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40 Kitchen Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

These quick and clever kitchen hacks will change how you cook for the better.

THGKH19, White Bread Slices in Cookie ContainerTaste of Home

Keep cookies soft

To keep cookies and other baked goods soft after baking, add a slice of store-bought white bread to an airtight container. Your cakes, cookies, and muffins will keep their day-one softness. Friends and family will think they’re fresh! Try this trick with these Big & Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies…that is, if you have any leftovers.

THGKH19, Parm Cheese Lid on Mason Jar DryTaste of Home

Craft DIY mason jar shakers

Your bulk spices and baking supplies just got an adorable upgrade. Save the lids from parmesan shakers and gather your small mason jars. Screw the lid on and you’ll have a handy way to sprinkle and measure. These nearly forgotten kitchen secrets from the past can also help revolutionize your kitchen.

THGKH19, Using an Apple Slicer to Cut PotatoesTaste of Home

Slice steak fries

Craving those scratch-made potato wedges from your favorite restaurant? The answer is waiting in your kitchen drawer. Cut one end of the potato for stability then push an apple slicer through. Add your fave seasonings or follow this recipe for Parmesan Potato Wedges. Bonus: You can try it with sweet potatoes, too.

Cooking - chef's hands preparing vegetable vegetarian stew (thick soup). Kitchen scenery - pot with recipe ingredients around on the grey stone worktop captured from above (top view, flat lay). ; Shutterstock ID 1034866882; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHPinkyone/Shutterstock

Freeze a soup starter

Want garden-fresh flavor year-round? Freeze farmers market vegetables in resealable bags during peak season. (Just remember to follow this step before freezing!) A classic soup starter called a mirepoix is made by combining 2/3 onion with 1/3 carrot and celery. This aromatic blend will give you a sweet, hearty flavor to kickstart soups and broths. Vegetables will last eight to 12 months so you can enjoy the tastes of summer when gloomy, cold weather hits.

THGKH19, Sheet Pans as TraysTaste of Home

Use sheet pans as trays

Sheet pans: They’re not just for dinner anymore! Use your trusty baking sheet to stay organized while you meal prep. Keeping ingredients in one place helps you stay efficient and expedites cleanup, too. Psst! Food prep doesn’t have to be a drag—especially when break out these genius tips professional chefs learned in culinary school.

THGKH19, Lazy Susan on CounterTaste of Home

Put your lazy Susan to work

THGKH19, Freezing pesto Kitchen HackTaste of Home

Freeze single-serving sauces

Become an upcycling master! Egg cartons are ideal for freezing small portions of homemade sauce. (Especially when you need to use your ice trays for, well, ice.) Cover and freeze leftover Basil & Parsley Pesto and transfer cubes to a resealable freezer bag. To use, thaw cubes in your fridge for two hours. This is how you might be shortening the life of your stove. 

Rose Pink Blush Wine Cocktail with Pomegranate Seeds, Apple Slice and Crushed Ice.Alp Aksoy/Shutterstock

Turn wine into an instant cocktail

THGKH19, Damp dishcloth prevents slipping, Kitchen HackTaste of Home

Prevent bowls from slipping

Need an extra hand? Professional chefs will tell you that a damp dishtowel under your mixing bowl will keep it from slipping and sliding on your counter as you mix. This tip works well with a cutting board too.

THGKH19, Kitchen Hack Chilling Wine BottleTaste of Home

Chill wine super fast

THGKH19, Kitchen Hack Keeping Ice Cream Cold on PicnicTaste of Home

Keep ice cream cool

Bubble wrap is a powerful insulator. While on the road, keep your Chunky Monkey from melting by wrapping the pint in plastic bubble wrap. It’ll stay firm for hours.

Herbed Accordion Dinner RollsTaste of Home

Make frozen rolls seem homemade

Elevate your bread basket by adding a little extra sumthin’ to frozen rolls. Thaw, then brush tops with egg wash and dip into your choice of seasoning blends, seeds or cheeses, Be as gentle or generous as you’d like! Bake according to recipe or package directions. When you’re really looking to impress, try our favorite recipes for homemade bread rolls.

peach jam with rubber band labelTaste of Home

Label jars the thrifty way

In a pinch for labels? Just reach for the rubber bands. Wrap ’em around your mason jars and you’ll never mistake salt for sugar again. As an added benefit, they help make jars easy to open.

THGKH19, Kitchen Hack Storing Natural Peanut Butter Upside DownTaste of Home

Stop stirring peanut butter

Getting tired of mixing the oil back into your natural peanut butter? There’s an easy solution: Store the jar upside-down. When you’re ready to make one of these favorite PB desserts, simply turn it right-side up. The oil will try to rise back to the top and the peanut butter will be much easier to stir. Nutty right?

