No matter how good of a cook you are, there’s still plenty to learn. Whether it’s a new way to do prep work, a way to keep ingredients fresh for longer or a fancy new recipe, learning new kitchen skills is so important. In that spirit, we took to YouTube to see what amateur chefs had to say on the subject—and we found all kinds of helpful and inventive tips. With no further ado, here are 30 of the best YouTube food hacks that we’ve found.
1. Peel a head of garlic in no time.
If you have a recipe that needs a ton of garlic cloves, this hack is definitely going to help you speed the process along. All you have to do is put a whole head of garlic in a jar or between two metal bowls. Make sure it’s sealed up and give the whole thing a good shake. When you take it out, all the skins should’ve come clean off!
2. Make your eggs in the microwave.
If you’re a person on the go but you still want to make a full breakfast, this trick can definitely come in handy. All you have to do is crack a few eggs in a microwave safe bowl and give them a good whisking. Add a pinch of salt as well. When you’re ready to go, toss the bowl in the microwave and let it cook for about five minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t overcook but when it comes out, you should have perfectly scrambled eggs.
3. Shred your chicken quickly in a stand mixer.
Many recipes call for you to cook chicken and then spend time shredding it before mixing it with other ingredients. To save a little time on this part of the process, you can put your stand mixer to good use. Once you have a piece of cooked chicken, toss it in a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment. Turn it to a lower speed and led the paddle pulverize the meat until it’s well shredded. After that, continue with the rest of the recipe as you normally would!
4. Section off your frozen ground beef for easy access.
If you buy a lot of ground beef, sometimes you’ll need to throw some of it in the freezer to save for later. Still, you may not use an entire package of ground beef in every recipe—and in those occasions, it helps to have it broken up into chunks before you use it. To do that, use a piece of card or a butter knife to separate it into partitions before you freeze it. That way when you go to use it, you can easily break off a piece to use and save the rest.
5. Freshen up your wilted celery with cold water.
Although celery is already fibrous and tends to last for a long time in the fridge, even celery can start to wilt if you don’t pay attention to it. Still, there’s a way to bring it back and still get the most out of it. If you have a piece of wilted celery, all you have to do is trim the top and bottom and put it in a jar of ice water. After a few minutes, the celery should absorb the cold water and stiffen back up again.
6. Use an egg slicer for other fruits and vegetables.
Do you own an egg slicer? Generally speaking, we only use these specific little slicers for trimming up hard-boiled eggs after we’ve cooked them. Still, it’s also very easy to use these for all kinds of other ingredients as well. More specifically, you can use them to evenly slice up mushrooms for stir-frys and strawberries for salads. The possibilities are endless!
7. Speed up the pasta making process by using a skillet instead of a pot.
You may have heard the saying that a watched pot never boils. As it turns out, there’s no real effective way to speed up the process of boiling an entire pot of water—though you can use less water to speed things up. The idea behind this food hack is to pour just enough water to fill a skillet and put your pasta in it. The water will boil much faster. When done correctly, the pasta should be perfectly done right as the majority of the water has boiled off.
8. Peel a bunch of potatoes quickly with this trick.
When it comes to recipes like homemade mashed potatoes, the work involved in peeling all the individual potatoes can take a lot of time unless you have a good way to do it. To save some time, you can use this simple trick. Before doing anything else, make a round slice through the skin in the middle of each potato. After that, throw them all in a pot with boiling water. After the potatoes have boiled for about 10 minutes, dunk them in cold water. Now you should easily be able to pull the skin off each side of the potato in one swoop!
9. Use this trick to easily peel a mango.
Although fresh mango is definitely one of the more delicious fruits, they’re not the easiest fruit to peel. If you’re not careful, you could slice your hand or waste a bunch of the fruit trying to get the pit out of it. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to peel a mango that is safe and easy. Begin by carefully cutting the mango in half, gliding around the pit on each side. Once you have your two halves, slowly wedge the edge of a tall glass between the skin and the fruit. Work the rim of the glass against the inside of the skin until the fruit slides right off!
10. Try using dental floss in the kitchen for fine cutting.
Although dental floss may not seem like a likely kitchen tool, it actually has plenty of different uses. Anything that’s particularly soft that you’d end up mashing with a knife, try taking the dental floss to it instead—that can include food items like cookie dough, soft cheese and much more. Still, if you’re going to try this hack, make sure that you buy some unscented floss!
11. Use a straw to take the stems out of strawberries.
Although you can probably find a way to deal with your strawberries without any special tools, having a ton of berries to work with can still take a lot of time. To speed up the process, why not try using a straw to take the unwanted parts off in one simple step? To do this, simply push the straw up from the bottom of your strawberry through the center to push the stem off. This way is definitely much easier than picking off all those pieces by hand.
