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    27 Cooking Tips That'll Help You Create A Perfect Dinner

    Never eat overly dry steak ever again.

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    1. Puncture meat to reduce the cooking time and reduce moisture loss — no one likes an overly dry steak or pork chop!! This 48-needle meat tenderizer can get you on your way to fully cooked, juicy meat because it creates little "heat channels" to reduce cooking time by up to 40%.

    A model holding a device with spikes that are being pressed into a slab of meat

    Promising review: "This wonder tool does an awesome job tenderizing meat....from the largest standing rib roast all the way down to the skinniest pork chop or round steak. Those of you who like to marinate your meat will find this tool to be a God-sent savior as it provides hundreds of holes for the marinade and spices to soak into. I used to pound my chops with a metal mallet until there were holes right through it, and the poor pork chop was only a mere third of its original thickness. NO MORE! Now I use my Klemoo to poke a thousand holes on each side and the thickness never changes, but you can cut it with a fork when done. I use it on all meats: beef, pork, veal...even chicken and turkey. It works wonders!" —Wet Bruce

    Get it from Amazon for $11.99+ (available in two colors).

    2. Be sure to properly crease your dough when preparing pot stickers, empanadas, and turnovers (otherwise, the filling will come spewing out while they cook). Use a dumpling maker so you can stop accidentally tearing the dough every time you try to seal it. Plus, this'll ensure that you add *just enough* filling — no more and no more less.


    Promising review: "My wife uses this for making empanadas and a variety of other stuffed pastries. Good quality workmanship; it works well and cleans easily. As the dough shrinks a bit when cut, you may need to roll it out again a bit before filling and pressing so you get a good seal." —Jimmy

    Get it from Amazon for $10.99+ (available in three sizes).

    3. Get creative with the ways you serve your veggies (especially if you have a household full of picky eaters). This veggie spiralizer makes perfect "vegetable pasta" spirals with just the quick turn of a handle.,

    It comes with seven interchangeable blades that beautifully create thick or thin strands and four e-books filled with delish recipes. The parts are top-rack dishwasher safe.

    Promising review: "You're not going to find a better built, better functioning spiralizer anywhere! I wasn't planning on buying one — I started out just researching. After researching the various models and reading reviews, I thought, 'I gotta get me one of those.' This is probably one of the best purchases I've ever made. My girlfriend just bought one two weeks ago and after seeing mine, said there's no comparison. She's sending hers back!" —Marie Walker

    Get it from Amazon for $29.97.

    4. Pay attention to your timing when cooking meals in the oven — just a few minutes can be the difference between a perfectly cooked skillet dinner and a slightly burnt one. Use this simple little kitchen timer to set your exact cooking time — it'll sound its alarm to alert you when your food is done.

    A reviewer holding the small timer

    You have the option to either prop the timer on the counter using the built-in stand or mount it on your refrigerator door or other magnetic surfaces.

    Promising review: "Ordered this kitchen timer because it stated the alarm is loud. It certainly is loud! Other alarms either lost their sound or died on me. Even the wind-up ones die over time. I like that it is battery-operated because I have lots of rechargeable batteries. The sound has to be loud enough to hear in the back of my house. My house is rather large and I used to burn a few cookies because I didn't hear the timer I had. I forget to carry it around with me and thought the loud one would be my best bet. My husband complains that it is WAY too loud, but he isn't the cook, so all he has to do is block his ears, run to turn it off, or just go in the garage and play with his toys and leave me alone! After ruining some meals with burned food he should understand the importance of this timer!" —Southern Charm

    Get it from Amazon for $11.99+ (available in two colors).

    5. Use a light sprinkle of salt to draw out excess moisture from veggies to prevent your meal from ending up too soggy. Quick high school science class lesson: salt sucks water toward it. So if you're preparing eggplant slices for a ~heavenly~ eggplant parmesan dish, you'll want to sprinkle on some salt, let the slices sit for 20 minutes, then sap up the excess water with a paper towel.

    Slices of eggplant on a cutting board
    Fotostorm / Getty Images

    6. Set your egg salad up for success with perfectly hard-boiled eggs right from the get-go. This rapid egg cooker lets you choose between making soft-, medium-, and hard-boiled eggs so you'll end up with your desired doneness instead of one that's accidentally too runny.

