44 Cooking Basics You Should Probably Know By Now


HomeHome / News / 44 Cooking Basics You Should Probably Know By Now

May 28, 2023

44 Cooking Basics You Should Probably Know By Now

We hope you love our recommendations! Some may have been sent as samples, but all were independently selected by our editors. Just FYI, BuzzFeed collects a share of sales and/or other compensation

We hope you love our recommendations! Some may have been sent as samples, but all were independently selected by our editors. Just FYI, BuzzFeed collects a share of sales and/or other compensation from the links on this page.

Just a bunch of helpful tips and tricks you'll be sure to use next time you make dinner.

BuzzFeed Staff

We've all been there.

And btw yes this is the spaghetti from The Bear — you can learn how to make it here.

Keep in mind the three *most* important knives to have in your kitchen: the chef's knife, the serrated knife, and the paring knife. You can basically do it all if you start with these bbs.

Need the three basic knives? These are great options:

—Victorinox 8-inch chef's knife ($60.20 from Amazon)

—J.A. Henckels 5-Inch Serrated Utility Knife ($45 from Amazon

—Victorinox 4-Inch Paring Knife ($7.50+ from Amazon)

Learn more about every kind of knife at The Kitchn.

And good news: we have a whole article dedicated to this! Check out The Complete Guide to Knife Cuts for everything you need to know to slice, dice, and chiffonade like a pro.

Get it from Amazon for $28.34.

Promising review: "My husband IS the obsessive chef! He is always very precise and careful in his cutting. If a recipe calls for dicing potatoes into one-inch chunks...that is what he will do. I really bought this for him as a joke because of how precise he is, but he LOVED it. He truly uses the gridlines and the measurements to accurately dice his food. Additionally, its a nice light weight cutting board. If you know a perfectionist chef, this is a GREAT gift idea." —TJ Callahan

Get it from Amazon for $29.99 (also available in a larger set with seven different attachments for $39.99).

Promising review: "This is the best kitchen gadget I have ever purchased. It cuts prep time in half. I have had a food processor but I barely use it because it’s big, bulky, and has so many pieces. It’s also kind of hard to use and pretty much purées everything if you aren’t careful. This little tool has made me want to throw the food processor away all together. It is amazing! It is quick and easy. I don’t recommend it for eggs or tomatoes because they get stuck in the grooves and are hard to get out. Everything else has been super easy to clean up so far. It even comes with cleaning tools. I highly recommend this." —Kim

This is one of 17 Genius Cooking Tips That Professional Chefs Want You To Know, so you know it's good.

Salt flakes on fresh chocolate chip cookies?! Nothing better.

Get a box of Maldon salt from Amazon for $6.90.

Promising review: "Have I become a salt snob? I asked for a marble salt box for Valentines Day, and I couldn't very well put common table salt inside such a beautiful thing, could I? No. I did a bit of research and found out that Maldon's Sea Salt flakes are the gold standard... even better than the pink salt I bought at the big box store that rhymes with Bosco! This salt's texture is a delight and the flavor is clean and bright (without being sharp). This is a little luxury in my kitchen, and every time I use it, I'm like, 'Dang. This is the good life!'" —Indiana A.

Check out 11 Tips for Perfectly Seasoning Your Food for more info.

This set of 10 Anchor Hock bowls come in different sizes (1 ounce, 2 ounce, 4 ounce, 6 ounce, 10 ounce, 16 ounce, 1 quart, 1- 1/2 quart, 2-1/2 quart, and 3-1/2 quart) and nest for easy storage — and they're dishwasher, fridge, and microwave safe and can withstand quick temperature changes without shattering.

Get the set from Amazon for $44.63.

Promising review: "These are the perfect glass mixing bowls! Clearly the best glass bowls I’ve ever used. The larger bowls are great for mixing ingredients and the smaller bowls are great to use while prepping supplies such as garlic, spices, etc to approach your cooking/backing with more organization. Definitely recommend 100%" —Susan

BuzzFeed has tons and tons and tons and tons of sheet pan meal ideas to get you started, but just get experimenting with your favorite flavors!

Need some quality pans to get you started? Try Oxo's two-piece set of nonstick baking sheets (one half sheet, one quarter sheet) for easy clean-up! Get the set of two from Amazon for $39.95.

