15 Kitchen Mistakes That Will Make You Feel Like An Asshole

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This story was originally published on March 24, 2016.

Motivating ourselves to cook is tough — we need all the chopping, prepping, and stove practice we can get. Yet, there are a lot of easy-to-make mistakes that frequently trip us up when we set out to make ourselves a meal.

Once you set some of these universal cooking wrongs right, you'll be an amateur chef in no time. Ahead, we rounded up 15 common cooking mistakes and tips for setting them straight so you won't find yourself wasting time or energy in the kitchen.
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1. You Use Dry & Wet Measuring Cups Interchangeably

Don't do it, they're not the same! Use measuring cups (pictured) for dry ingredients and the glass or plastic pourable measuring pitchers for wet ingredients. Wet measuring cups go by fluid ounces, while dry ingredient cups are are meant to be leveled off. (You can do this with a butter knife or even your finger, which is impossible to do with one of the wet measure pitchers.)
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2. You're Not Rinsing Canned Beans

Typically, when you're cooking with canned beans, you're using them as a shortcut so you don't have to soak and cook dried beans for hours. You want to rinse those beans to get the salty liquid goop off, so you're starting from scratch (and getting as close to homemade dried beans as possible). There's also a lot of extra salt in the thick liquid they're canned in, and you don't want your beans to over flavor whatever you're adding them to.
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Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
3. You Rinse Pasta With Cold Water After Cooking

Rinsing pasta is supposed to stop the cooking process, but it also immediately cools down your dinner and rinses off all the flavorful starch that it's been cooking in. Plus, take the starch out of the equation and your sauce won't stick as well. That's why chefs often reserve some of that starchy cooking liquid to add back into the sauce.
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4. You Buy The Cheapest-Possible Olive Oil

We're always trying to cook on a budget, but be careful when it comes to olive oil. A lot of the olive oil on store shelves in the U.S. isn't actually extra-virgin. Do some research in advance on trustworthy brands and make sure you're actually getting what you pay for.
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Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
5. You Refrigerate Foods That Shouldn't Be Refrigerated

Do you throw all your produce in the fridge when you get home from the store? We've definitely been there, but there are certain foods that actually do better on the counter. Tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, bananas, and more should come out of the fridge ASAP. Some lose flavor as they absorb moisture in the fridge while others won't ripen as well.
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6. You Cook Bacon On The Stove

Cooking bacon is typically a messy, slow process. But, if you bake your bacon on a sheet pan, you'll be able to cook an entire package at once, and it'll all come out of the oven hot at the same time. No need to stand over the stove cooking individual pieces for 30 minutes.
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7. You Try To Open Difficult Jars The Old-Fashioned Way

Part of being a grown-up is having no one else around to help you open those difficult jars. But trust us, you don't need mom and dad or your super strong neighbor. Just wrap a thick rubber band around the top of the jar, and you'll be eating those pickles in no time.
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8. You Buy Free-Range Or Cage-Free Eggs

If you don't care what the label says about your eggs then you're fine! But if you're trying to eat free-range eggs, don't fall victim to the cage-free label. Cage-free only means the chickens aren't physically in a cage, but they might still be in a very, very tight space. Sadly there aren't great regulations around free-range either, but theoretically they're at least supposed to have more space to roam around.
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Photographed by Janelle Jones.
9. You're Not Touching The Knife Blade When You Hold It

The proper way to hold a chef's knife is totally counterintuitive. You actually want to be holding the top of the blade while you chop. If you're just grabbing onto the handle, you'll have less control while you chop, and a higher chance of cutting yourself. Here's a tutorial on the proper way to hold a knife. It'll feel weird at first, but we promise it's worth it in the long run.
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10. You Freeze Your Coffee

The idea that freezing your coffee beans or grinds makes them last longer is actually a myth. They'll still go stale if you're not using them regularly, and the freezer might even speed up the process.
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11. You Don't Freeze Nuts

Nuts on the other hand are a great food to freeze, especially for baking. If you don't go through a bag rather quickly, they'll go bad, but freezing them will increase their shelf life by months.
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12. You Open A New Stick Of Butter When You Need To Grease A Pan

Recipes always seem to call for one or two sticks of butter plus more to grease the pan, which is extremely frustrating if you don't want to start using a whole new stick. Next time, grease the pan with the butter wrapper. It still has some butter stuck to it and will definitely do the trick, no wasted stick required.
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13. You Throw Away Food That Is Too Salty

We've had our fair share of cooking disasters, and over-salting is one of the more annoying offenses. If you make an entire meal and then over salt at the end, there's often no turning back. But, there are a couple of fixes out there, so don't waste that food just yet. Potatoes will absorb that too-salty flavor in a soup, as will stock (unsalted!) in anything with a sauce. Plus, if you've got extra ingredients for whatever you're making on-hand, just add more of everything else.
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14. You Don't Line All Your Baking Pans

Whatever you're baking, parchment paper should be your best friend. Over-line brownie and cake pans so you can pull the entire baked good out of the pan without sticking or tricky broken pieces.
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15. You Only Boil Using High Heat

If a recipe asks you to bring something to a boil, that typically means over high heat so that you eventually end up with large bubbles rolling across the pot. Although once you hit that point, unless you're trying to cook down whatever you're making, you probably want to turn the heat down so your food cooks less aggressively. A simmer is a much lighter boil over a low heat where the bubbles are just visible and very small.
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