Cooking Tricks & Tips

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

It'll also make your bacon extra crispy.
6. And for a mess-free bacon experience, cook it in the oven instead of on the stove top.
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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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!

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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. Use more than one type of vinegar when you're dressing a salad.
Some vinegars are more acidic while others are on the sweeter side. Mix in more than one to compliment all of the ingredients in your salad.

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

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

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

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

28. Resize your sheet pan with a bit of aluminum foil.
Metal pan with strip of aluminum foil placed on the right third of the pan that effectively creates a smaller pan holding some dough

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.

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

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?"
30. Generously salt your pasta water.

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.