45 Kitchen Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner
These quick and clever kitchen hacks will change how you cook for the better.
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Keep Cookies Soft
To keep cookies and other baked goods soft after baking, add a slice of store-bought white bread to an airtight container. Your cakes, cookies and muffins will keep their day-one softness. Friends and family will think they’re fresh! Try this trick with our Big & Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies…that is if you have any leftovers.
Craft DIY Mason Jar Shakers
Your bulk spices and baking supplies just got an adorable upgrade. Save the lids from parmesan shakers and gather your small mason jars. Screw the lid on and you’ll have a handy way to sprinkle and measure. Speaking of spices, did you know you can make many of your favorite blends at home? Hello, taco seasoning.
Slice Steak Fries
Craving those scratch-made potato wedges from your favorite restaurant? The answer is waiting in your kitchen drawer. Cut one end of the potato for stability then push an apple slicer through. Add your fave seasonings or follow our recipe for Parmesan Potato Wedges. Bonus: You can try it with sweet potatoes, too.
Freeze a Soup Starter
Want garden-fresh flavor year round? Freeze farmers market vegetables in resealable bags during peak season. (Just remember to follow this step before freezing!) A classic soup starter called a mirepoix is made by combining 2/3 onion with 1/3 carrot and celery. This aromatic blend will give you a sweet, hearty flavor to kickstart soups and broths. Vegetables will last 8 to 12 months so you can enjoy the tastes of summer when gloomy, cold weather hits.
Use Sheet Pans as Trays
Sheet pans: They’re not just for dinner anymore! Use your trusty baking sheet to stay organized while you meal prep. Keeping ingredients in one place helps you stay efficient and expedites cleanup, too. Psst! Food prep doesn’t have to be a drag—especially when break out these genius tips profession chefs learned in culinary school.
Use Your Oven as a Proofing Drawer
Sometimes the kitchen is just too cold to get a good proof on homemade bread. If that’s the case, pop the dough in the oven—don’t turn it on. Instead, place a pan of simmering water below your dough and shut the door. The warmth and humidity from the hot water will help you get the lift you need.
And be sure to read up on other proofing techniques, too.
Freeze Single-Serving Sauces
Become an upcycling master! Egg cartons are ideal for freezing small portions of homemade sauce. (Especially when you need to use your ice trays for, well, ice—or one of these other genius uses.) Cover and freeze leftover Basil & Parsley Pesto and transfer cubes to a resealable freezer bag. To use, thaw cubes in your fridge for 2 hours.
Soften Butter (Even if You Forgot to Take It Out of the Fridge)
Don’t you hate it when you forget to take butter out of the fridge to make your favorite recipe? If you forget to bring that butter up to room temp in advance, it’s OK. You can soften butter quickly. The easiest way is to cut butter into cubes and let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes. The smaller pieces will soften up faster than a whole stick.
Prevent Bowls from Slipping
Need an extra hand? Professional chefs will tell you that a damp dish towel under your mixing bowl will keep it from slipping and sliding on your counter as you mix. This tip works well with a cutting board too. Don’t miss more kitchen secrets we learned at culinary school.
Get Golden Brown Air Fryer Food
We love air fryers for giving us the crispy fried texture we love without the extra grease. However, air fryers don’t always produce that golden hue we crave. You can fix that, though! The secret to that perfect golden color is giving your foods a quick spritz of cooking spray before popping them into the air fryer basket. That very light coating of oil is all you need.
Keep Ice Cream Cool
Bubble wrap is a powerful insulator. While on the road, keep your Chunky Monkey from melting by wrapping the pint in plastic bubble wrap. It’ll stay firm for hours. Speaking of ice cream, here are 10 little-known ice cream brands you need to try.
Make Frozen Rolls Seem Homemade
Elevate your bread basket by adding a little extra sumthin’ to frozen rolls. Thaw, then brush tops with egg wash and dip into your choice of seasoning blends, seeds or cheeses, Be as gentle or generous as you’d like! Bake according to recipe or package directions. When you’re really looking to impress, try our favorite recipes for homemade bread rolls.
Get Eggs to Room Temp Fast
When baking, it’s important to use room temperature ingredients (unless otherwise specified). If you forget to take your eggs out of the fridge in time, don’t worry. Just place them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes
Label Jars the Thrifty Way
In a pinch for labels? Just reach for the rubber bands. Wrap ’em around your mason jars and you’ll never mistake salt for sugar again. As an added benefit, they help make jars easy to open. Here are more reasons why rubber bands are low-key the ultimate kitchen tool.
