Cooking is a skill that you need to learn and practice to be good at it. We all remember a time when we were beginners before we mastered the art of cooking.
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That time was filled with nerve-wreaking, but also hilarious incidents when we totally failed in the kitchen.
To prepare this post, I asked Minuca Elena to reach out to food bloggers, nutritionists, and wellness experts and ask them the following question:
What was your worst cooking disaster? Tell us a funny personal story.
I hope you have fun reading these stories.
Elizabeth Girouard – Pure Simple Wellness
I spend a lot of time in the kitchen experimenting with new gadgets and recipes. I’ve had numerous blunders, but my worst cooking disaster was one Thanksgiving morning.
The turkey was roasting in the oven, and all four stovetop burners blazed under full pots of sides and gravies. When suddenly the fire alarm shrilly blared. What was on fire?!
I quickly realized the sweet potatoes in the pressure cooker were burning. Less than familiar with the pressure cooker I inherited from my mom, my first instinct was to open the lid to add more water.
But the top of the pot was stuck tight – it wouldn’t budge. So, I started banging on it. Hard. Just as I felt the lid turn, I heard a loud POP and simultaneously my husband screamed, “NO!!! DON’T….” Too late.
The abrupt release of cooking pressure created a sweet potato explosion. It was a culinary Mount Vesuvius on our kitchen island with steaming hot mashed orange potatoes all over our white kitchen. The flying potatoes spotted my Thanksgiving blouse and took the curl out of my hair.
My youngest daughter, perched on the opposite side of the island, never had time to duck and found herself accessorizing a scalding hot sweet potato necklace and matching bracelet.
The orange goop splattered the ceiling, the walls, the cabinets, and even hung as multiple stalactites from the kitchen island pendant lights.
My newly renovated kitchen had just received a sweet potato makeover. We were finding little globs of sweet potato around the house well past New Years’.
Needless to say, five full years passed before I used the pressure cooker again. To be thoroughly safe, I upgraded to an Instant Pot which remains locked until fully and completely de-pressurized!
Every new bride is eager to impress their groom with their culinary skills. I was no exception. In my early days of marriage, I was obsessed with the “As Seen on TV” products.
One day, I saw an infomercial for their Turbo Cooker which claimed to cook an entire meal in a mere 10-12 minutes.
I ordered the item and when the shipment came it was beautiful. I was so excited at the thought of preparing a lavish meal for my new hubby in a quarter of the time it would normally take.
I seasoned the chicken, cut up the vegetables, and prepared everything according to the instructions. When the time elapsed, I pulled the meal out and it looked delicious.
The chicken was golden brown and the vegetables appeared evenly roasted. I plated everything for us and we sat down to feast.
I gazed at my newlywed husband and watched him carve into his first bite. As he cut into the chicken, I was horrified to realize that the chicken was completely raw.
As you can imagine, the new Turbo Cooker went straight in the garbage. I remember my husband saying, “did you really think that chicken would cook in only 12 minutes?”
I replied, “It worked pretty well on TV!” The moral of the story – don’t believe everything you see on TV!
As a bodybuilder, I cook all the time to make sure my body gets the right nutrition. However, let’s just say I wasn’t the best cook growing up. In my first job, I worked in a kitchen as a chef making food every weekend.
Well, if you tend to leave the frying oil container without the cap on, this story is going to convince you to stop immediately.
As a young cook overwhelmed with the stress of a screen with full orders, long waiting times, and angry customers- I was trying to desperately move fast in the kitchen.
As the fryers were beeping, I quickly scrambled to grab the frying container out of the fryer and bring it over to the preparation table with 15 other entrees on there.
As I swung the metal container around, I smacked it into a massive 35 lb frying oil container without the cap on. They were using it to change the frying oil earlier, and only used part of that container!https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.503.0_en.html#goog_997819773
As nearly 25 lbs of frying oil knocked over, drenching every entree on the table in what is better imagined as the Hoover Dam breaking, it quickly swamped the kitchen floor in nothing but frying oil. My head chef had a look of devastation and embarrassment.
The store’s general manager came around to a flood that you could find Noah’s Ark on, and only Moses could fix. The number of refunds handed out that night was staggering, but what was worse was the clean-up.
You can’t really clean up that mess with water, as oil avoids water. The manager gave us all mops and told us to do the best we could. By midnight, we had it all cleaned up, and a new policy of never leaving frying oil uncapped was put into place forever.
And that’s not to mention the fact we left two pizzas in the oven with 24 cookies that were turned into nothing but charcoal since everybody was focused on the oil flood and not the timers.
What’s the moral of this story? For the love of all things holy, cap your frying oil and keep your cooking space clean!
Kelsey Riley – Planted in the Kitchen
One of my worst and most hilarious cooking disasters was from a few years ago, right around Thanksgiving.
It was one of my first major holidays where I was responsible for cooking and before the time, I really knew what I was doing in the kitchen.
