You can never have enough cooking hacks. Not only do they save us time, money and effort, but often they are so genius, we're left wondering, 'why didn't I think of that?!'
With this in mind, I've done a round-up of the 24 most useful cooking and kitchen hacks on the internet.
So get ready: dinner's about to get more effortless than ever.
1. Juice a lemon without fancy equipment
No fancy lemon juicer? No problem.
Whilst you'll struggle to squeeze out all that goodness with your hands alone, using a pair of sturdy tongs will get results in seconds.
Place a lemon half in between the pincers and press hard. The extra grip and power will get the job done in a matter of seconds.
2. Dental floss can be used to cut soft food
Do struggle to cut perfect cake slices? Believe it or not, dental floss cuts through the soft sponge much easier than most knives, leaving you with immaculate straight lines.
Just make sure to use the tasteless kind, unless you're after chocolate mint, that is!
3. Use the hole in your spaghetti spoon for portioning
Don't waste time getting your scales out when all you want is a quick spaghetti supper.
A great kitchen hack is to use the hole in your spaghetti spoon to gauge the right portion size: one holes-worth = one portion, simple!
4. A cooking hack to prevent salad from going soggy
It's hard enough to eat healthy, without soggy salad making matters even more unappealing.
A great trick to keep your leafy greens crisp and fresh for longer, is to portion the salad into smaller bags, blowing a puff of air into each one before sealing.
The c02 you exhale will keep them crunchy for much longer, making healthy eating that little bit easier
5. Hack your way to fresh herbs
Dry herbs are OK, but there's nothing like the real thing.
If you're cooking a recipe that requires fresh herbs, be sure to save the ones you don't use for a later date. Chop them up, and pop them into an empty icecube tray, topping each section up with water, or olive oil if you're feeling fancy.
Whenever you want to add an extra boost of flavour to your cooking, you'll have fresh, fragrant herbs on hand.
Want more like this? Check out even more exciting ways to use an ice cube tray now!
6. Get delicious hash browns without the effort
Hash browns are the ultimate breakfast addition. Saying that, they're not exactly easy to make.
If you want to treat yourself to a wow breakfast without the effort, you can use your waffle maker to get picture-perfect hashbrowns in minutes.
Shutterbean has a great tutorial showing you how, but be careful, they're addictive!
7. A cooking hack to get your bread fresh again
There's nothing better than that amazing crunch you get with proper, fresh bread.
Revitalise day-old loaves that have lost their crisp by lightly spraying them with water, then popping into the oven on a medium temperature.
This will help the outer surface dry out once more, and your bread will taste as good as the day you bought it.
8. Perfect slice tomatoes in a matter of seconds
Adding vibrant tomatoes to a salad always make it look and taste better.
However, cherry tomatoes can be fiddly to cut and messy too. Use this cooking hack to make things easier:
Place your tomatoes onto a plate, and then add another plate on top, sandwiching them in between.
Then, holding the top plate down, slice a sharp knife through the tomatoes. You'll get evenly halved tomatoes with no mess in a matter of seconds.
9. A cooking hack to take your hot chocolate up a notch
Think you make a good hot chocolate? Check out Colleen's very own ultimate hot chocolate recipe to see how yours compares.
A whipped cream topping is a pretty standard affair, but shaped, frozen cream toppings? That's next level yumminess.
Spread a layer of whipped cream onto a tray, freeze, then punch out shapes when slightly thawed. Add to your hot chocolate as and when, and relish in the melted, creamy loveliness that these toppings bring to your favourite drink.
10. Speed up chilling time
The panic that ensues when you realise you've only got ten minutes until your guests arrive, and no chilled wine.
A great kitchen hack to speed up chill-time is to wrap bottles in wet paper towels, before placing them into the freezer.
The theory is that, as water has a lower freezing temperature than alcohol, the paper towel will freeze sooner, helping to speed up the cooling process of the wine.
11. Keep potatoes nice & bright
You know that unappetising, greyish tinge that cut potatoes often get? You can prevent any discolouring by placing and chopped potatoes into water.
They'll stay nice, white and bright, so whatever you choose to do with them, they'll not only taste great, but look great too.
12. Speed up banana ripening with this kitchen hack
If you're like me and only enjoy bananas when they're a rich yellow colour, this trick could make your snack time more pleasurable.
Placing your green bananas into a brown paper bag allows a concentration of ethylene gas, which induces the ripening process.
13. Perfectly separated yolks have never been easier
How do you separate your egg whites from your yolks? Using the shell, a special device, or maybe just your own clean hands?
Forget all that messiness: a top cooking hack is to use a water bottle to suck the yolks away from the whites. Just squeeze the bottle lightly, and the yolk will lift clean away.
14. Speedily skim the fat from sauces with this nifty cooking hack
Prefer your gravy with a little less fat content?
Gently dragging an ice cube over the surface of a liquid will cool the fats, meaning it solidifies and collects on the surface.
