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Basic Cooking Tips & Tricks

Learn essential cooking tips that will transform your meals from disasters to masterpieces.
Updated on April 13, 2023 9:36 AM
Home & Kitchen

Do you want to learn the basics of cooking but don't know where to start? Well, getting to know the basics of the terms, techniques, and ingredients can be confusing. 

Have no worries! Our experts created this guide to walk you through some of the necessary skills you'll need. By the end, you will become an at-home chef and build up your confidence as you work towards mastering recipes. Our experts break down everything into easy steps so you can create your delicious meals in no time. 

So let's turn on the heat and get started. 


Basic Knife Skills 

Learning basic knife techniques is essential for any cook looking to improve their culinary prowess.

One of the most important knife skills is proper holding technique. Keeping your thumb and index finger positioned at the top of the blade, with your other fingers curled around the handle, provides you with maximum control over the blade's movements. Also, use a firm but gentle grip while holding your knife, as too much pressure can cause it to slip or break. 

When chopping food into small pieces, work on a stable cutting surface. Additionally, hold your knife firmly in position by pressing down on its spine (top) while pulling it through whatever you're chopping. This will help keep your cuts uniform in size and shape. 

When slicing or mincing herbs or vegetables, use a rocking motion with your knife. Start by placing the tip of your blade at the bottom of what you're cutting, angling it slightly toward yourself as you move it back and forth along its length until everything has been chopped into small pieces. To ensure that all pieces are roughly the same size, try using an up-and-down sawing motion instead of a full rocking motion when possible.

Don’t forget about safety! Always ensure your hands are well away from the edge of the blade when cutting. Remember to store sharp knives in secure locations so no one else can access them - store them on magnetic strips or in wooden blocks specifically designed for this purpose if possible! 

With enough practice, you will gain confidence and start preparing delicious meals for your family and friends to munch on. 


Premium knife set:
Calphalon Kitchen Knife Set with Self-Sharpening Block, 15-Piece Classic High Carbon Knives

helpful content knife best set
4.6 out of 5 stars
1,358 ratings

According to our experts, the Calphalon Kitchen Knife Set with Self-Sharpening Block is what every kitchen and every home cook needs. 

The knives are razor-sharp so making food prep is a breeze. The self-sharpening block is a great feature and keeps the knife set in top condition. The classic design is both elegant and functional, and the 15-piece set of high-quality has all the knives you need for any recipe you want to experiment with. 

The best chef knife:
Dalstrong Chef Knife - 8 inch - Shogun Series ELITE - Damascus - Japanese AUS-10V Super Steel Kitchen Knife - Black G10 Handle - Razor Sharp Knife - w/Sheath
helpful content best chef knife

4.7 out of 5 stars
2,334 ratings

Our experts recommend the Dalstrong Chef Knife from the Shogun Series ELITE for aspiring chef. The razor-sharp blade is made from high-quality Japanese AUS-10V super steel, and the stunning Damascus design is a work of art. 

The knife is well-balanced and easy to handle. The black handle is not only beautiful but also provides a comfortable grip. The home cook will appreciate the included sheath, which keeps the knife safe and protected when not in use.

Budget friendly knife set:
15 Piece Kitchen Knife Set with Block by Cuisinart, Cutlery Set, Hollow Handle, C77SS-15PK

helpful content low budget knife set
4.7 out of 5 stars
19,222 ratings

According to experts, this low-cost under $100 15 Piece Kitchen Knife Set with Block by Cuisinart is a buy for the home cook when just starting. 

The knives are incredibly sharp, and users particularly love the hollow handles that make them comfortable to grasp and maneuver. The included block is a great addition and keeps the knives neatly organized and easily accessible. 

The knives in the set cover all your cutting needs, and they can hold up beautifully through multiple uses and washes. Users report they find the knife set perfect, affordable, and super sharp. 


How to Cook Pasta

Cooking pasta is a simple and quick culinary exercise every cook should master.
The first step is to bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. The salted water will help season the pasta noodles and give them more flavor. Once the water has boiled, add the desired amount of dry pasta to the pot. Stirring will help prevent it from sticking together. 

When cooking traditional dried pasta, pay attention and avoid overcooking it. Of course, cook times may vary depending on the type and size of noodles you're using. Generally, most dried pasta will cook anywhere from 8-12 minutes when boiled in salted water. To check for doneness, remove one piece of the cooked pasta from the boiling water and cut it open with a knife or bite it - if it's tender enough for your taste but still has some bite (al dente), then your pasta is done and ready. 

