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People Are Sharing Seemingly Strange (But Actually Genius) Food And Flavor Hacks That Work Perfectly Every Time

"It has salt, acid, and heat all in one. It's surprisingly fresh and zingy, and best of all, it lasts forever in your fridge."

There are a whole lot of cooking hacks out there, but some are more useful than others. So I browsed the subreddit r/Cooking and gathered responses from the BuzzFeed Community for the best small cooking and kitchen hacks that actually make a big difference. Try these to upgrade all of your favorite foods — from scrambled eggs and pancakes to boxed cake mix and Bolognese.

1. "If a cake recipe (including the boxed mix) calls for water, add the same amount of milk instead. The cake will be softer, more flavorful, and it will stay fresh for longer. This trick is especially great for chocolate cake."

Close-up of a bowl of batter with hand mixer.

2. "Add a bit of apple cider vinegar to your chili. You only need a few tablespoons, but just a small amount makes all the difference."

Cooking chili at home on the stovetop.

3. "Add a bit of mayonnaise or crème fraîche to beaten eggs before scrambling them or making an omelette or quiche. It adds volume and makes them light and fluffy."

Beaten eggs in a glass bowl on the table.

4. "Use a vegetable peeler to cut hard cheese. It gives you perfectly shaped slices. Plus, it takes way less time to clean than a box grater or food processor."

Shredded parmesan with peeler on chopping board.

5. "I add a small amount of beer, champagne, or soda (like 7-Up) to boxed cake mix instead of water. It makes the cake so moist, light, and airy, and it intensifies the flavors."

Mixing ingredients for batter in a glass bowl.

6. "I use Kenji López-Alt's technique for cooking potatoes: I add baking soda to the water when I’m boiling potatoes with the skin off before roasting them. It works because the alkaline solution breaks down the surface of the potatoes and makes the exteriors crunchier. Then I toss them with olive oil and broil them on high."

A close-up of crispy roast potatoes.

7. "Crush up Trader Joe Speculoos cookies to make the base of any dessert that calls for a Graham cracker crust. It's especially delicious in Key Lime Pie."

Forming a Graham cracker crust in a pie dish.

8. "Instead of cooking rice in water or even chicken broth, try using coconut milk. It makes the rice taste so much more decadent."

Opened canned coconut milk.

9. "If I'm making homemade pizza and I want a thicker crust, I replace lukewarm water in my dough for soda water. It results in a fluffy and thick crust, perfect for cast iron or sheet pan pizza."

Spreading tomato sauce on pizza crust.

10. "Put a raw egg yolk into garlic mashed potatoes. I first stumbled upon this trick by accident. I didn't have any milk or cream handy so I used an egg yolk instead. They ended up being the most delicious mashed potatoes I've ever made. Creamy, velvety, and decadent."

Mashed potatoes with butter and an egg yolk.

11. "Freeze strong coffee or espresso in an ice cube tray. Then use the coffee cubes to your morning cold brew, chai tea, or any coffee drink. Or try blending the coffee cubes with a bit of cream and vanilla bean syrup for an easy coffee frappe."

A close-up of Iced coffee.

12. "For the best Asian-inspired pasta that rivals takeout, make a sauce with the three S's: soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha. If you want to get fancy, toss a spoonful of peanut butter in there too. It tastes restaurant quality, but it's so cheap to make at home."

A bowl of spicy instant noodles.

13. "Swap in buttermilk for most recipes where you would normally use regular milk. It gives the food an extra creaminess and tanginess. It's especially great for mac 'n' cheese, gravy, baked goods, and more."

Creamy mac 'n' cheese shells.

14. "I make cake with zucchini grated so thinly that it's not even perceptible. You can't even taste it, but it makes cake so incredibly moist and soft for days."

Ingredients for making zucchini muffins on table.

15. "I put a dash of soy sauce in my eggs before whisking them to make omelettes or scrambled eggs. It works in place of salt and adds some extra oomph."

Pouring soy sauce into a bowl.

16. "I spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on fish that I'm going to put on the grill. It prevents it from sticking to the grates without imparting any noticeable flavor."

A salmon fillet on the grill.

17. "When you're making pancakes or waffles, separate the egg whites from the yolks and whip the whites into foamy peaks before adding them to the batter. It makes the pancakes or waffles so fluffy and yummy, almost like a soufflé."

Feamle cracking egg into bowl with flour.

18. "Use a blend of soy sauce and porcini mushroom powder in just about anything savory. It tastes like pure umami: It adds an earthy flavor to vegetarian dishes and makes meat taste even more amazing."

Rice noodles with vegetables.

19. "When you make boxed mac 'n' cheese, stir in some panko breadcrumbs and a little bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese at the end. It makes it taste seriously gourmet."

Mac 'n' cheese topped with crispy breadcrumbs.

20. "A drop or two of good fish sauce in French onion soup takes it to the next level."


21. "Add a bit of sherry to the pan with onions and cook until the sherry is fully reduced. It will give the onions a more caramelized flavor after only 15 minutes despite not actually being caramelized. It's great for when you're cooking in a hurry."

Caramelizing onions in a pan.

22. "Add two anchovies into the pan with your onions and olive oil when beginning to make a Bolognese sauce. They dissolve almost immediately and you don't taste them. It just adds depth of flavor and natural salt."

Bolognese sauce in a Dutch oven.

23. "Adding a pinch of baking soda to grits or polenta cuts the cooking time in half. It's my favorite dinner time-saver."

24. "When I'm making chicken salad, I swap out half of the mayo for whatever creamy salad dressing I have on hand. It imparts great flavor and keeps the chicken moist without that distinct too-much-mayo flavor."

Chicken salad on a bed of spinach.

25. "Instead of throwing away your nearly-empty peanut butter jar, try making oatmeal in it. The oatmeal gets all the little bits of PB that are stuck to the sides of that jar that you can't get with a knife, and it tastes amazing."

An empty peanut butter jar.

26. "You can make an amazing pie crust using crushed up Girl Scout cookies and a little melted butter to hold everything together. Trefoils work best, IMO, but Thin Mints are great for desserts like Grasshopper pie."

An assortment of Girl Scout Cookies.

27. "My go-to ingredient for any dish that feels like it needs something is a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This even works for desserts, especially if they taste a bit too sweet. A little balsamic really cuts the sweetness and adds depth."

Fig and cheese toasts with balsamic drizzle.

28. "I use Bailey's Irish Cream instead of milk when I make French toast. It takes it to the next level."

Bread soaking in an egg mixture for French toast.

29. "A bit of the pickling liquid from jarred jalapeños makes an absolutely killer substitute for a squeeze of lemon or lime juice in savory dishes. It has salt, acid, and heat all in one. It's surprisingly fresh and zingy, and best of all, it lasts forever in your fridge."

Pickled sliced jalapeños and brine.

30. "When breading meat like chicken, use mayo instead of eggs. Mayonnaise is literally just an emulsion of egg and oil, so technically coating chicken in mayo is the same as coating it in egg and oil. But the extra salt and fat from the oil in the mayo adds extra crispiness and flavor."

Breading chicken drumsticks.

31. "Try adding a touch of horseradish to your mashed potatoes...especially garlic mashed potatoes. It's a game changer. It adds a ton of flavor without being too noticeable or overpowering."

Mashed potatoes in a pan.

What's a small but brilliant cooking hack others should know about? Tell us in the comments!