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Updated on Oct 3, 2020. Posted on Sep 23, 2020

18 Cooking Hacks That'll Make You Say, "How Come Nobody Told Me This Earlier?"

These are seriously smart.

When it comes to cooking, there are tons of little kitchen habits and tips that can make your final dish easier, faster, tastier — or all three! 🔪

HBO

Some habits are pretty straightforward, while others are a bit more out there.

A recent Reddit thread in /r/Cooking asked people for their favorite weird but brilliant cooking hacks, tips, and tricks. Here are some of the best:

1. Mix soy sauce and butter to instantly boost the flavor of savory dishes.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

"I never tried mixing butter and soy sauce in the same dish until I was in my late twenties, but once I tried it, it quickly became one of my favorite flavor combinations. It's excellent in just about any savory dish. It works especially well with mushrooms."

PotusChrist

2. Start baked potatoes in the microwave, not the oven.

"Pierce them with a fork, microwave them for five minutes, then throw them in the oven for 15. You'll get perfect baked potatoes in 20 minutes instead of an hour. It speeds everything up and they come out just as delicious."

calinet6

3. When cutting broccoli or cauliflower, turn it upside down first.

Broccoli florets on a cutting board.
Tasty / Via tasty.co

"Then rotate it as you cut the stem part. It's so much easier and cleaner than cutting through the flowery part from the top, and you get really nice florets."

January1171

4. Flavor your pasta water with a chicken stock cube.

"I'll put one in my water while the pasta cooks. It flavors the pasta water, so if you’re using a splash for your sauce, it’ll have a more umami, meaty flavor. It also doubles the tastiness of your pasta, since the noodles cook directly in it."

leonardo-di-caprisun

5. Store ginger in the freezer to make it easier to grate.

A piece of whole ginger on a cutting board.
Tasty

"You don't have to peel it first. You can if you want, but I just wash the skin."

365eats

6. Add a splash of orange juice to pumpkin bread, banana bread, or cranberry muffins.

budgetbytes.com

"It can be premade or freshly juiced. The acidity really adds some brightness against the spices."

JMSidhe

7. After cutting hot peppers, rub canola or vegetable oil on your hands, then wash them with dish soap.

"The capsaicin (a spicy chemical in the peppers) essentially binds with the oil, then the soap takes care of the oil on your hands. This lets you avoid an unfortunate accident later, like when peeing or changing contact lenses."

CorneliusJenkins

8. Use olive brine or pickle brine to upgrade savory dishes or as the base of a vinaigrette.

A jar of pickles next to a jar of green olives.
Melissa Jameson / BuzzFeed

"I use it for dishes like casseroles, stews, or tuna salad. It adds a nice depth of flavor."

skakkuru

9. Always put lemon zest in garlic butter.

"Specifically for garlic bread. Even adding just a little bit is an absolute game changer."

PhatChance52

10. To prevent parchment paper from curling up on a baking tray, crumple and uncrumple it before placing it down.

A kitchen drawer containing parchment paper and tin foil rolls.
Melissa Jameson / BuzzFeed

"It will stay down that way."

ohanse

11. Cook small veggies in the same pot as your pasta water.

"Just toss them in during the last few minutes of cooking the pasta noodles. They soak up that starchy deliciousness, and it turns many of my dishes into one-pot recipes."

Krinklie

12. Use a potato masher to break up ground meat.

A stainless steel potato masher.
amazon.com

"You can also use it to crush whole tomatoes for sauce."

heybigbuddy

13. Instead of using flour on your greased baking pans, use granulated sugar.

"The sugar makes the edges sweet and crunchy and saves me from needing to use icing or frosting."

topazlacee

14. Collect all your veggie scraps in a freezer bag — then use them to make stock.

Tasty / Via youtube.com

"Onions, garlic, bell peppers, carrots, celery, herb stems, you name it. When the bag is full, I turn it into stock and then use that stock to replace the water while cooking rice, quinoa, or lentils."

Grendels-mum

15. Coat your spoon (or scoop) with vegetable oil before using it to pour batter into cupcake tins.

Cupcake batter being scooped into a cupcake tin.
Tasty / Via tasty.co

"Because of the oil, the mix won't stick to the spoon, and the whole process becomes much neater."

GreatWizardH0wl

16. For the crispiest fried or roasted potatoes, dip them in ice water first.

"It’s a well-known trick to soak fries in ice water to make them crispy, but standard practice is to soak them for a few hours. Whenever I’m cutting potatoes for frying or roasting in oil, I throw them in a bowl of ice water as I go. When I’m done, I swirl them to wash off excess starch, then drain, then pat dry. They don’t soak for more than a few minutes, but even this short period is long enough to make them really crispy and significantly reduce how much they stick."

cellists_wet_dream

17. If your soup or stew turns out too salty, add a splash of vinegar.

A bottle of red wine vinegar.
Melissa Jameson / BuzzFeed

"Acid balances out salt."

missfireish

18. Buy the biggest cutting board you can find.

"Of course, you want one that'll still fit on your counter, but having actual room to work instead of trying to squeeze into a too-small space will save you time and headaches beyond belief."

BigSweetness

What's a tip or trick you wish you'd learned sooner in the kitchen? Share in the comments! 🍳

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