This is then easy to lift away, leaving a lighter sauce behind.
15. A kitchen hack that makes measuring easier
Got a recipe that requires oil, treacle or butter?
There's no need to wash the measuring spoons every time or let them get in a greasy, sticky mess. Rinse them in hot water before you start, and the ingredient will slide straight off without a problem.
16. Use a wooden spoon to prevent your pots from boiling over
I can never concentrate on the task at hand if I've left a pot simmering in the kitchen. It's as if as soon as I stop listening, it'll boil over!
A great kitchen hack to help prevent this is balancing a wooden spoon over the pot. Wood is a bad heat conductor, so the water will be repelled.
17. Get perfectly hulled strawberries without using your nails
Fed up of messy-looking strawberries after pulling out the stalks with your nails? Or using a knife and ending up cutting them down to nothing?
What you need, is a straw. Push the straw through the base of the strawberry, and it'll pop the stem straight out - no mess involved, no fruit wasted.
So that's why they're called strawberries!
If you think unusual uses for straws end there, think again: read Colleen's surprising uses for straws in your drawers to discover even more.
18. Use this cooking hack to check egg freshness
How long do eggs actually keep?
If you want to find out if yours is still good to eat, drop it gently in a glassful of water:
- If the egg sinks to the bottom and lies flat, it's still fresh.
- If it points towards the surface, it's losing freshness, but you can still eat it.
- If your egg floats, throw it away! This is a bad egg and shouldn't be eaten.
19. A cooking hack to substitute for a pastry brush
It always hits me by surprise just how often a pastry brush is required.
Whether you're buttering a tin or brushing on an egg wash, you'll be stuck without a pastry brush...or will you? If you have some parchment paper lying around, you're sorted.
Fold a large sheet repeatedly into a small square, then fringe one of the edges using scissors. The individual strips will act as bristles and you'll be able to carry out your cooking as normal.
20. A kitchen hack to save you money on special flour or icing sugar
Did you know that caster sugar is just finely ground granulated sugar? And almond flour is just ground from blanched almonds? You can make both of these and more with a blender.
This is a great cooking hack that will save you loads of money.
21. A quick hack to check the ripeness of avocados
Although it's recommended to press the bottom of an avocado to check for ripeness, it's not always the most accurate gauge.
If you're still unsure, you can remove the stem to check the colour of the fruit. If it flicks off easily and you see green underneath, it's ripe. However, if the stem doesn't budge or is brown underneath, your avocado isn't ready yet.
If you've got the opposite problem, and your avocados are overripe, try some of Anushka's incredible uses for gone off avocados.
22. Make peeling a butternut squash easier than ever
There's nothing better than roasted butternut squash at this time of year, but the effort it takes to prepare can be a drag.
A quick hack to speed things up is to zap the entire butternut in the microwave for three minutes. This will help to soften the skin, and your knife will slide through much more easily.
23. Use this cooking hack if you want a delicious steak
We all know you shouldn't start cooking your steaks straight out the fridge.
In fact, food scientists recommend wrapping your steaks in clingfilm and placing them in warm water for 30-60 minutes before cooking to warm them up prior to dropping them into the pan.
Give it a try next time you're having a steak supper for mouthwatering meat!
24. Peel a boiled egg in a matter of seconds
Peeling boiled eggs can be timely and fiddly, but it doesn't have to be.
Hack your way to a perfectly-peeled egg by placing it in a glass with some water. Cover the top of the glass with your hand, then shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
The shell should peel clean off.
I hope you enjoyed reading my article. Let me know what your favourite cooking or kitchen hack is in the comments below.
thanks for the tips bananas in the brown paper is the best for me.
Glad I could help, Kevin. Thanks for reading!?
I find a perfectly acceptable way to peel a Butternut Squash is with a simple Potato peeler!
Hi John. I tend to use a knife, however this can be tricky without the microwave tip! I may try a potato peeler next time - thanks!?
do you mean caster sugar
I did! Thank you Margaret, this has now been corrected.?
My kitchen hack is chopping onions. If your slicing or dicing onions once you have peeled your onion only take the top off leave the bottom on removing any roots left. Have a bowl of water hand. Slice the onion in two halves first and slice your onions from the top. Leaving the bottom on holds the onion together making it easier to slice. Put the slices onion in water reduces the onion fumes and watery eyes. You also don't need as much fat when cooking. The water from the onions can be used as stock and when frying the onions instead of fat. If dicing onions do as for slicing leaving the bottom on and cut in half. Do slits in the onion vertical but not cutting the bottom, do another cut horizontal again stopping short of the bottom. This holds the onion altogether so when you slice the onion you have perfect diced onion without the onion falling apart. Put the diced pieces in water as before.
Hi Norman. It sounds like you're a pro at onion-cutting! Thanks for sharing your great tips?
