. “Chicken is one of the most unforgiving types of meat,” says chef Jon Sloan, the culinary director at Crack Shack. “Unlike beef, it doesn't have any connected tissue or fat collagen, with the exception of the thigh.”
The One Dangerous Mistake You’re Making With Your Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are beloved for their set-it-and-forget-it style. The best slow cooker recipes require very little hands-on time, and make the machine do all the heavy lifting. Naturally, most of us don’t think twice when a recipe tells us to start with frozen chicken. After all, that’s the point—to let the slow cooker do the work of thawing and cooking the meat. Right?Not so fast, says the USDA.
5 Common Problems with Cast Iron Pans (and How to Fix Them)
A cast iron pan is one of the most important tools in any well-stocked kitchen. Besides being nearly indestructible, cast iron can be used in almost any setting imaginable, from the stovetop to in the oven to atop a campfire. However, if not cared for correctly, problems can arise with even the most well-seasoned examples. Here are five common problems with cast iron and how to fix them.
The One Mistake You’re Making When Cleaning Your Stovetop
Hosting a dinner party can come with many perks. Not only do you have an opportunity to catch up with old friends and get to know new acquaintances, but you also can impress guests with your cooking skills in the kitchen, serving them chef-quality pot roast and your grandmother’s secret recipe for flourless chocolate cake. Of course, once the festivities come to a close, you’re left with a sticky mess of maple syrup and grease from the meat all over the stove. Ugh.
5 Things You Should Never Do with Pre-Cooked Seafood
I recently bought a large bag of frozen, pre-cooked, ready-to-eat shrimp. I figured I’d whip up a salad or a side dish and simply reheat the shrimp—easy, right?I roasted some vegetables and potato wedges on a sheet pan in the oven, tossed some thawed shrimp onto the same pan to warm them up, walked away for a few minutes, and came back to the worst shrimp I’d ever tasted.
You Will Likely Do These 6 Dumb Things This Holiday Season, Here's How to Fix Them
Alright people, I’m going to jump right into it and admit that I am far from being perfect in the kitchen. Especially once the holiday season is upon us, it seems like every home and kitchen task is performed with just a little bit more eagerness (and consequently, haste) than usual, which amounts to one thing and one thing only—more mistakes. Because I want you and your kitchen to make it out of the final months of the year unscathed, here are a few reminders (some very obvious, but still worth noting) to help you avoid these common mistakes
The 12 Most Common Bread Baking Mistakes to Avoid
“Traditional, intuitive bread making does not lend itself naturally to a written recipe,” writes Bay Area baker Chad Robertson in his cookbook Tartine Bread.Judging based on my baking adventures so far, the James Beard Award-winning restaurateur is (no surprise!) quite correct. I recently made a slab pizza which I’d made about half a dozen times before, and for which the recipe recommended a food processor. This time, I used my hands and let the dough rise overnight instead. The resulting pie was the best yet—tender and toothsome in texture, properly bubbled with lots of airy pockets, and a real affinity for all the olive oil I’d slathered in its sheet pan.
Our Complete Guide to Marinating: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why
Upon asking one of our in-house grill masters, Test Kitchens Coordinator Mark Driskill, to work on a few marinade recipes (because this seemed like a responsible food editor thing to do at this point in the summer), it became [borderline embarrassingly] obvious that I’ve been walking around for the entirety of my adult life misunderstanding a cooking concept I took to be fairly simple. As Driskill began to break down how he would like to go about giving folks the tools they need to marinate like champs, I grew increasingly mind-blown over how many pieces of conventional wisdom I, a home cook who lacks both experience and enthusiasm when it comes to standing over a grill, had previously accepted, blindly, as true.