    The egg cooker, which holds six eggs at once

    Promising review: "If hard-boiled eggs are at all a part of your life, this device will change everything. Reclaim lost hours, catch up on missed TV, reconnect with old friends and family — anything is possible with the free time you'll find at your disposal as you drop six eggs into this beast, press a button, and then walk away. What will you do? High-intensity exercise? Model building? Learn a second language? I hear your concern. 'What if I become so engrossed in my newfound love of taxonomy that I forget about my eggs?' Fear not, efficient chef. Like the trumpet of Gabriel himself, the unmistakable tone of this technological marvel could rouse the dead and will bring you running to your fresh-and-ready ova's side. The Dash Go Rapid Egg Cooker is what mankind has been working towards since the first roundish stone was shaped into a wheel. Witness the apex of human innovation!" —J. Mercer Crenshaw

    Get it from Amazon for $19.99 (available in five colors).

    7. Properly measure your ingredients by weight in order to get the most precise measurements possible for your recipes. Adding even a little more or a little less than what's needed can throw off your end result, especially when baking. Use a digital food scale to make measuring ingredients hassle-free.

    The scale with a clear glass bowl

    It works for both dry and liquid ingredients.

    Promising review: "This product is worth so much more than it cost. My last scale did not have a bowl that fits so nicely in it, so when I used to measure things, I had to be sure the bowl was centered to get the accurate weight. This measures fluid ounces in addition to pounds, and it also has its own bowl and stores so nicely in my utensil drawer. I no longer need multiple scales in my kitchen. This just made my cooking and baking a breeze." —JGL

    Get it from Amazon for $16.99+ (available with the options to include thermometers).

    8. Get the most accurate oven temperature reading so you can avoid undercooked or overcooked meals even when you followed the recipe to a T. An oven thermometer can help you figure out whether or not your oven is actually deceiving you.

    The small, circular thermometer, which loops around a rod on the oven rack

    It reads between 60 and 580 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Promising review: "I bought this after persistent frustration with my oven. I live in a rental apartment and my oven is pretty crappy. I was suspicious that it wasn't as hot as it claimed to be when I preheated it. This isn't such a big deal if you're just throwing a frozen pizza in the oven for 20 minutes, but I like to cook. I feel like my oven has been cheating on me. I needed to catch it in the act. Am I a crummy baker, or is my oven the culprit? So, I bought this thermometer. The result: My oven really does suck! When it beeps for 350 degrees, the thermometer reads 300 degrees. Goodbye, delicious chicken parmigiana; hello salmonella! Goodbye, carefully scheduled 7:30 p.m. dinner; hello, 8:15 p.m. apologies and wine on an empty stomach! This thermometer is like a private investigator who reassures you that you're not paranoid." —Jordan Taylor

    Get it from Amazon for $7+ (also available in versions for the refrigerator and freezer).

    9. Learn more about the ~many, many~ ways you can add dynamic flavor to your pot because there's way more to the world of seasoning besides just salt, pepper, cayenne, and chili powder. This beautiful (and informative) print can help you identify and describe herbs and spices so you'll always know exactly what you can add to your pot to level up that flavor.

    The poster, with images of spices, their names, and notes about them

    Promising review: "This poster is stunning. We of course hung it in our kitchen. I framed it in a 24x36 frame and it looks perfect. There is SO MUCH DETAIL to the many pictures and all the text (and all the TEXT IS READABLE!). Plus, it has multiple versions of the spices, like in ground or granulated form in addition to its natural form. Love that it has some of the most famous spice blends like curry, garam masala, Chinese five spice, herbs de provence, and pickling spices. This is such a great centerpiece of art for a kitchen. People will love to comment on it and ask questions about it as well as just look at it for a long time." —Roderick Rinehart

    Get it from Amazon for $8.41.

    10. Cook with a nonstick pan to ensure that your food doesn't wind up stuck to the pan when you go to slide it right off for a beautiful plating. A PFOA-free ceramic Always Pan will help prevent your food from sticking.

    The pan with shrimp etoufee, with bowls of the shrimp and rice around it

    Our Place is a woman-owned business created by Pakistani entrepreneur Shiza Shahid and based in Los Angeles. All of their boxes are packaged with biodegradable and recyclable materials.

    This striking pan is also designed to do the work of EIGHT pieces of regular old cookware, and comes with a lockable lid, steamer basket, pouring spout, and a nesting spatula with a built-in rest. My colleague Maycie Timpone reviewed it and said: "We’ve had the pan for about a month now, and literally it’s the only kitchen utensil we use — from eggs to pasta sauce and everything in between, it seriously does it all! It’s the nonstick to end all nonsticks and could not be easier to clean!"

