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Food

17 Cooking Tips And Tricks You'll Wish You'd Known About Sooner

Cook smarter, not harder.

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We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to share their best cooking tips for beginners. Here are some of their best:

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1. Crack your eggs on a flat surface to avoid getting bits of the shell in your food.

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"Never crack an egg on the side of a bowl or on the edge of something. I know it looks cooler, but it pushes little bits of shell into the egg. Just smack it on a flat surface ― I promise it'll crack just the same." ―katiec4b2cc461c

2. Invest in a microplane to make prepping garlic and ginger so much easier.

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"In almost any recipe, it'll tell you to chop garlic. It's pretty difficult as a beginner to evenly chop it, but a microplane is a cheap and easy solution." ―spremara

You can also use a microplane to grate hard cheeses, chocolate, and whole spices (like cinnamon or nutmeg). See all the things you can do with them here.

3. Don't use butter or olive oil for high-temp cooking ― instead, use an oil with a high smoke point (like peanut or vegetable oil).

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"Never put olive oil or butter in a super hot pan ― it will burn very quickly (or worse, catch on fire). This is because they both have low smoke points, meaning they can burn very easily. Instead, use vegetable or peanut oil anytime you're cooking with high heat to prevent it from burning and giving your food an off flavor." ―Lara Naw, Facebook

See even more reasons why you shouldn't always cook with olive oil here.

4. Completely read your recipe before you start cooking.

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"When I first started cooking, I would gather every ingredient and just go at it. Inevitably, I would need to turn off my burner so I had time to dice or grate something. If I'd just read the recipe all the way through, I would have done all that stuff beforehand and saved myself a lot of time." ―tristyns3

5. Remember that acid (such as lemon juice or vinegar) brightens flavors and brings bland food to life.

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"Citrus juice is a secret weapon that makes almost everything better. Chicken, salmon, broccoli, black beans, corn — the list goes on. Tomato-based sauces and dairy, not as much — but most meats and veggies can get a lot brighter with a quick squeeze of lemon or lime." ―Alex Fortney, Facebook

You can also use vinegars and wine to add acid (just remember that a little goes a long way). Learn more about seasoning with acid here.

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6. Use a teaspoon to easily peel ginger without having to struggle with a knife or peeler.

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"Use a teaspoon to peel ginger." ―c4a49bd1bf

Simply run it against the surface to remove the skin without taking off too much flesh. See how to do it here.

7. Have all your ingredients prepped, measured, and ready to go before you start cooking.

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"It's all about mise en place. Have all your ingredients cleaned, peeled, measured, chopped, and in separate containers before starting to cook. When I first started cooking, no one told me to do this and it made cooking so chaotic ― I would mess up because I would be measuring things out while other items would overcook." ―marthaj9

8. Season every step of the cooking process to prevent over-salting at the end...

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"Season your food liberally, but taste as you go. You can always add salt, but you can't take it away!" ―mandyciampa

Learn even more about seasoning as you go here.

9. But if you do add too much salt, throw a quartered potato in to tone down the flavor and absorb some of the excess.

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"If you go overboard with the salt when making soup, you can throw a quartered potato in and simmer for 10 minutes. The potato will absorb a good amount of salt and make the soup taste less salty." ―Erin Fening

Check out even more ways to fix a salty dish here.

10. Cook bacon in the oven instead of a frying pan for perfectly crisp strips that are a breeze to clean up.

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"Instead of cooking bacon on the stovetop, bake it in the oven. It turns out just as crisp, and you won't end up with splatter burns and a big greasy mess to clean up." ―autumnfinck

Learn how to do it here.

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11. Prevent cut vegetables from oxidizing and turning brown by storing them in cold water.

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"If you're cutting potatoes but don't want to use them immediately, store them in water so they don't brown." ―camillabrock

This technique also works for other fruits and veggies like apples or avocados ― anything that turns brown after it's been cut.

12. Invest in an instant-read thermometer so you don't have to guess if your meats are cooked in the middle.

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"Buy an instant-read thermometer if you don't have one. You'll always know if your meats are done just by checking it ― no guessing!" ―KristiMa

Get it online ($24.99 on Amazon).

13. Dry your proteins with a paper towel to achieve a perfect sear.

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"Always pat your proteins dry before searing them to get that great crispy skin and seal in the moisture." ―cattibriep

See how to do it here.

14. Don't be tempted to over-mix your cake batters ― a quick stir is all you need to combine your wet and dry ingredients.

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"For baking, don't over-mix your batter. You can beat the shit out of the eggs and sugar, but once you add the dry ingredients, mix 'em just enough to combine ― any more will make your end product dense and chewy." ―Benoit Clément, Facebook

Learn even more about mixing cake batter (and more importantly, how to avoid over-mixing it) here.

15. Use the figure-eight stirring technique to prevent the bottom of your pan from scorching.

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"Stir in a figure-eight pattern to prevent the bottoms of your pots and pans from scorching." ―Alexander R. Violette, Facebook

This is especially helpful for thick liquids such as gravy or tomato sauce that are prone to burning.

16. When thickening a sauce with a roux, add your liquid a little at a time to prevent it from clumping up.

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"When you've made a roux, make sure you add your liquid gradually. If you add it too quickly, it'll take a long time to thicken and might clump up." ―joyb42007b084

When it comes time to add the liquid, make sure it's hot. A cold liquid will cause a roux to seize up and result in a chunky texture. Learn how to make roux here.

17. To prevent your cutting board from slipping around, place a wet paper towel underneath.

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"Put a dish towel under your cutting board to keep it in place as you chop things. It's also helpful if you are rolling out dough on a cutting board." ―cristat

Not only will it make chopping easier, but it will also make sure there are no accidents that may cause your knife to slip.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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