12. Get your fingers wet before going after any stray pieces of eggshell.
If you’re making a recipe that uses a lot of eggs, chances are you’re going to accidentally get a few little shards of shell in the bowl. Getting those tiny pieces out can be a real pain if you don’t have a strategy. Fortunately, this simple hack will make that process a breeze. All you have to do is get your fingers wet first before poking around in the eggs. This way, the shards should stick to your fingertip and easily lift out.
13. Make perfect bacon without using a skillet.
Everyone loves a few slices of perfectly cooked bacon. Although it can be satisfying to cook bacon in a pan on a stovetop, it often results in a lot of grease—and sometimes unevenly cooked bacon. Still, there’s a simple way to get around this. All you need to do is get out a baking sheet, line it with aluminum foil and put your bacon strips on it. Throw them in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on how crispy you want them). When you take them out, they’ll be cooked perfectly with no mess!
14. Measure sticky and wet ingredients without them getting stuck to your measuring cups.
Though it’s simple to measure out dry ingredients like flour or rice in a measuring cup, it gets a little more difficult when it comes to liquids and other sticky ingredients. If you’re trying to follow a recipe’s instructions exactly, it can be a pain when half of the ingredient is still sticking to the sides. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to fix this. All you have to do is spray down your measuring cups with a little bit of nonstick spray before pouring your ingredients into them. That way, they will slide out easily without sticking!
15. Keep your ice cream from getting freezer burn as you eat it down.
Although it can be tempting to buy a container of ice cream and eat the whole thing in one sitting, it’s probably best not to. Still, not doing this often means that you have a container that sits in the freezer with more and more air in it… and more and more chances to get freezer burned as a result. If you’re willing to get a little crafty, there’s a way to avoid this. As you eat further and further down the container, use a knife to cut off the excess empty carton and put the lid snugly back on top! This trick is guaranteed to keep your ice cream fresh, though make sure you only do it with non-tapered containers.
16. Use a spoon to safely peel your ginger.
If you’ve ever tried to peel a fresh ginger root, you know just how uneven and knotty the surfaces can be. If you’re using a knife, you can put yourself in serious danger of cutting your finger. Fortunately, you don’t actually need a sharp tool to peel ginger at all—you can even use a spoon to do it. Just gradually scrape the spoon on the root until the skin comes off and you’ll be good to go.
17. Get tighter seals on your plastic bags by using a straw.
Although you can definitely spend money to buy a vacuum sealer if you really want to, there’s usually no reason to spend that money. Instead, why not use a straw to get the same effect? To do this, bag up whatever food you were going to seal or freeze and put a straw in the bag as well. Zip the bag up all the way to where the straw is sticking out before sucking all the air out through the other end. When you’re satisfied, pull the straw out and quickly seal the bag the rest of the way. Although this works well for most foods, you might not want to do it with raw meat!
18. Ripen your unripe bananas for baking in no time at all.
Typically speaking, banana bread requires a whole bunch of extremely ripe bananas—so ripe they’re basically falling apart. Still, what if you have a fresh batch and you’re still in the mood to bake some? If you’re in a pinch, there are still ways to ripen up a bunch of bananas in a hurry. All you have to do is preheat your oven to 350 degrees, put your bananas on a baking sheet and throw them in the oven for about seven minutes. When they come out, the peels should be dark and the insides will be perfectly gooey for baking.
19. Recover the pieces of a broken cork using a straw.
If you’re anything like us, you’ve accidentally destroyed a cork before while trying to get it out of a wine bottle. If this is you, don’t worry—it happens to the best of us. Still, the resulting clean up can be a real pain, especially when your wine has tons of pieces of cork in it. To get some of them out relatively easily, stick a straw in the bottle and put it over the larger cork pieces. Put your finger on the other end of the straw to make a vacuum and suck the pieces out!
20. Don’t throw out old pickle brine.
Though you may already be in the habit of saving old pickle jars, you can actually keep using the pickle brine itself as well. While the pickles that come in the jar are just pickled cucumbers, you can expand your horizons to pickle all kinds of other ingredients. Though we’ll leave the specifics up to you, some example foods could include chopped veggies, onions or even hard-boiled eggs! In this case, the more experimentation, the better.
21. Use this trick to quickly soften up any stick of butter.
Typically speaking, softening butter is something that you have to do ahead of time if you’re planning on baking. Still, there’s still a way to fix the problem of a cold, hard stick if you forgot to do your prep work. Begin by putting your stick of butter in a Ziploc baggie and sealing it up tight. Next, get out a rolling pin and beat the butter while it’s in the bag, smushing it all down. After a few minutes of this, the butter will be soft enough to bake with even without having warmed it up first!
