This week, a Reddit thread by user u/Tw1sted_inc asked professional chefs of the internet, "What are some cooking tips everyone should know?"
The thread quickly went viral as thousands of chefs started sharing their best tips, tricks, and hacks for aspiring cooks. So do YOU want to cook like a pro? Check out some of the top-voted responses:
1. "The spice measurements in most online recipes are way too small. I usually double them."
2. "Salt makes food taste more like itself. Acids, like citrus or vinegar, can also do this. ... The reason Americans love tomato ketchup so much is the fact that it adds acid and salt to their food."
3. "The amount of garlic flavor is dependent on WHEN you add the garlic. Add it early for light flavor, add it late for bold flavor."
5. "For thick and nice sauces, use the water you cook your pasta with."
6. "Taste as you cook. At various stages of cooking, while safe (not raw meat), taste your food as you cook it. This lets you know if you have too much of something or too little. It also helps you develop your palate for what different seasonings do."
7. "Three or four times the amount of butter and salt is a big part of why your food doesn’t taste like restaurant food."
8. "Soy sauce goes on more than Asian foods. Try a dash in scrambled eggs or toward the end of your caramelized onions. It is a savory salt flavor that complements many dishes."
9. "When cooking at home, especially for guests and especially in winter, microwave the plates/bowls for 30–90 seconds before putting the food on them. Cold plates take heat from food; hot plates keep food hot longer."
10. "Mise en place — everything in its place. Have everything cut, and seasonings and ingredients measured, before you start cooking. This way you can focus on cooking."
11. "If you plan on using juice from limes, oranges, or lemons, roll them around, pushing on them (not too hard), before cutting them."
12. "If you’re getting annoyed because it’s taking you too long to peel garlic, place an unpeeled garlic clove under the flat side of your kitchen knife and press on it with your hand. The garlic peel will separate easily and your garlic will be crushed."
13. "You have to cook meat to a specific internal temperature to kill bacteria — anything more is just drying it out (generally)."
14. "Never, ever try to catch a knife if you drop it. My natural instinct is to throw my arms up, palms spread, and step back. All done in a split second."
16. "Brown meats must be cooked in small batches. Do not overcrowd the pan. It will cause meat to sweat and it will not brown properly."
17. "When a recipe calls for you to let something 'sit' or 'rest,' do not rush this step. Good things happen to the food in that time."
18. "Watch your cooking temperature! You don't need everything blazing hot. In fact, with high heat you'll usually end up burning/drying out your meal. Medium heat is your friend. It gives you more time to get it right. A simple example is a good grilled cheese sandwich. If you make it in a skillet on medium heat, it might take a while. BUT you'll have enough time to make sure the toast is perfectly crispy without getting burned."
19. "Grinding your own spices makes a whole universe of difference. Even if you don't feel like doing all the work, buy a manual pepper grinder — your taste buds will thank you."
20. "Too much salt in a soup? Add potatoes. Potatoes soak up salt like mad, I swear."
21. "If it grows together, it goes together. Want a tropical-tasting dish? Find a fish that lives in tropical climates and add tropical fruits. Want something Italian? Roma tomatoes, oregano, Italian parsley — they all come from the same region."
22. "Olive oil is a condiment and is terrible to fry with. Use vegetable oil or any other 'neutral' oil. It has a higher flash point and is pretty much flavorless."
23. "Don't smoke cigarettes. It messes with your taste buds and you tend to end up with extremely salty/over-seasoned food. On that note, in general, maintain good dental hygiene."
24. "Never forget to experiment. Cooking is a science, but it is a science that has to adjust to you. Try new spices and new cooking methods on already known recipes; combine foods you like. Have fun — put on some music."
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.