Kitchen hacks make life easier, and this page has some of the best. Once you’ve absorbed all the high-level knowledge here, apply them to your kitchen – then you’ll be on easy street. Whether you choose to read the whole page or not, definitely check out hack #28. You won’t be disappointed if you hate mess.
Tip: Use the Table of Contents to jump to your preferred section.
Food preparation Ideas
1. Cut perfect strawberries with an egg slicer
Why limit the use of an egg slicer to eggs? If the presentation is important to you when serving up food, then take note. Any small, soft fruit and vegetables can be sliced into uniform pieces with this tool. Think mushrooms, banana, or feijoa. This hack is the best idea since, well, sliced bread.
2. The eggshell crack-hack
You may be an egg-spert cracker of eggs, but no-ones perfect. Mistakes happen. So if you’ve separated your fifteenth egg to make meringue and some eggshell ends up in the whites, it’s frustrating trying to fish it out. Until now, that is. The trick is to wet your fingertips then pick out the shell. H2O attracts the shell and picking it out is a cinch.
3. Extend your veggie peeler’s functionality
Peeled vegetables are okay, but now it’s time to raise the ante. Use your peeler to slice thin shards of chocolate for a stunning cake or dessert garnish. Serving bread during dinner? Create butter curls by peeling very cold butter. Need a crispy element on the plate? Peel thin slices of carrot or parsnip and bake on 350F until crispy.
4. Stop potatoes going brown once peeled
You do all the hard work peeling the potatoes, a job no-one envies. After dicing or grating them, the nice white color turns into a shade or mud brown. To stop the oxidation process, drop the chopped potato into a bowl of water until you’re ready to cook them.
5. Reduce your meals fat content with the help of ice
Slow-cooked foods that involve meat tend to gather a layer of fat on the top of the water. The usual process involves painstakingly scooping the fat off with a spoon. A better trick is to place a handful of ice cubes into a cheesecloth then skimming the surface of the water. This will cause the fat to solidify, making it much easier to scoop it out with a spoon.
6. Boil pasta like a spaghetti boss
It’s not uncommon to get distracted by TV or your device, only to look up and see the water boiling over the sides of the pot. That water is a pain to clean up, especially if you forget about it and let it dry. To stop boil-overs, place a wooden spoon on the top of the pot. A simple hack to eliminate a frustrating problem.
7. No buttermilk? No worries
It’s Sunday morning, and you’re ready to make a batch of buttermilk pancakes, only you don’t have buttermilk. For a good backup option, combine one cup of milk with one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon. Now you’re ready to make that pancake stack. Alternatively, check out our handy list of homemade buttermilk alternatives.
8. Bake a perfectly formed cake
Once you’ve mixed all the ingredients and poured the batter into a cake tin, it’s tempting to put it straight into the oven. Don’t. The secret is to let the mixture flatten out so that all the bubbles disappear.
9. Make tough meat tender
No-one enjoys tough meat. If you’ve got a cut of meat that doesn’t exactly look like eye fillet, then pop it into a bowl of coke for ten minutes before cooking. If you don’t have coke, slice apple, pear or pineapple and place the slices onto the meat and cook with the fruit still on the meat. They are excellent at tenderizing tough protein.
10. Make a bacon rack for crispy deliciousness
Crispy bacon in almost any recipe is good, but cooking it is messy. All that fat spattered over the kitchen! A true bacon guru knows that two sheets of aluminum foil can be fashioned into a makeshift bacon rack. To do this, squish the foil together and create raised sections every inch. Pop the meat on the foil and bake at 350F until nice and crispy. Unwanted fat will run into the gutters so the bacon cooks beautifully and there’s minimal mess.
11. Want fast food? Microwave eggs
This is the ideal solution for office workers that are tired of toast or cereal for breakfast. Cooking eggs at work in a pan isn’t realistic for most; but what if you could toss the eggs into a microwave bowl, whisk them with a form, then cook them on high for 2 minutes? You’d get scrambled eggs, my friend! Add salt, pepper, and cheese, then devour.