Once cooked, immediately drain all the hot water from the pot using a colander or strainer and rinse with cold running water until all the noodles are completely cooled down (this helps stop them from cooking further). Add your preferred sauce or topping and serve while still warm. 

The best Cast Iron Skillet Set:
Cast Iron Skillet Set - 6"+8"+10+12"-Inch + Glass Lids + Silicone Handle Holder Cover Grips - Pre-Seasoned Frying Pan - Oven Safe Cookware - Indoor/Outdoor Use - Grill, Stovetop, Induction, Fire Safe


4.7 out of 5 stars
11,985 ratings

According to our experts, the Cast Iron Skillet Set - 6"+8"+10+12"-Inch + Glass Lids + Silicone Handle Holder Cover Grips are the best selection and will help you get the best cooking results.

Not only are the skillets pre-seasoned, making them ready to use right out of the box, but they are also oven safe and can be used on a variety of cooking surfaces, including the grill, stovetop, induction cooktop, and even over an open flame.

These skillets are perfect for making pasta. The larger skillets are perfect for boiling water and cooking the pasta, while the smaller ones are ideal for sautéing vegetables or making a delicious sauce to go with it. The glass lids also come in handy when you want to keep an eye on the pasta while it cooks.

The silicone handle holder cover grips make it easy to move the skillets around without burning yourself. 

The best pasta machine & cutter:
MARCATO Atlas 150 Machine, Made in Italy, Red, Includes Pasta Cutter, Hand Crank, and Instructions

4.6 out of 5 stars
1,544 ratings

The MARCATO Atlas 150 Machine is what you need in your kitchen if you want to learn how to make pasta at home. Made in Italy, this machine is beautifully crafted and built to last. 

Our experts claim that the hand crank and easy-to-follow instructions make it simple to use, even for beginners. With the pasta cutter, you can easily create different shapes and sizes, from spaghetti and fettuccine to lasagna and ravioli. 

This pasta machine and cutter will help you take your pasta-making skills to the next level. It will pay off with delicious, homemade pasta that will satisfy your family and friends.

How to Make Pizza Dough 

You can make your pizza dough by following a few simple steps, and all processes should take about an hour.

The first step is to measure the ingredients: 

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 envelope of active dry yeast
 1 1/3 cups warm water.

You should use active dry yeast instead of rapid rise or bread machine yeast because they require different amounts of time to prove. 

When you finish measuring the ingredients, the next step is to mix them. 
In a medium mixing bowl: combine the flour, salt, sugar, and active dry yeast with a whisk until blended. Gradually add the warm water while stirring everything together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until it forms a soft dough. 
You may need to add additional flour if the dough appears too sticky or wet. Once it has formed into a smooth ball of dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes at room temperature. 

The next step involves kneading your pizza dough which helps to develop its texture and elasticity and makes it easier to work with when stretching out the crust. 
To knead your pizza dough sprinkle some all-purpose flour onto your countertop so the dough doesn’t stick when rolling it out. Take your rested dough out of its bowl and place it on top of this floured surface and begin kneading by pressing down firmly on one end with your palms, then pushing away from you as far as possible before bringing it back towards you again and repeating this process several times until you have achieved an evenly mixed texture throughout your pizza dough. Make sure the dough isn’t too sticky or dry in any particular area. 

Once you are finished kneading your pizza dough, place it back inside its bowl. It should now be lightly coated with oil from earlier before covering again with plastic wrap and letting it rest for another 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator until doubled in size. 

After the dough rested, remove the bowl onto a floured countertop surface where you will begin rolling out your pizza dough using either a rolling pin or even hands if desired until achieving desired thickness. Most pizzas should be rolled between ¼ inch - ½ inch thick. 

Finally, after achieving desired shape & thickness, transfer it onto preheated pizza stone set inside the oven heated at 425°F (218°C) and bake for 16-20 minutes or until golden brown on top & underside of the crust. You can also use a countertop Pizza oven or a toaster oven

The premium pizza oven:
Oster Air Fryer Oven, 10-in-1 Countertop Toaster Oven, XL Fits 2 16" Pizzas, Stainless Steel French Doors


4.4 out of 5 stars
7,267 ratings

According to our experts, the Oster Air Fryer Oven is the best option when it comes to making homemade pizza and so much more. With its 10-in-1 functionality, this countertop toaster oven does it all - from air frying to baking to broiling making it perfect for a beginner home cook or home chef. 

