The Best Kitchen Hacks refer to creative and practical tips, tricks, and shortcuts that can make cooking and meal prep easier. There are numerous kitchen hacks that can help you save time, reduce waste, and enhance the flavor and presentation of your dishes. All the ideas on this list are divided by the type of food.
By incorporating these and other kitchen hacks in to your culinary repertoire, you can streamline your cooking process and create delicious meals with less stress and hassle.
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Here are the Best Kitchen Hacks You’ll Love
Kitchen Ingredient Hacks
- A small dish of water in the oven while baking bread will help keep the crust from getting too hard or brown.
- You will get a finer texture if you use milk instead of water when baking bread.
- If your recipe calls for stale bread, but you only have fresh bread on hand, put the slices in toaster on the lowest setting. Let it cool for a few minutes. It will then be stale enough for the recipe.
- If you prefer your biscuits to be soft-sided, line them next to each other with the sides touching. For crusty biscuits, space them out on the baking sheet.
- For every cup of bread crumbs, use 3/4 cup of cracker crumbs.
- Quick breads taste better the next day after the flavors develop. Let the bread cool completely and then wrap it up to serve the following day.
- A simple way to grate cold butter is to rub a fine mesh sieve or cheese grater across the surface for easier blending.
- To soften butter quickly, you can place it in a sealed plastic bag and submerge it in warm water for a few minutes.
- Another way to soften butter is to fill a bowl with hot water and let it sit for 2 minutes. Discard water. Dry the bowl thoroughly and cream the butter and sugar in the bowl. The bowl will retain the heat of the water to soften the butter.
- Don’t throw away butter wrappers after using the butter. Use them to grease pans or baking sheets to prevent sticking.
- Clarified butter, which is melted butter with the milk solids removed, has a higher smoke point and can be used for frying and sautéing at high temperatures.
- Instead of serving sticks or pads of butter at your next dinner party, serve a bowl of butter balls instead. Place a melon ball cutter in very hot water for five minutes. While the melon ball is in the hot water, prepare a bowl of ice water. When the melon ball cutter is hot, scoop out the butter balls from a large container of butter. Drop the butter balls in the bowl of ice-cold water. Keep the butter balls cold in the refrigerator until you set the table.
- To make it easier to frost your cakes, freeze them for a few hours before applying the frosting. This will make the cake firmer and less likely to crumble.
- You can substitute sour cream with Greek yogurt or oil with applesauce to reduce the fat content in your cakes.
- When frosting a cake, take four pieces of waxed paper and place them next to each other on your cake plate. Place the cake on top of the wax paper and frost. When finished, gently remove each section of the wax paper from the plate. Using this method, there’s no frosting on the plate.
- Bundt cake – Don’t let the cake stay too long in the bundt pan because it will stick. Follow the instructions on how long to cool and then tap the pan and gently shake it to remove the bundt cake.
- Spray a cooking spray on the dish before filling the dish with ingredients. It will make serving and cleanup easier.
- Casseroles are a great way to use leftover ingredients such as cooked rice, pasta, or vegetables.
- Use a slow cooker to make a casserole. Simply layer the ingredients, set the temperature, and let it cook on low for several hours. Dinner will be ready when you get home from work.
- When preparing casseroles, make an additional pan to freeze. It makes a great meal to heat up when you’re short on time.
- Use garlic powder on croutons rather than fresh garlic because it’s more evenly distributed.
- Spritz the holes of a box grater with nonstick cooking spray before grating the cheese. The cheese will slide off the grater, and will be so much easier to clean.
- Grate cheese in bulk and freeze it in small portions for later use. This will save time and prevent the cheese from going bad.
- Place shredded cheese on a baking sheet and bake it in the oven for a few minute until it becomes crispy. The cheese crisps can be used as a topping for salads or a topping for soup.
- Use a cheese dome over a block of cheese to prevent it from drying out when serving.
- Cheddar cheese is easier to grate if you put it in the freezer for 15 minutes before using.
- One pound of hard cheese yields 4-5 cups of grated cheese.
- When a recipe uses cream cheese as an ingredient, it should be softened to room temperature first.
- To slice your dessert in perfect slices, be sure to give it a chance to set and condense.
- If you go to the trouble making pie dough, why not make several batches and freeze for later use? Roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Stack the discs in a freezer bag and pull out the required crusts as needed.
- Use a kitchen scale to measure the weight of each layer when making layered cake.
- A honey dipper will make the indent on cookies to fill with jam or chocolate.
- Fudge won’t “sugar if you add a bit of cream of tartar.
- If you add too much sugar in your recipe, add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the recipe.
- Use a pizza cutter to cut bars or bar-cookies into smooth squares.
- Sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk cannot be used interchangeably in recipes.
- Before measuring honey or syrup, oil the cup with cooking oil and rinse in hot water before using.
- The key to successful custard preparation is low heat; high heat causes the eggs to curdle.
- When baking several cookie batches in succession, let the sheets cool before placing more dough on them or the dough will soften and spread. The cookies will end up misshapen.
- Don’t use an egg if it is cracked or leaking.
- Eggs lose their freshness at room temperature. Get them in the refrigerator quickly after you purchase at the grocery store.
- Egg whites should be at room temperature for greater volume when whipped.
- When making scrambled eggs, be sure to pull the pan off the heat when the eggs are softly set, but not runny. Then rest them on the counter for one minute so they firm up. This prevents them from becoming tough.
- In quiche, the perfect ratio is 1/2 cup of dairy for each egg used. This will prevent the quiche filling from becoming too rubbery or soft.
- Remove quiche from the oven while the center still “wobbles.”
- Remember when making quiche that the filling is a custard. You must use full-fat dairy for the filling. The best is half-and-half, though milk and heavy cream work too.
- Allow egg whites to reach room temperature before beating to achieve the volume desired.
- When beating eggs with sugar, never add all the sugar at the same time. Add the sugar a little at a time.
- Add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water when boiling eggs. This also will help the eggs separate from the shell more easily when peeling.
- Instead of placing the eggs in the water and then boiling it, boil the water for 10 minutes before adding the eggs. This method is a great way to let you peel the eggs easier.
- To keep egg yolks from crumbling while slicing hard-boiled eggs, wet the knife before cutting.
Egg Wash Tips
- Beat an egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash. Use this to brush on pastries, bread, or other baked good before baking for a shiny, golden finish.
Fried Eggs Tips
- Use a metal cookie cutter to make fun egg shapes out of fried eggs. This is a great way to make breakfast more fun for kids.
- Olive oil has a higher smoke point than butter. Using olive oil will help keep the edges from burning. Don’t add the egg to the pan until the oil is hot. Use a thin, flat spatula to pick up the egg.
- For fluffier omelets, add a pinch of cornstarch before beating the eggs.
Poached Eggs Tips
- Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water when poaching eggs. This will help the egg whites stay together and prevent from spreading in the water.
Scrambled Eggs Tips
- Pull the scrambled eggs pan off the heat when the eggs are softly set, but not runny. Let them rest in the pan for one minute so they will firm up without toughening.
- To make self rising flour, mix 4 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 tablespoons of baking powder. Store in a tightly covered container.
- To keep apples from turning brown, spritz citrus juice on the cut apple slices. You can use lemon, orange, or grapefruit juice.
- Cover cut apple slices with apple juice and refrigerate for a 1/2 hour. The apple slices won’t turn brown and the apple juice will make the apple slices taste better.
- Peeling avocados is easy with this simple method. Start by cutting the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Then cut each half again lengthwise. Peel the skin off with ease at the tip of the avocado.
- To ripen avocados quickly, place them in a brown paper sack with a ripe banana or apple. The ethylene gas released by the fruit will speed up the ripening process.
- Keep avocado halves fresh by storing them with a cut onion. The onion will help prevent the avocado from turning brown. You could also keep the pit in the remaining half and lightly brush lemon juice on the open side.
- To prevent your bananas from turning brown quickly, place the stems in a small bowl of water until you use them.
- Use bananas as a natural sweetener in baking or smoothies instead of sugar or honey.
- You can use banana peels to polish silver.
- To ripen bananas quickly, place them in a brown paper sack with an apple or another ripe fruit.
- If your banana ripen and you don’t have a use for them now, peel them and put them in a freezer bag to use in smoothies or banana bread when you have time.
- Only wash cranberries just before using.
- Cook until the cranberries pop or otherwise they will be bitter.
- Fresh lemon juice will remove onion scent from hands.
- Lemons will keep for weeks when stored covered with water and refrigerated.
- To easily remove the white membrane from oranges, soak them in boiling water for five minutes before peeling.
- To peel pears in a hurry, lightly scald them in boiling water. The peel slides right off.
- Store your strawberries in a Mason jar in the refrigerator and they will last longer.
- If you’re looking for a great strawberry stem remover, here’s one on Amazon.
- Blend fresh strawberries with a little sugar and lemon juice to make a strawberry puree that can be used in desserts, as a topping for waffles or pancakes, or added in cocktails.
- Don’t throw away your strawberry stems. Here are some ideas on what to do with them.
Dried Fruit Tips
- Chopping dried fruit can be messy. Spray your sharp knife blade with cooking spray. The oil keeps the fruit from clinging to the edge, making chopping dried fruit so much easier.
