People Are Sharing The Cooking Hacks They Swear By, Here Are The 50 Best Ones
Culinary knowledge is one of those skills that once you master it, changes your life. Let’s face it, we will always need to eat, so knowing how to squeeze every ounce of flavor from even the most simple ingredients will pay dividends for the rest of our lives. But behind cookbooks and old family recipes, there are mountains of secret techniques waiting to be discovered.
A netizen wanted to hear others' favorite cooking hacks and the internet delivered. Some were common sense ideas that people discovered too late, others were weird tricks that actually work, so get your notebooks and get comfortable, there are some great hacks listed here. Be sure to upvote your favorites and comment your own cooking secrets below.
Prep everything first. Have all of your veggies cut and ingredients ready. You will be more relaxed.
Clean as you go. Wash your dishes while waiting for your food to finish cooking. Less dishes to deal with at the end of the night.
If a recipe says to sauté onions and garlic together at the same time, DON'T. Do the onions first, and then add the garlic when the onions are just about done. Garlic can be over sautéed and it takes on a bitter flavor.
If your executive function is betraying you and you rely on microwaveable or premade meals, find something small you can add to make them more substantial and to feel more like a meal. Add chopped broccoli to ramen noodles. Cumin and red pepper flakes are great to toss in, too. Cook minute rice with a chicken boullion cube and some butter and pretend it’s risotto. Personal favorite is to dump a can of corn into a microwave-safe bowl and mix in a bunch of taco seasoning. And if clean-up is a struggle too, use paper plates and bamboo flatware. Disposable chopsticks are super cheap and easy to find online.
When you’re struggling with depression, fatigue, or anything that makes taking care of yourself harder, taking shortcuts isn’t laziness, it’s how you survive to make those more daunting tasks a little less scary.
Unrelated: if you’re making a soup or stir fry with lots of veggies, sauté the veggies a bit before adding other ingredients til the onions are translucent. I’m sure there’s some food science reason that this makes soups taste better but I have no idea what it is.
Cooking is an art but how creative are you actually while in the kitchen? Many of us tend to pick up tips and tricks from our parents, so when we get to cook for ourselves, we often repeat the already well-established pattern of actions and dishes. My grandmother’s favorite hack was to always fry the chicken a little bit before putting it into a soup to enhance the flavors of the broth, and now I do it myself when I am in the kitchen.
But for every great idea imparted by friends, family, or even random internet users, there are still hundreds more waiting to be discovered. This comes with that annoying risk that you find out about some mindblowing tip much too late. Imagine someone who never used my grandma’s trick, learning it in their fifties, finding out that they could have had hundreds of better bowls of chicken soup. So commit to lifelong learning.
Butter. That’s it. That’s the whole tip. Use more butter.
Not mine, but my wife browns the butter before she adds it to chocolate chip cookie dough and they're the best freakin cookies I've ever eaten!
Do you not like vegetables but want to learn to love them?
Roasted veggies are like ambrosia of the gods. They taste amazing, require virtually no prep, and go with everything.
**Edit:** As a secondary hack - boil your dense/root vegetables *before* roasting if you're trying to get a crunchy exterior. Boiling something like a potato heats it evenly and causes moisture to be lost via steam as you let it cool. The result is a drier potato that will crisp more evenly and requires less time in the hot oven.
A lot of good techniques just come down to mastering the order of operations and learning how to use your space effectively. If you have a massive kitchen, loads of equipment, and all the time in the world, you seem like you have the time and resources to do whatever you please. The rest of us, however, need to get every crumb of efficiency out of the things we already have. Take any yeasted dough, for example. Often, these have to sit in a bowl (sometimes multiple times) while they prove and rise. So now you have a large bowl that needs to stay warm, taking up space for hours. The solution? Leave it in your oven. Just make sure it’s off.
You ever wonder why restaurant food tastes so good?
Why some food is so f****n rich in flavor?
Why you just can't stop eating that one kind of chip?
It's probably MSG.
It's perfectly safe in moderation, naturally occurs in many foods, and adds a delicious flavor to your food.
Sandwiches taste better when cut into triangles
If your food is bland even though you've added salt then it's missing acidity. Lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar are easy additions.
Now, planning is a large part of cooking and serving food. Plates need to be ready, cutlery and glasses cleaned, and so on. And of course, the beverages weren’t in the fridge long enough and now you risk serving lukewarm wine. Unacceptable. There are two methods. Fill a pitcher with ice and some water and dunk the bottle in. Nice, chilled beverages in minutes. A slightly more risky, but equally effective method is to wrap the bottle in a damp towel or piece of cloth and place it in the freezer. Just make sure you don’t forget it, as then you might end up with a block of flavored ice or even a shattered bottle.
