These are the most common cooking fails Americans make in the kitchen

Image for post
Image for post
Survey conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by SeaPak reveals some of the cooking struggles Americans experience. (Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash)

From leaving the oven on overnight to forgetting a crucial ingredient in a meal or using salt instead of sugar, more than six in 10 Americans have experienced a cooking catastrophe.

A new survey of 2,000 people who cook found that 64 percent have had a major mishap in the kitchen.

Almost a third (29 percent) even say they feel hopeless when it comes to cooking.

Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by SeaPak, the survey looked at the cooking catastrophes Americans have experienced in the kitchen, as well as the ways in which they’re trying to improve their skills.

The most common blunder was found to be burning food while cooking it (68 percent), followed by burning a pot or a pan (54 percent) or misjudging and overboiling a pot (52 percent).

Other mishaps included setting off the smoke detector (48 percent) or using too much salt in a recipe (44 percent).

Three in 10 people who cook say they’re embarrassed by their cooking skills — of those who are, 36 percent avoid cooking for other people.

And mom might be who respondents most commonly avoid cooking for, as the survey found that she’s the most likely to criticize someone’s cooking skills.

Forty-two percent of respondents have been judged on their abilities in the kitchen. After mom, the judgment was most likely to come from friends (45 percent) or a significant other (41 percent).

Top difficulties in the kitchen were found to be having various dishes be ready at the same time (44 percent) and hosting a three-course dinner party (38 percent).

That was followed by making a sauce from scratch (38 percent), cooking perfect poached eggs (35 percent) and cooking fish to the perfect consistency (34 percent).

“Cooking can be stressful, especially when you’re in a rush or trying out something new in the kitchen,” said Kristen Beadon, the director of marketing for SeaPak Shrimp & Seafood Co. “Leaning on recipes and products you trust and using ingredients that simplify the process, like sauces and garnishes, are all great ways to avoid typical home-cooking challenges.”

But even cooking catastrophes and critique from loved ones isn’t stopping Americans from trying to improve: Sixty-three percent are actively working to be more confident in the kitchen.

Top ways respondents are improving their cooking confidence are cooking more often (70 percent), watching tutorials online (61 percent) and using cookbooks to find new recipes (61 percent).

Others are watching cooking shows (59 percent) or even taking cooking classes (36 percent).

“If you’re looking to improve your cooking skills, the frozen food aisle is a great place to start. Here, you can find easy-to-make, flavorful foods designed to enhance and accentuate any menu,” said Beadon. “Plus, product packaging often features chef-tested, easy-to-follow recipes perfect for when you’re ready to take things up a notch in the kitchen.”


  1. Burned food 67 percent
  2. Burned a pot/pan 54 percent
  3. Over boiled a pot 52 percent
  4. Set off the smoke detector 48 percent
  5. Used too much salt 44 percent
  6. Left the oven/burner on 40 percent
  7. Forgot a crucial ingredient 38 percent
  8. Forgotten something in the oven 35 percent
  9. Food was way too spicy 34 percent
  10. Had a dog or pet eat food that was left out 23 percent
  11. Had an explosion in the microwave 21 percent
  12. Used salt instead of sugar 20 percent
  13. Microwaved something metal 20 percent
  14. Used the wrong equipment (such as cooking pasta in a teapot) 18 percent
  15. Used sugar instead of salt 17 percent
Image for post
Image for post


  1. Cooking more often 70 percent
  2. Watching tutorials online 61 percent
  3. Using cookbooks to find new recipes 61 percent
  4. Cooking shows 59 percent
  5. Taking cooking classes 36 percent
Image for post
Image for post


  1. Having various dishes be ready at the same time 44 percent
  2. Hosting a three-course dinner party 38 percent
  3. Making a sauce from scratch 38 percent
  4. Cooking perfect poached eggs 35 percent
  5. Cooking fish to the perfect consistency 34 percent

>> Download the video and infographic for this research story <<

NOTE: All news copy and multimedia on this SWNS account is free to use as you see fit. Where research has been conducted, we ask that you credit the company which commissioned it.

SWNS is a UK and US-based news and media content agency with a proud 40-year history.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store