- Add fresh herbs to an ice cube tray and cover with water or olive oil. Freeze and pop out and place in a freezer bag. You can use these herbs in soups and stews when you need extra flavor.
- To stop an ice cream cone from leaking, tuck a marshmallow in the bottom of the cone before adding the ice cream.
- For a fun way to serve ice cream, dip the rim of the ice cream bowls in your favorite type of melted chocolate. Then quickly dip the ice cream bowls into sprinkles.
- When you cook wild meats with onion, it cuts down on the gamey flavor.
- If you prick bacon with a fork throughly before frying, it will lie flat in the pan.
- For tender meatballs, soak the bread in water and wring it out before using. This will allow the pieces of bread to incorporate into the meatball.
- Using 80 percent lean ground beef insures the correct meat-to-fat ratio in meatballs.
- To shape meatballs, use a cookie dough scoop to make uniform balls.
- Use beef bones to make a flavorful and nutritious beef broth that can be used as a base for soups and stews.
- A meat thermometer will ensure that beef is cooked to the desired temperature. This will prevent overcooking or undercooking.
- Make the patties for hamburgers slightly larger than the hamburger buns.
- Jerky should be stored in an airtight, zipper-sealed bag in a a cool, dry place. If you can vacuum pack your beef jerky, that would be ideal.
Meat Browning Tips
- You want to make sure your pan isn’t crowded when browning meat. The meat will steam and result in a bland flavor. Instead, heat the pan until hot, and add the meat. Wait to stir until the bottom is browned.
- For the best fried chicken, let the meat come to room temperature before cooking. This ensures the meat is cooked evenly.
- When frying the chicken, use a thermometer to gauge the temperature. You want the temperature to hit 10 degrees above your desired temperature. When you add the chicken the temperature will fall to your desired temperature.
- Cook the fried chicken in small batches to maintain the temperature level of the oil.
- Rubbing chicken with mayonnaise before baking will make the skin get crisp and brown.
- If a recipe calls for buttermilk and you don’t have any, a good substitution is 14 tablespoons of half-and-half mixed with 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a small bowl. Let the mixture stand 10 minutes before using.
- The high-fat content of nuts can cause them to go rancid quickly when stored at room temperature. Store nuts in a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to one year.
- For more evenly browned nuts, bake them in an oven rather than cooking them in a skillet. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Stir them every 3 minutes.
- To prevent pasta from sticking together while cooking, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the water.
- Remove the quiche from the oven while the center has a slight “wobble” to it otherwise it will be over baked.
- You don’t want your quiche to be too rubbery or too soft. Keep a ratio of 1/2 cup of dairy for each egg used in the recipe.
- Make sure you use full-fat dairy in your quiche. Half-and-half is a great dairy to use.
- Adding a few drops of lemon juice while the rice is cooking will help keep the grains separated.
Salad Dressing Hacks
- Add a small splash of water to your vinaigrette before shaking. It will help emulsify the ingredients.
- Use a rolling pin to push out the meat in lobster legs and crab legs by starting at the closed end.
- The “fresh” shrimp you find at the store has most likely been thawed. Buy frozen shrimp so you know when they were defrosted.
- Thaw the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator up to one day ahead of using them. You could also put them in a colander and run them under cold water.
- Keep your thawed shrimp very cold.
- Rubbing lemon juice on fish before cooking will enhance the flavor and help maintain good color.
- To thicken your soup or stew without lumps try adding instant potato flakes. Start by adding 1 tablespoon at a time until you achieve the desired thickness.
- Save time scrubbing your soup bowls by soaking them in a sink filled with hot soapy water as soon as they are empty.
- When transporting a slow cooker or stockpot, keep the lid secure with two long heavy-duty rubber bands around the knob and then around each handle.
- Adding cream-style corn or pureed corn gives chowder a velvety texture.
- Long grain rice is a good choice for soups because it won’t break down. Be sure to cook it separately and add it to the soup before serving.
- San Marzano tomatoes are a good choice when making tomato soup.
- Add a parmesan rind when cooking minestrone soup to add richness and depth.
- The molasses in brown sugar tends to turn the sugar hard quickly. Simply place a couple of marshmallows in with the brown sugar before storing. The gelatin in the marshmallows keeps the brown sugar soft.
- When buying fresh asparagus, look for bright green stalks with closed tips. You want the stalks with very little white, and the green stalks are more tender. Use asparagus soon after purchase. It toughens rapidly.
- The best way to store fresh asparagus is to cut off approximately 1/2 inch off the bottom. In a tall drinking glass, stand the asparagus upright in about one inch of water. Cover them with a plastic bag and refrigerate until they’re ready to be used.