Revive veggies that have lost their water by cutting their edges and soaking them in cold water. Lettuce, carrots, celery will be crisp again.
I'm coming in too late for anyone to ever see this.
Shallots are the vegan equivalent of bacon. They make just about everything better.
A quality set of **scissors** will save you so much hassle...
On the opposite side of the spectrum, a great way how to keep things cold is to wrap in in bubble wrap. It keeps warmth out, allowing your ice cream to hold its consistency and not become a container of soup. The downside is that it does look a bit silly and will not help your dining table look elegant in any way. But if you don’t have an ice box and need to transport ice cream or something similar, it’s a good bet. Just use more than one layer.
I always take my cookies out of the oven a couple minutes or so before they're supposed to come out. They still cook a little bit when they're cooling on the pan, and as a result they come out nice and soft.
If you want to keep some veggies nice and crisp on a summer day, or you are going to have a fancy picnic with a cheese-covered charcuterie board, there are some ways to keep your ingredients nice and cool. Place ice in a ziplock bag (as long as it’s waterproof) then place, for example, a baking sheet or even lettuce leaves over it. Then put the whole thing in a walled container. This will create a nice, cool platform that will stop your cheeses from turning to mush and keep your carrots crunchy. Just make sure the vessel is actually waterproof, otherwise, you’ll have an impromptu soup. If you want to check out some other cooking hacks, Bored Panda has you covered, so click here, here, and here.
Boiling stuff in broth instead of water. Rice, potatoes etc. When making mashed potatoes, boiling them in chicken stock seriously makes a world of difference.
Boxed chocolate cake - use cooled brewed coffee instead of the water. Richens the flavor so much. I do it with boxed brownies too.
Not everyone cooks, my advice…..
Take the time to learn how to cook from scratch or raw ingredients. Learn this as early as you can. You will eat better food and enjoy it far more by knowing exactly what’s in it and how it was made. As an added bonus it’s far cheaper in terms of monetary output. You still pay with your time but your overall quality of life will greatly improve.
Wet paper towel around most things I put in the microwave.
For instance, the kids love those sgitty frozen pancakes. I put them on a microwave safe plate and cover in a moist paper towel. No hard nasty edges that need to be cut away. They taste damn near "fresh," lol
My coupe de Gras > Reheating Pizza
Get a pan nice and hot with a little oil and put your pizza crust side down, of course. Let that baby cook to crispen up. Then have a lid for your pan and turn your heat off. Add a splash of water and cover it and let it sit. That will heat and melt the cheese again. It is the ONLY way to reheat pizza properly. It's an absolute gamechanger. I like all the fixens on my pizza, and even with 13 toppings, it comes out like I just ordered it.
If you’re making a savory dish that uses crushed/minced garlic, reserve a little bit of the fresh garlic and stir it in to the dish right before serving.
The fresh garlic adds a bit of a pop that you lose if it’s cooked.
If you're cutting up chicken or some other meat that will spoil, put the scraps into a Ziploc bag and put them in the freezer until garbage day. That way they will not make your garbage smell and you're throwing out chicken ice cubes basically.
pretty much every soup can use a lil drop of lemon juice
Preheat. Preheat the oven every time. Let your pan heat up, and let the oil heat up.
When I sauté veggies, (chopped onions, bell peppers, etc.) I prep the veggies first, **add salt** to the prep bowl, and let it sit for 10-20 minutes before adding the veggies to the pan. The salt will penetrate the veggies, and drive water out. Veggies taste better, and take less time to sear and pick up color.
If your frozen food has instructions for cooking from *thawed*, move that food from the freezer to the fridge the day before and cook it from thawed. It will almost always be better.
Using almond extract in addition to vanilla when baking. It absolutely enhances the flavor.
Ice cube in the center of your leftover rice before you microwave it - makes the rice get soft and fluffy again
Something missing from your tomato pasta sauce? Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Makes it taste rich and fuller.
If your making a BLT or some kind of toasted sandwich, only toast one side of the bread and use that for the inside of the sandwich.
It stops you grating the roof of your mouth.
1. Meat thermometers cost less than the steak you're about to ruin.
2. The whole "pinch this finger or that finger and that's rare or medium or whatever" thing when cooking steak is b******t. Everyone's hands are different as are our senses of touch.
3. 50⁰C is rare. 60⁰C is medium. 70⁰C is well done.
4. You don't need to bring steak up to temp before cooking unless it's very thick (like a rump). The inside warms and cooks slower than the rest because its insulated. If you're cooking a thick piece of meat straight from the fridge you're going to get an overdone outside and undercooked inside.
5. Never cook a wet steak. Pat it dry and season it with salt and pepper. The salt breaks the steak down and makes it more tender and forgiving in the cooking process. It releases more moisture so pat it dry again. The longer you leave it salted the more the protein gets broken down.
