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How do you tell someone that their cooking is poor without hurting their feelings?

Once upon a time, my brother decided to cook us a meal. The fact that he thought of preparing us a meal was what thrilled me.

He was extremely happy about it. He wanted to show us (my sisters and I), that he could as well cook.

I couldn't wait to eat the food because he had read series of cook books in preparation for this day and the meal especially.

First, it took him hours to finish preparing a single meal that shouldn't take that long.

Happily, I grabbed my spoon and took a mouthful of the "delicious meal" Only to be disappointed by a rather annoying meal.

He was smiling, looking at me, expecting a "Wow, the food is great" Because he had put in all his best.

I didn't know what to say or do. I just forcefully swallowed the food and said, "Hey, you did great, but you know, you could have reduced a little bit of this, added a little bit of that, etc"

He accepted my correction without grudges. I'm just wondering how he would have felt if I had spat the food out in his face and told him the food tasted like trash.


It's very much easier to tell your brother or sister about their food being poor.Generally it's so easy to tell your family how bad their food taste.

 Am saying from an experience, I remember how I used to ask my elder sister at time, who asked her to enter the kitchen, that she almost killed someone with bad foodtaste lol. Even to my brothers, when they will feel like cooking, and they end up cooking something else, I will say "brother please call me to help you cook next time, don't waste foodstuff please" . However, at times they cook very well, especially my sister.

 Now what happens when this person is not close to me? Trust me, if you can go quiet about it, it's alright, but how will the person learn if you don't criticize it. What I do to my brother's wife when she cooks something different from the usual, is that I will laugh out so loudly, that she won't have any choice other than to ask me what is it, so I will simply say, " please I don't understand what am eating sweetheart, I guess you were tired today, sorry, try and rest ok? Cause your food taste better other days, but not today's" tell them about it with a smile on your face, you can even give them a hi-five for a mess well done.lol


  I don’t think there is much we can do/control if the cooking is really poor. That person will read it in our faces :)

We may try the old, “have you tried adding this or that ingredient?” or “have you tried so-and-so’s recipe”? But, again, depending on the person, even half a compliment may be offensive and we cannot control others’ reactions to criticism, even if it is constructive.

In my culture, people are very blunt about culinary opinions. There is even a song for these holidays that says “the best hallaca [our traditional Christmas dish] is done by my mother”. Thus, it is not outrageous, in fact it is very common that, people would just blatantly say if the food is too salty, overcooked, or tasteless. They will always have a story of this time they went to a certain place where they were served the best meat or salad in the world.  

Of course, that causes frictions when we interact with people from other cultures. Some of us may learn to measure our words, and even stoically eat whatever is served without complaining; others will find ways to channel their dislikes 

Giving feedback, especially when it is negative is not easy. Like diplomacy in other affairs it is an art. I think that what must prevail is the intention of thanking the cook for the gesture, and making that person feel that whatever they are learning to prepare can be done even better. Everybody wants to perfect what they do, if they feel passionate about it. So, getting tips to do what we like better should be always welcome if the right words and tone is used.

Body language is also an important part of feedback. It is actually the most difficult part to master. Have you heard people say, “but I’m not angry!” when everything indicates they are? Some people say nice words, but their eyes, hands and mouth may be saying the opposite. Thus, training our body to go along with our well-rehearsed nice words must be the challenge to avoid running the occasion beyond the desert.

If the dessert is the lousy piece, you can always say, “I’m satisfied. That dinner was so splendid I can’t add anything else” or the old “I have to watch my waistline.”  


To he honest, telling someone that his/her cooking is poor is difficult. You need to be tactful so the person won't get hurt. Gladly, people who prepares food for us asks some feedback, and gladly accepts advices.

But what if that person doesn't ask for feedback. It can help to thank the person with his effort in cooking. Commendation can somewhat neutralize the negative feedback. After commending, then tell him what's needed to improve in a mild way.

If it is salty, just say "you did great, but maybe you can lessen the salt next time". If it is lacking salt, then say to add more salt. If the food wasn't cooked well, tell some steps how to cook the food evenly. It is for their own good so tell them. Others might be tactless, and will tell them their cooking is bad in a hurtful way.


