ClockPlayEmailInstagramLinkSMSTwitterYouTubeWhatsAppXSearchClockRight ArrowArrow DownCaret downCaret upCaret leftCaret rightHamburger MenuPop OutThumbs upThumbs up buySpeechAudio onReplayPlusMinusSad smiley faceNo resultsSwapMoreYour grocery bagSuccessShop Tasty MerchYour Cart (empty)Your CartFacebookPinterestEmailPrintSmsTwitterWhatsappCommentTips Highlights
Skip to Content

Culinary School Grads Are Sharing The Cooking Tricks They Wish They'd Learned Sooner, And Some Are Really Surprising

Class starts now.

Culinary school can be a rewarding experience filled with useful cooking tips, tricks, and techniques.

A culinary school attendee cooking food

To make things a bit more accessible, people in r/Cooking and the BuzzFeed Community are sharing the most important cooking tips they've learned in culinary school and in their own kitchens. Here's what they said.

1. For perfect scrambled eggs, start with a cold pan.

Someone scrambling eggs in a skillet.

2. Substitute soy sauce, fish sauce, or tamari for salt — and you'll get a deeper umami flavor.

Tamari, soy sauce, and fish sauce bottles

3. The more you diversify your cuisine knowledge, the better a cook you will become.

Chopping garlic for an Asian dish.

4. Caramelize onions in butter (rather than olive oil) and a bit of sugar.

Caramelizing onions in a skillet.

5. Avoid buying pre-marinated meats in grocery stores and butcher shops.

A package of Trader Joe's marinated chicken shawarma.

6. You'll become a better (and faster) cook if you stay clean and organized along the way.

A cooking setup with a designated prep bowl and scrap bowl.

7. Try cooking with duck fat to make food extra crispy.

8. For restaurant-quality sauces, finish them with a bit of cold butter.

Sliced butter.

9. Know that electric stoves can get much hotter than gas.

An electric stovetop

10. Abide by the finger trick for perfectly cooked rice.

Someone sticking a finger into a pot of rice.

11. Always finish gravy with a splash of cider vinegar.

12. Salt in the hand, not in the pan.

A chef putting salt into their hand

13. Don't bother rinsing poultry or fish before cooking it.

A woman putting diced chicken into a skillet.

14. When prepping or cooking a recipe, plan your next two tasks as you're performing your current task.

Cooking on the stove top

15. Dry any ingredients that trap moisture — like meat, fish, and vegetables — with a paper towel before cooking them.

16. Pay attention to all your senses.

Putting thyme into a bowl.

17. Place cherry or grape tomatoes in between two plastic lids to quickly cut them all in half.

18. A few drops of hot sauce can take vinaigrettes to the next level.

19. Don't be afraid to use premade seasoning powders.

Sprinkling spice onto chicken.

20. Never throw out your leftover pasta water.

Preserving pasta water in a measuring cup.

21. Never throw away bacon fat.

Bacon sizzling in its own fat.

22. Give your spices time to bloom, and they'll impart deeper flavor.

A bunch of different cooking spices.

23. Always "cook one off" — and taste your product or prep mixture before you dive into making the rest of it.

24. Use olive oil to drizzle on your food, but beware of its low smoking point.

Drizzling oil onto salmon.

25. Salt throughout the cooking process.

Salting green beans in a pot.

26. Memorize the three-step method for perfectly crispy fish skin.

Crispy salmon skin in a pan.

27. If a dish tastes bland, it probably needs an acidic ingredient.

Squeezing lemon juice into a pan.

28. Know when to use kitchen shears instead of a knife.

29. Treat baking like science and cooking like jazz music.

30. If you do it enough times, you can make a great sourdough loaf by feel.

Making sourdough bread

31. If you're cooking a meal with lots of components, use appliances to keep things at temperature — *without* taking up real estate on stove burners.

Mashed potatoes in Instant Pot

32. Recipes are a road map. You don't have to follow them exactly.

Roasting vegetables.

33. Brining is the key to perfectly cooked meats.

34. Invest in a reliable meat thermometer — it's the most important kitchen tool.

Using a meat thermometer to take the temperature of chicken.

35. And get yourself a good, 8-inch cast iron skillet. Then, use it to cook absolutely everything.

A steak cooking in cast iron.

36. Don't go overboard by buying lots of single-use kitchen tools.

Cutting veggies with a kitchen knife.

37. Use plenty of garlic, but add it strategically.

Shrimp with sizzling garlic in a skillet.

38. Use cheesecloth to impart the flavor of fresh herbs without the unwanted texture.

Making a herb packet in cheesecloth.

What's a useful cooking tip or trick you wish you'd learned sooner? Share in the comments!

Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.