The XL size, it easily fits two 16-inch pizzas to feed your family and friends. 

The stainless steel French doors are beautifully designed but more importantly allow you to see your pizza as it cooks to perfection. 

Plus, the air fryer feature ensures a crispy crust without the added oil or calories. This oven will give you great delicious results every time. 

The best pizza oven offer under $120:
Elite Gourmet ETO-4510M French Door 47.5Qt, 18-Slice Convection Oven 4-Control Knobs, Bake Broil Toast Rotisserie Keep Warm, Includes 2 x 14" Pizza Racks, Stainless Steel


4.2 out of 5 stars
6,578 ratings

If you love making pizza at home, the Elite Gourmet ETO-4510M French Door 47.5Qt Convection Oven is the affordable option for you.
Our experts claim that its large 47.5-quart capacity can easily fit 2 x 14" pizza racks, making it perfect for family gatherings and parties.

The oven features four control knobs for baking, broiling, toasting, rotisserie, and keeping warm functions. The convection feature ensures your pizza is evenly cooked with a crispy crust, loved by all. 

The stainless steel finish makes it easy to clean. Overall, according to our experts, this is a great choice for home cooks and pizza lovers.

Roasting Vegetables 

Roasting vegetables is a simple and healthy way to get delicious, nutrient-packed meals. The cooking technique involves cooking vegetables at high temperatures, browning, and caramelizing them on the outside while remaining tender and juicy on the inside. 

To begin roasting vegetables, choose the vegetable you want to cook. Popular choices include sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, bell peppers, onions, broccoli, and cauliflower. Once you have decided what vegetable you want to cook, make sure it is clean and cut into even-sized pieces for even cooking. 

Next, place your prepared vegetables in a roasting pan or shallow baking dish. For extra flavor, add a drizzle of olive oil and seasonings like garlic powder or dried herbs – oregano, rosemary, or thyme are all great options. Mix everything with your hands until each piece of vegetable is lightly covered with oil and seasoning. 

Place the roasting tray in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C). Roast for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your cut vegetables - smaller pieces will take less time, and larger cuts need more time in the oven. Use a fork or wooden spoon to occasionally turn your vegetables so they are cooked evenly on both sides. When they look golden brown and crunchy on the outside, they should be ready. 

Finally, take out of the oven and serve - as part of a main meal or side dish. You can add more flavor with fresh lemon juice or herbs like parsley or coriander leaves. 

Roasted vegetables go well with other cooked ingredients like couscous or grains for an even more flavourful meal. 

The premium roasting pan: 
Viking Culinary 3-Ply Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Nonstick Rack, 16" x 13"


4.8 out of 5 stars
1,429 ratings

According to our experts, the Viking Culinary 3-Ply Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Nonstick Rack is an exceptional product for roasting vegetables and for chicken and other carnivore choices.

The 16" x 13" size can fit large cuts of meat or a generous amount of veggies. The nonstick rack is a fantastic feature so your food doesn't stick and makes it easy to take off the pan, and also simple to clean. The triple-layer of stainless steel ensures even heat distribution, ideal for roasting to perfection. 


The best roasting pan under $130:
Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Triple Ply Stainless Cookware 16-inch Roasting Pan Skillet, Rectangular Roaster w/Rack



4.7 out of 5 stars
14,920 ratings

Our experts find the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Triple Ply Stainless Cookware 16-inch Roasting Pan Skillet with Rectangular Roaster and Rack to be a versatile and high-quality cooking tool that is perfect for roasting different types of food, including vegetables, meat, and fish.

The roasting pan comes with a removable rack that allows air to circulate the food, resulting in crispier and more flavorful results. The large size of the pan makes it perfect for cooking larger cuts of meat or a generous amount of vegetables. 

Users report they use it for different dishes from eggs to veggies and meat and fish. The large surface makes it ideal for home cooks and more experienced home chefs. Users also love the rack which is a convenient feature so the food is elevated to allow excess fat to drain. 
Users find the aluminum core surrounded by stainless steel provides even heat conditions. 


Juicing & Smoothies 

Mastering juicing and smoothies is part of the basic skills for every home cook. It offers a simple, tasty way of getting extra fruits and vegetables for you and your family. You can make one in minutes by just blending your favorite fruits or vegetables, and you’ve got a delicious drink full of vital nutrition. 

