Foods You Should Actually Be Cooking Incorrectly

The nice thing about cooking is that it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and creativity. Sure, there are recipes (and professionals who develop them) that will tell you the "right" way to cook a certain food, but often there's a lot of wiggle room. It's all a matter of taste, and nothing has made that clearer than a thriving Reddit thread that started when someone posed the question, "Is there a food you intentionally cook 'wrong'?" Ask the internet, and ye shall receive, and in this case, the answer was a resounding yes. 

Thousands of commenters chimed in to share the myriad ways they prefer to cook their food that would make a professional chef gasp in horror. While they might not pass a recipe developer's test, a lot of these posts were super passionate and therefore pretty convincing. Read on to see some of the most popular ways that people are saying, "If this is the wrong way to cook this dish, then I don't want to be right."

Overcooking pasta

It's generally accepted that the "right" way to make pasta is to cook it al dente. Italian for "to the tooth," al dente pasta should have just the right amount of chew to it and enough structure to still hold its shape. That just-right toothiness is, for one, pleasing to eat, and it helps the pasta support a nice sauce (via Delish). According to Bon Appétit, the key to a restaurant-perfect bowl of pasta is to cook it just under al dente, then combine it with a sauce in a Dutch oven to finish the cooking. 

But according to Redditor u/PeachyandSpice, the best way to eat pasta? "I like my pasta overdone." And many others agreed, with one user even saying, "Pasta shouldn't put up any fight when I eat it." Apparently, there can be something really comforting about a bowl of mushy, overcooked pasta. It probably depends on how you grew up eating pasta, if your parents were al dente aficionados or mushy pasta (im)perfectionists. While soft, mushy pasta doesn't exactly sound appealing, it's hard to not be intrigued by these passionate champions of the soft-pasta movement.

Eating oatmeal raw

Steel cut, instant, rolled, or flavored, there are a lot of oatmeal options out there. One thing all varieties have in common: You're supposed to cook the oats, hence the "meal" part of oatmeal. But according to Reddit, a better way to enjoy your oats? Eat them dry, right out of the box. A lot of commenters started doing this as kids and now prefer them this way even as adults. One user, u/DefiantBalance1178, explains it like this: "One of the best food accidents I've ever made. I'm a huge texture person when it comes to food and it just fills a void I never knew was there." 

While many will balk at the idea of eating raw oats, it is fair that the texture of cooked oatmeal is not really one of the dish's highlights. The words "mush" and "gruel" come to mind. And not having to cook your oats sure would save a lot of time in the morning. Of course, there is the fact that dry oats are a popular food for horses (according to CEN Nutrition). Which is probably why Redditor u/KantelopeKat admitted, "My husband always asks if I would like a feed bag."

Underbaking your cookies

This one is a classic, basically the gateway drug of "incorrectly" cooking food. A chocolate chip cookie with a gooey, underbaked center is something most people can get behind. Or as one Redditor put it, "You mean the only proper way a cookie should ever be?" While knowing exactly when to pull your cookies from the oven to achieve that perfectly soft, gooey-but-not-raw center can be an art form, there are other Redditors who would argue you need not bother. Many Redditors admitted that oftentimes their cookies never even make it to the oven and they just eat the raw cookie dough instead. Certainly saves you the pain of having to wait for cookies to bake.

While anyone who has tasted raw cookie dough knows that it is indeed delicious, the CDC has a very clear "do not eat raw dough" stance, since dough containing raw eggs can have bacteria like E. coli or salmonella. In other words, sometimes there is a good reason to stick to the recipe.

Overbaking biscuits

Considering how many people claim to love underbaked cookies, this one might be more controversial. But some Redditors stepped forward to defend the overbaked drop biscuit with a very crunchy outside. According to The New York Times' highly rated biscuit recipe, the ideal baking time is around 20 minutes at 400 degrees to achieve that perfect golden crust and soft, crumbly center. 

While there's nothing wrong with a crunchy biscuit, of course the worry with overbaking them is that you'll wind up with a hard, dry rock that's a little bit too crunchy all the way through. Hopefully no one out there is arguing that "rock hard" is the only way a biscuit should be cooked. But as Reddit user u/oldnyoung points out, an overly crunchy biscuit could be the perfect vehicle for some heaping ladlefuls of gravy. After all, a soft biscuit can easily turn to mush when drenched in that savory brown sauce. And who wants mushy biscuits and gravy?

(Almost) burning your veggies

Technically there's no one "right" way to cook vegetables. You can roast, steam, boil, sauté, or even eat them raw. An Ina Garten recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts (via Food Network) suggests roasting the sprouts for 35 minutes at 400 degrees until crisp on the outside and soft inside. Meanwhile, Martha Stewart has a recipe for steaming your Brussels sprouts to perfection before topping them off with butter and chives. There's a preparation method for every taste, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone suggesting to actually burn your veggies ... until now. 

Tons of Redditors took to the thread to say their favorite way to eat their greens is to turn them slightly black. Whether it's the crispy, charred tops of overcooked asparagus, the almost blackened sides of an over-roasted Brussels sprout, or the delightfully burnt tips of an overdone piece of broccoli, the cooked-to-a-crisp texture of these vegetables has many agreeing that overcooking your vegetables is the only way to go. As one Redditor pointed out, overcooked carrots basically taste like yam fries. Hard to argue with that!

