25 Small Cooking Tips And Tricks That Can Genuinely Make A Big Difference

    "When I'm roasting vegetables, I mix equal amounts of both and slather a thin layer on everything. It makes the final product taste amazing."

    Have you ever tried something in the kitchen that made you think, "Whoa, why didn't I discover this sooner?" Well, I browsed the subreddit r/cooking and rounded up some tried-and-true tricks that home cooks swear by. And judging by the sound of them, you might want to give some a try in your own kitchen.

    1. "Add silken tofu to soups, shakes, and liquids to make them creamier. I’ve taken to blending silken tofu into my soups, and it makes the soup so rich while simultaneously adding some extra protein."

    Silken tofu on a plate.

    2. "If you're reheating leftover pizza, this is the only method to try. Heat a dry pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add your slices of leftover pizza and reheat in the dry pan for about two minutes. Add a teaspoon of water, quickly cover the pan, and steam covered for 30 seconds. Uncover the pan, boil off any remaining water, and continue cooking just until the bottom is firm and nicely crispy, about one minute. If done right, I swear this method gets you pizza that's exactly like fresh. It even puts a crispy crust on pizza that didn't have one to begin with."

    Two pepperoni pizza slices inside a pizza box.

    3. "If you over-bake cookies and they are too crunchy, put them in a Ziploc or plastic container with a few pieces of torn, scattered bread. The cookies take the moisture from the bread and soften right up. I've done this with nearly burnt cookies. They tasted great after an overnight with the bread."

    A bunch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on a baking sheet.

    4. "My mom's method for cooking white rice always seriously impresses people. Wash one or two cups of long grain white rice, then throw a knob of butter, dash of olive oil, and some salt in a non-stick pot. Turn it to medium-high heat. Dump your rice into the pot and stir it around with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula for a minute. Pour the same ratio of water to rice (so one cup of water for one cup of rice). Keep the heat high and stir occasionally to get all the rice boiling. Continue stirring until there's very little water left at the bottom of the pan. The result: Really fluffy, delicious rice you can make at a fraction of the cooking time."

    Fluffy white rice.

    5. "Any time I am going to grill or pan fry sausage, first I pressure cook it in the Instant Pot for 15 minutes. I put one cup of liquid in (you can use water, broth, or alcohol like wine or beer) and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. This works even if the sausages are frozen, and you don't have to worry about boil-over like when traditionally parboiling brats. Then you can throw them on a grill/pan/air fryer to get some browning."

    Bratwurst in cooking pan.

    6. "I buy those the stainless steel square metal containers used by restaurants at restaurant supply stores and use them to store leftovers, soups, slaws…all of it. You won't see any stains from foods like tomatoes, they cool your food down much faster (and stay cold, so fresher longer), and the shorter ones can stack. It's the best thing I did for organizing my kitchen."

    Close up of woman preparing plastic food storage boxes.

    7. "I use instant mashed potatoes to thicken soups instead of using cream or making a roux. It's such a game-changer."

    Creamy chowder in a pot.

    8. "Check your local Asian/Indian/ethnic markets for spices, baking ingredients (like flour, sugar, etc.), and bulk rice or grains before you buy them at the supermarket. This is my best budget cooking tip. They are often much cheaper and come in larger sizes, which you can portion out."

    Open round, glass jars containing various herbs and spices

    9. "I cook my fried eggs according to the Spanish method. You fry them in a good amount of oil and baste the whites frequently with the hot oil. It makes the egg whites puff up and crisp at the edges."

    Eggs in a skillet

    10. "A bit of the pickling liquid from jarred jalapeños makes an absolutely killer substitute for a squeeze of lemon or lime juice in savory dishes. It has salt, acid, and heat all in one, it's surprisingly fresh and zingy, and lasts forever in your fridge."

    Glass jar with slices of pickled green jalapeño peppers.

    11. "Use a vegetable peeler on hard cheese for perfect slices. I always do this when I'm cooking a single portion meal. Yeah, a food processor or box grater can do the same job, but both take way longer to clean."

    Parmesan cheese slices and a vegetable peeler.

