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30 Underrated Cooking Tricks That'll Make Anything You Cook Taste Even Better

Kinda wish I'd learned some of these sooner.

If you're anything like me, you've probably been spending way too much time cooking in your kitchen over the past year. To cut out some of the work that goes into making all those tasty dishes, read on for a ton of super-easy (and super-useful!) cooking tricks. 🔪

1. If you're cooking a recipe that calls for sautéing both onions and garlic, do the onions first.

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Onions take longer to soften up, while garlic burns pretty easily. So it only makes sense to cook the former first — then drop the garlic in as the onions are finishing.

Read more: 37 Cooking Basics You Should Probably Know by Now

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2. Add brown sugar to your tomato sauce to make the overall flavor even richer.

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Whether it's white or brown sugar, adding just a tablespoon of it to tomato sauce will make the flavor really pop.

Read more: 21 Genius Grandparents' Cooking Tips You Need to Try ASAP

3. To make oven-baked chicken taste fried, add a bit of mayo to the usual egg–and–bread crumbs coating.

thekitchn.com

The mayo will crisp up the individual bread crumbs while giving your chicken that rich mouthfeel you'd typically get from fried foods.

Read more: 42 Cooking Hacks That Are a Little Bit Weird but 100% Useful

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4. When juicing limes or lemons, cut the bottom off first so that all the juice runs through the fruit instead of getting trapped in the rind.

Twitter: @FreddyAmazin

Don't waste all that grip strength on a few measly drops of lime juice!

Read more: 42 Cooking Hacks That Are a Little Bit Weird but 100% Useful

5. Sprinkle flour on your bacon to reduce grease splatters.

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It'll also make your bacon extra crispy.

Read more: 21 Genius Grandparents' Cooking Tips You Need to Try ASAP

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6. And for a mess-free bacon experience, cook it in the oven instead of on the stove top.

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Save yourself some time and energy by simply baking your bacon in the oven. Just toss it onto a sheet pan — and for even easier cleanup, line the sheet pan with parchment or foil first.

Read more: 23 Basic Cooking Mistakes Everybody Makes

7. Know when to use ground pepper versus cracked pepper.

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Finely ground pepper (the kind that looks like dust) is best used for things like sauces. It's pretty strong, and a little goes a long way. Coarse ground pepper, on the other hand, is best for finishing dishes at the table or seasoning proteins. It adds a burst of flavor to anything you add it to.

Read more: 12 Little Seasoning Tricks to Take Your Cooking to the Next Level

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8. Remember to season your cold foods more than your hot foods.

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Most people are able to taste hot foods a little better than cold foods. To make up for this dissonance, be sure to season your cold foods — most commonly, salads — with a heavier hand. An extra pinch of salt can go a long way.

Read more: 12 Little Seasoning Tricks to Take Your Cooking to the Next Level

9. To make extra-fluffy pancakes, leave a few lumps in the batter.

@cooksillustrated / Via instagram.com

If you stir your batter just enough to mix all the ingredients — but not enough to create a smooth texture — your pancakes will end up perfectly fluffy.

Read more: 42 Cooking Hacks That Are a Little Bit Weird but 100% Useful

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10. Cracking eggs? Use an eggshell to scoop up any stray broken pieces.

Tasty / Via youtube.com

Don't waste your time trying to dig it out with your fingers. Use part of the eggshell to easily fish out any broken bits.

Read more: 21 Genius Grandparents' Cooking Tips You Need to Try ASAP

11. Crack eggs on a flat surface instead of the edge of a bowl.

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When you crack an egg on the rim of a bowl or pan, you risk pushing a bit of the shell into your egg. Instead, crack it on a flat surface and separate the shell with your fingers.

Read more: 17 Genius Cooking Tricks That Professional Chefs Want You to Know

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12. For a safer and less stressful cooking experience, sharpen your knives.

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This one might sound obvious, but it's easy to forget: Remember to regularly sharpen your knives. It's frustrating, tedious, and downright dangerous to cut vegetables and meat with dull knives. Need a recommendation? Check out our post on the best knife sharpeners out there.

Read more: 17 Unwritten Rules of Cooking That Every Veteran Home Chef Knows

13. Rinse your rice before cooking to prevent it from becoming gloopy.

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Most rice is not meant to be cooked without at least one rinse. Give it a wash or two to filter out any debris and surface starches.

Read more: 23 Basic Cooking Mistakes Everybody Makes

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14. Save the stems of herbs and add them to soups, stews, or stocks while cooking.

Yael Malka / BuzzFeed

If you're planning on simmering a stew or soup for a long time, add some leftover herbs. They'll add subtle layers and complexity to the flavor.

Read more: 17 Genius Cooking Tricks That Professional Chefs Want You to Know

15. Use a bench scraper to easily transfer food from your cutting board to your pan.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Instead of trying to precariously scoop up your chopped-up veggies onto your pan using your hands or knife, use a bench scraper to neatly and quickly move your ingredients.

