Easy Kitchen Hacks To Improve Your Cooking Experience, Making It More FunBy Michelle Stone
What a time to be alive! Online food ordering companies like UberEats, Grubhub, or DoorDash can conveniently deliver any meal you choose straight to your door. However, none of those meals compare to homecooked meals that provide a sense of warmth and nostalgia. It’s when one needs to go to the kitchen and whip something up for themselves, their friends, or families that they wish they better knew their way around the kitchen.
Well, Michelin star chefs have the handiest tips, tricks, and hacks to make the whole process of cooking simpler, mess-free, and above all, enjoyable. Heaps of these hacks are so simple that anyone could do them. Don’t waste time—learn all the hacks that the kitchen masters have revealed and show them off!
Scoop It All Out
Removing seeds from fruits and vegetables can be a pain. Take squash or pumpkin, for instance; the process is usually messy and requires some effort. Get hold of an ice cream scoop that’s lying around the kitchen, and the problem is solved.
The edges on an ice cream scoop are sharper and glide better through such vegetables. It makes the process of getting through the pulp easier, and it gets more seeds out with one scoop. In fact, it usually only takes a few scoopfuls to de-seed most fruits and vegetables.
Repurpose A Pizza Cutter
If a person isn’t very experienced with kitchen knives, cutting or chopping tiny herbs can be frustrating and risky. It’s not as straightforward as cutting large vegetables or meat. Fortunately, no one has to avoid adding fresh herbs to their meals, thanks to this hack.
In addition to the herbs, all that is needed is a pizza cutter. Bunch up the herbs and roll the wheel of the pizza cutter back and forth. Within a few minutes, there will be a whole lot of finely chopped herbs to add flavor and aroma to everything on the dinner table.
Halloween and kids’ birthdays come every year, and these homemade gummy snakes should help win some cool points with the kids. Get some Jello, gelatin, food coloring, a mason jar, and straws for the recipe. Mix the gelatin, Jello, and food coloring, followed by three cups of hot water.
Pack the straws in a mason jar as pictured and pour the mixture over the straws. Let the mix cool and place the jar in the fridge for at least eight hours. Squeeze out the gummy snakes, and it’s guaranteed to be the talk of the neighborhood with these delicious homemade treats.
Perfectly Mashed Guacamole
Guacamole is a must-have side accompanying many meals when hosting, and it’s impressive to guests when offering this option. The problem comes with the task of mashing it to the desired smooth consistency, leaving a trail of mess behind.
Use a potato masher, or invest in one and get the perfectly mashed guac with just the right amount of clumps. To store the guac and keep it from browning, place it in an airtight container and use a spoon to flatten the surface. Add about half an inch of water or lemon juice on the surface, cover, and refrigerate.
Plate Like A Pro
It’s all fun and games to sing happy birthday and blow out the candles, but the real drama happens when it’s time to cut the cake—more so when it has to be cut into many slices intended to be served to the guests.
Try this for a hassle-free cake-cutting experience next time. Let the blade of a knife sit in hot water for a few seconds. Next, dry the water on the blade with a paper towel and cut into the cake as smoothly as ever before. Repeat the process for as many slices and plate up a neat slice of cake.
Freeze Single-Serving Sauces
Apparently, water isn’t the only thing to put in ice trays. From coffee to cookie dough to puréed fruits, the practice of freezing different types of food (and other ingredients) in ice cube trays has become a common practice nowadays. But what if there aren’t any trays to spare?
Plastic egg/Easter egg cartons are here to save the day! They’re usually bigger than ice trays and can be used to freeze food like sauces, as pictured. From pesto to marinara sauce, pretty much any sauce can be frozen in egg cartons before moving the individual cubes to a ziplock bag and thawing it before each use. This tip can make sauces last for months.
Stop Stirring Peanut Butter
There’s simply no household (especially with kids) in the United States that doesn’t have a jar of peanut butter in the pantry. According to Taste of Home, Americans spend about $1.85 billion on peanut butter every year. A common problem that many natural peanut butter users have is oil separation.
Instead of creating a huge mess by sticking a spoon inside the jar to stir it, a simple trick to try is to flip the bottle upside down when storing. The oils will still separate but once turned back to the right side; the liquids will flow through the butter, ultimately doing the laborious work of mixing itself.
