If you are learning how to cook and have not yet read my post on Learning How to Cook For Beginners, I suggest you start there to understand how to be successful. These basic cooking how to’s are skills every home cook should learn.
When you start with the basics, you are building a solid foundation to grow from.
I love these basic cooking how to’s. When my mom taught me how to cook, she started with a lot of these. And it really made it easier for me to branch out from there.
What you will see as you go through each of these how to’s, and hopefully give cooking them a shot, you will see that they overlap.
For example, you will learn to make a basic quesadilla and how to cook chicken. Once you learn both of those skills, you can combine them to make a chicken quesadilla.
You will be surprised at how you will be able to use these basic cooking how to’s in TONS of recipes you will eventually cook.
So, let’s get cooking.
How To Cut Without Cutting Yourself
Before we jump into this basic cooking how to, I want to point out that this is an important skill to learn, so don’t breeze past this section.
If you are going to be cooking more you can be sure that you will also be cutting up food a lot more. Doing that safely is key.
And it will make your cooking experience that much more enjoyable if you come away unscathed.
Keep this in mind as you learn how to cut without cutting yourself.
Start by holding the knife in your dominant hand.
Make sure you have a comfortable grip on the handle.
With your other hand, you are going to hold and guide the food. Make a claw with this hand so your fingers are bent, nails gripping the food.
This will help keep your fingertips out of the way as you cut.
As you guide the food under the blade, you will push down and out on the knife.
ALWAYS make sure your fingers are out of the way.
Speed is not important. Not getting hurt is.
If you are going to be dicing or mincing food, you will keep the tip of the blade on the cutting board and move the handle up and down.
To make cutting vegetables easier, such as cutting an onion, you want to cut the item but not all the way through.
First, cut the onion in half right through the root.
Lay half the onion on the cutting board.
Hold the root end and cut down the length of the onion, almost to the end but not quite.
Then turn the onion, make two cuts into it.
Then holding it together, cut the rest of the onion.
I want to point out that some foods are easy to cut, while others are hard.
Easy to slice foods include garlic, peppers, peas, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and onions.
These types of foods also cook quickly by grilling, steaming, sautéing, and in the microwave.
Hard to chop foods are sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, and artichokes.
These you want to cook until they are tender by roasting in the oven, boiling, pressure cooking, or in the microwave.
How To Sweat an Onion- Basic Cooking How To
The purpose of sweating an onion is to draw the moisture out, which makes it more flavorful, and enhances the conversion of starch to sugar.
Many recipes you come across are going to ask you to do this basic cooking how to, like for soups.
To sweat an onion, add some oil to a pan and heat over medium-low heat.
Add the onion and continuously mix the onion.
Some recommend covering them and stirring occasionally. Either will work.
Just make sure they are getting stirred to cook evenly and not become brown.
Cook the onions until they are translucent and soft. They should not be brown.
This takes only about 5 minutes, so it is important to keep your eyes on them.
How to Caramelize Onions
If you have never had caramelized onions you do not know what you are missing. Most commonly you will find people put this on steaks or burgers.
You already learned half of this basic cooking how to, so let’s jump into the rest.
To caramelize an onion, you will be going a few steps further than sweating it.
To caramelize, you need to put your pan with oil on medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, add the onions.
Make sure you are occasionally stirring them.
After they sweat, they will start to turn brown. You will continue cooking them after they turn brown, so they caramelize.
This will take about 10-15 minutes.
You can add your own extra flavors to it, as you will see in the video below.
How to Cut a Tomato- Basic Cooking How To
For this basic cooking how to, there are a couple different ways you are going to learn to cut a tomato. They are slicing, wedges, and cutting cherry or grape tomatoes.
How you cut your tomato is going to depend on what you are using it for. For example, if you are cutting them for a sandwich, you would want slices. For a salad, you might prefer wedges.
First, you want to make sure you use the best knife for the job. If your knives aren’t super sharp, they can be difficult to cut a tomato because of its skin.