12. Reinvigorate limp vegetables
This tip could save you a lot of money each year if you’re the type to toss out limp vegetables. To bring them back to life, slice off the base of the stalk and place it in ice-cold water. Celery, asparagus, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and spinach all thrive once chopped and put in icy water.
13. Zest the way it’s meant to be done
Most of us treat a zester like a grater, which isn’t the way. Turn the zester around the other way and rub it against the lemon. Not the other way around.
Food storage ideas
14. Extend the life of tomatoes
It’s only natural to place your tomatoes in the fridge the right way up. Change all that to extend their life. Instead, flip them upside down to stop air entering the fruit where the stalk has been cut.
Expert tip: If you’re stuck with a load of leftover tomatoes and don’t know what to do, turn them into tomato sauce for pasta. A tomato press will take the hard work out of processing them. Not sure which brand is best? Check out our comparison of the best tomato presses currently available.
15. Store cling film like a professional
Long has the plastic wrap been stored in a kitchen drawer or pantry. The problem with storing it at room temperature is that the plastic is a nightmare to manage. You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure. To make life less frustrating, pop that roll in the fridge. Problem solved.
16. Become a master of banana ripening
To slow the ripening process: Wrap a piece of plastic wrap around the end of your banana bunch. It will put a stop to the emission of ethylene gas, the cause of premature banana ripening.
To speed up the ripening process: If green bananas are all that’s available at your local supermarket, then you’re in trouble. You need a solution to ripen that delicious fruit fast. The answer is to place them in a paper bag with an apple or pear, then fold over the opening to keep the gases trapped inside. This will speed up the ripening of bananas from several days down to 1 day.
17. Pre-scoop ice cream
When you get home from the store with that tub of ice cream, it’s usually soft and scoopable. Fast forward to the next night when you come to eat it and, it’s like granite. Letting the ice cream sit out of the freezer for 10 minutes, scoops dipped in hot water, they’re old-school tips. What if I told you that a humble muffin tray could double as a high tech “ice cream dispatch unit.” When your cream is soft, scoop it into perfect balls and place them in the muffin tray. Cover with cling film and freeze. Now you can easily access the ice cream even when its rock hard.
18. Vacuum seal vegetables with a 5c straw
A fancy vacuum sealer is a brilliant addition to the kitchen, but they’re a little costly. A back-up option is to use a straw and suck out the air before sealing. It’s not quite as effective as a sealer, but it’s not a bad option if you only want to spend 5c on a solution.
19. Store ice cream at the back of the freezer
The average home freezer goes up and down in temperature like a yo-yo. This is mostly due to the door being opened. However, the front of the freezer gets effected more than the back. So store temperature-sensitive food like ice cream at the back to stop it partially thawing over and over. It is the partial thaw process that results in icy, unpleasant texture.
20. Reduce wastage of stock or bouillon
You’ll often have leftover stock after cooking which often gets put in the fridge, then, eventually gets tipped down the sink. A better option is to tip the stock into ice cube trays and freeze for another day. Wrap the tray in plastic wrap before freezing to stop other smells from the freezer getting into your precious stock.
21. Stop brown sugar turning into a piece of rock
Brown sugar starts its life a lovely soft texture, the way it should be. Once you open the packet and come back to it a week or two later, it’s often turned hard. To stop this, tip the sugar into an airtight container with a piece of citrus peel. Your sugar will remain as soft as the day you opened it.
Have you read this helpful hack too late? If your brown sugar is already hard, place it in the microwave – cook for 15 seconds with a glass of water next to it.
22. Divide ground meat then freeze
If you have more than two in your household, then block your ears. For the rest of you, this idea will result in zero meat wastage. Slice the meat into suitable portion sizes then cover with cling wrap and freeze. Next time you cook tacos or juicy homemade burgers, break off how much you need without having to defrost a mammoth chunk all at the same time.
23. Say goodbye to freezer-burned ice cream
Everyone despises ice cream with freezer burn. But this nasty affliction on ice cream doesn’t need to be a part of your life. Pop the tub in a freezer bag and seal before freezing. The extra layer of protection wards of the burn.