Promising review: "I haven't used these pans yet but I see they're thicker and well-made rather than the other brands and as long as I take good care of them, (washing them with soft dish cloths by hand) they'll last beautifully for years. I ADORE all Oxo products. They're worth every penny. I've bought almost all of their kitchen products and other gadgets through the years because they'll last forever! If anything is wrong, they'll make it right immediately." —Debbie Allen

—Chili powder: ancho chile, paprika, cumin, and Mexican oregano

—Za'atar: thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac

—Herbs de provence: rosemary, marjoram, thyme, oregano, sage, and tarragon

—Garam masala: chinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, mace, peppercorns, coriander, turmeric, and cumin

—Ras el hanout: cardamom, clove, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorn, and turmeric

—Curry powder: turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and red pepper

—Cajun seasoning: black pepper, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and thyme

—Chinese five spice: cassia, clove, fennel, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns

Educate yourself when it comes to herbs and spices at Cook Smarts!

Spice racks only *wish* they could. These drawer liners are made of a soft foam to keep your jars in the right position (label up!) so you can quickly grab what you need. And you can trim 'em to fit your drawers!

Get a 10-foot roll from Amazon for $16.99.

Promising review: "This is one of my favorite things I've ever purchased from Amazon! I think this will be my go-to gift for all of my friends who love cooking as much as I do! Freeing up cabinet space and having something that can so easily be rinsed off in the sink makes this a for-sure buy!" —momonono

It's also ~grate~ for fine cheese shavings, easily minced ginger (a flavorful must), and more.

Get a top-rated microplane from Amazon for $10.98.

Promising review: "Oh my gosh. I never thought I’d have such intense feelings for a lemon zester. This thing is AMAZING. Don’t bother looking at the other zesters just get this one. It’s so nice that it has a sheath to cover it. And oh my gosh this thing works so well. It showed that lemon who’s boss. I’m not even kidding. I zested a lemon with a regular small holed cheese grater yesterday before this came and then today I used this one and the zest from the regular cheese grader was like two tablespoons but with this zester it was like at least a cup. It’s so easy to use and the handle has a nice grip to it. Not to heavy or too light. Never thought I’d be so passionate about a kitchen tool." —Gabrielle

Find all the steps and learn How To Never Mess Up Your Poached Eggs Again.

Get a set of two from Amazon for $11.95.

Promising review: "FINALLY! My long search is over for a solution that really works! The eggs poach perfectly! The process involves simply dropping an egg into the poacher and waiting a few minutes for the desired level of firmness — no stirring the water to create a vortex or messing with the egg during cooking! This means that when you need to cook for several guests, multiple poachers can be used to prepare as many eggs as needed at the same time! There was even a handy chart with suggested poaching times which is dead-on accurate. Cleanup is a breeze! I am ordering another set and won't poach any other way than with Good Grips. My only negative comment is that I will probably eat way more Eggs Benedict than I should now that it is so easy to prepare the eggs!" —JoeBT

Learn more about this technique at Here's How You Should Actually Be Peeling Garlic.

It totally works!

Get it from Amazon for $13.81.

Promising review: "My husband surprised me this amazing garlic peeler. He didn't tell me what it was or what to expect. He just took a garlic clove and handed it to me with this peeler. My kids stood in silence as I tried the product. I rolled the clove in the peeler and three seconds later I had a peeled clove. We all screamed in amazement. I was shocked and amazed! I LOVE garlic but hate peeling so I had started buying pre-made crushed garlic in a jar which is not nearly as good as fresh garlic when cooking. Now I'm back to using fresh garlic thanks to this innovative garlic peeler. Its also lightweight and easy to clean!" —Crysta

Learn more about this trick at The Kitchn!

Check out this tip in action in the recipe for Garlic Chicken Stir Fry at The Recipe Critic (pictured above).

Yes, it does matter what kind of onion you use, so learn which varieties to buy for which recipes!

Sweet onions are best for frying. Use for: onion rings, gratins, and roasted veggies.

Red onions are best for eating raw. Use for: guacamole, pickled onions, salads, and sandwiches.

White onions are crunchiest and have the sharpest zing. Use for: salsas, chutneys, and stir fries.

Yellow onions are the best all-around cooking onion. Use for: meat roasts, braised meat dishes, sauces, soups, and stews.

Shallots are milder and more subtle. Use for: vinaigrettes, egg casseroles, and garnishes.

Need more details and GIFs? Check out Here's Everything You Need To Know About Chopping Onions.

