7 Ways to Fail at Cooking

7 Ways to Totally Fail at Cooking

Cooking can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to totally fail at cooking if you do these 7 things. Avoid them for a successful family meal!

When you first start to cook for yourself, or start to get serious about your cooking, there is a lot of information available. Too much information sometimes. Scroll through facebook and all you see are recipe videos (yes, I’ve made some videos too), some showing some very complicated recipes. For every tough recipe, there are also some very simple recipes that are great starting places.

I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and been cooking for myself and my family for over a decade now. Sometimes I go for those difficult recipes, other nights I take it easy. It depends on what kind of mood I’m in, and how much time I have. Either way, whenever you are making something new, there are a few things you can do to guarantee you’ll fail at cooking (and I’ve done them all at one time or another). So avoid these, and you should be good!

Originally Published On: August 7, 2017

Last Updated On: September 17, 2020

Don’t Have all of the Ingredients

Look through the entire list of ingredients and make sure you have everything. Too often I think we have something, and start cooking, only to realize we finished that carton of heavy cream the other day, or the last oats were used in breakfast this morning. Try to avoid this, but if it happens, a good search online for “______ substitute” will often find you something that you can use that will imitate the same flavor and texture.

Don’t have all the Equipment

If you want to make a bundt cake, make sure you have a bundt pan. This should sound obvious, but sometimes you don’t realize something you will need because a lot of recipes don’t list the equipment required with the ingredient list, meaning you have to read it in the instructions. Which brings me to my next point….

Don’t Read the Recipe Through First

When you are making a recipe for the first time, it’s always helpful to read through the entire recipe real quick before getting started. Sometimes you may come across a piece of equipment you don’t have or needs to be washed. Other times, when I don’t read through first, I don’t realize that something needs to be stirred constantly while also stirring in other ingredients. When this happens, it helps to know ahead of time so you can get the rest of the ingredients ready and at hand.

Don’t Measure Properly

Did you know there’s a difference between a dry measuring cup and a liquid measuring cup? I still use the wrong ones often. I’ve also been cooking so long I can guess an amount pretty well. That’s find for cooking, but I’ve learned (yes, the hard way) that when you are baking, you have to have the exact ingredients and measurements. Being just slightly off will be the difference between a cake that rises or doesn’t, or a brownie that sets in the middle properly.

Don’t Pay Attention

Wait, you mean I need a kitchen free from distractions? Never going to happen with two toddlers in the house! Trust me, I hear you. But do your best to pay attention. A pot of boiling water takes just seconds to spill over sometimes, leaving a huge mess to clean up later.

Don’t Set a Timer

When a recipe says to simmer for 8 minutes, usually any longer or shorter will change the consistency and/or flavor of the meal. Set a timer so you know you do it properly. Cooking meat too long results in dry meat, or too short means undercooked meat. There’s usually a timer on your oven, on the microwave, and on your cell phone. If all else fails, spend a couple bucks on a small kitchen timer. It’s easy to get distracted, so the timer lets you know when you need to move on to the next step.

Don’t Practice Safety

Most important, be safe in the kitchen. Use the proper knife for the job and if you drop it, don’t ever try to catch it. If you have a gas stovetop, make sure you don’t have anything too close to the burners (same for electric stove, but there isn’t an open flame). Wear oven mitts when moving pots/pans and when putting things in or out of the oven. Be careful, pay attention, and always have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Don’t ever put water on a grease fire!

So if you don’t want to completely fail at cooking, follow these guidelines. Of course, I can’t talk about the outcome of the recipe itself, because everyone enjoys different tastes. But with this list, you should at least be able to get through the recipe, then it’s up to you and your family to decide if it’s something you’ll make again!

Now get started cooking for your family! Trust me, it’s amazing what a good home-cooked meal can do to help your family bond. Put away the technology. Sit down together at the table. Have a conversation. Even let the kids help in the kitchen if they are old enough. My four year old loves to help me cook and bake, and he’s more likely to eat something if he helped make it!

Working in the Kitchen

38 thoughts on “7 Ways to Totally Fail at Cooking”

  1. Such good tips! I have been cooking for my family for years and I have some friends that are just so intimidated to learn more. These are great tips!

  2. I’m a horrid cook! If it weren’t for Pinterest I’m sure I’d starve. Sadly, a lot of these described me whenever I’m trying to follow a recipe!

  3. Love all of these. I fail at #1 all. the. time. You’d think I’d learn to double check what I ACTUALLY have on hand instead of thinking that container of Greek yogurt is full or I have a dozen eggs. Then I’m stuck trying to make substitutions or run to my neighbors for the missing ingredient. Note to self again: check the fridge before starting a recipe.

    1. I’ve done this a few times. There are certain foods that are staples in my pantry, and sometimes they get low and I don’t think about it because I’m so use to always having it! Luckily my in-laws live on the next street so I can raid their pantry/fridge most of the time!

  4. Analie from Get A Happy Date

    I’m not good in cooking so it is normal for me to fail. After marriage, I tried to get serious about cooking and always make sure to have everything complete before I start cooking. Sometimes, I would watch a video several times to get it right.

    1. I’ve gotten to where I don’t always have to measure out things like spices and seasonings, but I’ve also learned the hard way that it’s very important to measure everything when baking!

  5. ▵ ↟ Francesca_Sevenroses ↟ ▵

    I really should start following your advice because if I’m following a recipe half of the times I realize only half-way through that I’m missing one or more key ingredients… that’s when I improvise and sometimes – only sometimes – something great happens… some other times it is a failure 😀

  6. Haha. This is very true. You have to follow a recipe to the letter. Sometimes you can substitute if you know your ingredients, but it’s always best to follow directions.

  7. Great tips! If you’re looking for a good laugh, there’s a YouTube channel called “You suck at cooking” and it’s kind of a parody on cooking shows but so bad!!

  8. I’m guilty of #1 lol! I’ve devastated my kids once trying to make cookies…Long story short, I had to pack everyone up to go get sugar! I check first now lol

  9. What??? There’s a difference between a dry and liquid measuring cup? I never knew that! Will have to figure out which one I have right away! I’ve definitely been caught without ingredients before. Luckily, I live in a city so there are tons of stores within walking distance. But it always sucks when you realize you’re missing something.

  10. connectedcolleague

    OMG I have been baking for soo long and I never knew there was a difference between dry measuring cup and a wet one! Thanks for bringing that to my attention!

  11. Thanks for the tips! I often have to search for substitutes for missing ingredients! Which reminds me I need to put cream of tarter and baking powder on my list!

  12. I’ve been cooking practically all of my life and I still have times that my recipes doesn’t come out right and takes me several times for a recipe to work but I don’t stop I keep on trying until I get it.

  13. Great tips! When I was first learning to cook I was terrible at measuring out all of the ingredients because I was too impatient. Once I slowed down and focused I actually succeeded

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