30 Kitchen Skills to Master Before You Turn 30

cutting board with citrus ginger cucumber beet oranges
Photo: Kate Mathis

Learning to cook is an ongoing process, but there are some basic cooking skills everyone should have. While these skills are useful on their own, they're even more helpful when you combine them: Once you know how to make stock, dice vegetables, and cut up a whole chicken, you're already well on your way to making homemade soup. Whip up a fresh batch of buttercream, then follow our guide for filling and frosting the layer cake you baked.

It's important to take good care of your tools and cookware too: Keep your knives sharp and your cast-iron skillet clean. We will also teach you how to make homemade pie crust, cook both fresh and dried pasta, and season with salt. From here, you can cook anything for anyone, anytime. Ahead, we're sharing 30 of the most essential skills for home cooks to learn by the time they're 30.

01 of 30

How to Measure Wet and Dry Ingredients

set of dry measuring cups

Not all measuring tools are created equal and not all ingredients—whether liquid, dry, or a sticky in-between substance such as honey or molasses—can be measured using the same tools. It's important that you own both short measuring cups for dry ingredients and glass measuring cups for liquids.

02 of 30

How to Season with Salt

person tossing salt
Jenny Huang

Different types of salt—think kosher, flaky, or sea—have different levels of saltiness, so it's important to use the right type for your recipe. Learn how to accurately measure salt and season a dish using this essential ingredient.

03 of 30

How to Cut Vegetables


What does it mean when a recipe calls for the onion or carrot to be diced, and how do you get all the pieces the same size? Once you master this technique, use diced vegetables as the base for mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onions) and add them to soups, stew fillings, or pasta.

04 of 30

How to Fill and Frost a Cake

Chris Court

With the right tools and techniques, you can cut, layer, and decorate a cake that looks perfectly Instagram-worthy. Hint: Invest a rotating cake stand, a long serrated knife, an offset spatula, and an ice-cream scoop to get filling and frosting right every time.

05 of 30

How to Make Pie Crust

Easy Pie Crust
Clive Streeter

The best pies all start with a flaky, homemade crust. Learn how to make buttery pastry for sweet or savory pies.

06 of 30

How to Make Stock


The base for great homemade soups and a vital ingredient in risotto and so many other dishes, stock takes time to cook but is easy to make. Make a big batch of vegetable, chicken, or beef stock, then store it in quart containers in the freezer.

07 of 30

How to Cook Pasta

Pasta Carbonara recipe
Bryan Gardner

A delicious plate of pasta boils down to three things: salt, the proper size pot, and timing. Learn the difference between fresh and dried pasta and how to cook each variety, too.

08 of 30

How to Gauge When Meat Is Cooked

seared strip steaks with braised peppers and onions
Marcus Nilsson

Learn the right temperature for rare to well-done meat using a meat thermometer and the touch of your finger.

09 of 30

How to Make a Vinaigrette

Dijon Mustard and Vinaigrette
Johnny Miller

A simple blend of olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper are all you need for a vinaigrette. Add in mustard or honey and your favorite fresh herbs for a delicious homemade salad dressing.

10 of 30

How to Make a Roux

making a roux
Justin Walker

A starchy base made of equal parts butter and flour, the roux is an essential thickener for soups and sauces.

11 of 30

How to Butcher a Whole Chicken

simple roast chicken
Lennart Weibull

Save some cash by cutting up a whole chicken for a braise, stock, or stew. It's an easy technique to learn; once you've done it a couple of times, you'll be a master of dividing a chicken into eight (or 10) tidy pieces.

12 of 30

How to Mix the Perfect Cocktail

margarita lime orange
Martyna Szczesna

Shaken or stirred? On the rocks or served neat? In a highball or a collins glass? Knowing these bartending basics will ensure a delicious martini, margarita, or Bloody Mary every time.

13 of 30

How to Chop an Onion

slices of onion on wooden countertop
Emily Roemer

Chopped onion is a foundational ingredient in so many recipes. Learn how to slice and dice an onion—and how to do it without crying.

14 of 30

How to Brew Coffee

two cups of black coffee and a Chemex
Courtesy of ChefSteps

Start your morning off right with a perfect cup of coffee. Whether you prefer it hot or iced, made in a traditional drip coffee maker or French press, we'll teach you how to make a delicious cup of joe.