    12. "When making things with pepperoni, I cover a plate with a paper towel, top it with a single layer of pepperoni, and microwave it for 20–30 seconds. Then, roll it up in the paper towel, dump onto a plate, and throw the paper towel away. The entire sheet of paper towel will be a greasy mess, but it helps to achieve that crispy pepperoni people crave on top of pizza."

    Slice of pizza with pepperoni.

    13. "I add beer, champagne, or soda to cake mix instead of water. It makes it moist and intensifies the flavors of the batter. It also makes cake taste light and airy."

    Hand with spoon mixing cake batter.

    14. "I grease my pans when I bake, but instead of using flour to coat it, I use granulated sugar. It makes the edges sweet and crunchy, and saves me from needing to use icing or frosting."

    Pouring brownie batter into a baking pan.

    15. "I once saw a cooking video where a chef making spaghetti sauce put a few big slivers of orange peel into his spaghetti sauce while it simmered to add a little sweetness without sugar. I tried it for myself, and now, it’s the only way I’ll ever make my sauce. I bundle up a little bouquet of herbs and wrap it in orange peel, then tie it up and throw it into my sauce while it simmers. Then, I discard it before serving. It’s incredible!"

    Fusilli in tomato sauce simmering.

    16. "When I'm roasting vegetables (or really roasting anything), I mix red miso paste and mayo (preferably Kewpie) in a 1:1 ratio and slather a thin layer on whatever I'm cooking. It makes the final product taste amazing."

    Roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots on a baking sheet.

    17. "I simmer jarred tomato sauce with anchovy paste and Parmesan rinds for a quick pasta sauce that tastes absolutely homemade."

    Cooked pasta sauce on a wooden spoon.

    18. "Add mayo to guacamole if the avocados you're using aren't in that five-second stage when they're perfectly ripe. It makes the guac creamier and takes it to the next level."

    A bowl of guacamole.

    19. "I add two tablespoons of masa harina (corn flour) to my pots of chili. It thickens it beautifully and gives it this subtle, corn-forward flavor that I love."

    Chili con carne cooking in a dutch oven.

    20. "The microwave is extremely useful for making potatoes in a pinch. It speeds up the whole process. For example, microwave baked potatoes in plastic wrap for five minutes, then throw them in the oven for 15 and you'll have perfect baked potatoes in 20 minutes instead of 60. Or, when frying up crispy potatoes, chop 'em up, toss them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, then microwave them with a lid for five minutes. After that, it's straight into a cast iron pan to get them crispy. You can oven roast from there, too. The microwave just speeds everything up, and they come out delicious."

    A baked potato with butter.

    21. "Sour cream — even just a small dollop — makes gravies and sauces richer and creamier. If you add a lot, you wind up turning all your food into stroganoff, so be judicious. This is particularly useful when you're reheating leftovers and the texture is off, or if things are overly seasoned because sour cream dilutes the intensity of flavors (especially when it's salty or spicy). I also like to add a hefty spoonful of sour cream when I make casseroles instead of using cream of whatever soup. You get a creamy texture, but without so much heaviness and salt."

    A pot of creamy chicken soup.

    22. "When making a shrimp pasta dish, I buy whole shrimp in their shells and peel them myself. I boil the shells in the pasta water until they’re pink, then I remove them with a slotted spoon or strainer and boil my pasta as normal. It adds great flavor to the whole dish."

    A plate of shrimp pasta.

    23. "Add two eggs and half a cup of oil to any boxed cake mix to turn it into cookie dough. Then, you can customize your cookies by mixing and matching add-ins like chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, sprinkles with frostings."

    Scooping cookie dough onto baking sheet.

    24. "I've adopted J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe for crispy potatoes, which is to add baking soda to water when I’m boiling potatoes with their skins off. I do this before roasting them because the alkaline solution breaks down the surface of the potato and makes the exterior crunchier. Then, I broil them on high after tossing with some oil, garlic, and herbs to further agitate the surface and make them ultra crispy."

    Close up of crispy roast potatoes.

    25. "When cooking scrambled eggs, reserve an egg yolk (or two, depending on how large the batch). At the very end of cooking, when your eggs are almost done, drop in that yolk and give everything a quick stir for just long enough to warm it throughout. Your scramble will be the perfect consistency and flavor."

    Scrambled eggs in a frying pan with spatula.

    What's a cooking trick you love and wish you learned even sooner? Tell us in the comments!