The 10 Best Cooking Shortcuts from Joanna Gaines

Joanna Gaines is a decorating superstar. She's also quite the cook. Check out her favorite shortcuts for getting meals on the table fast.

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Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines
Taste of Home

We love Joanna Gaines for her remodeling and decorating expertise, and now, with the release of her new cookbook Magnolia Table, we’re loving all her cooking tips too. Where the star really shines, though, is her expert shortcuts. These time-saving tips are just thing for getting tasty family meals on the table in a hurry. Check them out!

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Taste of Home

Stock up on crescent rolls

To get that homemade feel you don’t always have to make everything 100% from scratch. In Magnolia Table, Joanna relies on refrigerated crescent roll dough for a few tasty recipes, like her quick orange-walnut sweet rolls and her classic chicken potpie. This cuts the prep time down significantly, and the results can taste just as good as something made all by hand.

Try crescent dough with these simple recipes.

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Grilled turkey and various vegetables on wooden plate for christmas and thanks giving day; Shutterstock ID 184547969; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
gorkem demir / Shutterstock

Save time with rotisserie chicken

While everyone loves a perfectly roasted chicken for dinner—and then the leftovers used in tasty dinners all week—it can be hard to find the time to roast one on a busy evening. That’s why Joanna grabs a grocery store rotisserie chicken to use in a handful of recipes, like her cozy chicken potpie.

Here are 33 other ways to use rotisserie chicken and save time.

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Turn tricky dishes into casseroles

Have a favorite dish that you always order at a restaurant but is just too tricky to make at home? Joanna says turn those into a casserole! She explains in her book that Chip loves eggs Benedict, but making individual servings at home can be a real hassle. So to get that same flavor with less work, Joanna turned it into an easy-to-make, easy-to-serve casserole. Genius! We’ve got a copycat recipe right here if you’re craving it!

Try these brunch casseroles at home.

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Use store-bought crust

Pie crust serves as the foundation for so many of our favorite dishes—pie (obviously!), quiches and tarts—but making your own crust from scratch is sometimes too time-consuming. According to Joanna, don’t worry about it! She writes in Magnolia table that she subs store-bought crust for homemade all the time, especially when she’s whipping up a tasty quiche.

Use your favorite packaged crust and make these quiches in 30 minutes or less.

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Refrigerated biscuits are your friend

We all know that Joanna is a true Southern gal with an authentic recipe for buttermilk biscuits (you can check out how to make them right here), but we also know she’s a busy woman! That’s why when it comes to chicken and dumplings, Joanna says that you can easily substitute packaged biscuits for her biscuit and dumpling recipe.

Check out more ways to use canned biscuits at home.

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Focus on the main dish and take shortcuts on the sides

In Magnolia Table, Joanna explains how enchiladas are a family favorite in her house. The cheese-filled chicken enchiladas are the star of the show and the side dishes—beans and rice—are just supporting players. So when time is tight, focus on the main, and used packaged rice as a quick substitute. Joanna prefers Knorr brand Mexican rice mix.

Want Mexican on a weeknight? Try these 13×9 dishes.

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Natural yogurt and different seasoning on the white wooden table top view; Shutterstock ID 430402339
Karpenkov Denis / Shutterstock

Transform your condiments

We love our sandwiches layered with flavored aiolis, but we never think to make those fancy types of mayonnaise at home. After all, mayonnaise from scratch can be a real chore. But to get that same effect, Joanna takes her favorite mayonnaise (she says she prefers Hellman’s) and stirs in a handful of herbs and spices. For her version, add chopped chives, garlic, dill, parsley, paprika and a bit of lemon juice. Feel free to add your favorite flavors to dress up your sandwiches.

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Have boxed pancake mix on hand

While Magnolia Table has an exceptional recipe for fluffy pancakes, Joanna writes, “I always have a boxed mix in the pantry for when I just don’t have the time.” It’s always smart to have these backup plans, plus boxed mixes serve as a great foundation for all sorts of recipes like these pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes and even this five-star breaded catfish.

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Use basics as a base

Even the most unassuming ingredients can turn into a craveable snack. In Magnolia Table, Joanna describes how her friend makes the tastiest seasoned crackers, perfect for parties. Try our version with these seasoned crackers—only four ingredients!

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Fresh baked pepperoni pizza, shallow depth of field; Shutterstock ID 522293875
Anatoly Vartonov/Shutterstock

There’s always pizza

No matter how carefully you plan or how carefully you read a recipe, sometimes dishes can just go wrong. If something goes wrong and your dinner flops, take this advice from Chip and Joanna from Magnolia Table, “there’s always pizza.”

Check out our favorite frozen brands in case you need a backup plan.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.