Ice The Meat
Ice and grill are two words that won’t be mentioned in the same sentence too often. However, an ice cube could be the item that takes burgers and grilled meats to the next level. The professionals make use of this hack to keep the meat moist.
Place an ice cube on the burger patty or meat on the grill. This prevents it from drying out and helps retain its moisture while it cooks. Make some ice cubes out of beef broth for this specific purpose. Butter serves the same purpose, only that it comes with extra calories.
Give Bananas A Longer Life
Bananas are one of those fruits that pretty much everyone in a household likes to eat. However, it’s super challenging to decide how many to buy because too little would mean they could run out soon, and too many could mean they ripen and turn black and brown and end up in the trash.
A handy little trick to use before the latter happens is to separate the bananas into smaller portions and wrap plastic wrap around the stems. This will extend the lifetime of the bananas by containing the ethylene gas that these fruits naturally produce when ripening.
Whipped Cream The Fun Way
A handheld mixer can provide whipped cream in a matter of seconds, but where’s the fun in that? Also, not everyone owns a hand mixer, and that’s where a little inventiveness saves the day. A whisk can act as an alternative, but it will prove exhausting and time-consuming.
So, the next best thing is a mason jar. Place the whipping cream in a sizeable clean mason jar and shake it up. The method is surprisingly easy, and in a matter of minutes, there will be some fluffy whipped cream to enjoy.
Prevent Onions From Making Eyes Watery
Everybody knows that human beings cry as a way of expressing emotions, typically sad ones. However, there’s a single vegetable that can make anybody cry—onions. Most people do not enjoy chopping onions because they can make them cry like children.
Taking an extra 15 minutes to place the onions in the freezer before chopping them can keep all the tears away. However, this should only be done about 15 minutes before cooking because the onions tend to become soggy if they are thawed and left out for hours. According to Gardening Channel, lowering the temperature of onions freeze their enzymes, causing its ripple effect to avoid tears.
DIY Lemon Juicer
Even with juicers specifically designed to make the process of squeezing lemons easier, we still can’t seem to get all the juice out. If the lemon isn’t fully ripe and ready, then it’s a painstaking process of squeezing out all the juice.
This hack might help if there isn’t one of the fancy squeezers available. Cut the lemon in half and use a pair of tongs to squeeze out the juice. More juice comes out this way because the force is distributed evenly through the lemon half.
Hotdogs are quick and easy to put together, making them a great staple when having guests over. There are ways to make them even more delectable, and the answer lies in the presentation. Shake things up by spiralizing the hotdogs.
One doesn’t need any special tool, only a skewer, and a knife. Pierce the hotdog from one top to the other using the skewer and run the knife at an angle along its length to make slits. Spiralized hotdogs also tend to cook better, and they turn out crispier and juicier.
Apples Make Things Better
Alongside bacon, apple juice is the secret ingredient to incorporate into meals. A spray bottle that’s probably already lying around at home is all that’s required. Just fill it up with some apple juice and make culinary magic with it.
Spray some of the apple juice on pork cuts or any meat for that matter. It will help moisten the meat and give it a touch of irresistible sweetness. Take the taste profile to another level by adding pineapple to the mix. Just place pineapple slices on top of the pork for the added sweetness.
Anyone who doesn’t need a good old cuppa joe to start their day is lucky. Most of us can’t function without downing a cup or two, but on sweltering days, we would prefer the beverage in a cold form, or even on an average day, one might want it to cool down faster.
The solution is to freeze some coffee in an ice cube tray, and the cubes can come to the rescue to cool down the coffee. That way, the coffee cubes won’t water down the coffee, and it also cools down the liquid in no time.
Spotting A Rotten Egg
Breakfast for many of us includes pancakes or waffles, bacon, sausages, and a side of eggs. One of the ingredients needed for pancakes, and most baked treats, is eggs. The last thing anyone would want is to crack one into the pancake or cake batter only to discover that it’s rotten.
Avoid the unpleasant surprise by using this nifty hack to figure out if eggs are good or not. Pop them into a bowl filled with cold water, and if the egg sinks, then all is good. However, if an egg floats, toss it out immediately because that signals that it’s gone bad.