I was given the task of making several pumpkin pies for a pre-Thanksgiving gathering with my friends. Somehow during the pie making process, I misplaced one of my measuring spoons but didn’t think too much about it.
I have multiple sets of measuring cups and spoons so I just grabbed another and went about my day, assuming the first one was hidden in my soapy sink of dirty dishes.
The next day all of my friends were gathered around the table when someone cut one of my pies and was surprised to hit something hard with the knife.
I was mortified to see them slowly sifting through the piece of pie and eventually pulling out a teaspoon that I somehow managed to bake into the pie.
It goes without saying, I was never asked to bring dessert to a gathering with those friends ever again.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.503.0_en.html#goog_997819775
Alex Davis – Ryan and Alex
For me, cooking is hard enough — even when I have the right ingredients. When you live abroad, getting acquainted with your new markets takes time and often results in disaster!
I was fresh out of college and was about as inexperienced at cooking as I was at my new engineering job. The job I accepted was based in Shanghai, China, so I took my first week getting acquainted with my new neighborhood as I settled in.
The supermarkets were incredible but overwhelming, with fruits I had never seen before, more dried mushroom species than I could count, and unusual ingredients my moderately-decent Chinese couldn’t begin to comprehend.
Baffled by the selection, I decided to cook something safe and familiar for dinner: tomatoes with stir-fried eggs, a simple Chinese dish I had cooked throughout college.
Back at home, starving and distracted, I cut into the tomatoes and noticed that they were different than the ones I knew back home in the US. They were more squishy and didn’t have seeds. I shrugged it off, too hungry to care.
I cooked my dinner and excitedly piled my tomato and eggs onto a heaping portion of rice.
I took a bite… and spit it out. My normally savory dish was instead slimy and sickeningly sweet!
After inspecting my meal, I knew something was wrong with my “tomato.” I left my apartment and walked back to the market.
Picking up the dark red fruit that looked identical to a ripe tomato, I asked the shopkeeper what in the world it was. “Persimmon!” she laughed.
Lesson learned: when moving to a new country, don’t assume that you know the fruits and vegetables. And always taste test your food while cooking!
My worst cooking disaster is one I’ll surely never forget. In 2018 my wife and I were living in Poland where I was playing professional basketball, and it was our first time preparing Thanksgiving dinner by ourselves.
Unlike being home in the United States, grocery stores in Poland don’t carry full turkeys very often. However, we planned well in advance and bought a turkey a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving and kept it in our freezer.
They day before Thanksgiving we took the Turkey out to unfreeze, and we began to make a few of the other side dishes we wanted for our Thanksgiving meal.
My wife and I were planning to make a traditional American Thanksgiving meal for my teammates, and we thought it would be especially fun for the Polish players who had not had these foods before.
So, we left the Turkey in one part of the sink and planned to put it in the refrigerator after a couple of hours of unfreezing. We began cooking a couple of different pies and some other side dishes and ended up working a bit later than we expected.
After finishing the side dishes, we wanted to prepare, we went to sleep. Yep, we went to sleep with our prized turkey still in the kitchen sink. As you can imagine, the turkey spoiled overnight, and we were bird-less for Thanksgiving.
When we woke up the next morning, we couldn’t do anything but laugh at ourselves. We had looked day after day for weeks for a turkey to have on Thanksgiving, and after finally finding one to keep for the big day, we let it spoil.
So, we ended up going to the store and buying a goose, since those are common in Poland and at least we would have some form of a bird for our meal.
I’ll never forget that disaster, but at least now it’s a funny story we’ll always have to look back on.
Sarah Cull – In Full Flavour
I was going to a party where we were asked to bring a dish to share amongst the other guests. I decided on a really complicated caramel cake tray bake that I hadn’t made before.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.503.0_en.html#goog_997819779
It needed a lot of concentration but I left it too late to start, and was trying to get ready at the same time.
I ended up burning it and it stuck to the pan. When I tried to get it out it crumbled into pieces! Not only was I late for the party I had to make a stop on the way to buy cakes from the supermarket.
It’s not my only cooking disaster but certainly, one that stays in my mind.
I have never attempted the recipe since either! I’ve also learnt that working with sugar at high temperatures requires complete focus, don’t try to pop in and out of the kitchen while you’re cooking. It will go wrong!
Jana Mowrer – Health Wins
Pot Pie Throw Down!
My mom and I decided to do a Chicken Pot Pie Throw Down (Bobby Flay Style). Mom went with the traditional recipe full of all the goodies: peas, carrots, chunks of chicken, whole milk, and a flakey, buttery crust. As a Registered Dietitian, I of course, felt obligated to make a “healthier” version.
I doubled up on the veggies. So far so good. Then I decided it needed to be dairy-free since I’m lactose intolerant.
Almond milk could work … except that I used the vanilla flavored version. The vanilla of the almond milk gave a sweet and um … “interesting” flavor to the dish.
Then because the doubled-up veggies actually needed different cooking times, they either ended up not cooking all the way through or burnt to a crisp. Then, as a finishing touch, I decided to add Worcestershire sauce to give it a little more flavor. It was a horrible idea.
