101 Simple Cooking Tips

101 Simple Cooking Tips

Publish Date March 25, 2024 4 Minute Read

We're sharing 101 cooking tips for beginners, home chefs and everyone between. Learn to cook one tip at a time with baking basics, kitchen hacks, meal prep and more.

Kitchen Tips for a Fresh Start

Before you get to cooking, set up your kitchen workspace for maximum efficiency and food-safety success with these tips.

1. Prepare Your Surface: Clear your countertop of any clutter and give it a good wipe-down to keep any household germs out of your final dish.

2. Maximize Efficiency: Empty and load the dishwasher, so cutting boards used for meat or poultry can go right in the wash.

3. Clean Your Sink: Turn your sink into the ultimate produce prep zone by removing any dirty dishes and giving the basin a good scrub. Add a colander, a cutting board and a container for scraps.

4. Create Food Safety Zones: If you have the counter space, designate separate areas for preparing meat and fresh produce.

5. Have the Right Tools: Gather all the tools you’ll need, like bowls, cutting boards and utensils before you get started, dropping them in their respective prep zones.

6. Create a Cleanup Kit: Keep your disposable meal prep tools, like gloves, sanitizing wipes, paper towels, zip-top bags and clean trash bags, in a separate drawer or storage container within arm’s reach. Take it with you when as you switch from one area to another, cleaning up as you go.

7. Dress for Success: Get comfortable. Choose comfy clothes and shoes or invest in an apron and anti-fatigue floor mat. Throw a dishtowel over your shoulder for easy access while you work.

8. Get Your Recipe Ready: Read and re-read your recipes before you get started. If you’re using a phone or tablet, put it in a zip-top bag so you can reference it mid-marinade if needed. For paper recipes, use a sheet protector.

Cooking Tips

From cooking basics to unexpected kitchen hacks, we’re sharing some of our favorite culinary tips.

9. Taste First, Season Second: It may sound obvious, but you should always taste your food before seasoning. If you’re seasoning or marinating meat or poultry before cooking, whisk your marinade or seasoning blend in a separate bowl for safe tasting before adding your protein.

10. Don’t Pack Your Pan: When it comes to stovetop cooking, haste is waste. Packing your cooking pan with food will keep the heat from distributing evenly, leaving some items raw while others may burn. Pick a pan large enough for the job, and spread your ingredients in a single layer, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cooking in smaller batches may seem tedious, but ultimately this will speed up the process. Visit our Pots and Pans guide for more details on the difference between each.

11. Timing is Subjective: While the timing elements found in most recipes can serve as a helpful guide, be sure to check your dishes by using your own senses. Smell, taste and touch to determine doneness, and use a thermometer for meat, fish and poultry.

12. Don’t Believe Everything You Bake: Each oven has its own unique hot spots, and the temperature you set the oven to doesn’t necessarily reflect the temperature throughout the oven. To get a better idea of your oven’s true temperature, place a second thermometer in your oven.

13. Stop Spinning Your Wheels: When roasting or grilling, use 2 skewers instead of 1 to prevent your food from spinning.

14. Get Even: For an evenly cooked steak, let the meat come to room temperature before seasoning and grilling.

15. Use the Rule of Thumb: Learn and practice the rule of thumb to check the readiness of steak without cutting into it.

16. Save Your Starch: Don’t rinse pasta after cooking. The remaining layer of starch helps sauce adhere to the pasta. Rinsing your pasta will cause the sauce to slide, resulting in a bland bite. Just starting your sauce? Reserve a cup of the starchy pasta water to bring the sauce to life. Visit our Pasta guide to learn about different types of pasta.

17. Use the Wooden Spoon Trick: Before frying anything in oil, test the oil using a wooden spoon. Dip the spoon in and check to see if small bubbles appear. Alternatively, you can throw in a few small ingredients to test the oil, listening for that satisfying sizzle. A low oil temp will cause your ingredients to absorb oil and become soggy, rather than the oil cooking off the food’s moisture for a crispy dish.