Stop Stirring Peanut Butter
Getting tired of mixing the oil back into your natural peanut butter? There’s an easy solution: Store the jar upside-down. When you’re ready to make one of our favorite PB desserts, simply turn it right-side up. The oil will try to rise back to the top and the peanut butter will be much easier to stir. Nutty right?
Stop Cheese from Sticking
Grated cheese really makes a difference (here’s why!) but it can be a pain to prep. For easy cleanup, use a quick spritz of cooking spray on your cheese grater to keep the cheese from sticking. You’ll never go back to pre-shredded again.
Make a Big-Batch Cooling Rack
The ironing board is your new kitchen BFF. It can be used as extra counter space or even a makeshift cooling rack after you remove the cover. Mind blown. Try it out the next time you make one of our big-batch cookie recipes.
Note: Pans, paper liners, parchment or other barriers should be used between the rack and baked goods.
Use Canning Tongs For Hot Dishes
It can be tricky to remove ramekins from a hot water bath to cool. Our solution: Use canning tongs ($8). The edges are round and non-slip which makes it easy to lift the ramekin out without risk of splashes. Try it out with our Burnt Custard recipe.
Use Your Stand Mixer to Knead Dough
Sometimes kneading homemade bread by hand is too much work. If you have a stand mixer and a dough hook, though, you don’t need to worry. A few minutes on high gives you the same effect as kneading by hand. You can always try these no-knead bread recipes, too!
Keep Apps Cold
Want to serve shrimp, deviled eggs or one of our other favorite cold appetizers at your next get-together? This clever trick will keep your food cool and photo-worthy. Fill a large bowl with a resealable bag of crushed ice and cover with lettuce leaves. Butterhead work nicely! Place your app on top and you’ll serve food-safe bites all night.
Store Picnic Essentials
Grab a plastic bin and place it inside a cooler. Fill it with all your picnic needs (such as serveware, games, sunblock and linens), so you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice. Here are a few more nifty tricks to know before your next picnic.
Make Tiny Portions of Whipped Cream
Ever need just a dollop of whipped cream to make your strawberry shortcake shine? Reach for your immersion blender ($104) to make a single serving quick. The blender fits neatly into a tumbler or measuring cup, minimizing the mess of larger bowls. Whip up our recipe for Sweetened Whipped Cream before topping your favorite desserts.
Keep Food from Mingling
Have picky eaters? Prevent Goldfish from touching peeled fruit by using cupcake liners to organize a lunchbox into separate sections. Jazz it up by using fun colors and patterns on special days. Here are 8 more easy ideas lunch box ideas every parent should know.
Flavor Up a Crumb Crust
Have a recipe that calls for a graham cracker or cookie crust? Amp up the flavor by seeking out a specialty flavor cookie at the store. For example, Golden OREOS would make a sweet addition to this Chocolate Cookie Cheesecake recipe. Learn how to make a cookie crust here.
Plate Like a Pro
Dip the blade of your sharp knife in hot water to heat it up. Then wipe with a dry towel and cut your cake or cheesecake into nice, tidy slices. Repeat each time for pretty slices with a clean edge. Looking for simple cheesecakes that are super easy to make? Look no further. Prepped in under 30 minutes, these easy cheesecake recipes have got you covered.
Make Extra Storage Space
A well-organized kitchen is a joy to use. Install inexpensive hooks on the inside of your kitchen cabinets to maximize your storage space. Soon potholders, measuring spoons and extra gadgets will find a home!
Get More Juice
Next time you need fresh lemon juice, (maybe for one of our lemon-flavored recipes) try this restaurant tip. Microwave a lemon for 7-10 seconds. Then, roll the lemon back and forth under your palm on the counter. When you squeeze, you’ll get more juice from the lemon with way less effort. Try it with limes, too!
Quickly Hull a Strawberry
Insert a drinking straw (or stainless steel reusable) into the tip of the berry and push it through to the other end to quickly remove the stem. You’ll find this tip handy when making fresh strawberry pie or one of these other delicious ways to love fresh strawberries.
