15 "Bad" Cooking Habits You Need To Stop Doing, And 14 Good Ones That'll Make You A Professional Chef

    Stop pressing down on your burger while it cooks! It squeezes out all the juices, and your burger will be dry.

    We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the worst cooking mistakes people make in the kitchen and which good habits they should have instead. Here are the must-read results.

    Some responses also come from Reddit.

    1. Bad habit: "Stop pressing/smashing your burger patties (or any food, really) while they cook. That literally squeezes all the juice out, and you'll be left with a dry burger."

    Alton Brown cooking a burger

    2. Good habit: "Always cook your meatloaf on a baking sheet instead of in a loaf pan. Loaf pans trap all the grease and fat and will make your meatloaf soggy."

    Ina Garten cooking meatloaf

    3. Bad habit: "There really is such thing as too much garlic. Adding a little more than the recipe calls for is fine, but adding 10 times as much just makes everything taste like garlic. It's a dead giveaway that the food is not good and that the garlic is trying to make up for it."

    Ina Garten chopping garlic with caption that if you cook garlic for a long time, it becomes sweet

    4. Good habit: "Slice your chicken before cooking it. Not only will it cook faster, but everything will cook at the same time. No more overcooked or dry pieces."

    A raw chicken breast cut into cubes on a wooden board

    5. Bad habit: "NEVER put oil in the pot when your pasta is cooking — it makes the sauce slide off later."

    Ina Garten cooking pasta with caption saying that if Ina doesn't add oil to her pasta water, you shouldn't either

    6. Good habit: "Please. Add. Acidity. If there is one aha moment I've had in the last 20 years of cooking, it's that when salt isn't 'helping' a dish, what's missing is acid. Lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid (if you have some) transforms a dish in a surprising way."

    Chef adding lemon juice to a dish

    7. Bad habit: "Don't use the blade side of your knife to scrape up food. That dulls it super quickly. Instead, use the top of it (the nonsharp side)."

    Someone chopping asparagus with captions to scrape up food with the TOP of the knife, not with the blade

    8. Good habit: "Always let your meat dry on a paper towel and come to room temperature before you put it on the stove. This allows for an excellent texture and a nice sear."

    Alton Brown wrapping steak in a paper towel

    9. Bad habit: "Stop using a glass cutting board. The surface will ruin the hell out of your knives. The glass has no give against the edge of your knife, unlike wood, which will dull and roll the edges."

    A glass cutting board

    10. Good habit: "Go to a restaurant supply company to buy some long-lasting kitchenware at more affordable prices."

    A bunch of knifes on a cutting board

    11. Bad habit: "Stop overmixing your pancake and waffle batter. In addition, you should let the batter sit for 15-ish minutes after you're done mixing. You'll get fluffier, lighter pancakes and waffles this way."

    Mixing pancake batter with caption that you want some lumps and pockets of flour

    12. Good habit: "Always deglaze your pan. You can use wine or stock, but water works great too. Not only will it pull all the beautiful, caramelized flavors from the bottom of your pan, but it'll also magically become spotless when you go to clean it, which will now take only about five seconds."

    Deglazing a pan with instructions to remove the meat from pan, add liquid, and stir with a wooden spoon

    13. Bad habit: "Stop using measuring spoons for baking. Instead, use a kitchen scale. Baking is a science, so you need to measure things out exactly. Measuring spoons are not as accurate as the scale, and it can affect the result."

    A bag of lima beans on a kitchen scale

    14. Good habit: "If you want to impress guests or just feel extra fancy, you can make your own flavored butter in no time at all. Just soften a pat of butter and then add in herbs, garlic, chiles, or whatever you want. Shape it, freeze it, and then just slice off a portion with a warm knife whenever you want some."

    Someone mixing herbs and butter and putting in plastic wrap to make flavored butter

    15. Bad habit: "Stop 'ruining' things with apple cider vinegar (and especially, do not add it to gravy — it will taste spoiled). Instead, this is literally what cooking wine/sherry is for."