Tuck your fingers in and maintain a firm grip on the vegetable. Learn more at The Kitchn.

Check out the ultimate tutorial for caramelized onions at Gimme Some Oven.

This ceramic nonstick Always Pan (the 2.0 version now has upgraded nonstick and is oven safe!) is a BuzzFeed Shopping team favorite. It's designed to do the work of TEN pieces of regular old cookware if you've already reaaallllly run out of cabinet space. It comes with a lockable lid, steamer basket, pouring spout, and a nesting spatula with a built-in rest.

Get it from Our Place for $150 (available in 10 colors)

Promising review: "My daughter in law ❤️ gave me my pan for Mother’s Day. I love it so much I bought another one. I cook a lot and own a great deal of cookware. Our Place is a superior product. I have also given these pans as gifts.

I give the bridal bundle often." —Tia D.

Our Place is a POC-owned business based in Los Angeles. All of their boxes are packaged with biodegradable and recyclable materials, and the Always Pan is made in a female-owned factory in China.

We've got you covered — here's Everything You Need To Know About Cooking With Cast-Iron Pans.

The basics? Never leave water in the skillet, use thin layers of oil heated past the smoke point to bond with it when seasoning, preheat it when you use it, and only use steel wool when bringing it down to the base layer. But if you do, you can always re-season!

Looking for recipe ideas? Check out 21 Cast-Iron Skillet Recipes You Should Try.

Still don't have one? Get a top-rated Lodge cast-iron skillet from Amazon for $30 (for an 8-inch; also available in seven other sizes).

I watched this GIF and suddenly I'm hungry.

We've developed the ultimate guide for cooking several cuts of steak!

Get the chart pictured above from Amazon for $7.49.

The pad of flesh below the base of your thumb is your guide! When your hand is open, the pad feels like raw meat, when your index and thumbs touch, it feels like ratr, thumb and middle fingers touching feels like medium rare, thumb and ring touching feels like medium, and thumb and pinkie feels like (you guessed it) well-done.

Or get a probe thermometer with THOUSANDS of 5-star reviews (including from chefs!) and an easy-read backlight from Amazon for $16.95.

While it varies by cut of meat and recipe, the rest time is usually 10–20 minutes.

Learn more about this tip at The Kitchn.

Other tips for making perfect rice? If you're making it on the stove, use a heavy-bottomed pot to prevent burning, and during the final stage, put a towel under the lid to avoid extra condensation making it mushy.

Of course you can always use an Instant Pot ($89.99 from Amazon) or a microwave rice steamer ($17.99 from Amazon) for complete effortlessness.

Keep this guide from Good Eggs (an organic grocery delivery site) handy!

—Brown rice: 1 cup grains to 2 cups water, takes 30 mins

—Basmati rice: 1 cup grains to 2 cups water, takes 20-25 mins

—Steel-cut oats: 1 cup grains to 3 cups water, takes 30–40 mins

—Wheat berries: 1 cup grains to 3 cups water, takes 40–40 mins

—Sushi rice: 1 cup grains to 1 cup water, takes 20 mins

—Farro: 1 cup grains to 4 cups water, takes 25 mins

—Rolled oats: 1 cup grains to 2 cups water, takes 15-20 mins

—Quinoa: 1 cup grains to 1 1/4 cups water, takes 25 mins

Get all the steps for perfecting your pasta at Serious Eats.

—Skinny and long pastas (like spaghetti, linguini, and angel hair) go with light, olive oil–based sauces or cream-based sauces

—Twisty shapes (like fusilli, gemelli, and rotini) go with light, textured sauces

—Tubes (like penne rigatoni, and macaroni) go with thick, chunky, meaty sauces

—Shells (like conchiglie) go with thick, textured meaty sauces

BuzzFeed's food editors tried EIGHT recipes to find you the best (and easiest!) roast chicken recipe of all time.

Here's LITERALLY all the things you need: a chicken (duh), reusable silicone cooking bands ($6.99 from Amazon), a roasting rack ($11.14 from Amazon), salt, and pepper. THAT IS IT!!!! No other ingredients, no other tools. SERIOUSLY.

Quesadillas, chicken salad, and fried rice OH MY! These are the joys that await you in Easy Meals You Can Make With Rotisserie Chicken.

Learn more about making your own dressings at Little Coconutty.

Get it from Amazon for $16.96.

