The Seasoning Mistake Katie Lee Thinks Everyone Makes

Any home cook (or avid watcher of food shows) knows that seasoning is key. The right spices can bring out the flavors of your food, making or breaking the dish. On cooking competitions, people frequently go home for under-seasoning their food. No one wants to eat a bland piece of chicken, an unsalted noodle, or a plain piece of steak. Maybe that seems a bit harsh, but have you ever had an unsalted french fry from McDonald's? Nasty.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, food can quickly turn inedible if over-seasoned. A mac n' cheese caked in salt is just as gross as a saltless mac n' cheese. Too much spice, and you might just burn your taste buds off.

Fortunately, there's a pretty easy way to remedy this problem. Chef and cookbook author Katie Lee proposes a solution to the seasoning mistakes we're all making, and it's a whole lot simpler than you might think.

Mastering the art of seasoning

As a TV chef and a mother, Katie Lee has done her fair share of cooking, so she knows what's what when she says seasoning is crucial. "As I'm finishing a dish, I toss in a handful of fresh herbs," she tells Shape. "A squeeze of lemon brightens a dish. Finally, don't be afraid of salt. I'd say that's the No. 1 thing: Season your food, and taste it as you go. Dishes need more salt than you think they do."

The easiest way to practice seasoning is to keep staple spices on hand. These could include standard dried spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, dried herbs such as oregano and thyme, spice and herb blends, and, of course, salt and pepper. Experimenting with your seasonings can make an old recipe feel entirely new.

"Don't forget ingredients that can switch up your flavors," Lee adds. "I have Thai red curry paste, miso paste, canned tomatoes, capers, and anchovies in my pantry. I'll make a red curry with the paste and some coconut milk and marinate lamb chops in it. Another recipe I love ... is carrot soup, which I add canned chipotles to. It gives the soup a totally different flavor."

Even if you're new to home cooking, take Lee's advice and experiment with flavors — just don't forget to taste your dish as you go.