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Ina Garten, Gordon Ramsay, Alton Brown, And Other Pros Are Sharing Cooking Tips That Are Genuinely Worthwhile

If it's good enough for Gordon Ramsay, it's good enough for me.

There are about a trillion places you could look for cooking advice, but what better authority than your favorite celebrity chefs? So I rounded up a bunch of the most helpful tips, tricks, and advice from knowledgeable cooks like Gordon Ramsay, Ina Garten, Marcus Samuelsson, David Chang, Marcela Valladolid, and more. These are some of their best cooking hacks to improve your own skills in the kitchen.

1. For the creamiest scrambled eggs, a combination of butter and crème fraîche is key.

Scrambled eggs cooking in a pan
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Gordon Ramsay's method for creamy scrambled eggs starts with the addition of cold eggs and butter to a saucepot. Stir them constantly over medium heat for about 30 seconds, then remove them from the heat and stir for 20 seconds. 

Continue this technique, moving the pot between the heat and away from the heat, until the eggs are just firm. Then immediately season them with salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of cold crème fraîche to prevent them from overcooking. The result is a perfectly seasoned, custardy (but never runny) scramble.

2. Rather than cook pasta in a big pot of boiling water, use just enough water to cover the noodles.

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This pasta trick comes from Alton Brown, who swears by it for just about any type of noodle. Just be sure to use a large-enough pot if you're cooking longer strands like spaghetti or linguine so the water can completely cover the noodles. Once the water boils, reduce it to a simmer and cook until the pasta is perfectly al dente. 

3. For perfectly shaped, expertly cooked meatballs, cook them in an empty egg carton.

Uncooked meatballs in a cardboard egg carton
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This is another trick straight from Alton Brown. Roast meatballs in an empty cardboard egg carton to wick away the grease. Just spray the egg carton first with cooking spray and roast the meatballs inside it. They come out crispy all over and slide out of the carton so easily.

4. Repurpose your leftovers into a totally new meal.

A chunky-looking soup with garnish in a bowl
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Rather than just eat leftovers, turn them into something new and exciting. "I love a nice two-fer," the Barefoot Contessa posted on her Instagram account, "I make a big batch of something and use the leftovers to make a second, completely different recipe the next day. This Tomato & Eggplant Soup is a hearty winter lunch, and I use the leftover soup as a sauce for delicious Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Eggplant. No one will even know they’re eating leftovers!!!"

5. Use miso and butter in tandem to flavor your food.

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If you want to add miso to a dish but are afraid of making it too salty, cut it with butter, suggests chef David Chang. Miso is a flavor bomb, but you can cut that intense saltiness by mixing it with softened butter. This will allow you to impart a deep, savory flavor to lots of dishes, from corn to grilled shrimp, without adding too much salt.

6. Amp up the flavor of all your chocolate baked goods by adding coffee.

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In an interview with Epicurious, Ina Garten shared her best tip for chocolate baked goods. "If you add coffee to chocolate, it gives it a depth of flavor," she said. "You know the chocolate tastes better, but you don't really know that [it's] there." You might want to try her recipe for chocolate ganache cupcakes and see for yourself.

7. Cook perfect fried eggs by tipping the pan and spooning the hot oil back over the top of the eggs.

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This Spanish-inspired cooking method popularized by José Andrés consists of heating up 4 tablespoons of olive oil, tipping the pan, sliding an egg into the oil, and spooning the hot oil onto the top of the egg. It yields perfectly cooked fried eggs every time.

8. Use butter to mellow out the flavor when cooking with wine.

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This one comes from chef Alex Guarnaschelli. Sometimes, cooking with wine makes your food taste a bit harsh because wine takes a long time to cook down and mellow out. To combat an uncooked wine flavor, add a few pats of butter or another fat, like some olive oil. The richness helps balance the flavors. 

9. Finishing pretty much any dish with a touch of acid makes all the flavors shine.

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Chef Daniel Boulud has stated that his number one cooking tip is finishing with a splash of acid. Acid — a splash of lemon juice, wine, or vinegar — helps flavors shine, and it cuts through rich sauces and fatty dishes, kicking the flavor up a notch.

10. Use nonstick pans for things like eggs and pancakes, but don't overuse them.

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Chef Amanda Cohen says nonstick pans shouldn't be your go-to for everything. Nonstick pans give off a different kind of heat, she explains. Since nonstick skillets are protecting food from the heat underneath, they aren't quite as hot and don't get food quite as crispy.

11. Heat store-bought corn or flour tortillas on a skillet so they taste soft and homemade.

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Chef Aarón Sánchez suggests this clever trick to warm up store-bought tortillas and ensure they're the perfect consistency for all of your taco needs. Just toss your tortillas into a skillet and give them a squirt of equal parts water and oil. 

12. Use a dish towel when cutting corn off the cob to keep those kernels from flying all over the place.

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With summer on the horizon, this corn on the cob trick is likely to come in handy for your next barbecue or picnic. According to Ina Garten, if you put a kitchen towel on your cutting board and cut corn on the cob into the kitchen towel, it won't fly all over the kitchen.

13. Always, always brine chicken to keep it moist and infuse it with flavor.

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Marcus Samuelsson swears by brining his chicken before cooking it. This extra step of soaking chicken in cold, salted water adds extra flavor and keeps the meat perfectly juicy.