    Chef cooking a mushroom gravy and saying to add a little wine

    16. Good habit: "Keep a note of your recipes and rate them. Mark the exact quantities of ingredients, serving sizes, the process, etc. — you'll be able to improve it by adjusting a few variables at a time."

    A board of meals labeled for each day of the week

    17. Bad habit: "Stop using water when cooking your grains. Instead, use broth for grains that don't need to be strained (like quinoa, rice, couscous, etc.). If you only have water and need to use that, make sure you season it thoroughly so the grains absorb all those flavors."

    Ina Garten making risotto with chicken stock

    18. Good habit: "If you're standing around and waiting while cooking, your process must be reviewed. Instead, time everything out. For home cooks, mise en place (prepping, cutting, measuring ingredients, etc.) can be done while something else is happening, rather than all at once in the beginning."

    Sunny Anderson cooking and advising to start prepping the next thing as one thing cooks

    19. Bad habit: "Don't throw all of your veggies and other food in a pan at once and expect them all to cook at the same time and temperature. Garlic, carrots, onions, celery, and so on ALL cook differently. No one wants to eat overcooked mush or tough, stringy cardboard."

    Roasted potatoes on a tray

    20. Good habit: "Always let your meat rest for 5 to 10 minutes (or more if it's a roast, whole chicken, or turkey) so the juices can properly redistribute. Cutting the meat as soon as it comes off or out of the heat drains all the juices."

    Sunny Anderson cooking beef tenderloin and saying to "let that baby rest before you cut into it"

    21. Bad habit: "Don’t rinse or wash your raw chicken or turkey. When you rinse meat, you're only splashing germs around the sink and counter. There’s no real point in doing it. Chicken doesn't show up full of dirt the way leeks do, so just cook it."

    Someone washing their meat in the sink with an X across it

    22. Good habit: "I always rinse my cutting board with water before cutting onions, and I never get tears when I do that. It's my favorite hack!"

    Someone cutting an onion with recommendation to rinse the cutting board first and cut in half from the "hairy" end

    23. Bad habit: "Stop draining your pasta with a colander over the sink. The best way is to use tongs to directly transfer the pasta into the sauce from its cooking water. That way, you can keep some of that starchy cooking water and give the sauce some creaminess and moisture."

    Giada De Laurentiis cooking pasta and saying the pasta is going right into the shrimp

    24. Good habit: "Clean. Up. As. You. Cook."

    Rachel Ray cooking and saying to throw things out, put food away, and clean up as you cook

    25. Bad habit: "Stop instantly running your hot pot or pan under cold water. It can lead to cracking and warping."

    Rachael Ray making pasta with caption to let the pan cool before you wash it

    26. Good habit: "I work in a kitchen, and to prevent guacamole from browning, we press a layer of plastic wrap against the entire top layer. Just push all the air out while you press down, because any parts that are touching air will turn brown. Then just cover it and refrigerate."

    Bobby Flay making guac and covering leftover

    27. Bad habit: "Don't buy herbs that aren't fresh. Fresh herbs make a world of difference to the dish, and they should be added toward the end of cooking (except for heartier herbs, like thyme and rosemary)."

    Ina Garten chopping fresh herbs

    28. Good habit: "Use a meat thermometer instead of just trusting the temperature display on your oven. This will make a huge difference, especially when baking cakes. Most ovens are never accurate and will alert you that they're preheated before they really are."

    Tyler Florence cooking a turkey and saying to find the thickest part of the thigh and "make sure you get the sensor, which is about half an inch up the spike, into the thigh; that way you'll know the bird is cooked all the way through"

    29. And one final bad habit: "Never take something out of the oven using a wet towel or mitt. The moisture will instantly turn to steam and burn you."

    Gordon Ramsay moving a pot from the oven and saying to make sure your mitts and pot holders are dry or else your fingers "are gonna get burned"

    Do you have an even better (or worse) cooking tip (or mistake) that everyone should follow (or not)? Tell us about it in the comments below!

    Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.