Whether you’re a busy parent or you just have a hardcore baking hobby, you need kitchen and cooking hacks, and you need them now. We know every home chef wants to up their game, and that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best hacks out there.
From prep to storage to good old gadgets, these tricks will be sure to take your meals to the next level.
So, before you start that epic dish for the upcoming office party, take a look at our 21 top tips to help you excel in the kitchen!
Related: Top 10 Kitchen Safety Tips
Food Storage Fundamentals
Storing food can be an art unto itself when it comes to making the perfect meal, because the quality of your ingredients determines the flavor and texture of the food.
If you’re skimping on this part of your kitchen, your food will suffer no matter how great your recipes are.
1. Keep Ice Cream Fresh Using a DIY Ice Cream Cooler
If you’re bringing ice cream to the party, you’ll want to make sure it stays as cold as possible on the trip. Before you head out, grab some bubble wrap and put it around the container.
Those little bubbles will do more than protect it from bumps – it’ll keep it cooler much longer.
2. Pre-Portioned Burger Meat
You know how you’re always misjudging how much burger meat you need to take out of the freezer? If you have some long sticks handy, like chopsticks or even unused pencils, you can portion your patties in advance.
Score individual sizes while the meat sits flat in a sealed plastic bag, and then freeze the whole thing.
You can remove as many servings as you need when it’s time to defrost and cook!
3. Soft Baked Goods
Maybe you’ve baked the best batch of cookies or muffins in your life, or maybe you’ve brought some home from the bakery. Either way, you’re going to want to maintain that soft, fluffy goodness as long as possible.
One slice of white bread (yep, the kind that comes from the store in a bag) will save that freshness for days. Put the slice of bread in an airtight container with the treats and rest easy, knowing they’ll taste new the next time you take a bite.
4. Fridge Veggies
It’s so frustrating to buy veggies, only to watch them go bad within days in the fridge. Do yourself a favor next time and wrap them in foil before you store them in the refrigerator’s veggie drawer. This little trick can extend their life up to a few weeks.
Kitchen hacks are all about knowing how to use the things you have around your house to make your culinary life easier. If you’ve been stressing over meal prep, chances are you have gadgets in a drawer that are just waiting to turn your frown upside down.
5. Repurpose Frozen Liquor
Don’t worry; you don’t have to pour out all your old booze for this hack. If you have any glass bottles of frozen liquor like vodka, you can put them to work in the pie shop on a hot day as rolling pins. Pie experts know that a hot or humid kitchen is awful for your crust.
Wrap the bottle in parchment and then roll your crust dough to keep it nice and cool. You’ll be surprised how much this improves the flakiness of your final product!
6. Hot Spot Detection
Speaking of baking, does your oven have mysterious hot spots that bake your pies and other specialties unevenly? It’s a common problem, but you can use a baking sheet and white parchment or bread to help you identify those pesky burn-zone areas.
Pre-heat to 400 degrees F [204 Celsius] and put in a baking sheet covered in parchment or sliced bread to sit for about 20 minutes. When the timer dings, check to see where the darker sections are on the parchment or bread. Those are your hot spots.
7. Thumbtacks and Eggs
Save yourself all the drama of peeling hardboiled eggs by using one thumbtack before you get boiling. Prior to the plop in the pot, pierce the shell just a little bit with the thumbtack.
Then, when the hardboiled egg comes out of the water, peeling will be a simple job. No more sticky gunk and hunks of broken egg falling all over the place.
Peeling and Cutting and Frying, Oh, My!
Let’s be honest – most of us don’t have time for slicing and dicing to perfection for every meal. These hacks help you get beautiful cuts every time, without having to go to culinary school first.
8. Dental Floss
It’s not just for after-dinner cleanup between your teeth! This handy stuff can slice cleanly through just about all the things you’ve been struggling with.
Try it on butter, dough, cheese, and more. Make sure you’re using the unflavored floss, though, or you’ll end up with minty-fresh cheese.
9. Perfect Potato Wedges
How do they make those steak fries so perfectly at restaurants? If you have an apple slicer, you can say goodbye to your potato-wedge-envy. Start by cutting off one end of the potato so it stands up like an apple would.
