Mise en Place Is the Restaurant Technique Every Home Cook Should Know

updated Sep 14, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Olwen Phillips

One of the first lessons taught to new culinary school students isn’t exclusive to future line cooks. It’s a tip that can seem fussy, but will make you a better and more efficient cook. Have you guessed what it is? Prepare the mise en place before you turn on the stove or preheat the oven.

What Does Mise en Place Mean?

Mise en place literally means “everything in its place.” This mean having all of the ingredients prepped before you start cooking — onions are diced, spices are measured, broth has been portioned. It can even include gathering all of the equipment you’ll needed to prepare the recipe.

All of this upfront preparation actually ends up saving time in the long run. With the ingredients peeled, chopped, and portioned and the required pots and pans laid out you are more organized and efficient, and far less likely to accidentally add the salt twice or scramble to find a forgotten ingredient.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Is Mise en Place Just For Restaurant Chefs?

Mise en place helps professional chefs stay prepared and organized during the middle of dinner rush, but it can be helpful even if you’re cooking at home for a much smaller crowd. Read through the text of the recipe before lifting your knife to identify ingredients that are added to the pan at the same time, then prep them and pile them in the same prep bowl (that means fewer dishes to wash at the end of the night). For new cooks or more complex recipes, it may be helpful to give each ingredient their own dish.

What Equipment Do You Need for Mise en Place?

Take a look at any online or television cooking show and glass mise bowls won’t be far from the frame. These small bowls are specifically used to corral prepared ingredients prior to cooking. Don’t despair if your kitchen isn’t stocked with these exact bowls. Any small dish from pint-sized plastic deli containers from last week’s take-out to a thrifted candy dish can work for mise en place.

Mise en place also refers to gathering the equipment required for the recipe. Does your recipe call for a bundle of cheesecloth, a specific size baking dish, or a potato masher? Find all of the equipment before you start cooking to make sure you have everything you need close at hand.

Do you lay out a mise en place as a home cook? Share your tips on preparing food for the pan in the comments.