Chefs Divulge The Best Kitchen Tips All Home Cooks Should Know
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As someone who cooks for a large group pretty much daily, allow me to give you my biggest and best kitchen tip:
Clean. As. You. Cook.

You're probably not a professional kitchen running ten burners at once, you can likely find space to clean the counter or load a dish while your protein cooks. That way you can just eat and not have to worry about cleaning up after feeding your small army.

I just saved you from so much stress, wasted time, and frustration; I'm kind of a hero.

You're welcome, y'all.


Reddit user Sunieta25 asked:

"Cooks of Reddit, what is the best kitchen advice anyone should know?"

You might be a little caught off guard by what you find here, especially if you're expecting some secret recipe or little-known cooking technique.

You will absolutely not be surprised if you've worked in professional kitchens and your first thought was "Never trust the mandolin."

Because ...

Never Trust The Mandolin

"Use the edge guard when you use the mandolin."

- drjeffy

"I felt that pain all over again reading this comment. That thing scares me now."

- JesusDoesVegas

"Please please please. Spilled a fair amount of blood even with cut-resistant gloves."

- Esperillo

"When the recipe calls for three pounds of veg I buy four and just stop slicing well before I get close."

"No need to go all the way and risk it.. just buy the extra potato."

- grhymesforyou

"As an ER doctor, I second this advice."

- Csquared913

Giphy

A Burn Buffer

"Contrary to popular belief, it often doesn’t work out great if you add your chopped/minced garlic to hot oil/butter first."

"It burns so quickly and tastes yuck. I like to brown something else first, like onions, and then add the garlic. The onions are like a burn buffer!"

- thefastasleepside

"Even better is to understand why a 'burn buffer' works. It basically comes down the evaporation of water."

"Water boils at 100C and when it leaves the pan it takes heat away with it. You can put a pan full of water on the hottest stove around, and it's not going to get hotter than 100C until the water has virtually all evaporated."

"Put a thin layer of oil in the same pan and it will quickly reach much higher temperatures and the oil will smoke and burn."

"Most food contains water, and as that water escapes, it's reducing the amount of heat building up in the pan and in it's contents."

"But the water inside most foods can't get out as easily as plain water because some of it gets trapped inside the structure of the food, and can't escape until that structure breaks down enough via heating (and stirring, mashing)."

"So long as your onions are still releasing steam, they're reducing the amount of heat stored in the pan and it's contents and your garlic is less likely to burn. As soon as all the water is evaporated though, it'll burn quite quickly."

- Tiny_Mirror22

"Omg, I needed this 🥺 a newbie cook here."

- National_Style_6568

Baking Science

"You follow instructions when baking. You follow your heart when cooking."

- Frodo_noooo

"Baking is a perfect example of 'don't tear down walls unless you know why they were built.' "

"If you know the chemistry at play, and what each ingredient is doing, you can get creative. But in baking, every ingredient does something and seemingly benign add-ons or substitutions can change that something."

- ArthurBonesly

Tradition

"There is no such thing as 'authentic.' Cuisine is an ever changing thing. The food of any single place now was very different a hundred or more years ago because of constant changing of culture and trade within that culture."

"The word you should be using instead is, 'traditional' - and even that is not 100% perfect because what is traditional in one part of a country can be very different in another part of that same country. It can even go so far as being different going from household to household."

"But 'traditional' is the best term we have."

"With that said, 'traditional' is way overrated. If it was the be-all end-all, then our cuisines would be stagnant."

"Indian food would not have tomatoes and potatoes in it since those ingredients came from South and North America and not from the Asian continent."

"Mexican food would not have any beef or cheese in it since cows came from Europe. And you get the idea."

"So, have fun with mixing up cuisines. Instead of using sauerkraut for your German dish, you want to use Korean kimchi because you think the flavors will go well with each other? Go right ahead."

"Sure, there will be purest who will look down their nose at you but I am sure those purest have no problem having vanilla in their Italian gelato or using peanuts in their Thai noodle sauces. (Those ingredients are neither European or Asian.)"

- inksmudgedhands

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Knife Knowledge

"A blunt knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. Always keep your knives sharp."

- ticklemytinypickles

"And a dropped knife has no handle! Get out of the way and let it fall."

- RazorRamonReigns

"A slightly dull knife is dangerous because it makes slicing more difficult, but still possible. It just requires more pressure, which increases the likelihood that the knife will slip and cut something you weren’t meaning to cut."

- Shark-Farts

"Every single time I've cut myself in the kitchen there have been one of two explanations: I was drunk or my knife was dull."

"The former was a case of a lesson learned in one, but the latter cost my chunks of fingertips on four or five occasions before I made it a point to make sure my knife was sharp before I started cutting rather than finding out when I slip and hope a fingernail somehow deflects the blade."

- clecticDreck

While.

"Clean while you're cooking. While."

- DarkPasta

"This."

"People who consider themselves good cooks but leave behind a mountain of mess that someone else has to clean up are very rarely remembered for their cooking, but rather the mess they leave."

- c3l77

"This is something I wish I did sooner, definitely made things easier and cleared up more work space."

