Worst Cooks in America: Top 10 Cooking Mistakes

Count down the top 10 cooking mistakes, and learn how to avoid them so you don't make the same errors as Boot Camp recruits.

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Cooking Mistake No. 10: Overmixing

Unless a recipe tells you to knead vigorously, always mix doughs and batters carefully and gently, especially when mixing up batters for quick breads and muffins, or meat for meatloaf or meatballs — just fold until the ingredients come together, as overmixing can lead to toughness.

Cooking Mistake No. 9: Not Resting Meats and Casseroles

Sure, it looks great and you can't wait to dig in. But let meats and baked dishes (like lasagna) sit for a few minutes after coming out of the oven. For meats, the juices will stay in the meat (and not run on your board); for layered baked dishes, the layers will hold together instead of sliding around.

Cooking Mistake No. 8: Slicing Meat with the Grain

Next time you're slicing a steak, take a look at the surface. You should see some long "strings" running across it. Slice perpendicular (not parallel) to those strings, and chewy, tough steaks magically turn tender and toothsome.

Cooking Mistake No. 7: Using a Dull Knife

You're more likely to cut yourself with a dull knife (because it slips much more easily than a sharp one would), it's more likely to cause onion tears and it's no fun. Get your knives sharpened at least a couple times a year — it'll make such a difference.

Cooking Mistake No. 6: Putting Wet Food Into Pans

Pat food dry with a paper towel before searing — that's the cook's secret for taking chops from sputtery and gray to crisp and golden. 

Cooking Mistake No. 5: Not Seasoning Enough

Don't be afraid of salt. A sprinkle of kosher salt intensifies flavors, making food taste more like itself.

Cooking Mistake No. 4: Not Tasting As You Go

Taste your food throughout the cooking process, adjusting flavors as you go. You'll have more control over the final product and learn how cooking changes food. 

Cooking Mistake No. 3: Not Reading the Recipe.

Sure, there's plenty of room for improvising and substituting. But do yourself the favor of reading the recipe all the way through before starting to cook, so at least you'll know what's coming.

Cooking Mistake No. 2: Crowding the Pan

As you add food to the skillet, the temperature outside drops, which means food's more likely to steam (and turn gray) than brown. Give your food room!

Cooking Mistake No. 1: Being Afraid of Heat

For that perfect golden-brown crust on a steak or chop, let the pan get nice and hot before adding oil, then let the oil get hot before adding food.

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Worst Cooks in America