A Complete Guide To Cooking For Beginners: With Easy Recipes

Written by: Pretty Major



Time to read 8 min

A pair of pot and pan surrounded by a display of colourful kitchenware

If you are reading this, chances are you are eager to start cooking but overwhelmed by the mere thought of even turning the stovetop on. Fear not because we’ve got your back! Here are 10 practical tips to kickstart your home cooking journey, complete with beginner-friendly recipes to get you started. So put on your apron and let’s get cooking!

Tips To Get Started In The Kitchen

1. Establish A Routine And Stick To It

Want to hone your skills? Consistency is key! Like anything we do, cooking improves with practice. Set aside time each week to experiment in the kitchen and watch your confidence soar. Embrace the journey rather than fixate on perfection right from the start. The goal here is to get yourself acclimated to the kitchen environment. Approach this with a positive mindset and a “can-do” attitude to help make the process of learning easier.

2. Equip Yourself With Quality Cookware

Behind every great meal is a set of reliable pots and pans. Investing in quality cookware and utensils not only simplifies the learning curve but also enhances the joy of cooking. Consider opting for high-quality, non-stick cookware to enjoy the convenience of cooking without the hassle of clean-up afterwards. Consider reputable brands like Pretty Major, which offers cookware with durable ceramic nonstick coating, ensuring a smooth and seamless cooking experience. With their multifunctional 8-in-1 usage, these cookware sets seamlessly adapt to various cooking methods and are compatible with all cooktops, enriching your culinary toolkit with unparalleled versatility and convenience

3. Sharpen Your Knife Skills

A sharp knife is every chef’s best friend. Investing in high-quality knives will help ease your cooking process and avoid accidents from happening in the kitchen. However, along with having the proper equipment, it is equally vital to master the right knife techniques. Acquiring proficiency in these skills enhances efficiency and precision during food preparation and reduces the risk of mishaps in the kitchen. Understanding the correct handling and grip techniques offers better control over the knife, reducing the likelihood of slips and cuts occurring during the food preparation process. Cultivating such safe practices not only safeguards yourself in the kitchen but also elevates your culinary skills.

4. Start With The Basics

It is important to start by mastering the basic cooking techniques as they form the sturdy foundation of your cooking expertise. These fundamental skills aren’t just for show, they are the essential tools that will accompany you on every culinary adventure, allowing you to tackle any recipe with confidence and finesse. Focus on honing your skills with simple dishes at the start to practise techniques like knife handling, seasoning, and mastering cooking methods such as sautéing and searing. These are the building blocks of your culinary journey, and by mastering them, you'll lay the groundwork for endless future culinary possibilities.

A piece of meat being seared in a pan

5. Keep It Simple

It is easy to find recipes that draw you into the kitchen with excitement and enthusiasm. And so, it can be tempting to dive headfirst into tackling these complex dishes. However, resist the urge to do so and begin with simple, straightforward recipes. These foundational dishes not only build confidence in the kitchen but also enhance proficiency in the kitchen. By mastering the basics first, you will acquire valuable skills and techniques that will serve you well as you gradually expand your culinary repertoire.

6. If You Fail To Plan, You Plan To Fail

In professional kitchens, you will often hear the term ‘mise-en-place‘, a French phrase signifying the preparation of ingredients ahead of time before the cooking begins. This way, chefs can swiftly and seamlessly assemble meals, ensuring a smoother cooking process. The last thing you would want halfway into cooking would be any unexpected delays such as last-minute marination or soaking, disrupting the flow of cooking. By staying organised and planning ahead, you can elevate your learning journey in the kitchen.

Food being cooked in a deep pot with a wooden spatula

7. Follow The Recipe (For Now)

While creativity is a vital aspect of cooking and it is highly encouraged, however, beginners should adhere closely to recipes. This approach allows you to grasp flavour combinations and cooking methods effectively and thoroughly. Over time, as you gain confidence in the kitchen, feel free to experiment and add your personal touch to the recipe!

8. Practice Makes Perfect

Wonder why the coffee at your local kopitiam tastes so incredibly smooth or how your favourite chicken rice stall achieves such fragrant rice each time? Repetition is the key to mastery. It is normal for things to go awry occasionally, and that’s perfectly fine. The key is to learn from your mistakes, understand what went wrong and try again. Each attempt is an opportunity to improve. Figure out what went wrong, and make it again. Just because you fail once doesn’t mean you won’t succeed the next time. So just keep practising!

