Cooking is a lot of fun, but it’s easy to make a few common mistakes that can mess up your meal. Simple things can make a world of difference in the finished dish. Fortunately, once you know what to watch out for, it’s easy to avoid these mishaps. Here are the things people do most often that make a big impact on the final result.

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Overcrowding the Pan

Chicken and mushrooms in a skillet with a wooden spoon.
Garlic Chicken Bites. Photo credit: Running to the Kitchen.

Crowding the pan can cause food to steam instead of sear, leading to soggy results. Avoid this by cooking in batches, giving each piece enough space to brown properly. This ensures a nice, crispy texture and better flavor. For best results, use a larger pan or cook in stages.

Not Preheating the Pan

Pork chop is sitting in a pan with a spoon.
Skillet Pork Chops. Photo credit: Running to the Kitchen.

Starting with a cold pan results in uneven cooking. Always give your pan a few minutes to heat up before adding food to allow everything to cook evenly. Preheating helps get a good sear and prevents food from sticking. A properly heated pan can make a big difference in the final outcome.

Using Dull Knives

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Dull knives can slip and cause accidents, making chopping and slicing difficult and dangerous. Keep your knives sharp by honing them regularly and getting them professionally sharpened when needed. Sharp knives make prep work quicker and safer, giving you clean, precise cuts.

Underseasoning Food

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Adding too little seasoning can make your dishes taste bland. Taste as you cook and adjust the seasoning gradually with salt, pepper and herbs. Don’t be afraid to season in layers, adding a bit at each stage of cooking to build depth and complexity in the flavors.

Not Letting Meat Rest

Grilled steak with peppercorns on a wooden board, accompanied by herbs, tomatoes, and potato wedges on the side.
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Cutting into meat immediately after cooking causes juices to run out, making it dry. Let meat rest for a few minutes before slicing to retain its juices. Resting allows the juices to redistribute, so that your meat stays juicy and flavorful. A good rule is to let it rest for about 5-10 minutes. Tenting it with a dish or aluminum foil can help keep the heat in while allowing the meat to rest.

Cooking Meat Straight from the Fridge

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Throwing cold meat into a hot pan can result in uneven cooking. Let your meat sit at room temperature for about 15-30 minutes before cooking to make sure it cooks evenly. This simple step helps achieve a perfect doneness throughout.

Overmixing Batter or Dough

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Overmixing can lead to dense and tough baked goods. Mix just until the ingredients are combined to keep your cakes, muffins and breads light and fluffy. Be gentle and avoid overworking the dough, especially with recipes that require a tender crumb.

Not Reading the Recipe Fully

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Skipping through the recipe can lead to missed steps and mistakes. Always read the entire recipe before starting to understand the process and prepare all ingredients. This helps you stay organized and ensures you have everything you need on hand. It’s especially important with baking!

Using the Wrong Oil

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Not all oils are created equal; some are better for high-heat cooking, while others are best for dressings. Use oils with a high smoke point for frying and olive oil for salads and low-heat cooking to enhance flavor without burning.

Ignoring Cooking Times

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Overcooking or undercooking can ruin a dish. Pay attention to suggested cooking times, but also rely on visual and sensory cues like smell, texture, and color to ensure your food is perfectly cooked. Adjust the heat as needed to avoid burning or drying out your food. Remember, every oven runs differently so investing in an over thermometer is a cheap and effective way to make sure your dish is cooked perfectly every time.

These 12 Common Food Safety Mistakes Are Putting You and Your Family In Danger

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It’s easy to think you’re on top of everything in your kitchen, but even the most vigilant among us can slip up with food safety. Surprisingly, many of these slips are with everyday habits that we barely give a second thought. Here are the common mistakes that could be putting you and your family at risk so you can clean up your act and keep your kitchen safe.

Read it Here: These 12 Common Food Safety Mistakes Are Putting You and Your Family In Danger

12 Foods You Think Are Healthy But Aren’t

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It’s easy to be fooled by foods that carry a healthy label but don’t live up to the hype. From snack bars packed with sugar to salads drenched in high-calorie dressing, misleading healthy foods are everywhere. We’re uncovering the top foods you might think are good for you but could actually sabotage your diet.

Read it Here: 12 Foods You Think Are Healthy But Aren’t

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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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