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21 Cooking Hacks That'll Make You Say, "Wait, How Come Nobody Told Me This Earlier?"

Honestly? Same.

Even if you consider yourself to be a pretty good cook, there's always more to learn in the kitchen. 🔪

Bravo

From smart at-home cooking tricks, to culinary school–approved hacks and habits.

A recent Reddit thread in /r/Cooking asked people for the cooking tips they wish they'd learned sooner. Here's what they said!

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1. If you need to brown or crisp something on all sides in the oven — like meat or vegetables — cook it on an elevated rack set on top of a sheet tray.

"This can be more efficient than flipping things halfway through. The rack allows heat to reach all sides. All sides will brown evenly without the bottom side getting soupy."

u/llamakiss

2. You don't add salt to make things taste salty. You add salt to make things taste more like themselves.

"For instance, if you have some tomato slices and you take a bite and they taste bland, add salt. Suddenly, those same slices will taste more tomato-y. If you add enough salt, it will definitely start to taste salty — but that isn't normally the end goal when adding salt to things."

u/vmike

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3. To easily clean a stubborn cast iron pan, just fry the stuff on the bottom. It'll pop right off.

Tasty / Via youtube.com

"Anything that doesn't pop off with hot oil, add some kosher salt and scrape again. Perfectly cleaned cast iron, every time. I spent years overthinking this and having crusty pans. Also, always use a wooden spoon because why would you ever use a metal instrument on ANY pan you care about, you monster?"

u/Volkov_Afanasei

4. Don’t wear a crop top or sports bra when you’re frying things.

u/welluuasked

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5. To brown ground meat properly, you need to cook off the water first.

Pierce Abernathy / Via buzzfeed.com

"Browning ground beef does not mean graying ground beef. You have to cook off the water and possibly drain some or most of the fat, depending on how much there is. Then it needs to sit still on the heat for a bit more to actually get browned."

u/smcameron

6. Don’t put a lid on something that’s frying in oil.

"If you do, the food will lose water, and the water will condense inside the lid. When you lift the lid, the water will go into the oil and splatter everywhere and create a giant mess and hazard."

u/poopsnickerdoodle

(Instead, use a mesh splatter guard — it'll make sure oil doesn't get everywhere while still allowing steam to escape.)

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7. Starchy foods taste better when cooked in stock, rather than plain water.

BuzzFeed

"Things like rice, potatoes, pasta, quinoa, and lentils."

u/Teaandirony

8. Always make extra rice.

"Then just throw it in the pan or wok and you can basically make fried rice without any prep."

u/Milk_A_Pikachu

"Or, if you hate making rice, order extra sides of rice when you get takeout Chinese or Thai food. I make fried rice way more often now."

u/justbreathe5678

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9. When there's a spill or a fire or something goes wrong, don't panic.

The Weinstein Company

"Panicking makes everything worse. Stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself how you would solve this dilemma. The other night, I spilled oil in my oven and the entire thing was smoking and setting off the fire alarm. Instead of panicking, I took everything off the heat and turned off the oven. Once it was cool, I cleaned up and restarted everything — and dinner turned out fine."

u/MyNameIsSkittles

"Sometimes, the appropriate response is to do nothing. I spilled some oil on my induction burner a few months ago. It immediately blew up into flames and I immediately panicked and looked for something to smother it with. By the time I could remind myself not to do anything stupid, the fire had burnt itself out. Remember: Fire on a non-flammable surface is nothing without a fuel source and oil (in small quantities) burns out quickly."

u/HedgeSlurp

10. But also, remember the rhyme: oxygen + smokin’ hot = flames more often than not.

"Even if there are flames in the oven, turn off the heat and close the door. Cut off the air and the flames go away."

u/Bikebird63

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11. Making bread doesn't have to be complicated.

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

"There are super-simple no-kneed breads out there. Combine a few ingredients, get a pot super hot, drop the dough in the pot, and let it bake."

u/Sriracha_Enema

12. Lots of ingredients in a recipe doesn’t guarantee that it will taste nice.

u/11Nellie

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13. Don't just pre-heat the oven. Pre-heat the pan, too.

Tasty / Via youtube.com

14. Get familiar with smoke points.

"For example, you shouldn't use olive oil for everything because it has a low smoke point, or temperature at which it starts to burn. For most high-heat skillet stuff, you should use an oil with a higher smoke point. Same idea with butter. If you're using it, add that right before the main event. Why? Butter has a low smoking point. Nobody likes black butter."

u/Volkov_Afanasei

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15. You don't necessarily need the best and most expensive ingredients, but don't cut corners on olive oil or butter.

BuzzFeed

"And always use freshly cracked pepper, rather than the pre-ground table stuff."

u/Google_Was_My_Idea

16. Using fire starters for lighting up charcoal for BBQ will always save you a lot of time, mental strength, and newspaper.

u/Soft_Start

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17. Mise en place!

Melissa Jameson / BuzzFeed

"It translates to 'everything in its place.' And it applies to not just ingredients but tools, prep, and everything else." —u/RickGrimesLol

"Or, as I like to say, get your shit together before you start cooking." —u/AltEngr

18. When it comes to heat, the best thing you can do is (often) nothing at all.

"Don't keep checking things every two minutes. Just let things sit so the heat does its work. Flipping too soon stops browning, opening ovens crashes your heat, and lifting pot lids lets out moisture. Trust your timings."

u/griffex

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19. Take the guesswork out of meat by using an instant-read thermometer.

thermoworks.com

"I'd also recommend a laser thermometer to make sure your pan is just right. I cook 90% of meals in a braiser and tend to lose track of time while letting the pan pre-heat, so sometimes I throw food in when the pan isn’t yet up to temp. Now I take the laser thermometer out with the pan and can check it easily while I’m prepping other stuff.

That along with the Thermapen I bought have allowed me to get great cooks on everything inside and outside. My chicken is now juicy 100% of the time instead of 50%."

u/everyday_malakia

20. Sharp knives make everything easier *and* safer.

u/Bithron

21. There's no such thing as too much garlic.

BuzzFeed

"You can easily double the amount of garlic called for in nearly any recipe and make it better. Of course, I’m a garlic nut, but still..."

u/Bikebird63

What's one cooking tip you wish you'd learned sooner? Share in the comments! 🍳

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