    Promising review: "My Always Pan is going to be my new favorite cooking ware. Super versatile and absolutely beautiful. Love the functionality that it possesses and the versatility range, someone really thought about all the best way to cook with this! Safe, easy to clean, and beautiful to look at! Makes you want to cook more delicious meals all day long! Shipping took a while because I preordered, but I was happy to wait!" —Celyn V.

    Get it from Our Place for $145 (available in four colors).

    11. Prep your pan with melted butter instead of oil. The butter will give your herbs, minced garlic, and other ingredients a richer taste.

    A square of butter melting in a skillet
    Dny59 / Getty Images

    12. Avoid eyeballing your measurements for more complex recipes, since a little too much (or too little) of something could throw off the flavor or texture of your finished meal. These magnetic measuring spoon set will do the trick, and they'll stack up and stay organized so you aren't rifling through your drawer for the 3/4 teaspoon measure.

    The differently sized spoons, which nest inside each other perfectly

    Promising review: "I didn't expect to like these as much as I do. Turns out that I LOVE these! While cooking I can use one side for dry and the other for wet ingredients — no need to clean or have multiple spoons out. Easy to clean. And they magnetically snap easily together so I can store them all in one section of my drawer, no more hunting for measuring spoons and no more clumsy rings, clips, chains or whatever to deal with. I originally thought the leveler was silly and that I'd have no need for it. Surprise! It's actually quite handy and I use it often." —D and A's Mom

    Get it from Amazon for $13.97+ (available in two colors).

    13. Use fresh fromages when creating cheesy pastas and meals so you get the richest flavor out of your dish. A set of cheese bags can help keep cheese fresher for longer compared to just storing them in the container you bought them in.

    A slice of cheese inside a bag

    Promising review: "Before I bought this cheese paper I would do the cheese search in the refrigerator. After buying cheeses, opening them, and then rewrapping them in heaven knows what (namely plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and plastic containers), it was always the same result: moldy cheese. This box contains the paper in sheets plus some stickers that you can write on with the name of the cheese and the date it was wrapped or even sell by date. There are also pictures of a sheep, cow, and goat so the source can be identified by circling or checking one of them! What I also like is that the cheeses can be rewrapped after use and amazingly the stickers still stick! The paper can also be cut to size to wrap smaller cheeses. So far I have noted that the cheeses have stayed fresh with not a trace of mold. I highly recommend this product to all cheese lovers!" —Prairie Woman

    Get a pack of 15 paper bags from Amazon for $9 (also available in packs of 30, 45, 60, and 75 bags).

    14. Up the flavor of beef, pork, chicken, and pretty much any meal with one well-curated seasoning blend — this also takes away the work of having to pick and choose your own individual herbs and spices yourself. This One & Done Seasoning has reviewers adding it to a variety of meals, including fish.

    The bottle of seasoning next to a slab of cooked meat

    Promising review: "The girlfriend always asks while cooking, 'What should I put on this chicken or pork?' BAM! Problem solved! Kickass seasoning, cheap, but really does go great on pretty much any kind of meat! Especially fish, or any kind of seafood! It DOES have a kick to it, so if you don't like spicy you may not like it. It's not crazy hot, just a hint of spice in there." —Drew Patterson

    Get it from Amazon for $10.99+ (available in four sizes).

    15. Reuse your drained pasta water to create delicious sauces. The pasta water is full of salt, starch from the pasta, and any other fixings you might've added in there while boiling on the stove. This clip-on strainer can help you collect as much of that ~golden~ pasta water as possible. Just strain the pasta over a bowl.

    The strainer attached to a pot, covering half the pot, and draining the water from pasta

    Promising review: "I am so happy I purchased this strainer. I was really tired of trying to lure an unsuspecting (yet hungry) family member to hold the strainer so I didn't burn my hands or dump the pasta or vegetables into the sink. This strainer is a time and aggravation saver. It's kind of small, so I wasn't sure I would like it, but it even works on my large (8-quart+) pots. I have some Revere pots with the rolled lid and KitchenAid that flare out a bit. The strainer works great on both. I have used this several times and it has never slipped off. I usually cook one pound of pasta at a time and it holds up well. I like the flexibility of the strainer to work with varied sizes. The other good thing is that this hardly takes up any space at all." —Jersey girl

    Get it from Amazon for $16.99 (available in four colors).

