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Cooking basics: How to follow cooking recipes

In cooking, the ability to follow recipes is one of the most important basic skills.  Recipes expose cooks to new ideas, techniques, and disciplines. The possibilities are endless and easily accessible when you use these simple cooking basics.

  1. Know the parts of a recipe. Recipes contain several standard sections. Most have a descriptive title to catch your eye. Beneath the title you will probably find the yield, or number of servings, and the overall cooking time. Next is a list of the ingredients and the amount you'll need for each. The final section contains step by step directions for preparing the dish.


  2. Know measurement abbreviations. To make the ingredient list shorter and easier to read, most recipes use abbreviations. Some common abbreviations include "tsp" for teaspoon, "tbsp" for tablespoon, "c" for cup, and "pkg" for package.


  3. Read ahead. Before you begin cooking, read the recipe a few times. Pre-measure the ingredients and place them in separate containers. Complete any prep work such as chopping, peeling, or washing. This will save time and allow you to focus on the directions.


  4. Don't take shortcuts! This is especially important for beginners. It can be tempting to modify certain parts of the recipe, but unless you are a seasoned cook, this can lead to disaster. A well-crafted recipe is very precise, and seemingly minor details can play a big part in the overall result.

Follow these four tips and you'll be on your way to recipe success. It's best to start small; don't dive into the big and complicated recipes right away. Several of my articles feature good beginner recipes, so find something appealing and get started!


  • Cindy Wolfe - Richmond Distance Learning Examiner 5 years ago

    Great info for all new cooks! (and good reminders to us old ones!)