- For canned asparagus, open up the bottom of the can instead of the top. This tip will help keep the asparagus tips from being damaged.
- Chopping beets on a cutting board can leave stains. Before using the cutting board, lightly spray the board with a nonstick cooking spray. The thin coating of oil will prevent the beet juices from staining the board.
- Cut off the pepper top and bottom to seed your bell peppers with ease. Make a vertical slice down the one side of the pepper. Roll out your pepper and cut the seeds and core in one piece.
- When choosing broccoli, the clusters on the head should be tight.
- When steaming broccoli, add the stalks to 1″ of salted boiling water. After two minutes of cooking, add the florets on top of the stalks and cook for three more minutes. The stalks will turn out tender and the florets won’t overcook.
- Here is a list of ideas on what to do with leftover broccoli stalks.
- You want firm and compact heads on Brussels sprouts.
- The cabbage that is heavy for its size is the perfect choice. Avoid cabbage with holes or soft rot.
- Remove the tops of carrots before storing. Tops drain the carrots of moisture, making them limp.
- When picking cauliflower, you want the clusters on cauliflower to be close and tight.
- Making your own cauliflower rice is easy. Separate the cauliflower into large florets and grate each one using the largest holes. You can also use a food processor.
- If you add a little milk or lemon juice to the water in which the cauliflower is cooking, the cauliflower will stay white.
- Cooking and serving your corn immediately after buying will give you the best flavor. The difference in the taste of corn is when it’s picked. The best-tasting corn is picked the same day as you serve it. Try to buy ears that were picked no more than 24 hours earlier.
- You want to pick the slender, long, green cucumbers for best results. Cucumbers with yellowed exteriors are undesirable.
- Soak lettuce in a mixture of water and lemon juice if the leaves need perking up.
- When making a BLT sandwich, mix the lettuce with the mayonnaise before putting on the bread. This will help all the ingredients stick together.
- If you put a head of lettuce in an airtight container with a regular sized piece of paper towel, it will extend the life of the lettuce. Exchange the paper towel for a new one every couple of days.
- Store mushrooms in the refrigerator dry and unwashed.
- If you want to remove some of the strong flavors of onions, slice them and store them in a glass jar with water the day before you need them. It will keep them crisp and reduce the bite.
- To reduce watery eyes while cutting onions, briefly put them in the freezer before cutting.
- You want pea pods that are filled but not bulging. Flabby, dried, yellowed, or spotted pods you should avoid.
- To make crispy hash browns, top them with another skillet and a heavy can on top. This will keep the hash browns in contact with the pan, ensuring they are golden and crispy every time.
- Adding a little vinegar or lemon juice to potatoes before draining will make them extra white when mashed.
- Thaw and squeeze the spinach dry when a recipe calls for frozen spinach. You can also add it to a salad spinner.
- If you lay your tomatoes stem down, they will last longer while stored.
- To skin tomatoes quickly, scald them in hot water and submerge them in cold water. The skin will peel right off.
- To remove a stain caused by tomato juice, spot the stain with vinegar and wash as usual.
General Food Tips
- When you add a lump of sugar to water when cooking greens, it will help retain their color.
- To cut down on odors when cooking things like cabbage, add a little vinegar to the water.
- To dress up cooked vegetables, sprinkle on toasted chopped nuts, sesame seeds, fried onions, or crushed seasoned croutons.
- Dip your kitchen shears in hot water to cut marshmallows, dates, candied fruits, and other sticky foods.
Kitchen Equipment Hacks
- Line the lid with a paper towel of your slow cooker to promote browning and absorb condensation.
- To prevent crystals from forming on food, let the food cool completely before freezing.
- Freeze small items in a single layer. Once they are frozen, add them to a freezer bag or container.
- Label the foods you put in the freezer with the date and reheating instructions. Be sure to eat the food within three months of freezing.
- Dishes take longer to cook in a full oven. Add approximately 10 minutes to the cooking time whenever the oven is packed.
- Keep at least 1-2 inches in between dishes in the oven to allow for airflow and even heating.
- If you’re already baking something, you can make an additional recipe to bake along side of it so you don’t waste energy. Say you’re making a roast, you can make muffins and bake them at the same time. Put the muffins in the freezer for another day.
Clean Kitchen Hacks
- Add 3 tablespoons of Borax into the garbage disposal chamber and let sit for one hour. Then flush with hot water. To keep blades sharp and combat odors, mix 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup water together and add to ice cube trays. Toss a few of the ice cubes and run the disposal occasionally.
- One of the best cleaning tools you can have in your kitchen is a toothbrush with a curved handle. It gets into places that sponges can’t reach. It’s also great for getting the grooves clean on pots and pans.
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