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

Honestly? Same.

Even if you consider yourself to be a pretty good cook, there's always more to learn in the kitchen. 🔪

A recent Reddit thread in /r/Cooking asked people for the cooking tips they wish they'd learned sooner. Here's what they said!

1. If you need to brown or crisp something on all sides in the oven — like meat or vegetables — cook it on an elevated rack set on top of a sheet tray.

2. You don't add salt to make things taste salty. You add salt to make things taste more like themselves.

"For instance, if you have some tomato slices and you take a bite and they taste bland, add salt. Suddenly, those same slices will taste more tomato-y. If you add enough salt, it will definitely start to taste salty — but that isn't normally the end goal when adding salt to things."


3. To easily clean a stubborn cast iron pan, just fry the stuff on the bottom. It'll pop right off.

4. Don’t wear a crop top or sports bra when you’re frying things.


5. To brown ground meat properly, you need to cook off the water first.

Ground meat browning in a pan

6. Don’t put a lid on something that’s frying in oil.

"If you do, the food will lose water, and the water will condense inside the lid. When you lift the lid, the water will go into the oil and splatter everywhere and create a giant mess and hazard."


(Instead, use a mesh splatter guard — it'll make sure oil doesn't get everywhere while still allowing steam to escape.)

7. Starchy foods taste better when cooked in stock, rather than plain water.

Stock, lentils, and jasmine rice on a countertop

8. Always make extra rice.

"Then just throw it in the pan or wok and you can basically make fried rice without any prep."


"Or, if you hate making rice, order extra sides of rice when you get takeout Chinese or Thai food. I make fried rice way more often now."


9. When there's a spill or a fire or something goes wrong, don't panic.

10. But also, remember the rhyme: oxygen + smokin’ hot = flames more often than not.

"Even if there are flames in the oven, turn off the heat and close the door. Cut off the air and the flames go away."


11. Making bread doesn't have to be complicated.

Making no-kneed bread in a Dutch oven.

12. Lots of ingredients in a recipe doesn’t guarantee that it will taste nice.


13. Don't just pre-heat the oven. Pre-heat the pan, too.

A hand over a pre-heating cast iron pan.

14. Get familiar with smoke points.

"For example, you shouldn't use olive oil for everything because it has a low smoke point, or temperature at which it starts to burn. For most high-heat skillet stuff, you should use an oil with a higher smoke point. Same idea with butter. If you're using it, add that right before the main event. Why? Butter has a low smoking point. Nobody likes black butter."


15. You don't necessarily need the best and most expensive ingredients, but don't cut corners on olive oil or butter.

A bottle of extra virgin olive oil next to organic butter

16. Using fire starters for lighting up charcoal for BBQ will always save you a lot of time, mental strength, and newspaper.


17. Mise en place!

A prepped bowl of onions, carrots, and celery

18. When it comes to heat, the best thing you can do is (often) nothing at all.

"Don't keep checking things every two minutes. Just let things sit so the heat does its work. Flipping too soon stops browning, opening ovens crashes your heat, and lifting pot lids lets out moisture. Trust your timings."


19. Take the guesswork out of meat by using an instant-read thermometer.

Inserting an instant-read thermometer into a cut of meat.

20. Sharp knives make everything easier *and* safer.


21. There's no such thing as too much garlic.

A clove of garlic in someone's hand

What's one cooking tip you wish you'd learned sooner? Share in the comments! 🍳