Prevent Bowls From Slipping
Only someone who cooks pretty often understands the struggle of mixing or whisking anything in a bowl. Sure, it doesn’t sound like a big task, but it causes so much stress, especially when the bowl starts to slip and slide around the countertop.
The ideal way to avoid this is to place a damp dish towel under the bowl before stirring/whisking. This will hold the bowl in place while its contents are being rigorously mixed. This trick can also be used when using a chopping board. Just ask any professional chef, and they’ll explain all about it.
Cook Fish Fillet On A Bed Of Lemons
Most of us might be familiar with this hack, but this will explain why it makes a difference. Placing some lemon slices underneath the fish fillet when grilling makes the flipping process easier. We know that things can get messy and even fall apart when flipping over fish slices on a grill or pan.
A bed of lemons keeps the fish from sticking to the grill or pan. In turn, that makes the flipping process easier. Best yet, the lemons give the fish a nice zesty flavor. It also helps set the fish on the cool part of the grill, which means piling hot coal only on one side.
Yummy Home-made Taco Shells
Everyone loves tacos, but the shells are problematic for putting one together. Get some tortillas and place them in the oven over the rack as pictured so that they are folded. In just about ten minutes, the tortillas will be a nice golden color and ready for filling.
Remove the shells from the oven and load them up with the desired fillings. To make tacos much better, other hacks include spreading some Greek yogurt or sour cream over the shell and sprinkling some grated cheese at the bottom.
Serve It In A Muffin Tin
It never hurts to impress when hosting friends and family, and a great way to grab their attention is through their stomachs. A great meal is usually good enough but presenting the feast in an unforgettable way counts a lot.
Use a muffin tin to serve different types of condiments and sides. It helps minimize the mess that comes with serving these items separately, and it also saves on space while keeping things organized. Guests also don’t have to scramble for one bottle of ketchup, and this presentation gives them a variety of choices.
Most of us have microwaves, but few have a grill at home. Even with a grill, it takes a great deal of patience to cook meat using this method. A great go-between is to cook the meat in the microwave.
Understandably, many people have reservations about cooking meals in the microwave, but it’s a solution to solving cravings for grilled meat. Use the grill setting and grill rack in the microwave, and in a matter of minutes, enjoy a tasty piece of grilled meat.
Fastest Weekday Dinner
After a long day of work, the pain of coming back home to the option of a TV dinner or takeaway gets old after some time. Making a meal from scratch is the first prize, but the lengthy process isn’t appealing. There is a way to work around this problem, though.
Marinate chicken or any other meat and freeze it. Before leaving for work, remove the meat from the freezer and leave it to thaw. When back home, toss it in the oven and throw together an easy salad to complete the meal.
Slices To The Rescue
The cake is the highlight of birthdays, weddings, and just about every other celebration. It often tastes better the next day, but trouble comes when preserving its integrity after enjoying a couple of slices. Different types of slices provide a solution to this problem.
Just place slices of bread on the exposed parts. This instantly prolongs the cake’s shelf-life, preventing it from going stale. Use toothpicks to secure the slices of bread on the cake, and that will also help keep the sweet treat moist for longer.
Perfectly Poached Eggs
There should be an award for poaching the perfect eggs because that’s one of the toughest ways to cook eggs. Most of us steer clear of this method of cooking unless we have some experience with it. Impress guests by using this hack to poach eggs.
Crack the eggs into high-grade plastic bags, choosing the ones that can withstand 250F heat. Secure the bags shut and place them in a pot of boiling water. A few minutes should do it and then fish out the bags. A little skill is required for getting the poached eggs out of the bags while keeping them intact.
A list of summer treats isn’t complete without the classic staple, watermelon. One never really thinks about cutting the fruit into interesting shapes because getting it open in the first place is quite the task. Make it more interesting by going for little cube-shaped pieces.
Cut the watermelon into four slices and proceed to dice cubes out of each piece. With the flesh facing up, cut diagonal patterns down to the rind and then follow through with horizontal slices. Next, turn the watermelon piece over a bowl, and the pieces will fall out into it.
Throw Some Mayo Into The Mix
The truth is that some of the clever hacks that can help to enhance the taste of regular meals are not the healthiest. Once in a while doesn’t hurt, and adding a dollop of mayo when making burgers from scratch offers a richer taste.