This is a tricky one and have had it for around 6 months. I will mention no names as it could bite me if they happen to read this. One never knows and I don't want to hurt them.

This person stayed with us and used to cook once or twice a week. They were only trying to pull their weight around the house by helping out. It helped me as I started losing weight on the nights they cooked. The food was so bad the dog's even wouldn't eat it.

I used to say I wasn't hungry but would dish up anyway and say i would eat it later. When they weren't around I would try give it to the dogs or hide it in the bin outside. They were trying their best and had no idea how bad it really was.

I eventually offered to help them when they were cooking and subtly suggesting easier meal to cook. The more complex the cooking, the worse it was. I eventually got them down to specializing with baked potatoes and a steak. At least I could now eat again. I wasn't the only one in the house that was complaining either and would sometimes eat before I got home.


I grew up in a large home, and this meant, i didn't get to cook much. I always shied away from cooking, because i wasn't good at it. Instead i allowed others to cook.

Being a shy individual, i didn't do well with criticism, especially when it is given with hostility. And i did get criticized, whenever i didn't prepare a dish properly. Insults were thrown in and it discouraged me further. Imagine being a teenage girl trying to learn how to cook and getting yelled at, when you didn't get it right. Or being constantly reminded that you would get married some day, so you ought to know how to cook a proper meal. It wasn't the best feeling ever.

But i did have others who took their time to show me how to cook better, and i didn't fail to ask questions, whenever i needed answers. Those were the real MVPs and i can tell you, that their method was really effective. I am now a good cook.

If you want to tell someone, that their cooking is bad, do it politely. Find a way to make them aware of it, without hurting their feelings. You tell them the meal was okay, but it needs this or that. Join them when they are cooking, or ask them to assist you, when you are cooking. That way they learn from you.


I think that depends on whom you're talking to. If you are close with him/her then I think you can say directly that he/she needs more practice in cooking. If not just express some appreciation on the food prepared, you can say the food is "okay" then give some suggestions.

And if you are good in cooking then you can invite him/her over in your house and cook some food together. For sure your efforts will be appreciated.


My husband is a master at this. When I was just starting to learn how to cook, my cooking was really terrible. And I admire him for still trying to appreciate what I serve.

But while eating, he would point out things like "I think you put in a bit too much salt" or "you might want to add some more this or that". He ignores the terrible taste, still eats it, and then goes straight to giving some comments or suggestions on how I would do better next time.

Of course the way he delivered those comments is also important. If he said those comments in an aggressive way, it would totally hurt my feelings and that wpuld block my mind from listening to him. So he makes sure he is careful with the tone of his voice. That's because he wants to make my cooking better.

So if you need to tell someone their cooking isn't good, give them subtle suggestions while telling it to them very nicely. Cooking is really difficult and they surely put in so much effort preparing the meal.


@Hermannsol, In my opinion Kindness hold the magic no matter in which aspect, so if we convey particular message with kindness then for sure it will not going to be hurtful in many cases. Stay blessed. 🙂


If it is someone you the answer is you don't tell them anything because you might know the effort that went into cooking of the food.

For me i would use that as an excuse to take her out on a date,tell her to save the food for the morrow and escape to work.

From then on i would suggest that it would be nice if we prepare dinner together so i can teach her how to properly throw down some magic in the kitchen.

Food come and go but hurting someone on account of their poor cooking skill in my opinion is not worth it


If I happen to eat a meal which does not taste nice and I want to tell the person who cooked it especially if it is a loved one. I will walk up to the person, tell him/her that I enjoyed their cooking even if I did not and after telling them I enjoyed their cooking, I will still tell them that it did not taste so nice.

I will also tell them to work on how to improve their cooking skills so that next time they are preparing a cuisine they will do it excellently well.

Some people might feel bad when you open up to them but it is better you tell them their cooking is bad if you really care about them. Men will not take it seriously and can even laugh over it when you tell them their cooking is bad. But women will feel it and even if they act like they don't, they will definitely work on improving their skills. Whichever way, I will still tell them how poor their cooking is irrespective of their Gender, just that I will play around a bit if it is a female.