Here are a few pro tips:

  1. Use fresh ingredients whenever possible. This is the best way to ensure you get the highest quality nutrients out of them. Buying organic produce is also a great way to avoid exposure to pesticides and unwanted chemicals. When it comes to convenience, frozen fruit works just as well as fresh; however, check for added sugars or other preservatives before blending them up. 

  2. Include some vegetables in addition to your fruit selection. Vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, and K, along with valuable antioxidants to help fight off damage from free radicals. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and chard are especially nutrient-packed and don't forget about yummy veggies like carrots for an added dose of beta-carotene.

  3. For an extra boost of protein and healthy fats add nuts like almonds or walnuts. Nuts provide macronutrients that help keep us feeling fuller longer while aiding in muscle growth. Other great add-ins include flaxseed and chia seeds. Both are excellent sources of dietary fiber to help the digestive system.

  4. You should balance between sweet fruits and tart/bitter veggies - This will give a perfect flavor while ensuring you get all the health benefits without being too sweet or overly acidic. Don't overdo it with too many sweet fruits at once; this can cause an overload of sugar in the drink and do more harm than good.


The best juicer: 
Breville Juice Fountain Cold Juicer, Silver, BJE430SIL

helpful content juicer option 1
4.5 out of 5 stars
6,211 ratings

According to our experts, the Breville Juice Fountain Cold Juicer in Silver, model BJE430SIL, is a fantastic product if you want to enjoy fresh and healthy juice at home, and also make juices for your family and friends. 

This juicer has a powerful motor and a unique design to allow it to extract maximum juice from fruits and vegetables with minimal heat buildup, resulting in a higher nutrient content in your juice. 

The extra-wide feed chute accommodates larger fruits and veggies, reducing the need for pre-cutting. It also has a built-in froth separator to ensure you get a smooth and creamy juice every time. 

Users love how easy it is to assemble and the clear operating instructions

Best offer under $140:
Cold Press Juicer Machines, AMZCHEF Slow Masticating Juicer with Reverse Function, High Juice Yield, Easy Clean with Brush,Recipes for High Nutrient Fruits and Vegetables, Black(Updated)

helpful content juicer option 2

4.4 out of 5 stars

7,111 ratings

The AMZCHEF Slow Masticating Juicer is a great choice for a juicer under $140 and according to our experts, still gives the great benefits of juices. 

The reverse function makes cleaning the juicer a breeze. Its included brush also makes it easy to clean any leftover pulp from the machine.

The juicer comes with recipes for high-nutrient fruits and vegetables, which can help you to incorporate more healthy options into your diet. 

Users report they make the most out of this juicer and enjoy a daily glass of juice, not just for them, but for family and friends. They also find it easy to use and simple to clean and a must-have in every kitchen. 


How to Cook Rice

It takes just a few simple steps to whip up some delicious, fluffy grains. 

First, measure out the amount of rice you would like to cook, using either 1 cup of uncooked rice for every 2 cups of water, or 1 cup of uncooked rice for every 1 ¾ cups of water if you'd like your grains on the softer side.

Once you have your ingredients in place, rinse the rice off with cold running water for about 30 seconds before placing it into a pot with a tight-fitting lid. You can also use a pressure cookers to speed up your cooking. 

Next, add the correct amount of liquid and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Then turn down the heat to low and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed – usually around 20 minutes. 

After that, take off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes with the lid still on; this helps keep moisture inside and allows for even cooking throughout. 

Lastly, fluff up your freshly cooked grains with a fork and serve! 

If you follow these easy steps, you can make perfect fluffy rice every time. With just a little bit of practice, you'll be able to whip up batches in no time. 

The premium instant cooker: 
Instant Pot Pro Plus Wi-Fi Smart 10-in-1, Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté Pan, Yogurt Maker, Warmer, Canning Pot, Sous Vide, Includes App with Over 800 Recipes, 6 Quart

helpful content premium instant cooker option 1

4.7 out of 5 stars
59,899 ratings

According to our experts, the Instant Pot Pro Plus Wi-Fi Smart 10-in-1 pressure cooker is fantastic for your home cook looking. Not only does it function as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, sauté pan, and more, but its included app with over 800 recipes provides endless meal ideas and inspiration.

One of the features that stand out to our experts is its ability to cook rice, making it a versatile addition to any kitchen. 

The 6-quart capacity is perfect for cooking for a small family or meal prepping for the week, and the sous vide and canning pot options provide even more cooking possibilities.