    16. Thoroughly heat through your sandwiches, burritos, and quesadillas so you always end up with a warm, super melty filling that'll have you returning to the kitchen for seconds. This panini press perfectly creates pretty much anything and will give your meals that wonderfully grilled look. The top plate locks so you can also toast your pizza, open-faced sammies, and even bruschetta.

    A reviewer showing a plate of paninis

    Promising review: "We loved toasty sandwiches and this little thing makes them great! You can do so many varieties of sandwiches — really anything your heart desires. I have also used it to make quesadillas. Irons are easy to wipe down for fast cleanup." —KDiaz

    Get it from Amazon for $32.78 (available in two colors).

    17. Ensure that your homemade pizza crust doesn't end up soggy or burnt by properly venting it while it bakes. This perforated crisping pan creates the ventilation your pizza needs because of the holes in the bottom. You'll end up with dough that's nice and crunchy whether it's homemade or frozen.

    You can use it for pretty much anything you want to reheat, too! Plus, it's dishwasher-safe.

    Promising review: "I've been using this pan for several months now. My crusts consistently come out nice and crispy. Very easy cleanup due to the finish. It hasn't scratched yet and is a nice, solid weight with a flat bottom. I can see I'll be baking pizza in this pan for many years yet! You just can't go wrong with Cuisinart. Also, in response to complaints I have read about pizza dough sagging through the holes in this pan, simply make sure your dough isn't too wet. I roll my dough out in plenty of flour before placing it in the pan for its final rise, and my dough doesn't sag through and my crusts turn out great." —Twisted Chef

    Get it from Amazon for $13.95.

    18. Create the smoothest sauces and soups by blending your ingredients instead of just boiling them and breaking them up on the stove with your spoon. This seriously powerful blender is not just for smoothies, and can help you get rid of the soup chunks you can't stand.

    The blender

    FYI, this blender has three different modes: smoothie mode, soup mode (yes, it can cook soups without the stove!), and ice crush mode so you'll be able to achieve your desired finish. It's powerful enough to crush frozen ingredients, which are notoriously such a time suck because they're a pain in the behind to puree until they're smooth with a normal blender.

    Promising review: "I use this powerful blender every morning for my smoothies. This blender is very powerful my smoothies come out very smooth and delicious. I am so glad that I decided to purchase this Hurom Blender." —New York Gal

    Get it from Amazon for $349.

    19. Give your dishes a nice caramelized look by broiling it for a few minutes before serving. However, I know from experience that perfect broiling can be a little slow, and you can end up accidentally burning your dish instead. This culinary blow torch can create beautiful chars in literal seconds.

    A reviewer holding the handheld torch

    And for dessert, you can use this to create perfect crème brûlée.

    Promising review: "This mini torch is easy to use with an adjustable flame. It's not too fancy shmancy, but it's not expensive either. It does everything I need it to do including lighting candles that have burned too far down to reach with a match. (although I know that's not its intent at all) Unfortunately it doesn't arrive with butane; but once you fill it, it lasts a pretty long time!" —Vero

    Get it from Amazon for $17.99.

    20. Season and taste your food as you go so you don't end up with a finished plate that's too salty or not salty enough. Remember, you can always add more to your pot, but you can't take any back once it's added!

    A person adding salt to a pot on the stove
    Neustockimages / Getty Images

    21. Avoid over- or undercooking meats and fish by making sure they've reached the specified internal temperature. You can't just stick your finger inside the steak to test the temperature, so this digital food thermometer will help you save your finger and avoid getting sick from eating undercooked meat.

    Thermometer inserted into chicken reading "163F"

    Promising review: "This digital meat thermometer is the best I've ever had. I own others, but they are either too bulky to fit in the drawer or too hard to read. This one is small and lightweight; it's easy to pull out the probe and very easy to read the temperature. I purchased several as stocking stuffers for Christmas. They make a gift that will be appreciated for its size and ease of use, but most importantly, it will be a gift that gets used instead of put away in the closet." —Yardleydoc

    Get it from Amazon for $13.99.

    22. Add herbs to sauces, soups, and foods that you're searing to add some flavor. A pair of herb scissors can help you finely chop your chives in just seconds.

    A person using the five-blade scissors to cut scallions

    Chopping scallions, basil, and other flavorful ingredients is tedious, but you deserve better than bland food. And there's a cleaning comb built into the storage cover to make removing any herbs that are stuck in the blades a breeze!