24. Prevent cookies from turning hard
You want those cookies to stay as fresh and soft as the day you baked them. The secret is to drop a single slice of apple into the cookie jar with your favorite baked goods. If the lid is tightly sealed, they’ll happily maintain their delicious texture.
25. Freeze leftover egg whites
Making food like lemon curd, ice cream, custard, or mayonnaise requires the use of egg yolks. The problem is, you’re left with egg whites which many cooks will toss out. Reduce the wastage by pouring the whites into an ice cube tray then freezing. Once they’re hard, pop them out into a bag and when it comes time to make meringues, take out however many whites you need and defrost overnight.
26. Prevent cake from drying out
If you’ve made a cake ahead of time you there’s always a fear that it’ll go a little dry. To keep the cake moist, place a slice of bread on top and it’ll still be good the next day.
27. Freeze herbs for convenient use
If you enjoy cooking with herbs, then a cunning idea is to place a few into an ice cube tray along with water or olive oil. Once hardened, pop them out and store in an airtight container or freezer bag. When it’s time to cook, you can drop one or two into your food. Perfect for casseroles, sauces, and soup.
More Genius Ideas
28. Create a makeshift bowl cover to eliminate “batter spatter”
Beating cakes, frosting and practically any other baked item with an electric mixer are fraught with danger. Especially once kids become part of the mix. This kitchen hack eliminates mixtures spattering over the bench, walls, and ceiling. You’ll need one paper plate; make two small holes for the beater to fit through, and you’re ready to go.
29. Use sticky-icky ingredients without the mess
Ingredients like treacle and honey taste delicious, but they’re a pain to measure out. When they’re finally added to the measuring cup, getting them into the bowl is slow and painful. Make your life easier by squirting some cooking spray into the measuring cup first. Those difficult ingredients will slide out with ease.
30. Make dried herbs in seconds
Do you have a surplus of fresh herbs? Yeah, that Rosemary plant in the back yard is a beast. One option is to transform your herbaceous flora into a dried version. Pop some sprigs onto a plate and microwave for one minute then check if it’s nicely dried. If necessary, continue heating for another 30 seconds at a time until dry and crumbly. Store in a mason jar or airtight container.
31. Check the baking powder is still functional
If you’ve ever cooked a cake only to discover it hasn’t risen, you’ll know the exasperated feeling. Such a waste of time and ingredients! One cause of flat cakes is baking powder or soda that no longer works. You can expect the active ingredients to last around 1 ½ years, but that’s just an estimate; if you don’t seal the bag properly, its lifespan will reduce.
To test baking powder, add a ¼ tsp of the powder to a small bowl and then pour in a small amount of water (a ¼ cup will be sufficient). If bubbles start to rise then it’s still good – no bubbles means your baked goods don’t stand a chance if you don’t visit the store to buy replacement baking powder.
32. Dental floss is the perfect cheese cutter
Don’t have a cheese cutter? Pull out a length of dental floss and circle it around the cheese then pull. You’ll get nice even slices. This option is especially useful for soft cheeses.
33. Ripen bananas faster than a speeding bullet
When you need a banana cake, and you don’t have any bananas, it’s frustrating. Most of us have had a crack at using unripe bananas and been disappointed. The result is bread that lacks that sweet, banana flavor.
The answer is to bake those yellowish-green bananas in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes until brown. Now they’re ready to go!
34. Degrease cookware without the headache
Grease build-up on pots and pans can be a major hassle to remove. Work smarter not harder with a little help from your friend in the kitchen, vinegar. Add a quarter cup with some water then heat until boiling. Allow to cool and then wash stubborn grease and stains off with ease.
35. Peel oranges and mandarins the easy way
Pop your fruit into the microwave and heat for 15-20 seconds to make peeling a cinch.
As with everything in life, there’s an easy way and a hard way to get things done. Never is this truer than in the kitchen! If you apply even two or three cooking hacks from this list, you’ll make your life easier. Food storage is an area you might want to focus on; some of us waste so much food and a few simple changes to the way we store food can drastically reduce food waste.
What is your favorite kitchen hack that you couldn’t live without? Let us know in the comments below.