Half of Americans struggle cooking easy-to-make dishes — like pancakes and pasta!

NEW YORK — More than half of Americans say their biggest kitchen struggles come from cooking the simplest dishes. A survey of 2,000 adults looked at how much people mess up seemingly easy-to-make foods and found that 56 percent often botch foods that most consider easy to make.

bad cookingAlthough seven in 10 respondents confidently consider themselves “natural-born cooks” (71%), 83 percent of those who mess up “easy” dishes confess it makes them feel like a failed chef.

The hardest “easy” meal to make, according to the poll, are pancakes — with 38 percent saying they struggle making a good batch of flapjacks.

Meanwhile, a third of respondents struggle to make simple dishes like eggs (36%), pasta (35%), mashed potatoes (30%), or sweet potatoes (30%).

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Idahoan Foods — the maker of Honest Earth brand mashed sweet potatoes — found that more than a quarter of respondents think dinner is the most challenging meal to make (28%).

Fourth time may be the charm

On average, people will attempt to make a dish four times before getting it right or giving up on it entirely.

Messing up a dish can be extremely discouraging, as half of respondents have messed up an “easy” recipe so often that they feel like they’ll never be able to master it.

Nearly three in five even feel embarrassed about not cooking certain foods the right way (59%).

That may be why three-quarters of respondents are always looking for time-saving shortcuts in the kitchen (74%), and a similar number would purchase a ready-made item to help cook a dish more easily (75%).

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Cooking ‘sins’ to always avoid

Respondents also listed the top cooking “sins” one must never commit in the kitchen. At the top, more than a quarter (28%) believe burning a dish is the highest food crime.
Other egregious kitchen sins include undercooking a dish (17%), using the wrong ingredients (16%), and overcooking (14%). Interestingly, only seven percent of the respondents felt over-seasoning a dish was a bad idea.

If you think your partner wouldn’t welcome your help in the kitchen, think again. Sixty-three percent of those polled agree they’d appreciate some help in the kitchen, especially from their spouse (27%).

When it comes to get-togethers, 61 percent admit they would prefer using ready-made products in the kitchen and pass them off as their own in front of their guests.


  1. Pancakes (38%)
  2. Eggs (36%)
  3. Pasta (35%)
  4. Mac and cheese (33%)
  5. Soup (31%)
  6. Sweet potatoes (30%)
  7. Mashed potatoes (30%)
  8. Rice (27%)
  9. Grilled chicken (21%)
  10. Fish (19%)

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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