The girl is rubbing Dutch cheese on a graterSemeniaka Aleksandr/Shutterstock

Stop cheese from sticking

Grated cheese really makes a difference (here’s why!) but it can be a pain to prep. For easy cleanup, use a quick spritz of cooking spray on your cheese grater to keep the cheese from sticking. With this brilliant kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner, you’ll never go back to pre-shredded again.

THGKH19, Kitchen Hack Ironing Board as Cooling RackTaste of Home

Make a big-batch cooling rack

The ironing board is your new kitchen BFF. It can be used as extra counter space or even a makeshift cooling rack after you remove the cover. Mind blown. Try it out the next time you make one of these big-batch cookie recipesNote: Pans, paper liners, parchment or other barriers should be used between the rack and baked goods.

THGKH19, Canning Tongs Lifting RamekinsTaste of Home

Use canning tongs for hot dishes

It can be tricky to remove ramekins from a hot water bath to cool. Our solution: Use canning tongs. The edges are round and non-slip which makes it easy to lift the ramekin out without risk of splashes. Try it out with our Burnt Custard recipe, then check out these other great uses you never thought of for ordinary kitchen gadgets.

THGKH19, Kitchen Hack Keeping Shrimp ColdTaste of Home

Keep apps cold

Want to serve shrimp, deviled eggs, or one of these other favorite cold appetizers at your next get-together? This clever trick will keep your food cool and photo-worthy. Fill a large bowl with a resealable bag of crushed ice and cover with lettuce leaves. Butterhead works nicely! Place your app on top and you’ll serve food-safe bites all night.

THGKH19, Kitchen Hack Storing tailgate essentialsTaste of Home

Store picnic essentials

Grab a plastic bin and place it inside a cooler. Fill it with all your picnic needs (such as server ware, games, sunblock, and linens), so you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice.

THGKH19, Immersion blender for whipped creamTaste of Home

Make tiny portions of whipped cream

Ever need just a dollop of whipped cream to make your strawberry shortcake shine? Reach for your immersion blender to make a single serving quick. The blender fits neatly into a tumbler or measuring cup, minimizing the mess of larger bowls. Whip up our recipe for Sweetened Whipped Cream before topping your favorite desserts. Be on the lookout for these common kitchen mistakes it’s time to stop making.

Mom packs a happy note of encouragement with a colorful Bento box lunch packed with healthy fruits, veggies and snackssherwood/Shutterstock

Keep food from mingling

Have picky eaters? Prevent Goldfish from touching peeled fruit by using cupcake liners to organize a lunchbox into separate sections. Jazz it up by using fun colors and patterns on special days. 

THGKH19, Food Processor for Oreo Cookie CrumbsTaste of Home

Flavor up a crumb crust

Have a recipe that calls for a graham cracker or cookie crust? Amp up the flavor by seeking out a specialty flavor cookie at the store. For example, Golden OREOS would make a sweet addition to this Chocolate Cookie Cheesecake recipe.

THGKH19, Hot knife to cut cheesecakeTaste of Home

Plate like a pro

Dip the blade of your sharp knife in hot water to heat it up. Then wipe with a dry towel and cut your cake or cheesecake into nice, tidy slices. Repeat each time for pretty slices with a clean edge. Looking for simple cheesecakes that are super easy to make? Look no further. Prepped in under 30 minutes, these easy cheesecake recipes have got you covered.

THGKH19, Hooks Inside Kitchen CabinetsTaste of Home

Make extra storage space

A well-organized kitchen is a joy to use. Install inexpensive hooks on the inside of your kitchen cabinets to maximize your storage space. Soon potholders, measuring spoons and extra gadgets will find a home!  Tidy up the rest of your kitchen with these sanity-saving organizational tips.

freshly squeezed lemon juice in small bowlJoshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Get more juice

Next time you need fresh lemon juice, try this restaurant tip. Microwave a lemon for seven to ten seconds. Then, roll the lemon back and forth under your palm on the counter. When you squeeze, you’ll get more juice from the lemon with way less effort. Try it with limes, too!

strawberry, straw in strawberry, hull a strawberryTaste of Home

Quickly hull a strawberry

Insert a drinking straw (or stainless steel reusable) into the tip of the berry and push it through to the other end to quickly remove the stem. You’ll find this tip handy when making fresh strawberry pie.

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Give butter an upgrade

What’s the best thing since sliced bread? Flavored butter. Making it at home is as easy as adding lemon juice and herbs to softened a softened stick. (Check out this recipe for Lemon Tarragon Butter for details.) Want to get really nifty? Mold the flavored butter into a log shape by laying the softened butter on a square of parchment and shaping is using a ruler as a guiding tool. Twist ends to seal and freeze to use when needed.