15 of 30

How to Roast Vegetables

Bryan Gardner

Hearty root vegetables like parsnips, potatoes, and carrots take longer to roast than other types of vegetables such as asparagus or Brussels sprouts. Learn the proper temperature, type of pan, seasoning, and cook time for roasting vegetables.

16 of 30

How to Make Scrambled Eggs

Slow Scrambled Eggs
Johnny Fogg

The secret to perfectly cooked scrambled eggs is a nonstick pan, plenty of butter, and cooking them over a low heat for five to 10 minutes. The result is creamy curds every time.

17 of 30

How to Pit an Avocado

Scheimpflug Digital

Avoid injuries by learning how to remove the pit of an avocado before scooping out the flesh and slicing it for salads or mashing it for guacamole. While you're at it, learn how to choose the perfect avocado and how to store it.

18 of 30

How to Sharpen Knives

three knives on a dark grey cutting board
Justin Walker

A sharp knife is a cook's best tool—a dull one, on the other hand, can be dangerous. Use a honing steel and sharpening block and learn how to sharpen your own chef's knives at home.

19 of 30

How to Roll Out Cookie Dough

Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Stars
Bryan Gardner

Cookie dough that's too thick won't bake properly, but a dough that's too thin can result in broken or burnt cookies. Learn how to roll out a fresh batch of cookie dough and prevent it from sticking to a cutting board.

20 of 30

How to Melt Chocolate

Bryan Gardner

For shiny, silky tempered chocolate, use a double boiler on the stove to melt it slowly. From here, add it to baked goods, turn it into homemade chocolates and truffles, or drizzle it on ice cream.

21 of 30

How to Make Whipped Cream

Infused Whipped Cream
Getty Images

Skip store-bought and make your own whipped cream with just two ingredients: heavy cream and sugar. Add flavored extracts such as vanilla, almond, rose, or lemon to enhance the flavor of homemade whipped cream.

22 of 30

How to Cook Crispy Bacon

Peter Ardito

Our favorite method for cooking bacon is on a sheet pan in the oven. Not only does it get more evenly crispy than if it were cooked in a skillet on the stove, but it also prevents grease splatters.

23 of 30

How to Make Fluffy Mashed Potatoes

mashed potatoes with butter

To create creamy mashed potatoes that are never gummy, heat the milk and butter separately in a saucepan before adding them to cooked potatoes.

24 of 30

How to Choose Pots and Pans

Straight-Sided Skillets

Every beginner cook should own one to two saucepans, a nonstick pan, skillet, and stockpot. From stainless steel to copper, find the right material and set of cookware for your cooking needs.

25 of 30

How to Cook Rice

cooked brown rice in pot
Bryan Gardner

Learn how to properly cook brown, white, basmati, and sushi rice, and every variety in between. Whether you eat it on its own, in a burrito, or as the base of a healthy grain bowl, rice is one of the most versatile things you can make.

26 of 30

How to Bread Anything

Breaded Chicken Cutlets
Johnny Miller

Breading chicken cutlets, fish fillets, pork or lamb loins, and even mozzarella sticks is as simple as one, two, three. That is, in other words, a trio of flour, egg wash, and breadcrumbs for a crispy, craggy crust that can then be baked or fried.

27 of 30

How to Clean a Cast-Iron Skillet

antique cast iron pan rusty
Tsuji / Getty Images

Cleaning a cast iron skillet may seem intimidating, but all you need is very hot water and steel wool to scrub it clean. (Also important to know: how to season your cast iron skillet.) Care for it properly and it will last a lifetime.

28 of 30

How to Make Buttercream

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Johnny Miller

Instead of purchasing frosting in a can, make your own for cookies, cupcakes, layer cakes, and more. All you need is powdered sugar, butter, heavy cream, and vanilla to make homemade buttercream.

29 of 30

How to Make Pizza Dough

person kneading pizza dough
Lennart Weibull

Take pizza night to the next level with homemade pizza dough—it's easier than you think and well worth the effort.

30 of 30

How to Poach an Egg


Master this technique and you're well on your way to making diner-worthy Eggs Benedict for breakfast.

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