7 Kitchen Skills Everyone Needs

See also: Lifelong Learning

Every person, regardless of age, should know a set of basic kitchen skills to prepare delicious and healthy meals, and protect themselves from cooking-related injuries. When you master the essentials, it can make cooking much more fun.

Even the best chefs start with the basics if you think about it. After years of perfecting slicing and dicing techniques, they quickly grow into the confident professionals that they are.

While some skills may seem straightforward, you may be surprised to learn there's a learning curve to get them just right. Here are seven kitchen skills every beginner chef needs to know.

1. How to Safely Use a Knife

It's a plain and simple fact: Knives are sharp. Using a knife the wrong way can increase your risk of cutting yourself, needing immediate medical attention and even catching nasty bacterial infections.

Whether slicing meats or vegetables, carelessness and quick movements could be dangerous. According to a recent study, approximately 50,413 avocado-related knife injuries occurred in the United States between 1998 and 2017.

It takes a lot of practice to master cutting skills. You have to learn how to grip the knife properly, hold it in the correct position and make sure to cut away from your body. You can also use various techniques to chop, slice, and dice your food whichever way a recipe calls for.

It’s helpful to look up videos and readings online to learn different methods of using knives. However, be sure to practice slowly, especially when you're just starting.

2. Preparing Stock

Some of you may be wondering what makes stock so special. Others may be confused about what stock even is. Is it broth, or not quite?

While broth is something you can sip, a stock is the base of many soups, stews or just about any recipe that calls for extra flavoring and moisture. As an essential cooking liquid, you can boil grains like rice or quinoa with it and braise meats and vegetables.

Sure, you can buy cartons of stock at the grocery store, but there's nothing quite like a homemade stock you made yourself. By whipping up your own stock, you can also have better control over how much sodium and fat you use.

Are you wondering what the best way to make stock is? Try this delicious homemade chicken stock recipe. The ingredients call for water, carrots, celery, onion, chicken parts, and seasoning. Simply allow everything to simmer in a large stockpot for a couple of hours.

The best part is you can store your stock in Tupperware or mason jars in the freezer until you need it for cooking.

3. Making Sauce

Every at-home chef should master a tasty, traditional sauce. Of course, the more you cook, the more sauces you'll learn how to make; however, you should at least have one signature sauce as your go-to for pasta, meats and other dishes.

Passing over jarred sauces in the grocery store and concocting your own is highly satisfying. The work you put into making it from scratch will be appreciated by everyone who tries it.

From creamy Béchamel sauce to herby pestos, to classic roux and hearty tomato sauces, mouths will water for whatever classic dish you're whipping up in the kitchen.

4. Eggs Different Ways

It's rather remarkable how many ways you can prepare eggs. One small ingredient offers so much versatility for a delicious dish. Not to mention, breakfast for dinner is always a fun way to switch things up.

You no longer only make eggs when you're mastering kitchen skills; you boil, poach, fry or scramble them. Sometimes you turn them into omelets and load them with cheeses and sliced vegetables or meats. Other times you throw them in a casserole dish and pop them in the oven.

Eggs are probably the least scary food you'll make in the kitchen, and they're an excellent source of protein at any time of the day.

5. Cooking Meat, Poultry and Fish

When preparing meat, poultry, and fish, keeping safety in mind is essential. Uncooked animal proteins carry bacteria and can contaminate other foods and cooking surfaces.

The more experience you gain in the kitchen, the more you'll learn about checking for meat freshness, how to clean and store them properly, different ways to prepare them and making sure they're fully cooked.

Start simple and learn a few basic chicken or shrimp recipes. Then, you can work your way up to making fancier, more complex dishes like Beef Wellington. You might even try cooking lobster tails—the perfect dinner for seafood lovers.

Consider investing in a digital thermometer to help you figure out if your meats and seafood meet the safe minimum cooking temperatures for eating. Consuming uncooked or raw meat can be harmful to you.

6. Cleaning Fruits and Vegetables

Taking proper care of your vegetables and fruits is just as critical as handling meats. Always make sure your vegetables are fresh and free from mold and bruising when you buy them from the produce department.

When you get home, clean your vegetables and fruits thoroughly before cooking with them or eating them raw. Produce is usually susceptible to pesticides and dirt from agriculture and shipping. Pesticides are used to protect crops from pests, weeds and fungi; however, some studies indicate that pesticide residue may lead to various health problems in humans.

Also, keep your fruits and vegetables away from raw meats to avoid spreading bacteria, and refrigerate your produce shortly after you cut or peel them to prevent them from going bad.

7. Quick and Easy Dinners

While some recipes call for several steps and lots of dirty dishes, others are quick, simple and relatively mess-free.

Sheet pan and stir fry dinners are easy to learn and can feed your whole family in a pinch. You can even prepare them in advance, so all you need to do is throw your vegetables and meat in a skillet or the oven.

Putting to use some of the other basic skills, such as safely using a knife, cleaning produce and handling meats, you can create many delicious dishes loaded with flavor.

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Learn how to set yourself effective personal goals and find the motivation you need to achieve them. This is the essence of personal development, a set of skills designed to help you reach your full potential, at work, in study and in your personal life.

The second edition of or bestselling eBook is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their skills and learning potential, and it is full of easy-to-follow, practical information.

Easy Kitchen Skills for Cooking Fun

Once you get the hang of the essentials, cooking will come much easier to you. You may build up your confidence in the kitchen, as well.

Remember to share what you learn with your kids. It's never too early or too late to start learning how to cook.

About the Author

Ava Roman (she/her) is the Managing Editor of Revivalist, a women’s lifestyle magazine that empowers women to live their most authentic life. When Ava is not writing you'll find her in a yoga class, advocating for body positivity, whipping up something delicious in the kitchen, or smashing the patriarchy.