18. Spice Your Food, Not Your Eyes: When cooking with chili peppers, protect your hands and eyes by wearing rubber gloves. Or coat your hands in vegetable oil and wash them with soap and water immediately after handling.

19. Make it Joyful and Make it Together: Homemade meals are good for the heart and soul. Cook often and cook with others.

20. Follow Your Nose: Seafood should never smell overwhelmingly fishy; that's a sure sign that it’s starting to go bad.

21. Prioritize Rest: Let cooked or grilled meat rest at room temperature before serving. This will give the meat time to reabsorb all those delicious juices. Here are a few more grilling tips to become a grill expert.

22. Taste Test: Always taste your dishes before serving.

23. Let Your Recipe Be Your Guide: Recipes are only a guideline. Feel free to substitute items that cater to your personal preferences.

24. Make Your Butter Better: To prevent butter from over-browning in your pan, add a little bit of lemon juice.

25. Save Your Spices: Keep your spices away from sources of heat like the stove or lights. Herbs and spices can lose their flavor when exposed to humidity and heat.

26. Keep Your Crumbs: Save old, stale bread to make breadcrumbs in a food processor. You can freeze them for up to 6 months.

27. Embrace Salt: Don’t be afraid to use salt. This simple seasoning can pull the flavors out of your dishes. Cook with kosher salt and season with sea salt.

28. Skip the Scoop and Slice: When serving ice cream to large groups, ditch the ice cream scoop. Break open the whole container and slice the ice cream into perfect portions.

29. Make Your Cheese Grate: If you need to grate soft cheeses, freeze the cheese for 30 minutes for a cleaner slice.

30. Get the Perfect Poach: When poaching an egg, add a teaspoon of white vinegar to simmering water to help keep the yolk from breaking.

31. Preheat Your Pan: When sautéing, it’s important to first heat the pan, then heat the oil, then add the ingredients.

32. Boil Smart, Not Hard: For a great hardboiled egg, bring your pot to a boil and then turn off the heat. Let your eggs sit in the heated pot for 12 minutes and then transfer to cold water. Visit our step-by-step guide for more tips on the perfect hardboiled egg.

33. Keep it Sunny: Make an ideal sunny-side egg by covering your pan with a lid and letting the steam cook your egg. No flipping required.

34. Make Your Own Buttermilk: If your recipe calls for buttermilk, you can use regular milk with lemon juice.

35. Soak Out Starch: For crispy fries or chips, slice the potato, then remove the starch by soaking in water for 1 hour before baking.

36. Buy the Whole Bird: Purchasing and preparing a whole chicken is more cost-effective than buying specific cuts, and you can use the bones to make broth or stock.

37. Soften Up: To soften butter, cut slices into a bowl and let sit at room temperature for 10–15 minutes.

38. Make a Vinaigrette: The basic ratio to make a classic vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.

39. Practice Cool-down Safety: Help prevent bacteria growth by cooling hot food in a shallow dish.

40. Stock Up: Make stock in large quantities and freeze in plastic bags for later use.

41. Make Healthy Swaps: Use Greek yogurt as a healthier substitute for mayo, sour cream, heavy cream and more.

42. Finish with Oil: Invest in high-quality extra virgin olive oil for special meals or to drizzle over dishes to accent flavors.

43. Seafood? Eat It: Never over-season your seafood. Accentuate the flavor of the fish with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

44. Fresh is Best: Look for ground beef that has been freshly ground.

45. Go Low and Slow: To preserve flavor and prevent burning, it's important to cook slow and keep your heat low.

Meal Prep Ideas, Tools and Tips

Prep like a pro with our favorite tips and tools.

46. Sharpen Your Skills: The most versatile and important tool is a sharp chef’s knife. Learn more about the different types of kitchen knives here.

47. Invest in Quality Cookware: Invest in a seasoned cast iron skillet. This kitchen staple distributes heat evenly and is easy to clean. Here are some tips for cleaning and cooking with a cast iron skillet.

