19 Ways to Cook Everything Faster
Cookbook author Mark Bittman shares his best tips for whipping up dinner in record time—without sacrificing taste.
Start with heat
Before doing anything else, turn on the oven, crank up the broiler, preheat a skillet, and set water to boil. Appliances, pots, pans, and water take time to get hot. Boiling water is always my first move. Find more tips like these in Mark Bittman’s book How to Cook Everything Fast, or grab a copy of his latest cookbook, Dinner for Everyone.
Speed up your washing time
Put all the produce together in a colander and rinse under cold water. (If you have a large amount, wash in batches, putting what’s done on towels.) During downtime while cooking, wash vegetables used toward the end of a recipe. Rinse foods like carrots and cabbage after they’ve been trimmed or peeled. Don’t miss these 15 quick, healthy meals doctors cook every day.
Chop all at once
If a recipe calls for minced garlic, minced ginger, and/or minced chiles at the same time, consolidate the job with my go-to technique: Peel the garlic and ginger, trim the chiles, and put them all in a pile. Then chop and mince them together using a rocking motion.
Make use of your grater
Making a pureed vegetable soup? Grate your veggies instead of chopping them. If you cut them into chunks, they’ll take 20 minutes or more to soften. But grated, they’re ready in a flash. Try one of these 32 vegetarian meals ready in 30 minutes or less.
Let your pots do double duty
When you sauté or simmer something moist—such as vegetables, beans, or sauces—lay a different food on top (especially a protein like fish, chicken, or eggs), cover with a lid, and let the steam naturally cook that upper layer. For instance, for a fast eggs Florentine, steam the eggs on top of the spinach rather than poaching them separately.
Use less liquid when braising
Submerge your braising ingredients in about one inch of liquid, cover the pot, and cook, turning occasionally, adding a little liquid as necessary. Learn how to fix 50 other kitchen mistakes you didn’t know you were making.
One sandwich is faster than four
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Cut a baguette in half the long way, assemble one giant sandwich, then cut that into as many pieces as you like. (I’ve seen people do the opposite!)
Cut around the core
This method is a fast way to prep apples, pears, tomatoes, cabbage, peaches, and bell peppers: Slice downward around the core, removing flesh in three or four pieces; then cut flesh into slices or wedges. Find out which 35 recipes everyone should master before turning 35.