It is best to use a knife with a serrated blade, such as a steak knife or a bread knife.
To slice a tomato, place the tomato on a cutting board with the steam facing left or right.
Make a thin slice to cut the stem off.
Then continue to cut parallel making the slices as thick or thin as you want.
Place the tomato with the stem facing up.
Cut the tomato in half, right through the stem.
Then cut each half through the stem again.
You will then have 4 equal size pieces.
If you want more or smaller wedges, cut the wedges in half again.
Cherry or Grape:
Cherry and grape tomatoes are smaller, so they won’t necessarily need to be cut much.
If you are going to cut them, such as in half or quarters, just be sure to cut through the stem.
How to Brown Ground Beef
Ground beef can be found in many different dishes, from soups and chili, to tacos and stroganoff. This makes it an essential basic cooking how to.
Start by adding some oil to a pan and heat it on medium-high. Add the ground beef and break it into chunks with a spatula.
As it cooks you can continue to chop the meat into the desired size pieces.
Continuously mix the beef until there is no pink color left on any of the meat.
If you have larger pieces of meat, you may need to break some open to make sure.
How to Cook Pasta- Basic Cooking How To
Pasta. High in carbs but oh so delicious. Even if you are watching your carbohydrate intake, this is still a basic cooking how to you should know.
Whether you are making it for yourself or others, knowing how to cook it properly will come in handy.
When cooking pasta, keep in mind that you need 4 quarts of water for every pound of pasta you are going to cook. This is to ensure that the pasta does not stick together.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add about a tablespoon of salt to the water.
Then add the pasta.
If you are cooking spaghetti, it does not need to be broken. It will soften in about 30 seconds and fit into the pot.
Make sure to occasionally stir the pasta so it does not stick together or to the pot.
Follow the cook time on the package but remember to always check the pasta to see if it is done before draining.
To test the pasta, simply take a piece out and eat it.
Check to make sure it is cooked through and not hard.
Once it is cooked through, you can drain it.
I do want to point out that many recipes will tell you to cook the pasta until it is al dente.
Al dente means that it is still firm (not hard) when bitten into. It is meant to be a more enjoyable texture to eat.
How to Hard Boil Eggs
Hard boiled eggs are great. They make the perfect protein packed snack, can be used on a salad, or made into egg salad.
If you want to know more about the health benefits of eggs, check out this post.
They are so versatile that is is a basic cooking how to I feel everyone should know.
With all of the gadgets out there, there are a ton of ways to hard boil eggs.
I want to walk you through how to do it in a pot on the stove and with an Instant Pot, because it seems like they are so popular, most people have them.
First, on the stove top. The old school approach.
Place your eggs in a large saucepan or pot.
Cover them with cold water. The water should be about an inch above the eggs.
Bring the water to a boil.
Once it is boiling, turn off the heat and cover the eggs with a lid.
For hard boiled eggs, cook them for about 11 minutes. If you want soft-boiled where the inside is still runny, cook for about 7 minutes.
Then transfer the eggs to an ice bath to cool. An ice bath is simple cold water with ice in it.
The Instant Pot.
For the instant pot, you can follow the directions in the manual you received with your Instant Pot.
If you do not have your manual, it is pretty simple.
Place about an inch of water at the bottom of the Instant Pot.
Put the eggs in a steamer basket or wire rack, if you have one. If you don’t you can just place them in the pot.
Make sure you do not stack the eggs.
Close the lid, making sure the valve is sealed. Set your Instant Pot on high for 4 minutes.
It will take about 5-10 minutes for the pot to build pressure and then the 4-minute cook time.
Once it is finished, let the pot naturally release for about 5 minutes and then you can do a quick release for the rest.
Place the eggs in an ice bath and there you have it.
How to Cook Scrambled Eggs- Basic Cooking How To
More eggs! Scrambled eggs are also a basic cooking how to because they are perfect as a stand alone dish, can be accompanied with many extras, such as peppers, onions, and bacon.