14. Freeze bread in big wedges so you always have it on hand.

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Ina Garten cuts loaves of bread into giant wedges and wraps them tightly to store them in the freezer. She says that frozen individual slices of bread get too icy, and freezing the whole loaf is useless because it's probably too much to finish in one sitting. The solution: Freeze bread in wedges, and you're left with perfectly portioned bread to warm up in the oven when you need it.

15. Cook risotto with hot stock to keep it nice, starchy, and creamy.

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Geoffrey Zakarian says that using hot stock to cook risotto helps bind everything together and keeps the rice nice and creamy. Cold stock, by contrast, brings down the temperature too much and messes up the cooking process. 

16. After you boil noodles, save your pasta water and add a splash to your sauce.

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Take a page from Scott Conant's book and add a splash of pasta water to your tomato sauce right at the end to bring it all together. Seasoned, starchy pasta water tastes more like a broth. The starch will help bind everything together, and the salt from the pasta water will season your dish.

17. When making mashed potatoes, boil the potatoes with their skin on and peel them while they're still hot.

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Gordon Ramsay swears by keeping the skins on potatoes when boiling them for mashed potatoes. The skins protect the potatoes so they don't absorb all the water, thereby ensuring the best texture once mashed. Peel them after they're cooked.

18. Freeze homemade stock in a muffin tin or ice cube trays so you always have it on hand.

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In his cookbook Appetites, Anthony Bourdain revealed one of his favorite home cooking tips: stockpiling stock in the freezer and using it to boost soups, stews, and risottos. Freeze the stock in muffin trays so it's already portioned, or use ice cube trays for smaller doses when you just need a splash of liquid to finish a dish.

19. Use lasagna sheets whenever you're making pasta...not just for lasagna.

Lasagna noodles in a cream sauce
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According to Gordon Ramsay, lasagna sheets are an ideal pasta shape to pair with thick, hearty sauces. They can even stand up to meaty sauces like ragù. So next time you're thinking of making rigatoni Bolognese or tagliatelle in cream sauce, try swapping in lasagna sheets and fold them into your sauce.

20. If you're out of oil or butter (or just want to mix things up), cook your steak in mayonnaise.

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This tip from Alton Brown might sound completely crazy until you think about it and realize that mayo is really just eggs and oil. Apply a light coat of mayo to steak before throwing it into a cast-iron skillet. Steak cooked in mayo will develop a perfect golden-brown crust because of the oil and extra ingredients like egg yolks, lemon juice, and vinegar.

21. Oh, and while you're at it, add mayo to your scrambled eggs to make them delightfully creamy.

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Yet another Alton Brown mayo trick: Instead of milk or water, add a bit of mayonnaise to your scrambled eggs. In his cookbook EveryDayCook, Brown suggests ditching the usual water or milk for something completely unexpected — mayo, which makes eggs so much creamier.

22. For the most vibrant and flavorful guacamole, chopped mangoes and a drizzle of chili oil will do the trick.

Guacamole topped with chili oil
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Trust Marcela Valladolid's famous guacamole recipe, which includes mashed avocado, diced mango, red pepper flakes, a ton of fresh lime juice, salt, and a drizzle of chili oil. The mango perfectly cuts the guacamole's creamy texture without competing against it. And the addition of chili oil adds a pop of unexpected heat that will take your guac to the next level. 

23. Quickly peel a whole head of garlic by smashing it and shaking it between two bowls.

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This Gordon Ramsay hack will come in handy for those who love cooking with garlic. Simply smash the bulb, rip the cloves apart, and shake it between two bowls for 10 seconds. The cloves will separate from the papery skin, leaving you with perfectly peeled garlic in no time.

24. Prolong the life of fresh herbs by steeping them in honey.

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If you buy fresh herbs often, you probably know how quickly they go badly, which is unfortunate because there's nothing worse than wasting food. To avoid this, chef Alex Guarnaschelli has a solution: She heats up honey in a pan until it's bubbling, then adds any fresh herbs and lets them steep in there for a few days. Use that herbed honey on anything from cheese or toast to vinaigrettes and marinades.

25. When breaking down a whole chicken, make sure it's as cold as possible.

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Marcus Samuelsson's best trick for breaking down a chicken — whether it's for a skillet chicken dinner or homemade stock — is to ensure the bird is as cold and as dry as possible before you begin. This makes it easy to separate the skin from the meat if you want to, which is better for seasoning.

26. To make chewy chocolate chip cookies, use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour.

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If you're the kind of person who prefers chewy cookies over the crispy kind, check out this trick from Alton Brown. His cookie recipe swaps all-purpose flour for bread flour (a high-protein flour), which gives them a super-chewy texture like the kind you get from a bakery. We actually tried the technique, and they were actually super chewy.

27. Make a thumbprint in the center of your burger patty so it cooks evenly.

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For all your summer cookout needs, Bobby Flay says to use a thumb to make an indent in the center of each burger patty. This will prevent the burger from puffing up and bulging in the center. The result is an evenly cooked, perfectly shaped burger.

What's the most helpful cooking tip you know? Tell us in the comments below!