- ForgottenForce

"This will save you so much time. Even better when you have eager help from a guest (the kitchen is the gathering place, always). Just plug through."

- BrownEggs93

"I remember the first time I cleaned a pan after making spaghetti sauce in it, and realizing how easy and fast it was compared to dropping it off in the sink and coming back hours later to a caked on mess."

"And then it dawned on me that hot pans are easy as far to clean if you do it right away, and then you don't HAVE a post-meal mess to worry about after you eat. O.O "

- mdkubit

Dry Meat

"If you want crispness on the outsides of your meats, you should pat them dry before seasoning and putting them in oven or over heat."

"And you should let most meats sit for 10ish minutes after taking them off heat."

- apeanutbutterpopcorn

"Also, if you are breading meat, patting it dry is useful, too."

"Pat the meat dry with a paper towel, dredge it in flour/salt/pepper/seasoning mixture, then through beaten egg, then through bread crumbs."

"This will keep your breading from peeling off the meat when you pan fry it."

- UncomfortablyNumb43

Adding Acid

"Sometimes when you think something needs more salt, what it really needs is acid - lemon juice, vinegar, etc."

- Acceptable_Medicine2

"I was going to post this, because it’s the best cooking tip I’ve ever received. I’ll also add that you should choose that acid based on what you are cooking."

"Italian? Try some red wine vinegar."

"Mexican? Try some lime juice, etc."

- outoftuneGstring2112

Giphy

Quit Complicating It

"Always be suspicious of recipes that have a lot of ingredients, relatively speaking."

"When you find a recipe you want to try, compare it to a few similar ones from a generic Google search, and try and find what the 'core' of the recipe is."

"It's pretty common for food bloggers to add a little something extra to what they're making, but this can often be unnecessary at best, and detrimental at worst."

"I'll give you an example - here's a recipe for teriyaki sauce from the New York Times:"
"1 cup soy sauce"
"1 cup granulated sugar"
"1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar"
"6 cloves garlic, crushed in a press"
"2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger"
"¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper"
"1 3-inch cinnamon stick"
"1 tablespoon pineapple juice"
"2 tablespoons cornstarch"

"And here's one from a Japanese source, Just One Cookbook:"
"½ cup sake"
"½ cup mirin"
"½ cup soy sauce"
"¼ cup sugar"

"Now, both are going to taste fine, but the additions of cinnamon, molasses, and pineapple juice in the NYT recipe ended up getting lost after cooking."

"Flavors like ginger, garlic and pepper, while nice additions, are better incorporated through a side dish, like a fried rice."

"A great way to start cooking more simply is to practice with Italian pasta dishes. Simple, regional pastas like aglio e olio, cacio e pepe, trenette al pesto, and carbonara are all made with less than 10 ingredients."

"They force you to focus on your cooking techniques to get them right, and really show off the power of highlighting one or two flavors in a dish rather than making a hodgepodge of good flavors that are competing with each other."

- AnomalousGonzo

Happy Accidents

"Accidents in steps and ingredients can sometimes lead to great discoveries. The longer you keep trying things the better you will get."

- dmtaylor34

"Worcestershire sauce- accident. Guinness- accident."

- igenus44

"Puff pastry- accident."

- lurkyturkyducken

No need to chill

"Not all fruits and veggies need to be immediately refrigerated. If they aren’t at the grocery store, they’ll probably be fine on your kitchen counter and it’ll help retain the flavors. Especially tomatoes!"

-apeanutbutterpopcorn

"Not only are tomatoes fine on the counter, that's where they're better off. DON'T refrigerate your tomatoes."

-BosoxH60

"There's something about their cellular structure, it starts breaking down under 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, never store onions and tomatos together, it makes the maters rot quicker"

-ConfectionPutrid5847

Bacon!!

"Cooking bacon in the oven is exponentially easier to perfect and clean up. Oven 405, line baking sheet with tin foil and lay bacon flat. Cook 13-15 minutes. perfect every time, then when fat on foil starts to harden you can just throw it away with no mess. You can also cook a lot more at once this way"

-apeanutbutterpopcorn

"Pro tip: put the bacon on baking sheet into a cold oven, set to 405 and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Why a cold oven? Bacon is fatty, needs to be cooked slowly, at a low temperature, so that most (but not all) of the fat renders away while leaving the finished product crispy and golden brown. So at 15 minutes, start watching the bacon closely- you want the bacon golden brown, but not excessively crisp,m. The exact time will depend on the thickness of the bacon slices and how quickly your oven reaches the target temperature."

-tbarb00

"I put the bacon grease on our dogs food, usually have enough for 2 meals for them & of course they love it!"

-MyTurkishWade

parks and rec bacon GIFGiphy

prep, always prep.

"Have ingredients prepared before starting to cook.
It seems quite a Pinterest thing, but having the ingredients cut, weighed and peeled let you make everything in the moment it need to be done. And you'll cook faster."

"Many recipes can be spoiled if you have to stop everything and prepare some ingredient. Butter or eggs at room temperature, defrosted food or anything you have to cook beforehand, are also great examples."