And they are also great in dishes like breakfast burritos or fried rice.
To make scrambled eggs, start by beating the desired amount of eggs in a bowl with a pinch of salt.
You might see a lot of people add milk when they whisk their eggs. This is not necessary. It does nothing to your scrambled eggs except dilute your beautiful egg flavor.
Melt some butter in a pan over medium-low heat and then add your beaten eggs to the pan.
With a spatula, push the eggs around the pan until they no longer appear moist.
Feel free to add some cheese, green onion, or peppers.
Transfer the eggs to a plate and add additional season if you wish, such as pepper, and enjoy!
How to Fry an Egg
This is the last basic cooking how to for actually cooking eggs. Like I said they are so versatile.
Start by melting some butter in a pan over medium heat.
Crack your desired amount of eggs into individual bowls. This will allow you to make sure there are no broken shells in the eggs, and it makes it easy to pour the egg into the pan.
Add your eggs to the pan.
When the edges of the eggs turn white, cover the skillet with a lid and lower the heat.
For over easy eggs, cook for about 4 minutes.
For medium eggs, let them cook for 5 minutes. The longer you cook the eggs the harder the yolk will become.
Use a spatula and carefully transfer your eggs to a plate. Season with salt and pepper if you wish.
How to Separate an Egg- Basic Cooking How To
Okay last egg thing I promise.
I added this as a basic cooking how to because there will be recipes that call for just whites or just yolks.
There are several ways you can separate an egg yolk from the egg whites.
No matter which method you use, always make sure to be gentle so you do not break the yolk.
One of the easiest ways is to dump the egg into your hand over a bowl. Then just let the egg whites drip into the bowl through your fingers and you can place the yolk in a separate bowl.
Another easy option is to crack the egg into a bowl and use a slotted spoon to scoop out the yolk. Make sure that all the egg whites drip back into the bowl. And transfer the yolk to another bowl.
Finally, you can crack the egg over a bowl, making sure the yolk stays in one half of the shell.
Then you will transfer the yolk back and forth between the shells to get the egg whites to run into the bowl. The egg yolk goes in a separate bowl.
This one is trickier because you can break the yolk more easily if you aren’t careful.
I do want to point out that they do make egg separators. If you don’t plan on doing a ton of baking, or prefer just egg whites, there is no need to invest in one. However, if you think it is easier for you, they are a cheap item to purchase.
How to Cook Chicken
I consider this a must know cooking skill, because not only are there are thousands of recipes that contain chicken, but it is also a meat that has to be cooked all the way through so you do not get sick.
It is important to keep in mind that cooking times might vary based on the size/thickness of your chicken and whether it is fresh or frozen.
Frozen chicken takes about 1.5 times as long as fresh.
Also, never just go by the time of your recipe. Make sure to be using a meat thermometer and checking that your meat is at 165°F.
What I am going to tell you here is going to be based on fresh chicken on the stove-top and in the oven.
For the stove-top, first, pat your chicken fry with paper towel and season it how you would like.
You could also marinate it. If you are working with frozen chicken and want to try a marinade, just make sure to thaw the chicken first.
Next, you are going to heat some oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
Carefully add the chicken to the pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Then you are going to flip the chicken and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.
Again, these times are just estimating. ALWAYS make sure to check that the internal temp is 165°F.
If you want to cook your chicken in the oven, set the oven for 350 degrees and cook for 30-40 minutes. If you are looking to speed it up, you can do 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
How to Cook Grilled Cheese- Basic Cooking How To
This is a great basic cooking skill because it opens so many doors for you. You can try different kinds of breads or cheeses or add extras, like ham.
So, let’s get to it.
You will need 2 slices of bread, some butter, and cheese.
Start by buttering one side of each piece of bread. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add 1 piece of your bread with the butter side down.
Add your slice of cheese and top with the other slice of bread, butter side up.
Grill until your bread is golden brown and then flip your sandwich.