When the judges voted, my mom’s traditional chicken pot pie won hands down! Mine “healthy” pot pie was a weirdly flavored mush. Oh, we ate it because we didn’t waste food in my family, but no one really enjoyed it!
The moral of the story? Just because you’re a dietitian doesn’t mean you automatically know how to cook!
I used a new recipe to make brisket for the buffet at my annual holiday party. It seemed like the temperature was too low for the suggested cooking time, and that it would take literally hours more to cook than what the recipe suggested. But it had so many 5 star reviews, I followed the recipe anyway.
Needless to say, the brisket was still a brick at 6:30pm when it was supposed to be moist and tender. So I turned it up and checked again in 45 minutes.
But it still wasn’t ready. I served soup and salad on the buffet and checked back in 45 more minutes hoping for falling apart tender deliciousness. Nope.
I turned it up even higher and served the celery root puree and sautéed baby kale and roasted red pepper side dishes. 8:45 and still not done. I turned it up even higher and put out all the desserts.
Long story short, at 9:30, I finally removed the brisket, sliced the parts of it that were edible, and served what I could as a post-dinner snack.https://97ffb1bbe3517d05a6436579da0f7e32.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
What I learned: a) never try out an untested recipe on a crowd of 25, and b) as long as you have a sense of humor about food blunders (which I was), people will enjoy whatever you serve, whenever that may finally be!
Katy Malkin – Leaner Vegan
One evening I decided to make risotto with jackfruit in. Usually, we buy jackfruit in cans and it’s lovely, white and chunky.
If you’ve never cooked with jackfruit before, it’s basically like pulled pork for vegans, and you can marinate it in whatever you like.
I’m standing at the stove, making this beautiful, creamy, white risotto and the jackfruit is last to be added. The risotto looks so good – full of veggies!
I had a packet of jackfruit that was different to my usual – I’d seen it in a store and thought “why not?” I opened the packet, emptied it all in the pan… it looked like I’d dropped in expired dog food.https://97ffb1bbe3517d05a6436579da0f7e32.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
It was an off grey-brown colour, with a bitty texture. I stirred it in and the whole risotto turned grey. There was no turning back!
I ultimately served up grey slop that looked like mouldy oatmeal with veggies in. Needless to say, it did not taste nice!
Jessica Braider – The Scramble
One evening I had a meeting that was scheduled right for our family dinner hour. In addition, my husband was only going to be able to get home after I had left and would only have time to reheat food rather than make dinner for himself and the boys.
So I decided to make a vegetable soup and pre-prep some garlic bread for him to throw into the oven when he got home.
As I was leaving, I left a note on the counter explaining the meal and telling him to preheat the oven to 425 and then cook the garlic bread for about 5 minutes.
Partway through the meeting, I got a text from my husband with a photo of a long, black log with a message that said, “Don’t think the garlic bread was meant to come out like this. LOL!”
Turns out, he had read my squiggly line that was supposed to represent the “about” in “about 5 minutes” as a 2 and had baked the garlic bread for 25 minutes instead of 5.
Years later my boys still won’t let my husband make garlic bread.
Erin Kenney – Nutrition Rewired
One time I was trying to make my best friend a birthday cake. It was all coming along really well and even when it came out of the oven it looked like the most decadent chocolate cake.
I was really excited because I had tried to make it without using a recipe and just going off of my previous knowledge of the science behind baking.
As soon as the cake cooled the middle completely sunk in.
I still ended up frosting it, filling in the middle with frosting to make it appear level, and bringing it over to surprise her. We still laugh about it to this day.
It’s a funny story— I love smoothies and regularly make them with frozen blueberries, apples, milk, peanut butter powder, and ice.
So, I measured out the ingredients, put them in the blender, and blended. But…the mixture didn’t blend correctly. I couldn’t understand why.
Finally, I figured it out. Instead of frozen blueberries, I accidentally bought dried blueberries which I now know don’t blend.
The water is removed and they have a dried fruit consistency that doesn’t blend well. (Never mind that 1/3 of a cup had nearly 4 teaspoons of added sugar!)
The moral of the story— check the labels carefully!
Although I am not a food blogger, nor a good cook, I do have a lot of experience regarding stupid cooking accidents.
My worst kitchen disaster happened about 10 years ago when I was in college. I was living in an apartment with 9 other colleagues. We had only one kitchen, 2 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms.
One day I put some rice to boil on the stove, and then I went to my room determined to come back in a few minutes to check on the pot.
I obviously forgot and about an hour later, one of my flatmates knocked on my door and asked me what was burning in the kitchen.
When I went into the kitchen it was a lot of smoke, so much smoke that I couldn’t see anything. I took the pot from the stove and put it on a table and then opened the windows. That was a mistake because the pot was soo hot that the table was damaged.
I don’t remember what I ate afterward but the burn stain on the table reminded me for years what a terrible cook I was.