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14 Simple Ways Anyone Can Elevate Their Cooking Skills

Here’s the deal: no one becomes Gordon Ramsey overnight. I mean, even Gordon Ramsey didn’t become Gordon Ramsey overnight. 

It takes time to master the art of cooking, and there’s no better time to start than now. 

I used to joke that I wasn’t a good cook and felt sorry for the man I would marry one day. But I’ve since learned that it’s really the little things that make someone a good cook, and here’s the secret–anyone can do it. Here are 14 simple and easy tips to elevate your kitchen game.

Master the Art of Mise en Place

Man hands prepping ingredients to cook.
Image Credit: KucherAV and Shutterstock

This one is probably the most important. Mise en place, a French culinary phrase meaning “everything in its place,” encourages cooks to prepare and organize ingredients before beginning to cook. This practice not only streamlines the cooking process but also reduces stress, ensuring that no ingredient is forgotten or improperly measured.

So, go ahead and break out those cute prepping bowels. By adopting mise en place, cooks can improve their efficiency and precision, leading to consistently better-cooked meals.

Practice Knife Skills

chef cutting onion with chef knife cutting board cheese oil on table.
Image Credit: Anton27 and Shutterstock

Did you know there’s a right way to cut an onion, pepper, tomato…garlic? Well, there is.

Invest in a high-quality, sharp knife and put it to work. Good knife skills are a cornerstone of proficient cooking, affecting the quality of the food both aesthetically and in terms of cooking time and flavor development.

Techniques like chopping, dicing, and julienning can make preparation quicker and safer. Plus, well-cut ingredients cook more evenly and present beautifully, making every meal more appealing.

Explore a Variety of Cooking Techniques

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Expanding one’s repertoire of cooking techniques—from braising and sautéing to steaming and grilling—can greatly enhance culinary skills. Each technique offers a different way to unlock flavors and textures in ingredients. Learning these methods provides home cooks with the flexibility to experiment with recipes and adapt them according to their taste preferences and the ingredients available.

Understand Flavor Pairing and Seasoning

Man cooking.
Image Credit: AlexLipa and depositphoto

Don’t be afraid of the seasoning. Developing a sense of how flavors combine and complement each other can transform a cook from good to great.

Experiment with herbs, spices, and seasonings from different cuisines to elevate a dish from simple to spectacular. Understanding the balance of flavor elements like sweet, salty, sour, and bitter ensures that every dish is well-rounded and delicious.

Master Seasoning by Feel

Chef cook pours sea salt on raw steak on wooden chopped board. Backstage of preparing grilled pork meat in kitchen.
Image Credit: Anton27 and Shutterstock

Learn to trust your instincts like all good chefs. Use your fingers to measure out pinches of salt or spices instead of relying solely on measuring spoons. This tactile method helps you develop a more intuitive sense of seasoning, enhancing your ability to balance and perfect flavors naturally.

Learn to Use Recipes but Improvise as Needed

Focused man cooking using a knife looking at recipe on computer.
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Learning to improvise in cooking involves more than just substituting ingredients. It’s about understanding the fundamental principles behind a recipe and feeling confident enough to experiment.

By grasping the basics of how ingredients function together, cooks can adjust recipes on the fly, accommodate dietary preferences, or simply get creative based on what’s available in the pantry. This skill enhances problem-solving abilities and can lead to delightful culinary discoveries.

Learn to Control Heat

Chef hands cooking with wok over fire.
Image Credit: Depiction Images and Shutterstock

Understanding how different levels of heat affect foods can make a substantial difference in cooking. Knowing when to sear, simmer, or bake at the right temperature prevents overcooking and helps in developing complex flavors and textures. This control is crucial not just for meats but for vegetables and desserts as well, ensuring every dish is cooked perfectly.

Taste as You Go

pretty woman holding cooking ladle spoon while eating soup with fresh vegetables in kitchen.
Image Credit: Dean Drobot and Shutterstock

Ever wonder why the best cooks never want to eat when they’re done cooking…well, it’s because they’re not hungry anymore.

One of the most important aspects of improvising is tasting your cooking throughout the process. This allows you to adjust seasoning and flavors according to your preferences and ensures that the end product is to your liking.

Experiment With International Cuisines

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Diving into the culinary traditions of different cultures not only broadens a cook’s palate but also introduces new ingredients and methods. Whether it’s mastering the delicate balance of Thai flavors, the robust heartiness of Italian dishes, or the intricate spices of Indian cuisine, each experience adds depth and diversity to one’s cooking skills.

Perfect the Use of Acids

variety of oils on counter with peppers.
Image Credit: Belchonock
and Depositphotos

Incorporating acids like vinegars, wines, citrus juices, or even tamarind can brighten dishes and provide a counterbalance to rich, heavy components. Learning how to use acids effectively can elevate a dish from flat to vibrant, offering a new dimension to flavors and making even the simplest food stand out.

Make Stocks and Sauces From Scratch

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Image Credit: Just Life and Shutterstock

Homemade stocks and sauces serve as the foundation for countless recipes in gourmet cooking. Learning how to build layers of flavor through stocks and how to reduce sauces to enhance their taste and texture can be a game changer. This skill not only improves the quality of the dishes but also reduces wastage in the kitchen.

Bake With Precision

Little girl and her mother happy smiling baking cookies in kitchen.
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot and Shutterstock

Baking requires exact measurements, temperatures, and timing, distinguishing it from other cooking forms. Developing baking skills can teach discipline and precision, crucial attributes in all cooking areas. Additionally, understanding the science behind how ingredients like flour, sugar, and yeast interact can improve problem-solving skills for all recipes.

Cook With Others

Five friends cooking at kitchen, having a lot of fun.
Image Credit: Ground Picture and Shutterstock

Get social in the kitchen. Invite friends or family to cook with you. It’s not just about sharing recipes—it’s about swapping stories, tips, and maybe a few laughs (or friendly debates) over the best way to roll a meatball. Cooking together isn’t just fun; it’s a chance to learn from each other’s techniques and expand your culinary repertoire.

Commit to Consistent Practice

Group of people happy smiling talking taking cooking class together.
Image Credit: Ground Picture and Shutterstock

Practice makes perfect. Commit to learning more about cooking, watching cooking shows, taking cooking classes, and just cooking to hone your skills.

Try a different recipe at least once a week. Over time, this consistent practice helps you refine your techniques, deepen your understanding of culinary principles, and improve your cooking skills.

Everyone’s Least Favorite Parts of Cooking

Happy woman cooking at kitchen.
Image Credit: takayuki and Shutterstock.

Even the most passionate and enthusiastic home cooks have some aspect of cooking they despise. It can’t be rainbows and sunshine in the kitchen all the time.

As people say, “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.” Unfortunately, you also have to chop onions, grab the milk, dirty a pan, watch the omelet, and wipe the stove afterward. As much as we love making a new recipe or crafting a familiar favorite, we want to share some of our culinary complaints.

15 Must-Have Kitchen Tools Every Cook Needs Without the Clutter

Happy couple in bright kitchen preparing lots of vegetables on counter.
Image Credit: Gorodenkoff and Shutterstock

Having the right tools in the kitchen can make cooking more efficient and enjoyable. However, having too much of anything can be overwhelming and unnecessary.

Streamline your cooking process with the necessary tools to free up much-needed space and simplify cooking.

Decluttering unnecessary items and keeping the right tools means each tool serves a vital function in the kitchen. Here’s a list of 15 must-have kitchen tools and the corresponding items that can be discarded to minimize clutter while maximizing utility.

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