48. Hold Your Knife Properly: Pinch the blade instead of gripping the handle.

49. Sharpen, Sharpen, Sharpen: Keep knives sharp by using a sharpening tool frequently. A sharp knife is important for safety and efficiency.

50. Use a Mandolin: They allow you to perfectly julienne, slice and dice vegetables every time. Be sure to slice slowly and use the safety guard. If you’re still looking to julienne without a mandolin, we put together a quick how to julienne video.

looking to julienne without a mandolin, we put together a quick how to julienne video.

51. Don’t Slip Up: Anchor your cutting board to the counter with a damp paper towel to keep things steady and safe.

52. Use Your Counter Space: Keep key kitchen appliances, like a blender, on your countertop to encourage frequent use.

53. Disinfect Wood Cutting Boards: Handwash your wooden cutting boards with white vinegar to disinfect.

54. Use a Rice Cooker: Let the rice cooker do the tedious work so won’t have to. Learn how to cook rice with our helpful guide

Tips for Fresh Produce

Explore fresh produce possibilities with these fruit and vegetable tips.

55. Less is More: Overcooked vegetables lose important enzymes and nutrients.

56. Take the Plunge: Plunge vegetables in ice water after blanching to help maintain a bright color.

57. When Life Gives You Lemons...: If life gives you lemons, but you need Meyer lemons, substitute half a lemon and half an orange to replicate that sweet taste.

58. Split the Difference: Safely chop odd-shaped vegetables by cutting off both ends for an even surface.

59. X Marks the Spot: Peel tomatoes with ease. Cut an X in the top, and then simmer in a pot of hot water for 15-30 seconds. Once the tomatoes cool down, the skin should fall right off. Watch and learn the best way to cut tomatoes.

60. Can’t Believe It’s Not Shallots: No luck finding shallots? Replace with a combination of onions and garlic.

61. Sauté Sliced Garlic: When sautéing garlic, choose sliced over minced to help prevent burning.

62. Use Stainless Steel for Odorless Garlic: After handling garlic, rub your fingers on stainless steel, like your sink, to help get rid of the pungent odor.

63. Garlic Forever: To keep whole garlic in its prime longer, always store it at room temperature. When you’re ready to mince your garlic, we put together helpful tips on how to mince garlic.

64. Shop In-season Goods: Help save money by purchasing in-season fruit and vegetables. You can freeze and store in airtight containers to save for later.

65. Keep Your Greens Greener: To make leafy greens last longer, wrap them in damp paper towels and place in a sealable plastic bag before storing.

66. Some Like it Mild: Remove seeds from chili peppers to help reduce heat.

67. Think Outside the Egg: Use an egg slicer to cut small fruits like kiwis.

68. Save Your Salad: Prepping salad before serving is a huge time saver. Layer all the ingredients in a bowl and don’t add the dressing until it's time to serve.

69. Water Your Herbs: Store fresh herbs in a glass of water in your refrigerator. You can create your own DIY Herb Garden at home with some of our helpful tips.

70. Ready to Roll: Roll citrus on the counter using the palm of your hand to help release the juice pockets.

71. No More Tears: To help prevent tears, cut off the root of the onion before you slice.

72. Get the Crunch You Crave: Celery getting floppy? Try wrapping it in tin foil before storing in the refrigerator.

73. Preserve the Pit: Help increase the shelf life of a halved avocado by keeping the pit intact and placing it in your refrigerator.

74. Lemon Longevity: To help prevent sliced apples from browning, lightly squeeze lemon or lime juice on the pieces.

75. Keep Your Fungi Dry: Mushrooms should be kept dry, as they can easily soak and store water. When you’re ready to start cooking your mushrooms, follow our mushroom guide for helpful tips and tricks.

76. Put on Your Party Dress: To help prevent sogginess, don’t dress salads for large parties. Serve, then allow guests to add their own dressing.

Baking for Beginners

77. Bring Your Dairy to Room Temp: Before baking, remove butter and eggs from the fridge and let them reach room temperature.

78. Scale Up Your Baking: Invest in a baking scale. Scales are not only an accurate way to measure your cooking ingredients, but they help streamline the entire process. View our measurement conversion chart here for easy baking.