Continue cooking until your cheese is melted and the other side of the bread is golden brown.
Easy as that!
How to Cook a Quesadilla
This is another one of my favorite basic cooking skills because you can add so many extras to a quesadilla as well.
You can do whatever kinds of cheeses you want, add some chicken or corn. I have even seen black beans added.
Here I will walk you through how to make a basic quesadilla.
So, you will need 2 tortilla shells, 1 cup of cheddar cheese (shredded), and about a tablespoon of butter.
Now, there are two ways you can use the butter. You can either butter 1 side of each of your tortillas. Or you can melt half in the pan before you add your first (unbuttered) shell and the other half when you add the second shell.
Start by heating half a tablespoon butter in a large skillet or butter your tortilla.
Put a tortilla in the pan (if you buttered it, put the butter side down).
Fry 1 side of the shell until it is golden brown. Then remove it from the pan and set it aside.
Then you will either melt the other half tablespoon of butter or put the other tortilla shell in with the buttered side down.
Immediately add your cheese on top of the tortilla in the pan.
Then top it with the other tortilla, golden brown side up.
As the cheese melts, push the tortillas together with a spatula.
Cook until the cheese is melted.
Remove the quesadilla from the pan and cut it like a pizza. Serve it with sour cream and salsa.
You will be amazed at how simple this skills is and how awesome it tastes.
How to Boil Potatoes- Basic Cooking How To
Potatoes are a great side dish, either whole, quartered, or mashed.
Once you know what to do, boiling potatoes is a pretty basic cooking skill.
You want to start by washing your potatoes and peeling them if you wish. If you are going to cut your potatoes, now is the time.
Keep in mind that cubed potatoes and small red potatoes take about 15 minutes to cook. Larger potatoes or quartered potatoes take about 20-25 minutes.
Add your potatoes to a large pot and fill the pot with cool water so the water covers the potatoes by about an inch.
Add some salt.
Then bring your water to a boil.
Once it is boiling, lower the heat and gently boil the potatoes until they are tender.
You can check their tenderness by poking them with a fork. You will easily be able to poke the potatoes if they are tender.
From here, you can strain them and add some seasoning. If you are going to mash them, now is the time.
How to Dress a Salad
This might seem like a dumb cooking skill to add but it really isn’t. Salad is great to have as a meal or as a side.
Now, making a salad is pretty easy. You grab your favorite greens like spinach, lettuce, or kale. Then add in your preferred toppings such as chicken, hard boiled eggs, green peppers, red onion, and cheese.
The hard part is dressing the salad properly.
You might be thinking that you already know how much dressing you like on your salad.
But what if you are making it for others?
You are going to want to have the salad dressed to please the most people.
To master this basic cooking skill, you can do one of two things.
The first way is to start with a large salad bowl and add a little bit of dressing to the bottom of the bowl.
Swirl it around so it coats the sides of the bowl (this will work easier with thinner dressings).
Then add your greens first, followed by the toppings. This will help the greens absorb more of the dressing than the topping.
Then you are going to toss the salad using your hands or utensils. If it looks like the salad did not get coated, add a little more dressing toss again.
The second way is to add your greens to a bowl.
Then put the dressing on the greens.
Toss the greens.
Finally, add the toppings and toss again.
Basic Cooking How To’s
I just walked you through 15 basic cooking how to’s that you should know if you really want to learn how to cook.
Many of these skills are going to be used in your everyday cooking and you will find in thousands of recipes.
By starting with the basics, you are going to build a solid foundation to more easily enhance your cooking skills.
You can practice chopping foods with the right technique. Take the time to go through the process of sweating an onion and caramelizing so you can understand the differences.
Try some different cuts on tomatoes using a serrated knife and remember to always cut through the stem.
You could even try putting some of these skills together like making spaghetti or chicken quesadillas. Hard boiled eggs could also go in a salad.
Each of these skills is going to come in handy if you continue to cook. So, give each of them a try and become a better cook starting today!