Hand lifting off the lid of the pan

9. Seek Inspiration And Help Everywhere

With the Internet at our fingertips, inspiration and assistance are always readily available—so make the most of it! Browse cookbooks, scour the web for recipes, tips and tricks, and don’t hesitate to ask friends and family for guidance! Finding a community around your cooking endeavours can be immensely beneficial. Not only does it keep you accountable but it also offers invaluable support and encouragement throughout your culinary journey. Remember, reaching out for help and sharing experiences is all part of the process of learning and growing in the kitchen.

10. Exercise Patience

Cooking is sure to be an adventure filled with ups and downs. Practice being patient with yourself whether that is dedicating countless hours to practise at home or granting yourself grace when faced with challenges and mistakes. Embrace the challenge, learn from your mistakes but also don’t forget to celebrate your victories along the way, no matter how big or small.

3 Simple Recipes To Start Cooking

Here are 3 recipes you might want to start with:

1. Chicken Stir Fry

Total Time: 18 mins

Servings: 4 pax


  • 450g boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 2 tbsp olive oil divided

  • 2 cups broccoli florets

  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper cut into bite-size pieces

  • 1/2 red bell pepper cut into bite-size pieces

  • 1/2 cup baby carrots sliced

  • 2 tsp minced ginger

  • 2 garlic cloves minced

Stir Fry Sauce

  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

  • 2 tbsp cold water

  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

  • 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Chicken Stir Fry cooked in a pan
Credit: Mum Timeout
  1. To prepare the stir-fry sauce, start by whisking together cornstarch and water in a medium-sized bowl until smooth. Incorporate chicken broth, soy sauce, honey, toasted sesame oil and red pepper flakes into the mixture. Whisk thoroughly before setting it aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the chicken (in batches if necessary), seasoning with salt and pepper, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet.
  5. Add broccoli, bell pepper, and carrots, cooking and stirring occasionally until they reach a crisp-tender texture. Add ginger and garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Return the cooked chicken back to the skillet, stirring to combine with the vegetables.
  7. Whisk and pour the prepared stir fry sauce over the chicken and vegetables, gently stirring to coat evenly.
  8. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, stirring occasionally and let it boil for a minute.
  9. Serve the stir fry with rice and/or chow mein if desired.

2. One-Pan Spinach Tomato Pasta

Total Time: 20 mins

Servings: 4 pax


250g instant spaghetti

800ml low sodium chicken/vegetable stock

1/2 medium onion sliced

6 garlic cloves minced

1 cup cherry tomatoes halved

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups of baby spinach

  1. In a deep pan or pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Saute onions until they become soft before adding the minced garlic and continue sautéing for 30 seconds.

  2. Add in your cherry tomatoes and sauté for an additional minute.

  3. Pour the stock over the dry ingredients and add the pasta, seasoning with salt and pepper.

  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

  5. Maintain a low to medium heat and allow the pasta to boil for 7-8 minutes.

  6. Stir in spinach until wilted.

  7. Remove from heat and give the pasta one final mix before serving.

3. Classic Japanese Potato Salad

Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins

Serving: 6 pax


  • 520 g russet potatoes

  • 2 1/2 tbsp kosher salt

  • 60g carrot sliced thinly

  • 40 g frozen or canned corn (* frozen corn, cook for 5 minutes)

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 Japanese cucumber

  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt

  • 2 slices ham

For the Seasonings:

  • 1 tsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 80 g Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise

  1. Peel and dice potatoes into uniform bite-sized pieces for even cooking.

  2. In a medium pot, cover the potatoes with cold water and add 2 tbsp of kosher salt. Bring it to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, cover it with a lid and simmer for about 15 minutes.

  3. Reduce the heat to medium and continue simmering until a skewer easily pierces the potato.

  4. Drain the water completely and return the pot to medium heat to evaporate any remaining liquid. Remove from heat when dry.

  5. Lightly mash the potatoes, leaving some chunks for texture. Stir in rice vinegar and freshly ground black pepper to the pot before setting aside to cool.

  6. While the potatoes cool, boil carrot slices until tender. Drain and set aside.

  7. Boil the egg over medium heat. Once boiling, set a timer for 11–12 minutes and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. When the timer goes off, cool the egg in cold water. Peel and chop the boiled egg into smaller pieces. Set aside.

  8. Peel and thinly slice the cucumber. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp kosher salt over the cucumber slices, kneading them with your hand to release any moisture. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid and set aside.

  9. Thinly slice ham and set aside.

  10. Combine all ingredients with the cooled potatoes. Add Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise and mix well.

  11. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes before serving.

Let’s Start Cooking!

The first step to any new venture is always the hardest, and cooking is no exception. However, with unwavering persistence and dedication, you will soon cultivate the confidence and proficiency needed to excel at cooking in the kitchen. Throughout this journey, it is important to practise both patience and compassion with yourself, embracing every success and setback. So keep exploring, keep experimenting, and above all, just keep cooking!