People Are Sharing The Tips And Tricks That Actually Made Them Better Home Cooks, And I Completely Agree With Most

·9 min read

If the idea of cooking intimidates you, remember that it's a skill that is learned and honed. With the proper techniques, tips, and tricks, anyone can get pretty darn good at it.

So, courtesy of Reddit and the BuzzFeed Community, here are some of the best tips and tricks that will instantly upgrade your home cooking — and make you feel more comfortable, relaxed, and confident in the kitchen. If you have one to add, leave it in the comments!

1.Always stock up on whole canned tomatoes instead of diced ones.

Whole canned tomatoes in their juices.

"Canned diced tomatoes require a lot of additives to help hold shape. Whole tomatoes are often higher quality than diced or crushed, and the most versatile. You can keep them in your pantry and then process them as desired for any recipe that calls for tomatoes."


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2.For the best homemade pancakes and waffles, add vanilla extract.

Pancakes cooking on a griddle.

"I always add vanilla extract to pancake and waffle batter. It gives the finished product a serious upgrade and richer flavor, especially when you're also adding fresh fruit to the batter."


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3.Freshly shredded or grated cheese is key to great flavor.

Grating Parmesan cheese.

"Buy blocks of cheese and grate it yourself. Parmesan cheese, especially. You don't know what Parmesan tastes like if you've never bought a proper block of Parmigiano-Reggiano and shredded it for cooking. It's a hard cheese that lasts for a long time, so it's not going to go bad in the fridge. That grated Parmesan cheese in a green can — it's not going to make your food taste good."


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4.For the crispiest bacon, dredge it in a little bit of flour first.

Bacon on a piece of paper towel.

"Just a light dredge on either side of your bacon. Lay the slices on a foil-covered baking sheet, then bake for 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. It comes out perfect. No shrinkage and perfectly crispy."


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5.And after you fry bacon, save the fat.

Bacon sizzling in its fat.

"Filter cooled, liquid bacon fat through a paper towel into a coffee mug or a similar heat-resistant container. It stays fresh uncovered in the fridge for months, and you can use it anywhere you'd use butter or oil to infuse your food with a slight bacon flavor. Try using it to sauté veggies, especially leafy greens like kale, or spinach."


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6.For next-level chili, add a bit of dark cocoa powder or cinnamon.

<div><p>"Cocoa powder, cinnamon, and orange zest really punch up any Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes like chili, carnitas, posole, etc. It adds a floral note that's usually missing."</p><p>—<a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:u/IShouldBeHikingNow" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">u/IShouldBeHikingNow</a></p></div><span> Getty Images</span>

"Cocoa powder, cinnamon, and orange zest really punch up any Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes like chili, carnitas, posole, etc. It adds a floral note that's usually missing."


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7.When slow cooking, add vegetables in the proper order.

Vegetables cooking in the slow cooker.

"Hearty vegetables like tomatoes, celery, onion, and carrots are great for slow cooking. So are ingredients like beans and potatoes. More tender veggies like green onion, bell pepper, eggplant, and mushrooms should really go into the slow cooker at the end, when you're almost done cooking. These vegetables can get bitter or too mushy if they're cooked for too long. I usually add them in the last hour or so, when I add spices."


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8.For the most absurdly good fried rice, compound butter is key.

Frying rice in a wok.

"The biggest game changer for amazing fried rice is compound butter. Restaurants never use plain butter. Most places use a compound butter like a garlic butter. Using it completely changes the flavor of your rice and makes it closer to the hibachi-style stuff."


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9.Pre-salt certain vegetables before roasting or sautéing them.

Eggplant halves drizzled in salt, olive oil, and pepper.

"For veggies with a high water content like zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms, slice them and lay them out on paper towel, sprinkle them with salt, and let them sit for a few minutes to draw out excess moisture before cooking. Then toss them into your hot pan or in the oven for roasting. They will be seasoned, cook faster, and taste less soggy."


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10.Make anchovy your favorite secret ingredient.

Someone making anchovy paste.

"I get jarred anchovies and grind them into a paste with a knife. Add a little bit of that in salad dressings, sauces (especially bolognese), or just about anything savory for a burst of umami."


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11.Oh, and fish sauce, too.

<div><p>"You can add fish sauce to just about anything and it will make it better. Think: tomato sauce, chili, curry, marinades, stews, soups...pretty much any dish that simmers for a while and contains liquid will improve significantly once you add fish sauce." </p><p>—<a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:u/deleted" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">u/deleted</a></p></div><span> Getty Images</span>

"You can add fish sauce to just about anything and it will make it better. Think: tomato sauce, chili, curry, marinades, stews, soups...pretty much any dish that simmers for a while and contains liquid will improve significantly once you add fish sauce."


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12.Save your leftover veggie scraps to make broth.

Veggie scraps in a pot.

