Hamburgers cooking on the BBQ
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Foods You've Been Cooking Wrong Your Whole Life

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Hamburgers cooking on the BBQ
EllenMoran/istockphoto

Put Down That Spatula

Cooking isn’t always easy. Even some of the easiest dishes are commonly made incorrectly. Luckily, most mistakes you may make have very simple fixes. From overcooking boiled eggs to messing up your salad, here are foods you’ve been cooking wrong and how to cook them correctly in the future. 


Related: 21 Cooking Hazards That Could Have Disastrous Results

Sunny side up eggs (Click for more)
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Sunny Side Up Eggs

There are many ways to mess up your eggs, from overcooking your eggs to skipping an ice bath. A common mistake when making eggs sunny side up is cooking without a lid, which will result in a perfect yolk, but your egg whites underneath will end up undercooked. A few drops of water and a lid make all the difference.


Related:25 Kitchen Mistakes You're Probably Still Making

fresh organic brussels sprouts raw in a plate on wooden background.
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Recipe for Inari sushi, a traditional Japanese home-cooked dish
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Rice

Making the perfect rice can be tricky. It’s easy to want to peek in on your rice, but lifting the lid will cause the temperature to drop immediately, resulting in overcooked outsides and mushy insides. To cook rice perfectly, wash it first to remove excess starch to ensure your grains are separated.

Hot Bacon With Steam Isolated on Black
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Bacon

Why are you making bacon on the stove when the instructions are in the name — you should be bakin’ it. There are so many perks to cooking bacon in the oven. Placing the bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet saves it from getting burned and avoids a greasy cleanup. Protip: start with a cold oven, and your bacon won’t curl up and shrink.


Related: Cooking Myths to Kick Out of Your Kitchen

A collection of different varieties tomatoes at a market in Nice, France
RubyRascal/istockphoto

Marinara Sauce

Adding sugar to your marinara sauce to combat the tomato’s acidity is a common kitchen hack, but it’s not the best option. Instead, try a better tomato — like a San Marzano plum tomato — so you won’t need any sugar. You can also use sweet potato, baking soda, or cinnamon to combat the bitter taste of the marinara sauce.

Fresh raw green Asparagus on wooden chopping board
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Asparagus

If you’ve ever made asparagus, you’ve probably been told to cut the thick base off of each piece before cooking. But how high should you cut, and is it the same for each piece? The trick is simple. Use your hands to bend the ends. They’ll naturally snap in the right place.

Barbecue
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Chicken Breasts and Pork Chops

It’s easy to cook chicken breast and pork chops too long, resulting in an overcooked, dry piece of meat. Unlike a steak, these meats have to be cooked fully to avoid foodborne illness, which is probably why so many people overcook their meats. To get the perfect piece of fully cooked, juicy meat, invest in a meat thermometer and be sure to cook at the right temperature.


Related: 35 Foods That Are Dangerous If Not Prepared Properly

Closeup of Garlic bulbs on wooden table with garlics blur background.A set of fresh garlic on the chest wooden background.
IURII BUKHTA/istockphoto

Garlic

Garlic is a staple in most savory dishes, so it’s surprising that many of us are cooking it incorrectly. It is very easy to burn your garlic, which makes the food taste bitter and can ruin the whole dish. To avoid burning your garlic, try grating instead of chopping and avoid cooking it at too high of a temperature.


Barbecue Rib Eye Steak or rump steak - Dry Aged Wagyu Entrecote Steak
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Steak

Cooking a steak at home can feel intimidating because it’s so easy to get it wrong. Many people are making steak the wrong way by oiling the pan, cooking the steak while it’s still ice cold from the fridge, or just cooking it on one side. Making the perfect steak requires patience. Let the meat rest and come to room temperature before cooking it. It’s also important to oil the steak, not the pan.

Friends Serving spaghetti Bolognese on a table at sunset. There are glasses of wine and salad on the table; close up tight crop
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Pasta

Did you know you should keep a cup of pasta water when making a pasta dish? Pasta should be cooked al dente, meaning firm to the bite. Once you’ve got your firm pasta, you’ll add the pasta water to the pasta, which will keep cooking it while also making sure the sauce sticks to the pasta.

Close up woman in white t-shirt cooking salad with motion effect at home kitchen. Process of cooking healthy food, vegetable salad concept. Menu, recipe book banner
Mariia Skovpen/istockphoto

Salad

Do you ever try to make a salad at home only to end up with a sad bowl of bland, wilted greens? You’re probably making a few mistakes. Washing your greens is important, but so is drying them, or you’ll end up with a soggy salad. If you’ve got darker greens, like kale, try giving them a massage before putting your salad together. Add salt and lemon to your greens and massage until they’re softer.

Close-up of a cod fillet with rosemary on a plate
Tuned_In/istockphoto

Fish

Fish sticking to the pan is a very common problem when making fish at home. Fortunately, there’s a simple fix. First, make sure your pan is heated to its smoking point. While waiting for the pan to get hot enough, ensure your fish has been towel-dried because oil and water don’t mix. Once your fish is dry, you can add your seasonings of choice and add it to the pan. Once you place the fish, it's crucial that you don’t move it around. Just flip it when necessary.

Hamburgers cooking on the BBQ
EllenMoran/istockphoto

Burgers

Why is it that when you order a burger at a restaurant, it comes out thick and juicy, but at home, it’s flat and dry? You’re most likely doing a few little things wrong that can make all the difference. First, make sure you don’t overwork the patty. Next, don’t press down on the meat with the spatula every few minutes. That will release all the juices, leaving you with a dry burger.

Eggs under running water
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Boiled Eggs

Do you ever boil an egg for the exact time needed to get the desired yolk consistency, only to crack it later and discover it’s overcooked? This is because you’re probably skipping a crucial step in the process. Once your eggs are done cooking, transfer them to an ice bath immediately. An ice bath will stop the cooking process, giving you the perfect egg.

Baked Potato with Sea Salt and Olive Oil
GMVozd/istockphoto

Baked Potatoes

You’ve probably made baked potatoes wrapped in foil at least once, but that’s not the best way to make a baked potato. The foil will keep all the moisture in, steaming your potato instead of baking it. To get the perfect spud, complete with crispy skin, start by washing a russet potato, poking it all over with a fork, and covering it in oil and kosher salt before putting it on a lined baking tray. This method will give you a fluffy inside with crispy potato skin on the outside. 


Related: Celebrate Spuds With 27 Tasty Ways to Cook Potatoes