Promising review: "Best salad dressing shaker ever! This is really a great product if you like to make your own dressings. I find that many bottled dressings are too salty and full of preservatives as well. Making your own is embarrassingly easy and saves you money as well. The wide mouth makes it easy to add the oil, vinegar, etc. and it also has a handy rubber grip in case your hands are slippery! Never buy salad dressing again!" —Ella Dedman

Add dairy ingredients later, because adding them too early might cause them to curdle. And when it comes to pasta and beans, add those last too, because you do *not* want them getting mushy.

For more slow cooker info, check out Genius Tips & Tricks For If You Own A Slow Cooker. And check out this recipe pictured here (it's slow cooker jalepeño corn chowder) at The Skinny Fork.

Still don't have a slow cooker? Get a 6-quart programmable Crock-Pot from Amazon for $69.99.

This 5-quart enameled Crock-Pot Dutch oven is beautiful *and* loved by reviewers. Get it from Amazon for $53.09+ (available in 12 colors and a 3-quart and 7-quart size).

Promising review: "I am a big Le Cruset cookware fan and was considering paying the almost $300 for their Dutch oven. But I got this to see how often i would even use a Dutch oven before spending all that money on the name brand. Safe to say I will probably just skip spending the money on the name brand because I am so pleased with this purchase. The color is way prettier than any of the other colors out there and for this price, YOU CANNOT BEAT THIS DEAL. I would recommend this pot 20 times out of 10 if you are considering a Dutch oven. TRY THIS OUT YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS PURCHASE!!!" —Nicole Carter

Need some inspiration? Let me show you right over to 18 One-Pot Dinners You Can Make In A Dutch Oven.

Learn more at Food52.

Masterclass has a super-helpful rundown of which oils to use for what dish. Check it out here!

And if you're looking for a suggestion, try the Chosen Foods avocado oil pictured above (it's the brand I use — they also sell big ole jugs at Costco as well). Get an 8.4-ounce bottle from Amazon for $13.99.

Check out all the steps for the best baked bacon (try saying that five times fast) at Food52.

Take a 14"x12" rectangle of parchment paper, fold in half and cut into a heart shape (um, CUTE!), put your ingredients on one half of the heart, folding the other half over and crimp for a tight seal. You're ready to cook!

::Immediately clicks on 16 Parchment-Wrapped Dinners For People Who Hate Dishes:: These recipes include mains AND sides! Dinner = done.

Get a 60 square-foot roll of parchment paper for $7.59.

This chart has a ton of suggestions, but you really just need 1/4 cup fat, 2 tablespoons acid, and 1–2 teaspoons salt. Mix it up however you'd like!

Looking for something a little more impressive? We've got four-ingredient and five-ingredient marinades for you too!

—Fish and shrimp: 15 to 30 mins

—Tofu: 20 mins to 12 hours

—Chicken: 30 mins to 6 hours

—Lamb, beef, and pork: 4 hours to 12 hours

Get the how-to at The Pioneer Woman.

Haven't been making your grilled cheeses with mayo? Now is the time to start.

Yes, she makes a branded garbage bowl. You can get it from Amazon for $19.99+ (available in seven colors).

Get a pack of two of the hanging compost bins from Amazon for $23.99 (available in two colors).

The reviews for this are straight-up glowing.

Get it from Amazon for $20.49.

Promising review: "I just turned 25, and my lack of cooking skills was beginning to be embarrassing and unhealthy, so I began searching for a cookbook to help me out. I usually got recipes online, but they tended to be either too complicated or too expensive for someone who's not that well off. I am not exaggerating when I say that this book has turned my culinary life around. I cook pretty frequently now, and I basically exclusively cook out of this book. I'm going to list several things about this book that I like:

* TONS of great tutorials for things like cutting up veggies, how to boil pasta the right way, etc. Along with these great helpers, every recipe includes page numbers to the relevant stuff, so you can easily flip back and forth to figure out how to do all of the mechanical stuff.

* The recipes are arranged in each chapter from easiest to most difficult, so it's perfect for new cooks to build up their confidence.

* The recipes are simple, and simple generally means cheap. It does NOT, however, mean flavorless. Everything I've made out of this book has been fantastic, even the super-simple chopped salad and homemade dressing.

* The section on what tools/equipment needed in a kitchen has also helped me furnish my kitchen better.

I would say that if you are a beginner cook, this book is absolutely the one to buy. It's affordable, well written, and will help you make fantastic food. Seriously. Look no further." —Patrick Rinker