Give Butter an Upgrade
What’s the best thing since sliced bread? Flavored butter. Making it at home is as easy as adding lemon juice and herbs to softened a softened stick. (Check out our recipe for Lemon Tarragon Butter for details.) Want to get really nifty? Mold the flavored butter into a log shape by laying the softened butter on a square of parchment and shaping is using a ruler as a guiding tool. Twist ends to seal and freeze to use when needed.
Add a Carrot
Carrots take away the acidity in tomato sauce by adding subtle sweetness. If you find your sauce has gotten too acidic, peel a whole carrot, simmer it with the sauce and remove before serving. Don’t have time for homemade? This tomato sauce was voted best by our Test Kitchen and staffers.
Try Mess-Free Melting
Ever make a complete mess of your microwave when melting butter? We have. Those days are will melt away after you try this simple hack. Repurpose your butter wrapper as a cover for your microwavable dish. So long, splatter! Curious to know which butter tastes best? We found out.
Cook Tender, Juicy Meatloaf
We love a hearty meatloaf, but sometimes an all-beef mix can leave you with a coarse, gritty texture. Instead, try a beef-pork mix, like in this recipe for All-American Meatloaf. Since pork is a fattier meat, the combo has a much softer texture.
Shred Chicken Quick
Shredding chicken can be a fiddly task for even the most dexterous cooks. It might even deter you from cooking meals that require it. But did you know you can make fast work of shredding chicken with your stand mixer’s paddle attachment? Simply add your leftover chicken and give it a spin. Use the leftovers to make these delish Pulled Chicken Sandwiches.
Wrap Up No-Fuss Fish
Cooking fish in parchment is a healthy, mess-free technique that seals in flavor. As you bake the packet, the fish is delicately infused with whatever ingredients you add in. Try the tip with our Orange Tilapia for extra citrusy flavor.
Freeze Your Roots
When you are finished grating fresh ginger, freeze the leftover root in a plastic container or resealable bag. No more shriveled ginger in the produce drawer! Plus, you’ll get to cook way more mouthwatering ginger recipes
Make Herbs Last Longer
Nothing is worse than buying fresh herbs and seeing them wilt the next day. Keep herbs like parsley and cilantro bright with this simple storage tip! Trim the stems and place them in a small glass of water. Then place a plastic bag (like the one you got at the grocer) over top and secure by tying the plastic in a knot or wrapping it with butchers string. Store in the fridge or on the counter for up to two weeks! Get more tips for storing fresh herbs.
Get Old-Fashioned Flavor with Less Fat
Meatballs are a mainstay in the kitchen, but Nonna’s recipe isn’t always the best for your health. Drain away any excess fat while baking by placing meatballs on a baking rack. The extra fat drips away, you’ll retain that browned, caramelized exterior you know and love. Try it out with Great-Grandma’s Italian Meatballs.
Repurpose Your Pizza Cutter
The wheel of a pizza cutter is perfect for cutting herbs in all directions. Bunch them up and wheel back and forth until you’ve reached your desired consistency. It shaves a lot of time off morning prep for this Cheesy Chive Omelet.
Turn Wine into an Instant Cocktail
Have a group coming over but only one bottle of rosé in the fridge? Offer up some variety by turning wine into a fun, fizzy spritzer cocktail. Simply pour wine over ice and top with sparkling water (you might be surprised to learn our editor’s favorite brand). Red and white wine work well. Add fresh fruit as a garnish if you’re feeling fancy. Get our full spritzer guide here.
Skip the Storebought Broth
Making vegetable broth is as easy as cook, strain and serve. Broth can be covered and refrigerated up to three days or frozen up to six months. Use it in soups or casseroles, rice dishes and other recipes that require broth. Follow this video for how to make chicken broth. Or, if you are vegetarian, here’s a vegetable broth recipe that’s top-notch.
Decorate Cookies Before Baking
For bakery-style decorations, place cutouts on the baking sheet. Then fashion the cutter over each cookie as a frame and carefully top with sprinkles or colored sugar. Bake as you normally would and your cookies are presentable straight from the oven. Did you know that creating your own colored sugar is super easy? Here’s how.
Save Dishwashing Time
Ever find yourself using every single measuring cup and spoon in your arsenal? Give your dishwasher a break by measuring ingredients directly into your mixing bowl using a digital scale, like this one from Escali ($40). Use our helpful guide to convert weights for your favorite baking ingredients and pretty soon you’ll be turning all of your favorite dishes into one-bowl wonders.