Connecting the Instant Pot Pro Plus to Wi-Fi allows for even greater convenience, as you can control and monitor the cooking process from your phone!


The best rice cooker:
Toshiba Low Carb Digital Programmable Multi-functional Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker, Steamer & Warmer, 5.5 Cups Uncooked with Fuzzy Logic and One-Touch Cooking, 24 Hour Delay Timer and Auto Keep Warm Feature, White

helpful content  rice cooker option 2

4.7 out of 5 stars
3,721 ratings

The Toshiba Low Carb Digital Programmable Multi-functional Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker, Steamer & Warmer, 5.5 Cups Uncooked with Fuzzy Logic and One-Touch Cooking, 24 Hour Delay Timer, and Auto Keep Warm Feature, White is a versatile appliance that can cook rice, slow cook, steam, and keep food warm, all with the touch of a button.

Our experts find the fuzzy logic technology ensures perfectly cooked rice every time, while the 24-hour delay timer and auto-keep-warm feature make meal planning a snap. The 5.5 cups' uncooked capacity is perfect for feeding your family and friends, and the non-stick inner pot and the steam basket are easy to clean.  

Users claim the Toshiba cooker is a reliable and convenient appliance that simplifies meal prep and delivers delicious results every time.

Baking Bread

If you wish to enjoy a freshly baked loaf of homemade bread, our experts have a shortcut for you - a bread machine. Baking bread in a bread machine is an easy and convenient way, especially when you're starting your culinary journey.

First, you need to empty the ingredients into the bread machine pan in the order specified by your manufacturer's instructions. For example, if you are using a yeast-based dough, add the yeast last. Add liquid ingredients first, such as water or milk, then dry ingredients like flour and salt. 

Depending on the recipe, you may also need to include additional ingredients such as butter or oil. Choose your cycle setting for the type of dough and desired crust color. Most machines have settings like basic white dough, whole wheat dough, French bread dough, sweet dough, and cake dough, all designed for different baking methods.

Once you have selected your settings, press start and let the machine do its work. It will mix all the ingredients until it forms a ball of kneaded dough and signal when it is time to move on to baking. 

The baking time will depend on what type of cycle you selected earlier; typically, it takes around an hour before you can start to smell the delicious aroma of home-baked bread.

When done properly, you should get a perfectly risen loaf. However, don't leave it in too long as over proofing could cause it to collapse during baking resulting in a dense texture.

The best bread maker:
Cuisinart Bread Maker, Up To 2lb Loaf, New Compact Automatic

helpful content bread machine option 1

4.4 out of 5 stars
15,071 ratings

According to our experts, the Cuisinart Bread Maker is the best option. This compact automatic machine will help you with the process of baking your bread at home. 

With the ability to make up to a 2lb loaf, this bread maker can help you experiment with different types of bread and create custom recipes that cater to your personal preferences. 

The machine is also user-friendly with its intuitive interface, allowing you to effortlessly control your baking. This bread maker helps you to take control of what goes into your bread. 

Home cooks and bakers find it easy to operate and love that they can bake bread for family and friends and avoid artificial ingredients often found in store-bought bread.

Second best bread maker:
KBS Large 17-in-1 Bread Machine, 2LB All Stainless Steel Bread Maker with Auto Fruit Nut Dispenser, Nonstick Ceramic Pan, Full Touch Panel Tempered Glass, Reserve& Keep Warm Set, Oven Mitt and Recipes

helpful content bread machine option 2

4.4 out of 5 stars
7,759 ratings

The KBS Large 17-in-1 Bread Machine can transform your bread-making experience. According to our experts, this machine is a must-have for any serious home baker.

The nonstick ceramic pan makes for easy cleanup, and the full-touch panel tempered glass display is both user-friendly and visually appealing.

Users love the auto fruit and nut dispenser. This feature allows you to add additional ingredients like raisins or chopped nuts without any additional effort or mess. 

The machine also has a reserve and keep-warm function to make sure your bread stays fresh and warm even after it's done baking.

The bread machine comes with recipes, making it an all-in-one solution for home bakers. With 17 different settings to choose from, you can make anything from basic white bread to more complex recipes like whole wheat or gluten-free.


Now, after going over our experts guide of cooking tips and tricks, you can start home cooking and take it to the next level. This knowledge can help anyone, from a beginner cook to a home chef, to whip delicious dishes with ease and confidence and try out all sorts of recipes. 

Your family and friends will surely benefit from your experiments so march to the kitchen and get cooking.