What are your biggest cooking mistakes that others can learn from?

Joined Jun 7, 2021
My 2 most outstanding mistakes happened at my Mother In Law's home.

1: I was making spaghettis with a meaty ragu where all ingredients, except the meat, and garlic, came from the garden. The tomatoes, onion, basil, and oregano
were at their peak. This was supposed to show off my cooking skills. The only thing I didn't have was fresh garlic. I reached into the spice cupboard and grabbed a bottle labled granulated garlic. Perfect. I tipped the plastic container to sprinkle in the garlic. To my horror, about a tbsp. of ground cinnamon erupted and fell into my ragu, completely ruining it. I'd heard of cinnamon used in some Mexican sauces, and so tried saving it. It ended up in the trash. Moral of the story, If working in someone else's kitchen, verify everything, as like my MIL, they may re-purpose containers, or not have the right tools for what you are doing.

2. The Webber Kettle was properly filled with a load of lump charcoal I ignited it, and prepared some ribeyes purchased from a meat market called Iowa Meat Farm Outlet. They sold premium, wet aged beef in vacuum sealed plastic. Supermarket meat usually required tenderizing. My standard tenderizing method was to liberally sprinkle on Adolph's Meat Tenderizer, and price the meat repeatedly with a fork, then let it sit for 15 minutes before grilling. I did this with these ribeyes. That was a mistake, as the steaks were already very tender. After cooking to a perfect medium rare, I served them to my family. The texture was like meat paste, not a good thig.
Lesson to be learned: don't assume anything. Know what you are working with so that you can obtain the results you desire.

I hope these shown mistakes can help new cooks not make them.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
Joined Dec 18, 2010
Okay... I'll play...

Biggest mistake that I make occasionally is to follow a recipe that, in my gut, I know is wrong.

Next biggest mistake is to adapt a new recipe to "make it my own" before validating that the recipe is good and works.

A big mistake that sometimes I make is to forget to set timers when baking.

And since you mention cooking in someone else's kitchen... not bringing my own knives is often a bit of mistake too.
Joined Jan 8, 2010
Making gulyas, grabbing the paprika powder and adding lots of it.
Except ...
It was chili powder :(
Now, I like hot food, but this was too much. Salvaged it by throwing every bit of vegatable in it do dilute!
These were student days. No way was I going to toss the meat!
Joined Feb 8, 2009
The mistake I make is trying to make a dish with someone else helping. It's my recipe and way of doing it, just do as I ask. It's not that I do 50% of the meal and you do 50% of the meal. This is why I'm a PITA to work with........
Joined Jan 31, 2012
My spousal sitting next me when I read this, I casually turned to her and asked,
"I havent really made any big cooking mistakes have I?
she replied, "No...nothing stands out.... wait, there is the fact that several times youve set my dish towels and potholders on fire, and youve melted a few plastic dishes too. Id call them mistakes."
Trying to regain some dignity, I said " But not COOKING mistakes."

Actually I do recall in the Banquet room, midday my boss was going home to clean up before the dinner service. Wed be serving about 80 guests. As she departed she said "Watch the dinner rolls, take em out in 20 minutes." Which i did. When she got back I said " yeah, I took them out. "
To my horror, she bent down to the oven below the RANGE, and extracted a sheet of way overdone rolls.
I had no idea she had rolls down there as well. She was pretty upset, and though it was poor communication it was still my responsibility to stay aware of everthing in the kitchen.
Joined Jul 13, 2012
I've done the salt/sugar thing, the red pepper/paprika thing, the baking power/baking soda thing - I read labels now.

One thing I've never done is burn a roux. My grandmother did once and the house stunk of burnt flower for a week. Also a wise chef once told me - "always pee before you start your roux" - LOL
Joined Jun 11, 2013
For me, I believe my earliest big cooking mistakes were assuming the seasoning and herb quantities outlined in a recipe defined by someone else would be suitable. Arrrggghhhh!

Early on it was important to learn to taste as you go. You can add more, but dealing with too much of many ingredients can be tricky to fix. For example, finishing your pasta carbonara only to find there's way too much salt in it to the point it was inedible is tragic . . . especially when you're watered up for it.

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