22. Use a simple trick to “dot” your butter more easily and accurately.
In certain recipes that call for spreading your butter around more carefully and evenly, you may be instructed to “dot” your butter. Generally, this means breaking off little bits of it with your fingers and putting the pieces carefully around whatever you’re working with. Still, there’s a more accurate and clean way to do this if you have a grater handy. First, make sure your butter is chilled and grate it over a fine grater like you would a cheese. When you’re done, sprinkle the little shavings around whatever you’re baking in the same way you would have dotted it before.
23. Soften up old, hardened brown sugar clumps.
Anyone who bakes a lot knows how irritating it is to find that a bunch of brown sugar you’ve been saving has suddenly clumped up and seems unusable. Fortunately, there’s a way to reverse that trend. All you have to do is heat your oven to 300 degrees and put your brown sugar in there on a tray for about five minutes. When it comes out, it should be perfectly soft again. To keep your brown sugar from getting hard in the first place, just store it in a jar with a single marshmallow—the marshmallow retains moisture and will help keep it from clumping.
24. Keep grains and other loose foods sealed tight with this simple hack.
If you have a lot of lentils, beans or other loose foods sitting around your cabinets, you know how difficult it can be to keep them organized and fresh. Fortunately, there’s an easy hack you can do to make sure all the extra air stays out of the bag. To do this, start by cutting the top off of an empty plastic water bottle you have lying around. Next, take the cap off the top and feed whatever plastic bag you have through the neck of the bottle, folding the excess around the outside. When you’re ready to seal it, simply push the air out of the bag and screw the cap back on top like you would the bottle. This way, everything will stay sealed up perfectly!
25. Keep your herbs tastier for longer by using a microwave.
When it comes to flavoring food with herbs, the received wisdom is that the fresher they are, the better. Still, fresh herbs also go bad much more quickly than dried or stored herbs—but dry herbs often has far less color and flavor. Fortunately, there’s a solution to have the best of both worlds. All you have to do is buy fresh herbs, lightly wrap them in a paper towel and microwave them until they’re dry. For whatever reason, the microwave lets them keep more of their color and flavor while you get the benefit of longer lasting herbs in the process. It’s a win-win!
26. Try this trick to drain out out thawed spinach better than before.
Cooking with frozen spinach can be a simple way to save some money and make life easier on a wide variety of different recipes. Still, trying to drain the thawed spinach by hand can be a bit of a pain. Fortunately, there are a few different ways to make this process easier. If you have a sushi mat handy, simply put the wet spinach in it and roll it up tightly like you would rice. In the process, you should have nicely drained spinach with no mess. On the other hand, you can also use a potato ricer to push the excess water out of the spinach before using it.
27. Read your cookbooks more easily while cooking with this simple hack.
Although it’s helpful to have a bunch of cookbooks for inspiration in the kitchen, it can be hard to keep the books open and convenient to read while you’re actually working with the ingredients. To avoid this, why not try using a hanger to keep the book open while you work? To do this, you’ll just need a place to hang a wooden hanger that has a couple of metal clamps on it. Simply clamp the book in place onto the hanger and cook as you normally would. Simple!
28. Use a chopstick to easily take the pits out of cherries.
Although fresh cherries are a delicious treat (and good for you to boot), taking the pits out of them can be a pain-staking process. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to automate it if you have a chopstick and an empty Coke bottle. All you have to do is rest the cherry on top of the bottle, push the chopstick perfectly through the center and wait for the pit to drop into the bottom. Take the cherry off and repeat!
29. Make some frozen coffee cubes to keep from watering down iced coffee.
Iced coffee can be a delicious and refreshing treat. Still, the process of icing hot coffee or even cool coffee can lead to the final product being too watered down to taste right. Fortunately, a little bit of planning can help you avoid this problem. All you have to do is make some coffee and freeze it ahead of time. The next time you want to have iced coffee, pour your coffee into a cup and ice it with the frozen cubes—now it won’t be watered down when they melt!
30. Get the stains out of your old Tupperware containers.
If you do a lot of meal prepping and storing food to eat later, you know just how much of a pain it is to wash Tupperware after its been stained with leftovers. No matter how hard you scrub with soap and water, it never seems to come out. To get out even the hardest stains, wipe down the insides of these containers with a paste of baking soda and water. Let it sit for a while and blast it out with water. When you’re done, it should be good as new!
As you can see, there are plenty of little tips and tricks to help you make cooking in the kitchen a little easier. Whether it’s prep work, finding better ways to read recipes, cleaning dishes or rejuvenating old ingredients, there’s no limit to what you can do in the kitchen if you’re willing to be a little creative. Have you given any of these tips and tricks a try for yourself? Do you have any of your own tricks that we didn’t include here? Let us know in the comments below.
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