79. Pastry Perfection: To create an egg wash, whisk together a large egg with 1 tablespoon of water until smooth. Use as a glue to seal pastries, then brush on top for a glossy appearance.

80. Take Time to Chill: Chill cookie dough before putting it on a baking sheet. This will help prevent your butter from flattening and losing its fluffy texture, helping you bake the perfect cookies.

81. A Clean Fold: For easy clean-up, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Become a Pantry Pro

Prep your pantry for greatness with these simple tips.

82. Stick to the Basics: Keep your pantry stocked with essentials. If you’re a minimalist, stick to olive oil, flour, broth, salt, brown rice or pasta, beans, vinegar, sugar, eggs and soy sauce. Chef Mike Florea shares his list of pantry staples here.

83. Soften Your Sugar: Help soften hard brown sugar by placing a piece of dry bread in the bag overnight.

84. Freeze Your Butter: You can store butter in the freezer for up to six months.

85. Sun-dried Tomatoes to the Rescue: To rehydrate sun-dried tomatoes, soak them in hot water or stock for about 20 minutes and use in place of canned tomatoes.

86. A Sweet Solution: Honey stuck in a jar? Place the container in hot water for about 5 minutes to loosen up the sticky residue.

87. Keep it Simple: Create simple syrup by simmering 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a medium heated pot until the sugar dissolves. Bottle and store in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

88. Don’t Waste Tomato Paste: Freeze leftover tomato paste in small ice cube containers.

89. Did You Know?: Honey is a natural preservative and doesn’t spoil.

90. Fresh Flours: Opened flour bags can be stored in the freezer to preserve freshness.

91. Rehydrate Your Coconut: Bring your dried coconut back to life by adding a sprinkle of milk and letting it sit for 10 minutes.

Tips for Cooking on a Budget

Cooking on a budget has never been easier.

92. Get the Boost You Need: Become a Boost Member to get discounts and earn rewards every time you shop. Plus, you can clip digital coupons and view the weekly ad online to see what’s on sale, then consider building meals around those items.

93. Make a List: Plan recipes for the week ahead, ideally with multiple meals that use some of the same ingredients. Then make a list and try not to deviate from it. Having a plan will help keep you on budget. Plan your grocery list with our printable list and meal planner.

94. Buy Our Brands: You can save more each year when you shop Kroger Brand, Simple Truth® and Private Selection® items.

95. Buy in Bulk: You can certainly save when you stock up, but don’t buy more than you need of anything – especially perishable foods. You aren’t saving money if you end up throwing food away.

96. Shop Online for Pickup or Delivery: This is another great way to avoid impulse buys. Shopping online is also an easy way to compare brand prices, see what’s on sale and keep track of your cart total before you purchase anything. Plus, it’ll help you save time. Try it for yourself and check out the savings you can enjoy with Kroger Pickup and Delivery.

97. Know What’s in Your Pantry and Fridge: Have you ever bought something only to discover later that you already had it at home? Consider keeping a running list of items you frequently buy and noting which ones need replenishing when you shop for the week. Plus, if you scour your pantry before you shop, you can plan meals with what’s already on hand – keeping your grocery bill lower.

98. Plan Your Grocery Trips: Try not to head to the store when you’re hungry. Shopping on an empty stomach can lead to impulse buys. Shopping alone also helps. If you’re with kids or your significant other, you’re more likely to be coaxed into buying things you don’t need.

99. Limit Eating Out: It may sound obvious, but a sure way to save money when cooking is to cook frequently. Limit take-out or dine-in restaurant experiences. If you have a craving for your restaurant favorite, we gathered some of our favorite recipe dupes here.

you have a craving for your restaurant favorite, we gathered some of our favorite recipe dupes here.

100. Meatless Mondays: In general, since meat-based meals cost more than others, planning a few meat-free dinners will help your savings.

101. Find Even More Budget-friendly Inspiration: Shop weekly promos, and visit our blog for budget-friendly meals, and more ways to save.

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