Add the mayonnaise at the point when mixing the seasoning with the beef. It keeps the burger from drying out and keeps it nice and juicy. Let’s not forget about the points scored by serving friends or family a perfectly cooked burger.
Keeping track of any type of math is difficult enough, and it only goes downhill when cooking. Distractions can get in the way and leave the mind in a twist trying to figure out if too much of something was added or if more is needed.
M&Ms provide a tasty way to keep track of measurements, particularly when baking. If following a recipe that calls for gradually incorporating a condiment, use M&Ms to keep track of everything. For instance, if six cups of sugar are needed, have six M&Ms on the counter and eat one for every cup added.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches In The Oven
One of the quickest and most moreish dishes everyone should learn how to make is a good grilled cheese sandwich. One often needs to make several at a time, and it can become time-consuming, making them the old-fashioned way.
Preheat the oven with the cooking sheets inside and make sure to grease them. Once it’s nice and hot, place the ready-to-cook sandwiches inside. Place a second sheet or oven rack over the sandwiches. Leave the sandwiches to cook in the oven for a few minutes.
Easy Peasy Tangerines
Peeling a tangerine and dividing it into pieces isn’t as straightforward a process as it may seem. It ends up being messy, a couple of pieces get broken, and sticky hands remain. There’s a method to peel a tangerine more effectively using this mess-free tip.
Cut off the top part of the peel and make sure to avoid cutting into the fruit’s flesh. Remove one slice and proceed to roll out the rest as pictured. Why haven’t we been peeling tangerines this way since eternity?
An Easier Way To Peel Garlic
There’s a reason why every other kitchen invention targets making the garlic peeling and crushing process simpler. The bulbs add a punch of flavor to meals, but the amount of time they take to prep can make skipping them altogether an option.
Remove the garlic cloves from their bulb, there’s no escaping that process, but the next step will help peel each clove easily. Using a chef’s knife, whack each clove as pictured and be extremely careful. The skin will practically fall off the clove, and they’ll be all peeled in no time.
A Less Sticky Way Of Measuring Honey
Recipes that call for a certain amount of honey can be a messy task, and let’s not even talk about the cleanup that follows. There is a way about it, and that’s spraying the spoon or cup to measure out the honey beforehand.
Use vegetable oil to coat the spoon or cup and proceed to pour out the honey. This will get the honey out much quicker, and there will be a less sticky mess to clean up afterward. Lower the oven temperature by 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit for baked treats that use honey because it browns faster.
Separate Egg Yolks & Whites
This hack may have already presented itself, but it’s still a game-changer that everyone should know. For a recipe that requires only egg whites or yolks, a balancing act to separate these two parts is no longer required with this easy hack.
Use a plastic bottle to separate the yolk from the egg whites. Place the rim over the yolk securely, and then squeeze the bottle until the yolk is sucked into the bottle. The air suction does the trick, so just keep practicing.
DIY Milk Frother
The coffee we make at home never tastes as great as the ones made by professionals. Elevate home coffee by frothing the milk, and there’s an easy way to go about it. All that’s needed is a small jar with a lid.
Pour the milk into the jar and secure it tightly shut using the lid. Shake away, which helps aerate the milk by incorporating the surface air with the liquid. Place the jar inside the microwave for 30 seconds and never tolerate bland coffee again.
Keep A Boiling Pot From Overflowing
We can’t count the number of times milk or other boiling liquid we are heating overflows. Even when keeping a watchful eye on the pot, the liquids boiling within always find a way to escape. A wooden spoon does the trick.
Place the wooden spoon over the boiling pot as pictured, and voila, no more overflows. This trick keeps the water and other boiling liquids from pouring over the sides of the pot. As a bonus, avoid a messy cleanup by using this effective and simple trick.
Keep Appetizers Cold
One of the many dilemmas a host of a party has to face is figuring out how to keep the cold appetizers, well, cold. Parties run for many hours, and it’s important to preserve the freshness of the snacks for as long as possible.
Food like shrimp, deviled eggs, and salad leaves need to be fresh and scrumptious, and the ideal way to ensure this is to place a Ziplock bag filled with crushed ice beneath said appetizers. It’s a handy trick of which the perks can be improved if the serving bowls/trays are also frozen beforehand.