When I have an under-ripe avocado and want to eat it more quickly, I put it in a brown paper bag and leave it somewhere warm (like an airing cupboard) for a couple of days. Trouble is, I sometimes forget to check and end up with a mushy brown offering!
That's a great ideas Sandy - there's nothing worse than an underripe avocado!?
To ripen ovacodo just place it in with a banana in paper bag
Top tip Wayne! This is because bananas release ethylene which speeds up the ripening process :)
We eat a lot of cherry tomatoes , usually a punnet a day,and it is fiddly to chop them all to add to our cooking,I do like the idea of using two plates which is ideal for salads,wraps etc but if your adding to cooking such as making your own Bolognese sauce we use two bowls with the tomatoes between the bowls and push down the top bowl untill the toms split then add the squished toms to the cooking. The dental floss and cake is an amazing tip and one we would sure use. Thankyou kindly for sharing the ideas.
Hi there. The bowl idea for squishing tomatoes sounds great - quick and easy, just like our tips! Thanks for sharing :)
Another easy way to hull strawberries is to use a pair of sugar tongs. Just grip the green bits, digging very slightly into the fruit. Just twist and pull. Our comes the stem and leaves more strawberry for eating.
Hi Linda. Wow what a great tip -we've never heard this one before! Thanks for sharing :)
hi, I like the tip on peeling boiled eggs. my method is to crack the rounded end and remove the shell, push a teaspoon inside the skin going all round the egg. You will find the shell comes away easily. Love all your tips.
Hi Joan. I'm so glad you enjoyed the tips. Yours sounds pretty good too - we'll definitely be giving it a go! :)
I separate egg yolks by cracking the egg into a saucer, covering the yolk with an egg cup to contain it, then pouring the white into a separate container. No mess.
Hi Jan. This is an interesting idea and not one we've heard before. Thanks a lot for sharing, we'll definitely be giving it a go! :)
If you use plastic straws, you are part of a growing environmental problem. "Straws are a particular hazard. Small and light, they can end up lodged in the nostrils of sea turtles and perforating the stomachs of penguins." (The Guardian, July 2017) That strikes me as a very high price to pay for the, in the scheme of things, extremely minimal inconvenience of "messy-looking strawberries"
Hi Mac. Thanks for voicing your concerns about the use of plastic straws. There are many things, of course, that can lead to environmental problems, and it's up to the individual as to whether they choose to use them or not.
I think that Mac needs to get a grip and chill out! Everyone knows that certain products are bad for the environment... but making a comment about it on a ‘tips article’ is rather silly and inappropriate.
If buttering crackers put them on a slice of bread they don't cracking
Wonderful tip Cazmac! Thanks so much for sharing. This will definitely come in handy for Christmas time :)
Love the peeling of a boiled egg. Brilliant. Thanks.
Hi Jacqueline. I'm glad you found one of our tips useful! :)
I already use the straw trick for culling strawberries and save the inner bits that comes out with it, I place them flat on a plate and freeze for 15 mins or so for mini (and I mean mini) strawberry ice pops. Keeping the green on makes them easier to hold. My step-daughters love them this way. They can stay in the freezer much longer than this but they never last in our house.
Hulling even! Currently in bed with norovirus and seems I cannot type lying down.
Hi Helen. This is a lovely idea - thanks a lot for sharing :)
That was very informative Thankyou very much.
Hi Jane. We're glad you enjoyed the article :)
another tip for re crunching your limp salad is to put it in a bowl of iced water for a minute or so before serving it shocks the cells into realigning making it lovely and crisp and fresh again
My tip is for crackerling which is the rind when you cook Roast pork. Cook the pork leg joint as normal but put some salt on the outside before putting in the oven. When cooked remove the crackerling from the joint by cutting the fat from the meat. Don’t cut too much of the fat away. Add more salt to the crackerling then put hard side up on a bowl or deep plate cover with a cloth or paper towel. Put it in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes. Remove plate with crackerling and remove the liquid fat before putting back in the microwave for another minute. Keep doing this until the crackerling is crispy, fluffy and light. Don’t cook it too long or the crackerling will burn.
That sounds lovely!
If you like tomatoes but don’t like the skin. Why not remove it without destroying the tomato. Get a fresh tomato cut round the top where stalk was and remove. The smooth end cut a cross into. Get a small saucepan of boiling water take off the heat and place the prepared tomato in the water and leave in for about 20 seconds. Remove tomato and put it in cold water to cool down. The skin will split and you can easy remove it then you can cut the tomato into portions. If the doesn’t come away put back into the boiling water for another 10 seconds and cool again in cold water.
Things which cause environmental damage should be highlighted anywhere possible! Good for you mac on highlighting the destruction straws are doing to our environment!
Brilliant tips there. Peeling boiled eggs has always been a nightmare for me now I'm sorted 😊
We're so glad to hear!
Very interesting, Please share more.
We'll keep them coming, Freddy!
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