5 Tips for Mastering One-Pot Dishes

We love easy fuss-free recipes, too.

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There are days when you just feel like you have the energy to cook spectacular dishes that require a lot of steps. On these days, the prospect of cooking with multiple appliances and prepping a gazillion ingredients one by one might not faze you. However, there are also days when the idea of a large-scale kitchen production might not be so appealing. Maybe you're super tired from work or you're extra busy with other chores. If you want a homemade meal but you don't want to put in too much effort, the answer is simple: make a one-pot dish! 

One-pot recipes often require little active cooking time. You'll have more room to breathe and collect yourself while your stove, oven, or pressure cooker works its magic. Fewer steps also means fewer cooking tools and appliances needed-and therefore fewer things to clean up and put away. Last but not least, many of the one-pot options we're sharing below can be made in big batches. You'll have enough for your current meal, plus some extras to reheat and either eat again or bring to school and work as baon. Upping your one-pot game will be very rewarding. 

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We have a few tips to mastering the art of making one-pot meals. Use these tips to expand your one-pot repertoire, and save time and energy while keeping your belly full! 

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno
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Find Out Which Recipes You Can Turn into One-Pot Wonders

The first secret to mastering one-pot meals is knowing which dishes are naturally predisposed to the one-pot treatment. Good examples of "one-pot-ables" include soups, pastas, and casseroles. Instead of making soup an appetizer, you can load it up with filling ingredients so that it's substantial enough to be a meal on its own. For pastas, look for recipes in which you can easily cook the noodles in their own sauce, then simply garnish to round it off. Casseroles may be the easiest of the bunch-for most recipes, it's just a matter of putting the ingredients together and baking them. All in all, perhaps the hardest part about making a casserole is the waiting! 

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Photo by At Macaulangan

Learn Essential Cooking Techniques with Your One-Pot Kitchen MVPs

The next thing you should know is that there are a few basic cooking techniques that you can use as a "Swiss knife" for one-pot meal preparation. The cooking techniques that you'll always fall back to are boiling, braising, pressure cooking, steaming, baking, and cooking with a crockpot or a slow cooker. These fairly easy techniques are all you need to prepare a variety of one-dish dinners and other meals. If you want to get used to the one-pot life, it's also good to invest in equipment that will allow you to cook single-dish meals for a lifetime. That includes a decent pressure cooker and a high-quality Dutch oven that you can use in both a large oven and a stovetop. 

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Get a Sense of Which Ingredients You Can Cook at the Same Time

An advanced one-pot chef will eventually develop a sense of which ingredients can cook in one pot together, plus how to substitute ingredients for varying flavors. One thing you can start with is rice, which you're used to cooking with plain water. The knowledge that you can cook rice in different broths to make porridges, stews, or rice pilaf dishes will be a game changer. 

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Learn our recipes for American Southern cooking favorites, like rice and beans and jambalaya. Both require you to do some chopping and sauteing before throwing the raw rice in, but once the rice is in the pot, all you have to do is sit back. In less than two hours, you'll have hearty rice meals that are just as good the next day.   

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Buy Ingredients for Multiple One-Pot Dishes

A one-pot master will know to minimize their trips to the market or grocery and buy large batches of ingredients that can be used for multiple dishes. There are some pantry staples that are worth buying in bulk, for example dry pasta noodles. You can stock up on dry macaroni or other pasta shapes for recipes like this bacon and tomato one-pot pasta and the vegetable minestrone mentioned in this power pasta lineup. Other basic ingredients that you can expect to use often in one-pot recipes are tomato sauce, canned corn, dried herbs, and dried beans. Go for adaptable ingredients that have a long shelf life and that are easy for you to store. 

Try the Base Recipes-Then, Get Creative

Lastly, you can learn base recipes like the ones we shared above-then, to put their own creative spin on them. One-pot essentials like casseroles can be treated like blank canvases and customized to the cook's taste. Once you set a benchmark for how each dish is supposed to taste, liven it up by adding or switching out ingredients. That way, the satisfaction of cooking up a one-pot meal will never get boring. 

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One-pot cooking is a skill that every home cook should master in their lifetime, especially for hectic days. Which of these one-pot wonders are you most excited to try in your own kitchen?  

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

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