Skim The Fat
Making stock takes time, but it isn’t so hard. However, that’s probably because the challenging part comes once the stock is done. All meats contain fats—some less than the others. However, there’s always fat visibly floating around in stock or a soup.
A cool way to get rid of it (no pun intended) is by wrapping a couple of ice cubes with a dry paper towel or cheesecloth and running it over the surface of the liquid. This will solidify the fat, making it easier to extract it with a spoon. Remember to do this only after the stock is no longer hot.
Peel That Papery Skin From Ginger
The nooks and crannies in ginger roots make them a hundred times harder to peel than other vegetables. Generally, one should take extra precautions when handling sharp objects like knives and blades, but no precaution seems enough when it comes to ginger.
This is why it is ideal to use a spoon, preferably a teaspoon, when peeling the skin off ginger. Since its skin is delicate, it would come right off without causing too much trouble. This option is much less risky than utilizing a knife.
Ripen Fruits Quicker
There’s nothing of a true test of patience, in our opinion than waiting for an avocado to ripen. The sneaky fruits can take ages to ripen to the point of only getting to them when they are overripe. There are ways to quicken the process.
Place the avocados and other fruits that need ripening inside a paper bag. This concentrates the ethylene gas within the confined space and helps the fruits to ripen quicker. For bananas and other stemmed fruits, use plastic wrap to encase their stems to keep them fresher longer.
Reheat Pizza And Other Baked Goods Without Drying Them Out
Just because a person buys a large pizza doesn’t always mean he/she can finish it in one go. That’s when the whole complication of reheating the pizza on the next day comes in. Complicated, why? Throwing it in the microwave for a couple of minutes always makes the slices soggy.
One way to prevent this from happening is to place a microwave-safe glass, mug, or cup of water right next to the pizza. The water acts as a decoy, adding moisture to the air. Therefore, the moisture produced from the water is absorbed instead of from the pizza crust.
Freeze Meat Before Slicing For Easy-To-Sear Slices
Only someone who needs thin slices of meat for stir-fries, pho, and other meals would know the struggle of slicing it. Getting the thickness equally distributed throughout the whole piece of steak or pork seems next to impossible unless, of course, the chef is a professional.
Following this simple trick can help non-professionals to achieve skinny meat slices. Put the meat in the deep freezer for around 30 minutes to one hour before starting to slice. Since the meat will have firmed up during the time, the slicing process will be much easier.
Kids are fussy eaters who require some motivation to chow down their meals. Even breakfast treats like pancakes present a challenge for getting toddlers to finish their food. Cookie cutters can earn points with kids without having any pastry chef skills.
Get the fun animal-shaped or holiday-themed cookie cutters to make some amazing-looking pancakes. They are not that expensive and are usually available at the local dollar store. It is an excellent spin to pancakes, and the kids will love them.
Deal With Hard-To-Open Jars
Opening a brand new jar is quite a tiresome task. However, new jars aren’t the only ones that get super tight. Even previously opened jars can corrode or get stuck, making them pretty hard to open. Instead of running for help from someone stronger, locate a thick rubber band.
Placing the rubber band around the lid will provide a better grip on the lid. If it still seems like a struggle, use a dish towel and try again. The jar will open in a jiffy, especially if first placing it in very hot water. The same can be done with lid grips available at grocery stores.
Recycle Egg Cartons
Once the eggs have been used, there’s little use for the carton they came in, except for DIY crafts. However, egg cartons can help to get the grill going faster. Lighter fluid can do the trick, but egg cartons and charcoal pieces work well.
Place the pieces of charcoal in the empty egg carton and place them at the bottom of the grill. Use a match or lighter to get the fire started, and this method will get the coal burning faster. It’s also a nifty hack that will impress guests when hosting.
Picking Egg Shells Out
We use eggs in many recipes, which is why it never hurts to know how to handle the fragile ingredient properly. One would think that cracking an egg is a straightforward process, but that’s until small pieces of eggshell land up in the bowl.
The process of picking the tiny shells out can be a pain, but there’s an easy way to go about it. Run fingers under cold water, and that’s it. It’s so easy to quickly pick up the eggshell pieces and get them out in no time.