The 5 Best Cooking Tips Kitchn Editors Learned from Their Dads

updated Jun 17, 2021
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In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, we’re sharing some of the best cooking tips and kitchen wisdom we’ve learned from our dads. We’d love to hear from you, too: What’s the best cooking advice you’ve received from your dad? Let us know in the comments.

1. Don’t take yourself (or your pancakes) too seriously.

My dad was the king of weekend pancakes. He’d make them for special occasions when I was growing up, and anytime I had a sleepover. Without fail, he’d spell out our names or make wacky smiley faces. And this was before people really started using bottles to neatly dispense the batter! He taught me other things, but the first thing that comes to mind is that pancakes taste better when they’re made in letter form. — Lisa Freedman, Lifestyle Director

Credit: Kelli Foster

2. When in doubt, add cheese.

My dad makes the best scrambled eggs. His secret? A few dollops of cream cheese. I can’t eat them any other way. — Lauren Masur, Staff Writer

3. Use a heavy hand when seasoning.

My dad has always made the best burgers. During a visit a few summers ago, I discovered that rather than seasoning just the top of the burger patties, he actually seasons the meat all over with salt, pepper, and onion powder (as well as a mystery spice he wouldn’t divulge), and then shapes the patties. It’s so smart, yet so simple. Now it’s also how I make burgers at home. — Kelli Foster, Associate Food Editor

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Don’t underestimate the power of the toaster oven.

My dad taught me the value of a good toaster oven. Growing up he leaned on it to make so much more than toast for my sister and me — cooking vegetables, reheating leftovers, and even making quick chicken Parm. It was one of the first appliances I made sure my adult kitchen had, and now it’s one I’d never go without. —Sheela Prakash, Assistant Food Editor

5. Always be ready to make a last-minute appetizer.

The best cooking tip I learned from my dad is to always keep a bag of pita pockets on hand for the easiest-ever appetizer. He taught me to slice them into wedges, brush with olive oil or butter, and top with Parmesan. Then, broil until lightly brown and crisp, and serve with store-bought hummus. He also taught me to never walk away from the oven when something is under the broiler — these pita chips are the only time I ever saw him use the fire extinguisher! — Grace Elkus, Senior Food Editor

Your turn! What’s the best cooking tip you’ve learned from the dads in your life?