Read more: 17 Genius Cooking Tricks That Professional Chefs Want You to Know

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16. Find the sweetest watermelons by looking for a yellow patch and listening for a hollow sound.

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Next time you're shopping for watermelons, just look at their bottoms and pick the one with the yellow-est patch.

Read more: 21 Genius Grandparents' Cooking Tips You Need to Try ASAP

17. Use a flexible spatula to neatly flip your over-easy eggs.

youtube.com

Trying to flip your morning eggs with a hard metal spatula without breaking your perfectly circular fry is pretty difficult. To make it easier on yourself, get yourself one of these babies — the slits mean the egg won't stick to the spatula, and its long body means you'll be able to handle the entire egg without breaking it.

Read more: 12 Egg Cooking Tricks I Learned In Culinary School

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18. For extra-creamy scrambled eggs, be sure to stir them constantly while they're on the pan.

youtube.com

Constantly stirring will homogenize the texture, break up pockets of uncooked egg, and make for a restaurant-style creamy scramble. Just make sure the heat isn't too high!

Read more: 12 Egg Cooking Tricks I Learned In Culinary School

19. Freshen up stale cookies by placing a piece of bread in your cookie container.

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If you want to revitalize cookies that have gotten tough, simply place them in a container with a fresh piece of soft bread. The cookies will soak up the bread's moisture in no time.

Read more: 21 Genius Grandparents' Cooking Tips You Need to Try ASAP

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20. If you want to brown something, don't overcrowd the pan.

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Listen, I know you're short on time and want to get right to the eating part of your night, but if you want to slightly brown and crisp your vegetables (and you definitely do), then it pays to cook your ingredients in smaller batches. If you try to dump all your food into a single pan, the temperature will drop and you won't get that nice, cooked outer layer you're aiming for.

Read more: 23 Basic Cooking Mistakes Everybody Makes

21. And be sure to cook all the water off first.

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If your meat's not browning, just be patient and wait for any condensation on the pan to evaporate properly. If there's too much oil on the pan, you might want to drain a bit of that, too.

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

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22. After you're finished cooking your steak, let the meat rest.

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Don't be so quick to cut meat that's fresh off the grill or pan, since doing so will spill out all of its delicious juices. Let it rest for 5–10 minutes and you'll secure yourself a juicy slab of steak.

Read more: Let's Find Out the Best Way to Cook a Steak

23. When making pie dough, use a grater to get mini chunks of butter.

Flickr/Joy / Via Flickr: joyosity

A grater is a perfect tool if you're making pie dough — where small, intact chunks of coldish butter translate to a flakier crust.

Read more: 17 Genius Cooking Tricks That Professional Chefs Want You to Know

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24. If you find a recipe online that you want to use, check the comments for any tips or precautions.

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Learn from the mistakes of others and set yourself up for success by scrolling to the bottom of a blog post or recipe and checking for any warnings that other reviewers might have about the recipe.

25. When making fried rice, prep the pan by cooking an egg in it first.

Jeff R Clow / Getty Images

According to chef Dale Talde, "If you put eggs in a pan first, nothing will stick to the pan [afterward as you cook]."

Read more: 17 Genius Cooking Tricks That Professional Chefs Want You to Know

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26. Season your food from a distance to make sure all components get evenly covered.

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If you sprinkle too close to your food, you'll risk localizing your seasoning.

Read more: 12 Little Seasoning Tricks to Take Your Cooking to the Next Level

27. Resize your sheet pan with a bit of aluminum foil.

food52.com

No one has the space to store half a dozen cooking trays of multiple sizes. This little trick lets you take one large pan and resize it to fit whatever your recipe calls for.

Read more: 42 Cooking Hacks That Are a Little Bit Weird but 100% Useful

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28. When it comes to heat, don't feel the need to flip things over or stir them constantly.

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Unless the recipe calls for it, it's often to your detriment to check on your food every two minutes. So just be patient and let your pasta boil, your vegetables roast in the oven, and your meat slowly brown on the pan in peace.

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

29. Generously salt your pasta water.

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Don't be afraid to salt your pasta water. It'll make your pasta taste better by seasoning the noodles from the inside out. It will also help in bringing out the flavor of your pasta sauce.

Read more: 23 Basic Cooking Mistakes Everybody Makes

30. Lastly, whatever you do: Don't rinse your pasta after cooking it.

Aleksandr Zubkov / Getty Images

If you rinse the starch molecules off your pasta, the sauce will have a harder time clinging to it.

Read more: 23 Basic Cooking Mistakes Everybody Makes

What's your favorite cooking tip or trick? Share in the comments below!

Spring is here!

This season, we have tons of easy and delicious favorites to share.

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