Ree Drummond Reveals The Biggest Mistakes People Make In The Kitchen - Exclusive

Ask a dozen chefs what most home cooks are doing wrong in the kitchen, and you'll probably get a dozen different answers. One may tell you that people use too much salt. Another may say some cooks don't use enough heat. Still, a third may rail against inferior ingredients. Ree Drummond, aka the Pioneer Woman, is a little more down-to-earth. As the star of her own Food Network show, a best-selling memoir and cookbook author, and beloved culinary and lifestyle inspiration to many (via Food Network), Drummond takes a much more holistic approach to home cooking.

During an exclusive interview with Mashed, Drummond's answer to the classic "What are people doing wrong in the kitchen?" was a revelation. In her eyes, the biggest mistake most of us make isn't doing something wrong, but rather, it's worrying about all that could go wrong when cooking. "I always hate to point out something as a mistake," Drummond says. "I would say a [mistake is] putting pressure on oneself to — and of course, you're talking to a home cook who cooks for teenagers and cowboys — but I think giving yourself permission to work in a shortcut or convenience ingredients should never be something anybody feels guilty about."

In other words, you're doing great!

Give yourself permission to take shortcuts, Ree Drummond says

So we know that Ree Drummond thinks your biggest culinary mistake is putting too much pressure on yourself. How best to allay some of that pressure, though? Why, with a few fine kitchen shortcuts and hacks.

"For instance, using frozen bread dough for pizza crest if you feel like it," Drummond says. "Or using a really good microwave-in-bag rice, if you're making some kind of casserole instead of taking the time to make the rice." This was Drummond's approach to 2020 and beyond: "All of my kids were home, all of a sudden my house was full of people over six feet tall and cooking just became not a pleasure anymore because it was more about just an assembly line and getting them fed, so I started giving myself permission to break out more of those short-cut ingredients." While Drummond might tackle many things from scratch, she embraces "throwing in something that saves two hours," as she put it. "I think just putting pressure on yourself to make every single thing from scratch can sometimes give you paralysis by analysis and make you not want to cook at all."

Beyond the frozen dough and quick rice, Drummond is also a huge fan of frozen veggies for many types of dishes. "Frozen green vegetables are a triumph. Green beans, peas, that whole category really opens up worlds," she says. "And there's not an enormous amount of difference if you're making a casserole or a soup or a stew, if you use a bag of frozen green beans."

The kitchen tools Ree Drummond loves and the one she can do without

Whether running her award-winning cooking site, The Pioneer Woman, or filming new episodes of her TV show, Ree Drummond spends a good portion of her life working with food. So, it's no surprise she has a few favorite kitchen tools. A few she counts on every day? "A good knife or knives. I like Santoku or Nakiri style knives," Drummond recommends, noting that she is launching an exclusive new knife set during her upcoming Walmart Shop-Along event. Drummond is also a fan of flat whisks — a tool that's lauded for bringing ease to sauces, gravies, and custards due to its ability to flatten against a skillet.

"I love a sheet pan," Drummond continues, "I can't live without [them]. I get nervous if I have fewer than 12, 13 sheet pans ready to go, just they're so versatile. I could go on and on."

As for the kitchen gadget Drummond can just as well do without? "I think it can be redundant to have both a blender and a food processor," she says. "So I tend to like the food processor because it can do so much from a culinary perspective."

To hear more from Ree Drummond, check out her Walmart Shop-Along event on May 27 and pick up a copy of her new cookbook, hitting shelves in October 2021.