“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips

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Eating delicious food is one of life’s best comforts. We probably all wish we had a personal cook who could serve us homemade ravioli and rich strawberry cheesecake every night. Yet the reality is that learning to cook and bake takes time and effort, and not everybody has that in this economy. So what are the secrets that can help you quickly up your cooking game?

Bored Panda has scoured the nooks and crannies of the internet to find you life-changing cooking hacks. Only one ingredient and your dish might be elevated to new heights. Check them out and share your favorite tips that are missing from our list!

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips I add pureed or shredded carrots to my tomato sauce. It really cuts the acidity without the extra added sugar. Everyone always raves about my pasta sauce.

davy_jones_locket , Klaus Nielsen Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips I add a pinch of salt to hot chocolate, and people go crazy for it. But it’s only hot cocoa mix, milk, and salt. The extra sodium doesn’t make it salty at all. In fact, it somehow brings out more of the chocolate flavor.

ouTPhaze , Brigitte Tohm Report

You don’t have to be a professional cook to make delicious food. However, we all would love to get some tips from real chefs on how to make our dishes more tasty. CNET asked chef instructor Kierin Baldwin to debunk some of the most popular kitchen and cooking hacks.

She says that using a wine bottle instead of a rolling pin is completely okay – you just have to make sure that the bottle is clean. The chef also confirms a cooking hack that’s been debated online and among cooking enthusiasts for some time. She says that some oil in pasta water really does prevent it from sticking together. You just have to make sure to put the oil in before adding the pasta.

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips Anytime a recipe calls for water, I always use chicken broth instead. It makes just about anything taste richer, more complex, and better.

envydub , Hayden Walker Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips Fish sauce. Used properly, it doesn’t make anything taste like fish, and it’s a huge flavour boost in almost any kind of cuisine.

I use it in almost anything savoury I make.

cgg419 , wikipedia.org Report

One less popular hack Baldwin shares is cutting a pizza with scissors. This hack definitely sounds strange, but you just have to make sure that the scissors you use for slicing your pizza weren’t used to cut a kid’s school project with glitter glue.

As long as they’re clean and sufficiently long, it should be fine. Culinary scissors, of course, would be the ideal choice, but who has those just casually laying around the house?

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips Most people use overripe bananas for banana bread, but I have another great trick. I freeze the overripe bananas first, then I thaw them when it’s time to bake. Freezing them first somehow makes them taste even sweeter.

ncgirl105 , Craig Dennis Report

MSG

And no, it’s not “bad” for you nor does it cause headaches. That was all a complete fabrication

ConBroMitch Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips Replace some of the liquid in your waffle batter with seltzer or another carbonated beverage, like ginger ale. It’s the key to the fluffiest, airiest waffles ever.

Professor_Burnout , Pixabay Report

Another hack you might have heard about is using dental floss to slice soft baked goods or cheese. It doesn’t add the pressure that using a knife would and results in a clean and sleek cut. One thing to remember is that the floss should be without flavor. You certainly wouldn’t want your cinnamon rolls to taste of mint, would you?

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips Add a little bit of soy sauce to your tuna or chicken salad. It gives it that extra salty tanginess. I worked at Jimmy John’s for a while, and that was their secret. I’ve been making mine this way for 10 years now, and I could never go back.

helenfeller , Shardar Tarikul Islam Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips Acids. Started when I was making a sauce that just…it needed something. I added a squeeze of lemon, even though it seemed odd, and it was magic.

Another is shallots. I had thought they were the same as onions. Then I had a recipe for saltimbocca from Maggiano’s and the sauce was shallot based. Oh. My. God. They’re one of my favorite ingredients to cook with.

sweetmercy , Pixabay Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips The secret to incredible tomato sauce is butter. Try putting a decent amount of butter into your red sauce and let it simmer. It will taste so much better, but no one will be able to guess the secret.

[deleted] , Naim Benjelloun Report

From watching Gordon Ramsay, I first learned that freezing mozzarella makes it easier to grate it. What I did not know was that the same can be applied to ginger. When I was in my Asian cuisine phase, I learned that ginger can be quite difficult to dice or grate. Baldwin advises to freeze it prior to grating. That way you can even skip peeling it.

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips Try adding a touch of horseradish to your mashed potatoes…especially garlic mashed potatoes. It’s a game changer. It adds a ton of flavor without being too noticeable or overpowering.

melc40e454224 , Rachel Loughman Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips If you’re making cookies from bagged or boxed mix (like Tollhouse), substitute whatever butter you usually use for Kerrygold butter. Something about salted Irish butter will take your cookies to the next level.

Mikesicle , Lisa Fotios Report

Refinery29 also has some one-ingredient cooking hacks. They recommend putting some miso paste in your baked sweet potato. Depending on what kind of miso you use – white, yellow or red – the taste of the filling will be progressively intense accordingly. Miso paste has the combination of all five basic tastes: sweet, sour, umami, salty, and bitter. It’s guaranteed to elevate your simple baked potato to new heights.

Another cooking tip from Refinery29 that involves only a single ingredient  is a budget version of a chicken soup. You can make canned chicken soup taste better if you add a dash of freshly chopped dill. It gives the soup a fresh-veggie flavor that might trick your mind into thinking you’re eating the real deal.

Adding almond extract to baked goods that have vanilla extract. I usually double the vanilla and then add a capful of almond extract. Gives cakes and cookies that bakery taste.

