Top 15 Cooking Tips

Did y’all see the May 2011 issue of Food Network magazine? I don’t typically rip out entire articles, just a recipe here and there, but this one had such a great section on their top 100 cooking tips that I ripped all eight pages out.  I’ve pulled the tips that really resonated with me to share with you. Hope you learn something, as I did.

  1. Remember, y’all, it’s all about the prep. Take away the stress by doing the prep the night or day before. You’ll look like a star.   – Paula Deen
  2. Cook pasta 1 minute less than the package instructions and cook it the rest of the way in the pan with sauce.  – Mario Batali
  3. Brine, baby, brine! Ya gotta brine that poultry to really give it the super flavor. – Guy Fieri  (I have a great brined turkey breast recipe)
  4. For an easy weeknight meal, save and freeze leftover sauces from previous meals in ice cube trays. The cubes can be reheated in a sauté pan when you need a quick sauce. – David Burke
  5. Instead of placing a chicken on a roasting rack, cut thick slices of onion, put them in an oiled pan, then place the chicken on top. The onion will absorb the chicken juices. After roasting, let the chicken rest while you make a sauce with the onions by adding a little stock or water to the pan and cooking it for about 3 minutes on high heat. – Donald Link
  6. Take the time to actually read recipes through before you begin. – John Besh
  7. Recipes are only a guideline, not the Bible. Feel comfortable replacing ingredients with similar ingredients that you like. If you like oregano but not thyme, use oregano. – Alex Seidel
  8. Invest in parchment paper for lining pans. It makes all of your baked goods super easy to remove, and it makes cleanup a dream (no butter-flour mixture or errant batter to scrape off). – Matt Lewis
  9. Always measure what you’re baking. No shortcuts in pastry: It’s a science. – Francois Payard
  10. Have your mise en place ready: Do all of your cutting of vegetables and meat and make your sauces before you start cooking.  – Richard Sandoval
  11. Clean as you go. (Dorky, but I swear it really helps.) – Rick Bayless
  12. Make sure the handle of your sauté pan is turned away from you so you don’t hit it and knock it off the stove. It happens all the time. – Jonathan Waxman
  13. Don’t dress the salad when having a big party. Leave it on the side and let the people do it themselves. I’ve had too many soggy salads because of this. – Marc Forgione
  14. When baking cookies, be sure your dough is thoroughly chilled when it goes on your baking pan. This will allow the leavening ingredients to work before the butter flattens out and your cookies lose their textural distinctions. – Norman Van Aken
  15. I read this recently on a blog (please tell me if it’s yours so I can give you credit!). For leftover tomato paste, put 1 Tbsp dollops on a sheet of wax paper, cover with another sheet of wax paper, and flatten.  Freeze and then put the “coins” in a freezer storage bag for use with another recipe.  EDIT: I found where this tip came from…Mommie Cooks!

What’s your favorite cooking tip?  Let’s all learn from each other. Leave a comment below.


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  1. c.e.l.i.n.a

    I missed comment hour last night! So sorry. What great tips!

    ♥ theMRS.

    Settle a debate we are having at work- DO YOU think it’s ok for your husband/boyfriend to go out with other women who are “just friends”? Give your two cents {HERE}

  2. Anne @ Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy

    Good tips! My DH would certainly appreciate it if I followed the “clean as you go” advice. I’m so bad at that! My only advice echoes some of what was already mentioned – make extra and freeze it for super fast meals when needed. I should heed my own advice more often;)

  3. Jo

    i always keep frozen cubes of chicken stock in the freezer for when i just need a little. i also do the tomato paste thing but i just dump it in a plastic bag and break off chunks as needed!
    i hate cleaning up after myself- my advice is to make someone else do it 😉

  4. mub

    Oh the last tip is by far my favorite! I started buying the tiny cans of tomato paste instead of the larger ones even though they’re a little more expensive per gram because I felt like I was wasting so much! Now I will just buy the bigger cans and freeze the leftovers.

  5. Claire @ Claire K Creations

    I’m a bit of a culprit when it comes to not reading the recipe through. I do always measure and prep everything before I start a recipe though so at least I have everything out when I discover I’ve missed a step.
    Cleaning up as you go is a good one too. So much nicer to finish a meal and have the kitchen nearly clean rather than a sink full of dirty dishes and pots and pans.

  6. 2commentaristas

    I definitely agree; clean as you go!! I remember when I was young and just learning how to do things like baking (which I still enjoy), and I thought I could hold off on the clean up until after the task was done. HAHA, oh how wrong I was! I know the kitchen is kinda supposed to look like a hurricane hit it when you’re working, but that was more like… the hand of god came down or something. Never again!

    visiting from #commenthour

  7. Grams

    Love those tips. My homemaking teacher taught me to take all the ingredients out and line them up in the order you will use them. That will insure two things, that you actually have everything you need and that you don’t accidentally leave something out. It’s worked for me for many years.

  8. Amy W.

    Amy, I actually have that list as well and thought about incorporating it into a blog. They put together some great tips and tricks. I have incorporated quite a few of these into my everyday cooking.

    Stopping by from SITS.

  9. Roxana GreenGirl

    what a great list of tips.

    Take the time to actually read recipes through before you begin – I really should pay more attention to this tip, I sometimes find myself in the middle of baking and realize my way is totally different :)))

    Happy weekend Amy

  10. Brittany

    My favorite cooking tip is number 3. I discovered brining last year and have since become addicted. It’s so easy to make a brine during the day and let it cool, and let the meat brine overnight making for tender, moist, and tasty meat the next day.

  11. Megan

    Awesome tips, thanks so much for sharing these! I’m trying to think of one to share but my mind is drawing a blank right now. If I do think of anything I’ll come back and let you know.

  12. Jenn Erickson

    An excellent and essential list of tips, with #6 and #9 being the cardinal rules of cooking and baking respectively. #15 is new to me, and one I will definitely do with left-over tomato paste — brilliant!

    Jenn/Rook No. 17

  13. Ketutar

    What I can say is that your #9 is BS.
    Just think about it. Take five different recipes for… let’s say angel cake. They all give different amounts of ingredients, probably different ingredients as well, and they are baked in different temperatures for different time. Still – you get perfectly fine angel cake every time. Might be that it’s not bakery standard, but neither are we… and shouldn’t have such impossible standards either.
    These baking dictators will tell you to see that your flour doesn’t get old, that you should never use butter, or always use butter, they will tell you this and that, and in the end, a home baker cannot even be sure of that his/her oven holds a certain temperature! Or that his/her scales are showing the exact weight… or what about the temperature of the day, or humidity or air pressure or latitude or… Don’t listen to them. They will just make the lovely fun of baking into a stressful and scary experience.
    Sure, baking is science, it’s chemistry, but it’s not a PRECISE science 😀 It’s cooking, not rocket science or brain surgery 😀

    My first tip is to have fun in the kitchen. Take it easy, have fun and remember that you are only a human being and some of the greatest cooking inventions were accidents, like molten chocolate cake 😉

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