    Promising review: "These scissors are the best tool ever! Instead of chopping up my fresh herbs and scraping them into whatever dish I'm making — I just hold the herbs over the dish and clip away. Fast, convenient, no mess, no fuss. In the morning, when I'm preparing a fresh salad to take to work, instead of having to drag out the knife and cutting board I just snip the fresh basil into the salad. If you flip the cover of the scissors around, the slotted side slides out the bits stuck in the scissors. Quick, easy and no waste. Love it!" —Amazon Customer

    Get them from Amazon for $12.99.

    23. Remember to thoroughly defrost frozen meat before you try to cook it — it'll save you so much pain and agony when you don't have to double your cooking time. But, if you forget to defrost your beef in advance, this Thaw Claw is designed to help that ice melt seven times faster. All you have to do is suction it to your sink, fill the sink with water, and then put the frozen food under the claw. It will be defrosted in no time.


    Promising review: "A package of frozen meat would have taken at least two days to thaw in the fridge. I used this for a 2-pound package a couple of days ago, and the meat was thawed within 90 minutes. One of the most practical kitchen gadgets I own." —Llda Schellhase

    Get it from Amazon for $12.95 (available in three colors).

    24. Control the spiciness of your dish by removing the seeds from jalapeño (the seeds and core are where the REAL heat lies). This jalapeño corer will make it super easy to get your jalapeños clean and seed-free.

    Reviewer image of the jalapeño corer with a number of clean cored jalapeño in the top of the images all of the cores in the bottom of the image

    Promising review: "This is a great tool! The first time I tried to core jalapeños, I tried a variety of knives and any other sharp pointy tools I could find in the kitchen. It took me forever, made a huge mess, and no matter how careful I was, I still tore the tops off the jalapeños. I was determined to find a better way to core a silly jalapeño. I read reviews on Amazon for several different jalapeño corers, and I am SO glad I chose this one! It works great!! In just a short time, I had 14 perfectly cored jalapeños, with 14 intact cores (above). I highly recommend this tool!" —daetexas

    Get it from Amazon for $15.03.

    25. Don't cut corners when preparing complex your dishes, even if you're short on time. Leaving out an ingredient or purposely skipping steps to save time could give you a result you may not be fully happy with. An Instant Pot can help you create delicious dishes in less time. With just the press of a few buttons, you can automatically adjust the temperature for your meals and have them cook perfectly.

    A reviewer's instant pot and the dinner they made with text "instant pot butter chicken did not disappoint"

    It also does the job of five appliances all in one: a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a steamer, and a warmer.

    Promising review: "I can't believe that I love this thing. All my friends were getting them and raving about it. But I absolutely hate my slow cooker, and I figured this device would be much the same. I finally decided to get one when my friend posted that she had made amazing carnitas in it. My husband is Mexican and carnitas are his favorite food, so I thought I'd get one to try it out and hope everyone was right. The first thing I made (after the water test) was the carnitas and they KNOCKED OUR SOCKS OFF. Then I made rice and it came out better than my old rice cooker. Tonight I made ribs and the entire family went wild. I've had this Instant Pot for roughly 48 hours and I'm already using it for a fourth time right now to make oatmeal. Get one. You will not be sorry." —Regina Croskey-Corcoran

    Get it from Amazon for $59+ (available in three sizes and the option to include a silicone lid).

    Still wondering if this is right for you? Check out I Tried The Instant Pot That Everyone's Obsessed With for an in-depth look.

    26. Create your own salad dressings and sauces to spice up an otherwise dry sandwich or bland salad. Red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil are common ingredients in dressings, and you can find 'em in any grocery store.

    A jar of dressing with a salad
    Veselovaelena / Getty Images

    One of my favorite ways to dress up a homemade cheeseburger is to combine ketchup and mayo and use it as a spread. I also love making my own Thousand Island dressing by mixing together ketchup, mayo, vinegar, minced pickles, minced onions, salt, and just a touch of sugar.

    27. Finally, play around with the flavor and texture of your meal by cooking with fruit (grilled pear with goat cheese, anyone?). A handy fruit slicer set can expedite the process of cutting and pitting to make being adventurous with your food feel a bit easier.

    Food 52

    This comes with a watermelon slicer and scooper, a strawberry slicer, and a peach pitter.

    Get the set of three from Food 52 for $28.

    Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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