How to become a better cook

Many people compare cooking to art. Picture: Pexels

Many people compare cooking to art. Picture: Pexels

Published Jul 3, 2024


Have you ever wondered how you can be a better cook?

Learning to cook is strange. It is a necessary life skill, not to mention a source of tremendous pleasure for oneself and one’s family; but unless you learn while growing up, it can feel daunting to acquire those skills.

Many people compare cooking to art. It takes skill to create a delicious dish using humble ingredients, and those who are good at cooking enjoy the practice as a meditation. Food is a big part of everyone’s lives, and so is cooking it.

However, some people need a little more help in the kitchen. There is no shame in being a beginner cook; everyone starts somewhere.

Luckily, there are many ways to level up one’s cooking game, some of which can be done in a few minutes (while others require some patience).

Below we have compiled a list of thoughts and ideas on how to go about teaching oneself to cook. If you want to improve your cooking skills, this is what you should do.

Read recipes thoroughly. Picture: Pexels/Rdne

Read recipes thoroughly

Read the recipe at least twice, if not three times, before you plunge in. Many cooks have skimmed over recipes many times, thinking they could make the recipe with their eyes closed, only to proceed and miss some tiny, vital step.

It is worth the extra time to comprehend a recipe completely. Making mistakes only wastes time and money.

Taste, taste and taste again

Learning to taste and adjust seasoning is one of the most important chef skills. It is an indispensable skill you can practise to improve your home cooking. A pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon, or a sprinkling of chilli flakes is often all it takes to lift a dish.

Take care when using salted butter in cooking and baking as it can result in over-seasoning; most chefs use unsalted butter. When using pepper for seasoning, you might like to use white pepper in lighter coloured dishes as black pepper, coarsely ground, can look unattractive.

Don’t forget that sweet dishes need seasoning too, whether with a pinch of salt with chocolate or caramel or extra sugar to balance the acidity of tart fruit.

Experiment with ingredients. Picture: Pexels/Mali

Experiment with ingredients

How do chefs stay motivated? By exploring new cuisines and new ingredients that inspire their creativity. For the home cook, that might mean picking up an unfamiliar vegetable at the farmers’ market or experimenting with a new ingredient from the deli.

A novice cook might take one familiar recipe and play around with variations. Every recipe you read, and every restaurant you go to, could be the source of a new idea.

Clean up

Ever watch one of those cooking shows where the judges criticise the contestants for having a messy station? Chefs hate a messy kitchen. A messy kitchen normally leads to a messy dish.

Contamination can also more easily occur in a chaotic atmosphere. And really, who likes having to deal with a filthy kitchen after the meal has been cooked and enjoyed? Clean as you go.

Many people compare cooking to art. Picture: Pexels

Don’t be afraid to fail

To become less reliant on recipes, experiment and don’t be scared to make mistakes. People get nervous when they see recipes and don’t recognise all the ingredients but feel free to substitute and taste as you go.