ItsF**kingRaw_ComeOn Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips When I was really starting out with home cooking in college and was making cottage pie and I added Worcestershire sauce for the first time. I have to admit that I probably overuse it at this point but I’ve found few savory dishes that can’t be improved with a few drops.

Alexispinpgh Report

Ever had a hard time peeling a garlic clove? This hack is backed up by both Kierin Baldwin and the Martha Stewart. They advise to crush the garlic first with a knife or a small pan, then put it in some kind of container with a lid – a saucepan will do. All you have to do then is shake it until the peels come off. No more hard work with your fingernails!

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips If your homemade sauces or soups seem too thin or watery, try adding instant mashed potatoes as a thickener. Since I learned this trick, I’ve started keeping a box around for lazy days or emergencies. They’re a lifesaver when you’ve added too much liquid to soup.

PeachasaurusWrex , Pixabay Report

Sumac. I love the ability to add an strong sour note without adding additional liquid like you get from citrus juice or vinegars.

[deleted] Report

Asparagus is a tricky veggie that many people have trouble preparing. Do you boil it? Do you fry it in a pan? Can you air fry it? NYT Cooking claims the best way to cook asparagus is to fry it for 3 to 4 minutes with a little bit of olive oil or butter. You’ll know it’s cooked when it turns bright green. And don’t forget salt and pepper!

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips I put extra yolks in my scrambled eggs. It makes them so much more decadent. So, for example, if I’m making eggs for two people, I’ll use four whole eggs and two additional egg yolks.

theWet_Bandits , Sasha Kim Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips I always add a dollop of sour cream to my boxed mac ‘n’ cheese when it’s time to add the milk and cheese packet. It makes it creamier and so rich.

HDitt , Barbara G Report

Reddit is a great source for finding simple cooking tips. Some years ago I came across a self-proclaimed chef there who said that a bit of lemon juice makes everything taste better. Apparently, it isn’t bogus, because even the VA Nutrition and Food Services claim that tart flavors help stimulate taste and saliva.

Cardamon. Add it to any dish that uses ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves to round out the flavor. It makes snickerdoodles taste elegant.

LeoMarius Report

What are some of your single-ingredient cooking tips, pandas? Share them with us in the comments. And in the meanwhile, let’s go try out that garlic peeling hack. Just don’t forget to put the lid on, so the garlic doesn’t fly out and about across the kitchen.

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips I substitute half the sugar I put into boxed cookie, cake, and cupcake mix for a packet of Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding powder. It keeps baked goods super soft and moist for days.

Life_On_the_Nickle , Quang Nguyen Vinh Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips I worked in a high-end restaurant that was very well known for its cheesecake. The secret to the cheesecake: just cream cheese and marshmallow fluff blended together and set in graham cracker crust.

Busker12 , Karolina Grabowska Report

Butter. I had really only used it as a spread prior to taking cooking more seriously.

frizbplaya Report

Crossover from Indian cuisine — yogurt, in bread, in marinades/sauces. Adding a bit of sodium citrate prevents splitting/grainy under heating.

anonanon1313 Report

Butter instead of oil. Butter instead of oil! Bacon grease i stead of oil elsewhere

EldritchCookie Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips The trick to life-changing mashed potato gravy: the spice packet from your instant ramen. I make my gravy with butter, flour, water, and a packet of beef or chicken ramen seasoning.

sifumokung , wikipedia.org Report

Homemade stock. It improves everything it goes in. I haven’t bought the stuff from the store in years.

Guvmint_Cheese Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips It’ll sound dumb, but grapeseed oil. It’s got a higher smoke point and really upped my meat-searing game. I used to smoke out my college apartment trying to fry steak in butter. Then I realized I could sear my steaks in grapeseed oil and rub them down with butter before they rest.

Boating_Enthusiast , Karolina Grabowska Report

Chicken stock, not the canned/boxed stuff but homemade. I use it constantly now

LSatyreD Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips Adding a pinch of baking soda to grits or polenta cuts the cooking time in half. It’s my favorite dinner time-saver.

ChefSandman , wikipedia.org Report

“It’s Life-Changing”: 57 People Share Their Genius Single-Ingredient Cooking Tips Red Boat N40°. Before I tried it I thought all fish sauce was pretty much the same. I was wrong. Now I look for excuses to use it.

[deleted] , qbit20 Report

Larb. The lime juice/ fish sauce combo made my head explode. I went looking for all the Laos, Cambodian, Vietnamese food I could find.

sam_the_beagle Report

Apple cider vinegar. Add it to any bean related dishes and it makes all the difference in the world. Red Beans and rice and black beans and rice are dynamite with a splash of vinegar.

level 1 [deleted] Report

White wine in sauces.

I was making a cream sauce for pasta once and when the white wine hits the hot pan that already has butter, garlic and other seasoning it just gives off an intoxicating aroma. The whole house smelled like a fancy restaurant.

Ghenges Report

I like to add a bit of cardamom into recipes, it makes everything a lil oomphier!

EldritchCookie Report

Calabrian chili’s in oil. There us a reason why Bobby Flay wins so many cooking competitions, it is this and quick pickled red onions.

Ginja3684 Report

Nutmeg, I have to be extra careful when adding this. A literal pinch, then taste (add or not). Coz sometimes even a tsp of ground nutmeg can be overpowering.

Altruistic_Road8563 Report


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