How to Win Chopped

5:38 PM

Chopped is one of my favourite shows on TV. Not only that, it's one of my favourite games to play with my family.


We gather at my parents' house, everyone bringing 1 secret ingredient (but enough for everyone playing to use). We make sure my mom has stocked her fridge and pantry, then we stuff every basket with a little of what we brought.

On the count of 3 by whoever is judging, everyone uses the next 30 minutes to make one sweet and one salty dish, using the secret ingredients.

The judge decides who wins. So fun!

Being that my sister and I have watched nearly every episode of Chopped on TV, we feel pretty qualified to bring you this list... Here are the top 50 ways to win if you're lucky enough to be on the TV show Chopped:
  1. Cook your pasta perfectly. Anything under- or over-cooked will be ripped apart by Scott.
  2. Make your dessert sweet. Amanda will make sure you win. However, avoid being cloyingly sweet - it will cause them to use this term, which is annoying.
  3. Use only a little truffle oil. You would be the first person to do this properly in history.
  4. Get to the microwave first. You know that sweet potato has to soften up - run for it!
  5. Use the ice cream maker. I've never seen someone use it and lose.
  6. Risotto takes too long to cook.
  7. Make something more interesting than a salad with all 4 ingredients.
  8. Make something less interesting than anything that involves molecular gastronomy.
  9. Put all the ingredients on the plate. Also, everything you made. Remember when buddy went home for forgetting his pickled watermelon rind? Exactly.
  10. A little bit spicy is okay. You'll get points with Aaron.
  11. Sear the outside of the steak, then leave the inside rare. Anything more or less will send you home.
  12. Use salt. There are no brownie points for a low sodium meal.
  13. Put salt in your sweet dessert. They go wild for this.
  14. Don't defend your dish. There is a 100% failure rate for this type of scrambling.
  15. Top it with whipped cream. Why not?
  16. Parsley is not a cute garnish.
  17. Nor is icing sugar. Geoffrey will kill your soul.
  18. Use all the time. Even if your dish is perfect, they'll crucify you. Just look busy.
  19. If you get falafel mix, don't make falafels.
  20. If you get something crunchy, blend it up and crust your protein in it.
  21. Use the "tropical beverage mix" sparingly.
  22. Some things can't be eaten raw.
  23. Make Alex cry with a moving story. It's not hard to do and it'll get you in with the judges.
  24. Scott doesn't like raw onions.
  25. Almost no one likes raw bell pepper.
  26. Alex loves anything acidic.
  27. Don't use salt instead of sugar. (Season 1, Episode 4)
  28. Learn how to turn kielbasa into a dessert before you appear on the show, for good measure.
  29. If you cut yourself, put on a glove on it and keep going.
  30. Don't double dip! But do taste.
  31. Cross-contamination has forced people to lose every single time.
  32. Do you know how to cook a whole duck? Better learn.
  33. Buckwheat pancakes are not a dessert.
  34. Do you ever cook with gummy candies? Now you do.
  35. "You failed to elevate the ingredients." is what you don't want to hear: Elevate!
  36. If you're against school cafeteria cooks, you're gunna win. (No, really, they were horrible.)
  37. Take the bones out of the fish, please.
  38. Bacon is almost as much of a sure-thing as ice cream is.
  39. Portion size is key. People have gone home for "too big for an appetizer". People have gone home for "too small for a main." And people have gone home for "Marc got four pieces of king crab and I only got 2."
  40. If there is a weird salty ingredient in the dessert basket (think Vegetable Thins, radishes or beef jerky) just whisk it into some mascarpone.
  41. Your cake must be perfect. A poorly done cake can be broken up into a triffle.
  42. Your vinegarette better have enough vinegar.
  43. Cook in the style of your ethnicity. Or, cook in the style of the Indian judge's ethnicity.
  44. Donuts almost never lose. This can be true of most well-done deep fried ingredients.
  45. If given a full animal (i.e. a whole chicken) use more than one part.
  46. Nothing inedible goes on the plate. There will be complaints.
  47. Don't sacrifice presentation. Good knife skills can win you the competition.
  48. Being a former convict, gang member or drug addict might win you points.
  49. Be safe with your blender. Splashing on a competitor might not lose you the round, but it's freaking annoying.
  50. Have a sob story. If you get 2nd place, the winner might donate their money to you.

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