These 15 Holiday Cooking Tips Are Sure to Impress Your Guests

These 15 Holiday Cooking Tips Are Sure to Impress Your Guests

Cooking a big meal is never easy but always worth it — especially during the holidays! So we sat with expert → Chef John Doherty to enlighten us … 

His cooking tips are sure to save you time while enhancing the quality and flavor of your holiday dishes. With Chef Doherty’s guide you will master the craft of hosting your holiday crowd. 

There are many reasons why we — at WtD — love Chef Doherty, owner of the Black Barn in Manhattan and former Waldorf-Astoria Executive Chef. For one, he’s incredible and a master in the kitchen! His astonishing background has had him serving kings, world leaders, and presidents. But most of all, he wants YOU to be a great chef too and doesn’t hold back any tips or tricks.

john doherty

This is food that is delicious and memorable in every great way possible.

General Cooking Tips:

When Sautéing, the idea is to brown the meat by caramelizing the natural sugars and developing a great flavor. Therefore, its important to select the right size skillet, too small of a pan and the meat will not brown as the pan is overloaded and all the water leaks out of the meat and it ends up boiling. A pan too large allows any juices to burn. Ideally, you want one layer of food covering the entire pan. Its better to repeat the process if all of the food doesn’t fit.

When browning meat and vegetables in a pan or on the grill — it’s important to give them the time they need to caramelize. Stir occasionally, not constantly.


Peel your potatoes for mashed potatoes the day before and keep them submerged in water to prevent discoloration.

When using fresh herbs save excess by stripping leaves off stems and roll tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. Just cut a piece off when you need it and unravel the plastic.

Sanitize all surfaces, utensils and hands after preparing raw meats, especially Poultry to avoid food poisoning.

For best results with your Holiday Turkey, use a thermometer to determine doneness- 150 degrees F. when taken in the thigh. It will continue cooking on the counter to a perfect juicy doneness. The pop-up thermometers will overcook the turkey leaving it dry.

Cook your fresh green vegetables hours prior to the meal. As soon as they done, shock them by running them under cold water. This stops the cooking process and keeps a nice green color. Season, cover and store in the refrigerator. Reheat them in the microwave oven for a couple of minutes and serve.


When sautéing Garlic, slice it rather than chop it as it is less likely to burn.

Keep bacon wrapped in the freezer and just slice off ½ inch pieces as needed for cooking.

Cook your stuffing in its own casserole, not the turkey cavity. There is enough bacteria in the cavity to get someone sick and to avoid that you need to cook the turkey longer which makes it dry.   


After removing a roast from the oven, it is critically important to let it “rest” at room temperature for 10-20 minutes (depending on it’s size) before slicing. This allows the meat to relax and retain all the juices.

Always slice meats against the grain to improve tenderness. The thinner the slice- the more tender the bite.


For a good vanilla sauce with your dessert; Just melt some good quality vanilla ice cream and add a splash of Bourbon!


Clean as you go. Make a habit of washing, drying, and putting away equipment as soon as you use it/can. Use paper cups to hold ingredients when preparing a recipe — this will help reduce your cleaning time too. Check to make sure you have plenty storage containers with matching lids. This is including plastic wrap, storage bags and aluminum foil. You know, in case there are left overs