Whether you are naturally gifted in the kitchen or had the pleasure of growing up with some talented cooks who were happy to give you a few pointers along the way—lots of people shy away because they find cooking complicated, and even a bit confusing.
Fortunately, there are tons of great little tricks that can help anyone improve their cooking game, and maybe get some interest in further developing their skills. Here is a run-down of some really fun and useful cooking hacks that can benefit everyone, regardless of skill level.
Ice cream—it’s in the bag
Ice cream can get rock hard in the freezer and it takes ages to thaw out just enough that you can eat it. A simple trick to keep it just the right consistency is to put the container in a plastic freezer bag before throwing it in the freezer.
When you’re measuring sticky ingredients like honey or molasses, spray your measuring tool with cooking spray first. It will help the honey slide right out, giving you the most precise measurement. Or, If the recipe includes a large amount of oil, measure that first in a measuring cup. Then, add the molasses or honey right into the same measuring cup with the oil and voila! No more sticky residue left behind.
Want to quickly cool a beer, soda, or bottle of wine? Wrap a soaking wet paper towel around the can or bottle and set it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Enjoy an icy cold beverage!
For an almost-instant cakey treat, stir up your favorite boxed cake mix, add it to a waffle iron preheated to medium and cook until puffed and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Add some cream cheese frosting or powdered sugar and serve!
Revive a cold slice of pizza by adding some freshly ground black pepper, Parmesan and torn basil, then fold it tip-to-crust and cook it on high in a preheated waffle iron for 3 minutes
For perfectly tender asparagus, take a sheet of aluminum and place the asparagus in the middle.
Add a drizzle of olive oil, lemon slice (optional), salt, and pepper. Gather the sides bringing the tops together to create a puffy pouch with some air space to allow for steaming. Seal and gently shake, so that everything is incorporated. Bake in 360 F. oven for 25-35 mins, depending on the thickness and age of the asparagus.
MORE: The Best Fresh Corn Tricks Ever
Before opening a new package of bacon, roll it up like a jelly roll, then unroll. Slices won’t stick to one another.
Drop it by 25
Glass bakeware conducts and retains heat better than metal, so oven temperatures should be reduced by 25 degrees whenever using glass in the oven.
To create the perfect environment for bread dough to rise (a warm spot away from any drafts), use the clothes dryer! On the high setting, tumble a clean bath towel for 2 to 30 minutes.
Turn dryer off, and place the towel in the bottom of the dryer and the bowl of bread dough on top of the towel to steady it. Shut the dryer door to allow the dough to rise Put up a sign or a piece of tape across the door just in case someone decides it’s the perfect time to do a little laundry.
FREE eBOOK! Make Your Own Mixes, by Mary Hunt
To cool a cake just out of the oven, plate the pan on a wet towel. The cake is less likely to stick to the pan, and once cooled it will come out of the pan more easily.
To make extra-fudgy brownies add 1 tablespoon light corn syrup to the batter, either a box mix or from scratch. Bake as usual. Also, don’t assume it always pays to bake from scratch. Brownies, for example, are often cheaper to make from a mix.
Love tips, tricks, and useful life hacks? Then you’ll love my paperback book Cheaper, Better, Faster: Over 2,000 Tips and Tricks to Save You Time and Money Every Day!
Nearly 400 pages of all the best advice you’ve ever heard (and plenty you’ve never heard) collected into one handy volume! Get it here, at your local library, or wherever fine books are sold.
PREVIOUSLY: When it Comes to Food Products—What’s in a Date?