Then you’re ready to slice it up for one professional-looking appetizer.
10. The Power of the Pizza Cutter
Most families have a pizza cutter lying in the kitchen drawer, but they rarely have any need to use it. After all, pizza arrives at your door pre-cut, and frozen pizza is easier to cut with a knife.
Don’t throw it away for being useless; use it to chop herbs and other foods that need a fine cut. Just roll it back and forth until you’re done. No more accidentally slicing your thumb trying to look like the people on TV!
Related: How to reheat cooked pizza
11. Strawberry Straws
Ever get tired of cutting the tops off strawberries? The darn things aren’t shaped to lie on their sides, so you can never get the right angle. Then you have to deal with the stem, and before long, you have a mess of squished-up, unattractive strawberry bits all over your counter.
Enter the everyday straw: simply push the straw up through the bottom of the strawberry, and watch it slide the stem and top out easily. No more mess.
12. Dicing Made Easy
You need your cooling rack for this one. Whatever you need to dice, this will save you time and effort, and it will leave your kitchen much cleaner. Take the cooling rack and put it over a bowl so the food can fall in.
Then, press the food through the rack using a spatula or other instrument. People will think you had a caterer for this meal!
If you’re looking for cooking hacks, chances are you want to get food prepared quickly and easily. That doesn’t mean you’re willing to give up on good taste, though. Luckily for all of us, there are some great hacks that make even microwave food taste fantastic.
13. Scrambled Eggs
Yes, you can make delicious scrambled eggs in the microwave. Beat two eggs in a bowl, and add a dash of milk and salt. Throw in some pepper, if you like. Go crazy; it’s your breakfast. Cook the whole thing up for a few seconds, and you’re ready to eat.
14. Stale No More
If you have bread that’s sat out a bit too long and has gone stale, don’t toss it out just yet. The microwave can transfer some much-needed moisture back into the bread using this easy trick. Get a wet paper towel or a small (microwave-safe) glass of water and microwave it with the bread.
You’ll be surprised how fresh it tastes!
15. Steamed Vegetables
Using the same trick you did in number 14 with the bread, you can steam veggies in the microwave. Just put a small dish or glass of water in the microwave with your veggies and enjoy the steamed goodness that comes out.
16. Crystalized Honey
Crystalized honey hasn’t gone bad. In fact, with the microwave, you can make drizzle-able honey again in less than a minute. Just put it in a microwave-safe dish, uncovered, and run it on medium heat. It will melt before your eyes and be ready to eat as soon as it cools down enough for you.
17. Homemade Nachos
This is a simple treat for when you need a good snack fast. Pop in a microwave-safe plate of whatever you like, from crackers to chips, and cover them in shredded cheese or slices of cheese. Ding! Nachos are ready.
And then there are the tricks that can help in so many situations, they deserve their own category.
18. Too Much Salt!
Ever accidentally dump too much salt in the soup? Sliced apples or potato will save the day. Just dump them in and wait for about ten minutes, simmering and stirring. Then toss the apples or potatoes that have sucked up all the extra salt for you.
19. Kids + Cupcakes = Happiness
If you have eaters who don’t want their food to touch, try cupcake baking cups for cute and inexpensive dividers. These work on the dinner table and in the lunchbox!
20. Sticky Spoons
Measuring spoons are notorious for getting sticky ingredients all over them, refusing to drop them into the mix.
Then, as if that wasn’t annoying enough, they become a nightmare to clean. Save yourself all this hassle by using a nonstick spray on your spoons and cups.
21. The Magical Lint Roller
Here’s a tip: lint rollers can handle more than lint. They’re good for sprinkles, sugar, flour, and so much more. Save yourself time and let the lint roller do the hard work.
When it comes to being an amazing chef, it’s all about the hacks. Every great cook knows the power of unusual gadgets, tips, and tricks.
Not only will these changes to your kitchen routine make your food more yummy, but they’ll save you tons of time in prep and cleanup, as well. Ah, the sweet taste of efficiency. That’s a dish we can really sink our teeth into.