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Food & Drink

Over half of Americans claim to botch recipes that should be easy

Pancakes, eggs, pasta and mac & cheese top the list of the easiest recipes people have destroyed in the kitchen.



Afro couple cooking together and using phone at home.

More than half of Americans say their biggest kitchen struggles come from cooking the simplest dishes, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 adults looked at how much people mess up seemingly easy-to-make foods and found that 56% often botch foods that are considered easy to make.

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

The hardest “easy” meal to make was found to be pancakes — with 38% saying they struggle making a good batch of flapjacks. 

Meanwhile, a third of respondents said they 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 said dinner is the most challenging meal to make (28%).

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 said they 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%).

“Our top priority is delivering products that make mealtime easier without sacrificing on quality,” said Ryan Ellis, vice president of retail marketing and business development at Idahoan Foods. “We know our consumers are looking to get dinner on the table quickly, so products that help save precious prep, cook and clean up time without sacrificing taste or quality of ingredients are ideal.”

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.

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

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

“We weren’t surprised to see that 55% of respondents said the quality of some ready-made food items is actually better than making it from scratch,” said Ellis. “When you have options that use the same ingredients you’d reach for to cook something homemade –– and no artificial flavors and colors – getting a quality meal on the table starts to feel more achievable.”


  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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