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10 Common Kitchen Tool Mistakes To Avoid

And how to fix them.

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1. Using a serrated knife to only cut bread.

simpleveganblog.com

Besides bread, a serrated knife is really useful for cutting through soft foods like tomatoes because it'll slice cleanly without crushing them down. To do so: Grip the blade with your thumb and index finger, palming the handle — and bear claw the ingredients to keep them in place. Get more tips from the NYT Cooking guide to Basic Knife Skills.

Above: Practice your chopping with a veggie heavy recipe like these oil-free rainbow roasted vegetables. Check out the recipe on the Simple Vegan Blog.

2. Spiralizing zoodles — but tossing out half the zucchini because you're afraid to get your fingers near the blade.

Emily Shwake / cottercrunch.com

The simple solution to not wasting any food, and keeping your fingers in tact? A fork. If you stick a fork into the end of the vegetable, you can twist the fork and spiralize the whole thing without getting your fingers close to the blade. Alternatively, if you don't want to deal with a hand-held spiralizer, just use a peeler for quick, ribbon-like veggie strands.

Above: Make this vegan sweet potato spaghetti from Cotter Crunch, then add some protein with these vegan meatballs.

3. Using a Crock Pot to cook dairy, pasta, small veggies, or cooked beans for several hours.

damndelicious.net

Dairy curdles, pasta overcooks, vegetables shrivel, and beans turn to mush when cooked for too long. Add them to the slow cooker at the end of the recipe — just long enough to cook them through. For more tips, check out 17 Need-To-Know Hacks If You Own A Slow Cooker.

Above: Get the recipe for this veggie-packed pork lo mein on Damn Delicious.

4. Using a pizza stone only for pizza.

thebigmansworld.com

A pizza stone can come in very handy if you're looking to evenly distribute heat in your oven. Just place it on the oven floor, then cook or bake your foods on the rack above it — so they can soak up that steady, even heat. For more oven tips, head over to The Kitchn.


Above: Try roasting chickpeas for a healthy snack with this recipe from The Big Man's World.

5. Using a skillet and sauté pan interchangeably.

seriouseats.com

The more liquid you are using, the higher the sides of your pan should be. This may seem pretty straightforward, but deciding when to use a skillet (i.e. fry pan) or a sauté pan can be something of a toss up. The skillet's light weight and sloping sides are designed for easy maneuvering over high heat. Flipping, shaking, and swirling isn't just for style, either: doing so keeps everything cooking evenly. A sauté pan's high walls reduce splatter and mess, so these are best for cooking in sauce or lots of oil.

Above: If you want to learn how to toss food in a skillet, check out the tutorial on Serious Eats. Then try out your new skills with 39 Delicious Things You Can Make In A Skillet.

6. Use a pressure cooker to cook dry meat.

seriouseats.com

Pressure cooking relies on steam, and if you don’t have enough moisture in your meal, it won't cook correctly. When cooking dry food like a chicken, make sure to include at least a half cup of water or broth for best results. Find even more tips for using a pressure cooker or Instant Pot here.

Above: Get the recipe for this 30-minute stew from Serious Eats.

7. Using a blender only for your morning smoothie.

theendlessmeal.com

Smoothies are just the beginning. Your blender is also great for soups, dressings, and purées. Blend this coconut curried cauliflower soup from The Endless Meal for a great texture.

8. Using parchment paper and tin foil interchangeably.

cookingclassy.com

Parchment paper is nonstick, holds in moisture, and helps with even cooking —while foil is more malleable so better for "tenting" chicken or turkey, and smoking foods on the grill. Remember: Sweet treat, parchment sheet. Grill or broil, go with foil.

Above: Get the recipe for this shrimp and couscous foil packet on Cooking Classy.

9. Using a cheap rubber spatula for everything.

williams-sonoma.com

Pick out a set of cooking utensils that fit all of your cooking needs. Go with heat-resistant silicone when baking or tossing roasted vegetables. Pick a pair of tongs with scalloped tips so if you're flipping meat, it doesn't flop out of your grip. A wooden spoon doesn't conduct heat so is best for dishes like sauces, soups or stews that require frequent stirring.

Above: Try it out with this recipe for polenta with fontina and roasted vegetables from Williams-Sonoma.

10. Using your toaster oven only for toast.

seriouseats.com

In many cases, your toaster oven can do the same work as your actual oven — all while using less energy and less time. If you're cooking for one, this is definitely preferable to waiting 15 minutes for your oven to heat up (it takes a toaster oven less than five). Just note that there are certain things to avoid putting in the toaster oven — like glassware and parchment paper (proven by my smokey s'mores experience). Read more about what to avoid at Toaster Oven Love.

Above: Cook this miso-glazed salmon in the toaster oven with this recipe from Serious Eats.

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