81 Ways to Become a Better Cook

Whether you have trouble boiling water or are a foodie who loves spending time behind the stove, these tips and tricks will make chefs of all levels better at their game.

Golden Rules for the Kitchen

71. If you’re cooking for someone important, never try a new recipe and a new ingredient at the same time.

72. Always read a recipe from start to finish before you start cooking.

73. Quality ingredients are always the most forgiving.

74. Remember: Recipes are guides, not rules. Amounts are never absolute—add a pinch, scale back a tad.

75. Don’t crowd any pan—leave the food alone so it has room to cook.

76. Taste as you go so you can adjust seasoning as needed.

77. Impress your guests. Serve hot meals on hot plates; cold meals on chilled plates. Use your oven or freezer to start heating or cooling the plates 10 minutes before it’s time to eat.

78. Time your salting. Salting early draws out moisture. That means crispier meat but soggy veggies. Save the salt for the end if you want a food to fully caramelize.

79. Practice mise en place (the fancy French term for “putting everything in place”) before you actually start making a recipe. You’ll never start to cook thinking you have all the ingredients when you don’t. And you’ll never scorch food while doing the prep that should have been done before you turned on the heat.

80. Use a timer. Mistakes happen most when chefs lose track of time.

81. Get a grip. Holding a knife properly is paramount—don’t grip the handle like you’re grabbing a pot handle or firmly shaking your boss’s hand. With your index finger and thumb, pinch the top part of the blade close to the handle while loosely holding the handle with your other fingers.

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