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People Are Revealing Their Cooking "Cheat Code" That Made Everything So Much Easier

"If you want your cooking to taste as good as restaurant food, 90% of the time those are the cheat codes..."

A good cooking tip is worth its weight in gold — but a magical cooking "secret" that's passed down is, to put it simply, a thing of beauty. Recently, u/IWTTYAS asked home cooks of the r/Cooking community to share the magical "lesson from the kitchen" they learned that they wish they'd known years earlier, and they did not disappoint. These are the tips that I can't wait to try in my own kitchen.

And if you have any inherited cooking tips of your own to share, you can do so in the comments below this post or through this anonymous form.

1. "Salt and cold water to clean a cutting board used for onions. Learned it from Julia Child herself, watching an old episode of The French Chef on YouTube."

julia child on The French Chef tv show

2. "This subreddit taught me to keep fresh ginger root in my freezer and just grate it with a microplane whenever I need some. It lasts longer, and I haven't peeled or minced a piece of ginger in years."


3. "I was early in my cooking career when my chef asked me to make the crew meal. He walked me through what ingredients were available and suggested I make soup. I got flustered; I had never heard of a soup with those specific ingredients so I asked him a bunch of questions. He cut me off and said, 'Look, it's soup. Throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and it's gonna be delicious. Just think about when to add what, and everything else will take care of itself.' Since then, thanks to his advice, I have made hundreds of delightful soups and zero bad ones."

ladle in a pot of soup

4. "My biggest 'why haven't I known this all along' moment was discovering the kitchen scale. What is one large potato? How many ounces in a cup of grated cheese? So, the secret to biscuits is weighing the flour? How do I know when I have one pound of diced chicken? Scales take out all the guess work, and they're even easier to use than measuring cups."


5. "I learned is that after egging and breadcrumbing chicken cutlets, you should let them stay in the fridge for at least half an hour so the breading stays on more easily when frying. Learned twenty years too late."

6. "I purée a can of chiles in adobo, then put the paste in a quart Ziploc, spread it all out in a thin flat layer in the bag, and keep it in my freezer. Whenever I need some, I just break a chunk off. I do the same for tomato paste cans!"


7. "If something tastes good but feels like it's missing something you can't put your finger on, add acidity. I can't count how many times a squeeze of lemon or a splash of vinegar rounded out a dish perfectly. Sometimes this also applies to sugar, too. Just a dash."

squeezing lemon over salad

8. "In a baking class one day, the teacher showed us that you can actually see how much lemon zest you have (instead of guessing and making a mess) if you flip the Microplane upside down and hold it above the lemon, rubbing the lemon against it from below. The zest just piles up into a tiny, tidy little heap neatly contained in the back of the blade instead of sprinkling all over your cutting board. It blew my mind. It had honestly never even occurred to me that you could do it that way."


9. "Chew mint gum while cutting onions and voila! No tears! I've been cutting vast amounts of onions in commercial kitchens for most of my life and just learned this trick."

chopping onion on cutting board

10. "Rouxs can be made with more than just butter. Adding bacon fat to my roux for cheese sauces was mind opening."


11. "Clean as you go."

dishes in a sink

12. "Make a reverse bechamel for no more lumps. Make a roux, but instead of adding cold milk to a hot roux, let it cool. Heat up your milk and aromatics, then add all of the hot milk to the cold roux and whisk. Turn the stove on to medium-low heat and continue whisking until the sauce thickens, and you're done."


13. "If you cut cucumbers or carrots or anything else round on the bias, the pieces can’t roll off your cutting board."

slicing carrots on the bias

14. "I once had a buddy tell me to put a tea towel under my cutting board to keep it from slipping. I've never looked back."


15. "A big bowl of cold water is the trick to prepping both chickpeas and pomegranates in two minutes or less. Chickpeas: Rub them vigorously between your hands in the cold water and all the skins will come off and float to the top and can be poured off, leaving you with a bowl of peeled chickpeas. Pomegranates: Score the skin and rip it into 3–4 pieces. Hold the pieces underwater and scrape the seeds free with your fingers. Any pith will float to the top and can be poured off, leaving you with a bowl of pomegranate seeds."

16. "Switching to Diamond Crystal kosher salt. The rhythm of using it is easy to learn as long as you taste along the way. A pinch gives a gentle nudge of salt. Even a good handful in a large pot won’t overdo it. I don’t like the taste of iodized salt, especially on green veg. And a pinch of Diamond Crystal in a cocktail is magic."


17. "I’ve learned that brown sugar, or allspice, will cut the acidity in tomato-based dishes and sauces."

ladle in a pot of marinara sauce

18. "Using gelatin to clean cooking oil. I fry at home for like a week every few months. Using gelatin to magically clean oil is some science experiment stuff. Remember, oil floats on water, so you mix in a bunch of unflavored gelatin and water to your cool frying oil, and pop it in the fridge to make 'jello.' By the time the gel has formed the next day, everything nasty has settled to the bottom, into the water portion. And that water is now a gross puck of jello and burnt crud that you can just compost after pouring off your pristine cooking oil that you can use all over again for another half dozen fries. It will even take the taste of fish out of oil."


19. "To get the smell of garlic off your fingers, two fixes: rub them vigorously in the hollowed-out shell leftover from juicing a lemon, or, rub them in used coffee grounds. Both work well, but if you've got any little cuts or nicks on your hands I'd strongly recommend the second method."

chopping garlic on a cutting board

20. "If you toast rustic bread on one side and make the toasted side inward-facing on a sandwich, you still get all the crunch from the sandwich being toasted without it cutting the inside of your mouth."


21. "Sugar and butter. If you want your cooking to taste as good as restaurant food, 90% of the time those are the cheat codes."

butter melting in a skillet

What was your cooking "aha!" moment or revelation when everything finally clicked? Or, what's the one piece of cooking advice that you'll always remember? Let me know in the comments below, or through this anonymous form.