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People Are Sharing Small Changes They've Made In The Kitchen That Drastically Improved Their Cooking

"I'm a vegetarian, but adding this to my pasta convinced my husband I was cooking with bacon."

I love to cook, and one of my favorite things about cooking is that you can constantly learn new tricks and tips to elevate your craft. So redditor u/FeatherMom asked, "Any [cooking] changes you've made that blow your mind?" Here's what home cooks said.

Man in a kitchen leaning over a counter with fresh herbs, cooking with a thoughtful expression

1. "I've started using smoked cheeses in my pasta. I’m vegetarian, but my husband isn’t. He flat out asked me if I added bacon when all I used was smoked Gouda."

A plate of cooked tortellini pasta with a wooden spoon resting on top

2. "Acid is so crucial for kicking any meal into high gear. A good slug of vinegar mixed in with the roasted vegetables or potatoes, a squeeze of lemon or lime over stir fry or fajita mix, or deglazing a pan with white wine or balsamic vinegar adds that little punch or zing into most dishes that was previously missing."

Person squeezing lime on fried rice with vegetables next to a salad

3. "Add fish sauce to anything that needs a savory kick. I used to use Worcestershire sauce, but I've switched to fish sauce, which adds good umami without Worcestershire's extra flavor notes (such as clove) that can taste off in certain dishes. The fish sauce is nice and light, while Worcestershire is considerably more pungent. It works in so many dishes like tomato-based pasta sauces, chicken soup, seafood stuffing, sauteed mushrooms, stir-fried rice, meatballs, baked beans, pulled pork, and chili, just to name a few."

A pot of soup with various vegetables and chicken on a stove, wooden spoon resting on the side

4. "I've started adding garlic later in the cooking process rather than as one of the first steps. You can taste the flavor so much more."

Skillet with roasted chicken thighs and vegetables on wooden surface

5. "I make homemade stock with veggie scraps, but when I'm feeling ambitious, I'll even toss my veggie scraps in a bit of oil, lay them out on a sheet pan, and toast them a bit in the oven before making the stock. It adds huge flavor."

Person pours water into a pot with vegetable scraps for making broth

6. "I've started rendering my own fats. I used to toss so much fat when I trimmed my meat. Now when I pick up something like pork shoulder from Costco, I also get a bunch of lard from it. I also have a chicken fat jar and a beef tallow jar, which are liquid gold for cooking."

Bacon pieces sizzle in a frying pan on a stove

7. "Recently, I tried making a tomato sauce with actual San Marzano tomatoes instead of just generic Costco diced tomatoes, and the difference kind of blew my mind. The San Marzano sauce was so much better. It tasted like ripe, rich, summery deliciousness."

A close-up of a bowl of tomato sauce with a wooden spoon

8. "Preheating the baking tray for roasted veggies. I still forget to do it a lot of the time, but especially when you're roasting a lot of vegetables, it can really help the cooking process. Preheating the tray is the difference between beautiful roasted veggies and half-steamed sadness."

Assorted raw vegetables with herbs in a roasting pan, prepped for cooking

9. "Quick pickling veggies is an amazing way to add an acidic hit to a dish. In its simplest form, I dice up a shallot and toss it with salt, sugar, and vinegar of some sort."

A bowl of mixed salad with sliced onions and lettuce

10. "When I make mac 'n' cheese, I boil the pasta in a mix of water and milk (just enough to cover the noodles). The liquid reduces and I use it as the base for the sauce. Also, when adding the shredded cheddar, I remove the pot from the heat, add the cheese, and cover. This allows it to melt slowly without the oils breaking apart. It's simple but incredibly creamy and miles better than what I used to make (and just as quick and easy)."

A pot on a stove with melting shredded cheese in a white liquid

11. "I always pre-marinate my proteins the moment I get home from the grocery store. I marinate anything from hard-boiled eggs and tofu to tempeh and chicken. These pre-marinated proteins live in my fridge or freezer, ready to cook. Even a simple salt, garlic, and lemon marinade helps any protein taste better."

Chicken and vegetables marinated in separate sealed plastic bags, ready for cooking

12. "I've started making garlic confit. It's incredible. Now I have a jar of it handy to use in all kinds of dishes. My favorite is toasted sourdough, goat cheese, garlic confit, and a little salt on top. So incredibly good and easy."

Two slices of toasted bread topped with melted cheese and onions on a wooden surface

13. "Sous vide or low-temperature cooking. This revolutionized my ability to get all of my grilled proteins just right. Cooking food at a low temperatures helps with meal prep and portioning on a regular basis but it's also a complete game changer when it comes to large-scale cooking. My greatest success. All of my meat comes out perfectly cooked in 45 minutes, even when I'm cooking for a big group."

Raw steak in vacuum-sealed packaging with sprinkled herbs

14. "I've started making my pasta dough in a food processor. I no longer spend 10-15 minutes kneading my dough by hand. The food processor achieves the same (if not better) result in less than a minute."

A close-up of a plate of uncooked, homemade pasta noodles

15. "Tossing raw shrimp with a bit of baking soda and salt before cooking gets the exterior so much crispier."

Close-up of a hand holding a cooked shrimp with more shrimp on a plate in the background

16. "Finishing oil is so vital. A light drizzle imparts a huge flavor to whatever I'm serving. I now have store-bought oils and I also make my own."

Honey drizzling on toast with prosciutto, next to sliced bread on a wooden board

17. "After jumping on the cauliflower rice train, I just started ricing other veggies. My current favorite is riced broccoli, which has become a staple in my home cooking. Riced broccoli is great in quiche, omelets, sautéed with a little butter for a lower-carb rice alternative, and more. IMO it tastes more vegetal and satisfying than bland cauliflower rice."

Chopped green herbs in a clear glass dish on a dark surface

18. "Refrigerating meatloaf before cooking it. I discovered this by accident. A couple of years ago I covered my prepared meatloaf with plastic wrap and stuck it into the fridge. The next day, I took the loaf out of the fridge, and an hour later, I put it into the oven. I realized that leaving the meatloaf in the fridge overnight was totally game-changing. It allowed all the ingredients to sit and infuse one another, and the end result tasted better than any meatloaf I'd made before."

Close-up of a sliced meatloaf on a tray, with a blurred background

19. "I now use sour cream in lieu of heavy cream in many dishes. For example, it gives mushroom sauce and gravy a nice tartness that you don't get from cream and thickens nicely as it simmers."

A pot of creamy mushroom risotto being stirred with a wooden spatula

20. "I've started finishing my food with butter. I use less butter while my food is cooking at a high heat. Instead, once food has a moment to cool but is still hot, I add a pat of butter to finish the dish. I knew conceptually that butter cooked at different temperatures tastes different, but doing this in my own cooking has made all the difference."

Grilled salmon with a slice of butter and dill on top, steam rising, cooking on a grill

So, what is a technique you've adopted, a trick you've learned, or a change you've made in the kitchen that has elevated your home cooking? Tell us in the comments or drop your responses into this Google form.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.