-nora_morgendorffer

"for my ADHD brain I absolutely have to do this, otherwise I will accidentally leave out an ingredient, every time, or my chicken will still be in the freezer, or something like that"

-astrangewindblows

" 'Mise en place' is the professional cooking term for this"

-ConnoisseurOfDanger

"I like to do that the first few times doing a recipe, but many recipes have dead time that can be used to prep later ingredients instead of just sitting there waiting. You just need to know the whole process well enough to identify what needs to be ready first and what can be done in the middle of things."

-ddejong42

Multi-Surface situation

"Carbon steel skillets (or cast iron) are the way to go. Season them and the treat them well and they will last a lifetime. Never again use a teflon coated aluminum pan."

-Tiderace

"I love carbon steel. Cooks like cast iron without the extra weight, but I still have regular aluminum for sauces - particularly tomato. (And sometimes non-stick for eggs, of course.)"

-B-WingPilot

"My general view is variety makes sense here. People buy sets of pots with the same finish for the aesthetics of it, but really you want different finishes for different techniques."

"Carbon steel for when you need to change temps rapidly, like making a sauce. Cast iron for when you want the pan to hold heat, like searing. Non-stick for eggs."

-owleabf

Keep trying.

" 'I don't know how to cook' I learned at the age of 37 and there are so many cook books that focus on minimal ingredients and that are cheap to by. JUST TRY and if you mess it up, try again before long you'll be a pretty good cook and be confident to try more trickier recipes"

-LJCMOB

"This here! Just keep attempting things and let experience be the great teacher it is."

-SimplyDirectly

"Agreed, I've messed up so many recipes but got it right the 2nd or 3rd time round. Also I cooked the first one just for me, so if it was horrible it was only me that had to suffer through it."

-LJCMOB

major payne GIFGiphy

Weighing vs measuring

'When measuring flour, use a scale not a measuring cup. Due to how flour is packed, the same amount can change up to 25% in volume. The same 120gr of flour can take up 1 cup or 4/5 a cup or 1 1/4 cup. Imagine it like having ten pairs of pants. You can roll them up and fit them in a little backpack or you just throw them in a suitcase. Learnt it the hard way baking bread."

-OanhHeckofAStory

"I was taught to spoon the flour into a measuring cup to avoid packed flour then scraped the top of with the back of a butter knife. Is this wrong?"

-Ct-5736-Bladez

"Totally correct. Spoon and leveled changed my baking game and now I make awesome cupcakes."

-shuateau

"That's an American thing though. Here in Portugal only pudding recipes (it's all liquid) come in cups. Even my great-grandparents had kitchen scales."

-collectornsfw

Salmonella!!

"Clean. Everything. That. Touches. Raw. Chicken. This is no joke. Dogs can get salmonella as can children and everyone in the house, don’t be lazy with raw chicken. That is all. I’ve seen plenty of people that are lazy and don’t care and it’s usually those people that get sick. I don’t care how lazy you are, sometimes you really have to be careful."

"Always make sure people know if you’re behind them if you’re cooking with others and dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones. Dull knives require more force and it leaves a nastier cut than a sharp one would. Those are all my general tips."

-[Reddit]

"Also, dont wash chicken in the sink/don't wash chicken at all. It's sufficient to properly heat it, but if you wash it when raw, Salmonella can get in your sink and stay there for a long time."

-Dependent-Status-880

season 9 episode 21 GIF by SpongeBob SquarePantsGiphy

Skills over everything

"Learn techniques, not recipes."

"Recipes are fine, and great to get a meal to taste exactly the same, but what you really want to do is learn the technique behind each recipe."

"Learn to make basic sauces: béchamel sauce, veloute sauce, brown or Espagnole sauce, Hollandaise sauce and tomato sauce."

Learn how to cook an egg properly, how to stew, how to braise, learn how to fry. (not just deep fried, but pan fried and stir fry as well), how to roast, learn how to steam, how to sauté, learn how to grill, how to make a stock.

"Then practice by brining it all together. Once you have the techniques you can experiment with combinations, different ingredients, and try spices. You won't always succeed, but you'll build the basic knowledge that will let you tackle any recipe you find."

"If you know how to make the five sauces that alone gives you five basic things to pour or drizzle on food you just cooked. Use the basic techniques of frying you can figure out how to fry any item you come across."

-Kiyohara

How many do you need?

"When cutting different products (e.g. dairy, red meat, fowl, poultry, greens, and hotbgoods) use different cutting boards to avoid contamination."

"And ALWAYS keep the workplace and your tools clean"

-M2-99-ROU

"I have my general cutting board and then one specifically for chicken. But. I always cut produce then any meats so there isn't cross contamination."

-RivetheadGirl

"For me personally we do 3: 1 with a drip ring for meat products, 1 for fruits/similar that would otherwise absorb garlic/onion flavor and 1 big workhorse for everything else."

-owleabf


Is there anything you'd add to this list that you don't see?

Or something here you want to boo-hiss about because you disagree so much?

Tell us in the comments.

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