Overcooking your rice

Cooking rice is one of those things that seems easy, yet a lot of people find it daunting. On the surface, the process is pretty straightforward: Combine rice and water, put it over some heat, and after a while, you get rice. But it's actually a bit more complicated than that. When cooking rice on the stove, the ratio of water to rice has to be just right in order to achieve the right texture. Not enough water in the pot means the rice could burn, which would be a tragedy. Or would it? 

Many people in this Reddit thread would argue that slightly burnt and crispy is the only way to cook rice. In fact, in many cultures, that crispy "overcooked" rice at the bottom of the pan is considered a delicacy. In Korea it's known as nurungji, or "scorched rice." In Puerto Rico, family members fight over the crispy pegao. There's Persian tahdig, socarrat at the bottom of a Spanish paella, okoge in Japan, and Dominican concón. This is such a universally beloved dish that it's pretty obvious that the U.S. is doing itself a disservice by not making crispy rice a standard part of the American diet. So go ahead, crank up your rice cooker and enjoy that delicious crispy rice.

Having a heavy hand with the vanilla in cakes

The thing about baking is you either love it or you hate it. Are you the kind of person who enjoys meticulously following each step of a recipe? Or are you the kind of person who rebels against any set rules and would rather do your own thing? Baking is notoriously inflexible; it's a science project in many ways, and too much or too little of an ingredient can throw off the chemistry of the whole thing. 

For example, when making Smitten Kitchen's Best Birthday Cake, Deb Perelman recommends 2 teaspoons of vanilla to flavor the classic yellow cake. And yet, many rebellious Redditors are throwing caution to the wind and improvising when it comes to adding vanilla to their cake recipes. Their advice? Ignore the recipe and follow your heart instead. "In any baking recipe that calls for vanilla, I never measure it. I just add whatever amount feels right, which is always more than what's called for," says user u/IDoBeLurkin. Flavoring your bakes is one of the most creative and flexible parts of baking, so why not experiment with more vanilla next time you're whipping up a cake or pancakes or cookies? From the sounds of this Reddit thread, you won't regret it.

Overdoing it on the garlic in pasta

It might keep the vampires away, but garlic is rarely an unwelcome addition to a dish, especially pasta. How appetizing does a Garlic Oil Sauteed Pasta with Broccoli sound? According to the Food Network recipe, two cloves of garlic is all it takes to infuse the pasta and broccoli with that signature umami flavor. But a lot of people on Reddit would balk at only using two cloves of garlic in a recipe where garlic is supposedly the star of the dish. As one user puts it, "I don't get out of bed for less than four cloves of garlic." 

The idea of cooking something "incorrectly" by putting in more garlic than what's called for is probably not all that controversial. Throwing in a little (or a lot) extra garlic is more a matter of personal taste than anything. After all, Rachael Ray has a recipe for 21-clove garlic spaghetti, which uses three whole bulbs. Not enough allium for you? There's also an Ultimate Garlic Pasta recipe, which contains a whopping 40 cloves of garlic! You may want to save this for a night home alone, far from anyone who'd want to kiss you. (Unless you're dating a fellow garlic lover, of course.)

Over (or under) cooking bacon

Bacon is one of those foods that people get fanatical about. And technically there's no "right" or "wrong" way to cook bacon. In fact, Bon Appétit proved this point by cooking bacon 50 different ways, using everything from an oven, a microwave, boiling water, and even a curling iron. But no matter how you slice it, it's generally understood that a perfectly cooked bacon strip will have the fat rendered just enough to caramelize the outside, with a perfectly crisp texture that still has some chew when you bite into it. 

However, according to some on the Reddit thread, there's only one way to cook bacon, and that's to burn the heck out of it. "The best bacon is burnt and crumbly," says user u/AllOfMyVotes. And many agree that bacon should be cooked to the point of crumbling. But this thread is not devoid of controversy, because there is also a vocal bunch arguing that soft, "floppy," or "flaccid bacon" is the best way to go. One thing is for sure: "Floppy" and "flaccid" are two words that should never appear on any menu, ever.

Childhood favorites that mom always cooked 'wrong'

The last category of "incorrectly" cooked foods that popped up a lot on this epic Reddit thread were foods that, while they would make a critic turn up their nose, hold a special place in people's hearts. While a basic fettuccine Alfredo is typically made with heavy cream, an egg, and some parmesan cheese, according to user u/rebakong, the best way to make an Alfredo sauce comes from her mother: "My mom used to make fettuccini 'Alfredo' with garlic butter, sour cream, and a lot of that sh**ty Parmesan. That was probably one of my favorite meals as a kid."

If we learned anything from the movie "Ratatouille," it's that nostalgia has a huge influence on our food preferences. In fact, a lot of people said they preferred store-bought spaghetti sauce with that ubiquitous "Green shakey cheese" from Kraft. Many even acknowledged that freshly grated, authentic Parmesan cheese is superior, but for nostalgia purposes, sometimes you just want the real fake cheese — just like mom used to cook with. As user u/dancer_jasmine1 puts it, "The stuff in the container holds much more nostalgia."