Not everyone is blessed with the culinary abilities of a top executive chef, but that doesn’t mean you can’t aspire to that. For starters, you may find yourself falling to these common cooking mistakes. Fortunately, there are easy fixes to these mistakes that can help elevate your cooking from amateur to seasoned home cook. 

Over-marinating meat

Yes, you can over-marinate meat! Letting your meat marinate for too long in acid breaks down the protein and can give it an unpleasant, mealy texture. A good rule of thumb is to keep your acid (citrus juice, vinegar, etc.) to oil at a 1:3 ratio, that is, one part acid to three parts oil. Another way to ensure that you don’t over-marinate is to keep your meat in its marinade for 1-2 hours at the most. 

Cutting meat too soon

As tempting as that juicy steak may look, don’t cut into it immediately! After cooking, let steaks rest for about ten minutes after it leaves the heat. During this time, the juices of the steak have time to redistribute within the meat instead of dripping all over the cutting board. 

Overcooking vegetables

Overcooked vegetables have turned away many potential vegetable fans. If you accidentally overcook vegetables, dip them in a bath of ice water to stop the cooking and firm them up. 

Overcrowded pans

Not having enough space in a pan will cause it to steam and become mushy instead of browning and crisping properly. Avoid letting the food touch and give it plenty of space when sauteing, frying, and roasting.

Using the wrong oils

While there are many different oils on the market, not all of them are created equal. Some are suitable for high-temperature cooking like frying, while others are better for medium heat cooking. Oils that have a neutral flavor and a high smoke point, like peanut, canola, and vegetable oils, are best for frying. For roasting and searing, choose a mild-flavored oil like olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, or safflower oil. Finishing oils are meant to add flavor and can be as delicate as extra-virgin olive oil or as aromatic as truffle oil.