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19 Useful Cooking Hacks You Should Always Remember

These can really help.

1. To keep guacamole from browning, cover it with a thin layer of pico de gallo until it's time to serve and eat.

Via twopeasandtheirpod.com

When it's time, just scoop up and eat the pico de gallo (or mix it in fully) and you're left with perfectly green guac underneath.

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2. For naturally sweeter lemonade, roast lemons in the oven before juicing them.

Via Flickr: sugarhiccuphiccup

Roasting them draws out their natural sugars and tones down their tartness. Depending on your taste, you might not need as much sweetener later — or any.

Read more: How the Oven Will Help You Make Even Better Lemonade

3. Season mushrooms and zucchini *after* they brown in the pan, not before.

Both carry excess water — and salt will draw it out even more, causing the food to get soggy. To avoid that, let mushrooms and zucchini pick up some color first and shed their extra liquid. Then add salt. (Also, make sure they're completely dry before they hit the pan!)

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4. And dry meat before searing it to drain excess moisture too.

Alvin Zhou / BuzzFeed

Meat can carry a layer of moisture on the outside, so it's important to get rid of that if you want the cleanest, sharpest sear when the protein hits the hot pan. The quickest way? Pat it dry first with a paper towel.

5. Always rinse rice with water before cooking it.

Via budgetbytes.com

You'll get a much better end product if you rinse rice in a bowl or quickly run it through a strainer first. Doing so removes the surface starch that can otherwise make rice clump together or get super gummy as it cooks.

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6. Use a nonstick pan sparingly — it's only good for a few things.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Nonstick pans are great for eggs, pancakes, or French toast — and not much else, says NYC chef Amanda Cohen. That's because they give off a very specific type of heat — one that's not quite as hot (or as conducive to crispiness) as a regular pan. When in doubt? Stick to your standard set.

7. Add a tiny bit of salt to your coffee to make it less bitter.

Via youtube.com

Alton Brown explains further: "Not only does salt cut the bitterness of coffee, but it also smooths out the 'stale' taste of tank-stored water," Brown says. "Research has proven that salt is actually better at neutralizing bitterness than sugar."

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8. When reheating leftovers in the microwave, place a damp paper towel on top.

Via mywildkitchen.com

As the water heats up and creates steam, it'll hydrate the food underneath and help prevent toughness — especially in leftovers prone to dryness, like rice and pasta.

9. Caramelize onions in half the time by adding a small pinch of baking soda.

Via seriouseats.com

For more on the magical science behind why this works, head over to Serious Eats.

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10. Don't use olive oil when you're cooking steaks or stir-fries.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Olive oil has a relatively low smoke point, or temperature at which it starts to burn. With anything needing high heat — like seared steak or fried chicken — you're better off using a neutral oil with a higher smoke point, like canola.

Read more: 12 Things You Shouldn't Be Cooking With Olive Oil

11. Remember that the Instant Pot comes with a built-in lid holder.

Via williams-sonoma.com

TBH, I was late to the game in learning this, but it's been a game changer ever since. (Shoutout to my fellow Instant Pot owners with limited kitchen counter space!)

Read more: 14 Instant Pot Tips for Beginners

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12. Grate ginger with a microplane instead of mincing it.

Via Flickr: kidmissile

It's much faster — and you can even briefly freeze the ginger first to make it easier to grate.

13. If in doubt when oven-roasting vegetables, just remember the magic temperature: 425°F.

Via thekitchn.com

While cooking times will vary depending on the type of vegetable, 425°F is a solid catch-all for temperature.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Roasting Vegetables

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14. For glossy, restaurant-quality sauces, finish them with a pat of cold butter.

Via youtube.com

In culinary terms, this is known as "monter au beurre." Next time you're making a sauce, try adding a few pats of cold butter at the very end to add richness and shine.

15. Instead of turning the hand mixer, turn the bowl.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

When you're making things like thick batters, it takes less energy (and saves your wrist!) if you spin the bowl rather than the mixer.

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16. Store your greens with paper towels to make them last longer.

Melissa Harrison / BuzzFeed

The paper towels absorb excess moisture over time, which keeps the greens drier longer — and extends their shelf life.

Read more: 17 Little Food and Drink Hacks You Should Know by Now

17. Baking bacon? Place a second sheet tray on top of your bacon to prevent it from curling.

Via instagram.com

Pop the bacon sheet tray into the oven, then top it with parchment paper and *another* sheet tray. This will prevent the bacon from curling and keep it perfectly flat.

Read more: 17 Practical Cooking Tricks I Learned While Working in Restaurants

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18. When making chocolate-flavored dough or batter, use cocoa powder — instead of regular flour — to prep countertops and pans.

Tasty

This will keep things from sticking — *without* the white cast that regular flour can give off on darker baked goods.

19. And finally, when working with aromatics, add garlic last.

Via seriouseats.com

Because garlic burns easily, many recipes tell you to add it last, and that's a great blanket rule — especially if it's minced or chopped.

What's a kitchen or cooking habit you wish you'd known about sooner? Share it in the comments!

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