"Vegetable broth made with veggie scraps (carrot peels, celery stalks, onion roots, etc...) is the best thing. Not only do you feel like you're making the most out of your produce, but also the broth tastes amazing and isn’t full of preservatives."


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13.When using butter or stock, opt for the unsalted variety.

Saut&#xe9;ing fish in a pan

"I always start with unsalted butter or broth because the amount of salt varies between these items. If you start with salted ingredients and then follow a recipe, adding in more salt or spices, it may leave your dish unpalatable."


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14.Add mustard to mac 'n' cheese for the ultimate flavor boost.

Mac &#39;n&#39; cheese in a skillet.

"Add mustard powder or even a squirt of yellow mustard to perk up mac 'n' cheese...even the boxed stuff. I also use Sriracha to give it a flavor boost."


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15.Add a bit of butter to pasta noodles before stirring them into the sauce.

Stirring pasta in sauce.

"After you drain pasta, put it back in the pot with some butter and a small amount of the sauce. Stir it together over low heat until the butter is melted, then add the rest of the sauce. It helps the sauce stick to the pasta and gives it a lot of flavor."


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16.Don't underestimate the importance of acid.

Pouring wine into ground beef.

"Lots of people will just add more salt or garlic when they think a recipe needs something extra, but often what you really need is a splash of vinegar, citrus, or wine. This acidic element makes way more sense than overloading your dish with salt or garlic."

Carrie Johnson

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17.When sautéd veggies start to burn, add a bit of water.

Saut&#xe9;ing onions.

"If you need to fry onions to golden and they start to burn, just add some water. Stir from the bottom, let the liquid evaporate, and repeats until the onions reach that golden brown color.


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18.Keep your Parmesan rinds and use them to make soups and stews.

Parmesan cheese chunks and rind.

"Throw the rind into any soup or stew while you make the broth and it will give it a nice punch of salty umami goodness. I especially love doing this when I make French onion soup."


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19.Roast veggies on the lowest rack for the best char.

Roasting vegetables in the oven.

"Unless you're broiling, veggies shouldn't be roasted on the top rack. Place the baking sheet on the lowest rack or even on the floor of the oven itself to get the best crisp and char. They will char fast on the oven floor so keep an eye on them."


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20.Use olive or pickle brine to upgrade savory dishes like pastas, soups, stews, and casseroles.

Pepperoncinis in a glass jar.

"I always have a jar of pepperoncinis in my fridge, and when I make pasta I add a splash of the brine from the jar to my pasta sauce. It gives the sauce such good flavor."


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21.For a similar taste to MSG, try adding another savory element to your cooking.

Adding soy sauce to rice.

"I buy MSG powder and use it on everything (soups, sauces, gravies, marinades), but you can also use anchovy, fish sauce, soy sauce, or miso to get that umami flavor."


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22.For the best scrambled eggs, start with a cold pan.

Pouring beaten eggs into a skillet.

"If you like custardy scrambles, this technique is for you. Add beaten eggs to a cold pan with a few pats of butter and slowly begin cooking them, stirring often. As the pan gets hot, take it off the heat and continue stirring the eggs. Then place it back on the heat and repeat so the pot never gets too hot. This low-and-slow technique will result in a super creamy texture that's almost like a custard."

Jesse Szewczyk

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23.Think beyond olive oil when it comes to sautéing.

Fish saut&#xe9;ing in a pan

"Use olive oil for sautéing veggies or to use in vinaigrettes, dressings, and for finishing. If you're searing on a high temperature or stir-frying, try peanut oil or ghee. Bacon fat or butter are best for decadent flavor. Cold pressed canola oil is also great because it imparts a neutral flavor."


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24.To determine which herbs and spices go together, rely on your sense of smell.

A person chopping fresh herbs.

"Taste and smell are interconnected, and spices for the most part taste like they smell. Smell herbs and spices together to see if they go well together. And if what you're cooking smells better when you're also smelling the herb or spice, throw some in."


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25.When it comes to boiling pasta and grains, think beyond water.

Draining pasta into a collander.

"Cook pasta, rice, farro, quinoa, and other grains in bone broth (or any broth) for more flavor."


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26.For the best meat, reverse sear it.

A perfectly cooked piece of steak.

"To evenly cook steak and avoid that overcooked grey ring, reverse sear it. In other words, roast it first in the oven and then sear it in a hot pan). This technique will result in steak that is perfectly pink throughout."

Jesse Szewczyk

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27.Use your ice cube tray to freeze leftover liquid ingredients for later.

Lemon in ice cube trays.

"An ice cube tray can be used to freeze leftover wine, broth, milk, beaten eggs, juice, fresh cut herbs in olive oil, and more. Once the cubes are frozen, pop them out of the tray, seal them in freezer bags, and use them whenever you're cooking."


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28.For creamy mashed potatoes, don't boil the water first.

Mashing potatoes in a pot.

"Bringing your potatoes to a boil with the water instead of adding potatoes to already boiling water makes them creamier when mashed."


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