6. You lose 30-50% of your seasoning in a pan so always over do it.
7. Plain steak is nice, but cooking it with additional fats (like butter) and aromatics like garlic, rosemary etc. make it amazing.
8. Sticky burned stuff on the pan? Good. Stick it on a high heat and add any tasty liquid. Wine, sherry, port, whisky, bourbon, stock etc. will break down the protein left in the pan and remove it while creating what's called a pan-sauce. Add flour to thicken or cream or milk to add volume. This is the perfect thing to do while you..
9. Rest the meat after cooking I.e. stop cooking it and leave it alone for 5 minutes or longer.
If you don’t have cast iron pan, you are missing out on a lot.
- use an ice cream scoop with a sharp edge to spoon seeds out of a squash
- rub a raw clove of garlic on a piece of frozen bread to make quick garlic bread (the frozen texture of the bread kind of acts as a grater on the garlic)
- freeze left over tomato paste from a can into 1 table spoon chunks to use later - I also do this with freshly grated ginger to have it ready to go later
- keep grounded flax seeds in the freezer to use as an egg replacer in muffins (mix 1 table spoon of ground flax seeds with 3 table spoons of water)
- use a vege peeler to cut thin ribbons of vegetable (cucumber, carrots, etc.)
- use kitchen scissors to cut pizza
- get a bit more green onions out of your green onions if you don't need the bottom part, put the roots in water an the green part will regrow
Prep everything before you start cooking.
If it's "missing something" but you don't know what, then add a pinch of salt or a splash of acid.
Whoever didn't cook, cleans up afterwards.
Adding cacao powder to your beef stew for some extra depth
I use soy sauce in a lot of stews and soups to help bring out savory flavors. My minestrone, for instance, usually has some soy sauce in it.
Microwaving broccoli is not only ok to do, it can also preserve the most amount of nutrients than any other method of cooking it.
Dont fry bacon on a stove. Place the strips on a cookie sheet, throw in the oven at about 400 until the doneness you like. Use parchment paper or aluminum foil and there is virtually no clean up.
Leaving a potholder on the handle of a cleaned cast iron pan to let anyone who might put it away know it may be hot as it cools down.
Wear my contacts to cut onions. I’m unstoppable.
Put a damp paper towel under your cutting board to prevent it from sliding around when you are cutting.
Rinse your sauce jars with a bit of water to clean them out and not waste any sauce.
If you buy jarred pasta sauce, add just a few tablespoons of water to the jar after you dump it and put the lid back on - give it a few brisk shakes & dump it with the rest of the sauce.
Also on board with the clean while you cook crew. Far easier than having a ton of mess afterwards. And clean *everything* - don't just give the stovetop a swipe. If you have a gas stove, take the burner grates off and clean around the burners, etc - and if the grates are dirty, give those a wash as well. Grease & dirt build up FAST in these areas and that's how you end up with a crusty stovetop.
Whenever you make poultry in the oven, do not waste the sweet drippins' on the pan when it's done. Thats pure flavor right there bubba, grab u some red wine vinegar and scrape the pan with a spatula. Then pour that good stuff over the meat. Easier than a sonofabitch and tastes damn good too. Bless.
Baked potato: 3-5 minutes in microwave before going in oven.
Wash berries in white vinegar, then, rinse them in water.
Greatly extends their shelf life, the vinegar does a good job of killing mold and such, without effecting the taste.
Wash in vinegar, not soak. And rinse in water immediately.
Do similar tasks all at once. Making potatoes and carrots? Peel both first, then chop, don't do one veg and then the other. You'll have a better rhythm with your tools and you'll only have to change tools once instead of three times. Breaking down a pack of chicken thighs? Do all the skins and fat at once, all the bones at once, then all the slicing at once.
Also, keep a damp rag next to your cutting board for cleaning your board and knife, and keep a dry rag over your shoulder for drying or wiping anything as needed. This saves a ton of trips over to the sink and/or towel holder.
If a veggie grows underground, put it in the pot before it comes to a boil. Any other veggie, and everything else (spaghetti, instant ramen, rice, meat, seafood) put it in when it is boiling
edit, not rice idk why I said that
Hard boiled eggs.
Steam them in a veggie basket and they peel perfectly, no old eggs or new eggs trick or anything
Steam for 13 min and put in cold water. 98% success rate.
start cooking with an empty dishwasher and fill as you go.
always have a red and a white wine specifically for cooking lying around.
farmers market produce keeps longer than most other produce.
let your lettuce sit in ice water until your ready to serve to maximize crunch.
Never use margarine in a recipe, always use real butter. The taste of margarine is entirely different even if people claim it isn't.
When using Lipton's onion soup mix in a recipe, always add double what the recipe calls for.
Note: this post originally had 74 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.