Peeled fresh raw carrots on the cutting board.MicrostockStudio/Shutterstock

Add a carrot

Carrots take away the acidity in tomato sauce by adding a subtle sweetness. If you find your sauce has gotten too acidic, peel a whole carrot, simmer it with the sauce and remove before serving. 

THGKH19, Melting Butter with WrapperTaste of Home

Try mess-free melting

Ever make a complete mess of your microwave when melting butter? We have. Those days are will melt away after you try this simple hack. Repurpose your butter wrapper as a cover for your microwavable dish. So long, splatter! You’ll want to try these other handy microwave tricks every cook should know, too.

Italian turkey meatloafTaste of Home

Cook tender, juicy meatloaf

We love a hearty meatloaf, but sometimes an all-beef mix can leave you with a coarse, gritty texture. Instead, try a beef-pork mix, like in this recipe for All-American Meatloaf. Since pork is a fattier meat, the combo has a much softer texture.

A white plate filled with shredded chicken on a wooden table beside a plate of buns and jar of gravyTaste of Home

Shred chicken quick

Shredding chicken can be a fiddly task for even the most dexterous cooks. It might even deter you from cooking meals that require it. But did you know you can make fast work of shredding chicken with your stand mixer’s paddle attachment? Simply add your leftover chicken and give it a spin. Use the leftovers to make these delish Pulled Chicken Sandwiches, first making sure you’re not guilty of these ways you’ve been cooking chicken wrong.

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Wrap up no-fuss fish

Cooking fish in parchment is a healthy, mess-free technique that seals in flavor. As you bake the packet, the fish is delicately infused with whatever ingredients you add in. Try the tip with our Orange Tilapia for extra citrusy flavor.

Ginger root sliced on wooden table; Shutterstock ID 127542449grafvision/Shutterstock

Freeze your roots

When you are finished grating fresh ginger, freeze the leftover root in a plastic container or resealable bag. No more shriveled ginger in the produce drawer!

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Make herbs last longer

Nothing is worse than buying fresh herbs and seeing them wilt the next day. Keep herbs like parsley and cilantro bright with this simple storage tip! Trim the stems and place them in a small glass of water. Then place a plastic bag (like the one you got at the grocer) over top and secure by tying the plastic in a knot or wrapping it with butchers string. Store in the fridge or on the counter for up to two weeks! Get more tips for storing fresh herbs.

great-grandma's italian meatballs, meatballsTaste of Home

Get old-fashioned flavor with less fat

Meatballs are a mainstay in the kitchen, but Nonna’s recipe isn’t always the best for your health. Drain away any excess fat while baking by placing meatballs on a baking rack. The extra fat drips away, you’ll retain that browned, caramelized exterior you know and love. Try it out with Great-Grandma’s Italian Meatballs.

10 Genius Uses for a Pizza CutterTaste of Home

Repurpose your pizza cutter

The wheel of a pizza cutter is perfect for cutting herbs in all directions. Bunch them up and wheel back and forth until you’ve reached your desired consistency. It shaves a lot of time off morning prep for this Cheesy Chive Omelet.

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Skip the store-bought broth

Making vegetable broth is as easy as cook, strain and serve. Broth can be covered and refrigerated up to three days or frozen up to six months. Use it in soups or casseroles, rice dishes and other recipes that require broth. Follow this video for how to make chicken broth. Or, if you are vegetarian, here’s a vegetable broth recipe that’s top-notch.

Mom’s Soft Sugar CookiesTaste of Home

Decorate cookies before baking

For bakery-style decorations, place cutouts on the baking sheet. Then fashion the cutter over each cookie as a frame and carefully top with sprinkles or colored sugar. Bake as you normally would and your cookies are presentable straight from the oven.

flour on a kitchen scaleTaste of Home

Save dishwashing time

Ever find yourself using every single measuring cup and spoon in your arsenal? Give your dishwasher a break by measuring ingredients directly into your mixing bowl using a digital scale, like this one from Escali. Use our helpful guide to convert weights for your favorite baking ingredients and pretty soon you’ll be turning all of your favorite dishes into one-bowl wonders.

Apple Slices in Apple Shaped Bowlstickasa/Shutterstock

Rescue a salty soup

Next time you oversalt a soup, toss in a few wedges of raw apple or potato. Simmer for ten minutes and discard the wedges to get the flavor back to normal. Here are a few more tips for rescuing salty dishes and fixing other common cooking disasters.

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Originally Published on Taste of Home

Carolyn Lewis
Carolyn Lewis is a young writer & digital media professional who grew up in Milwaukee. She loves to read graphic novels, write poetry about nature and cook Thai food while listening to podcasts. She has always been a storyteller and animal lover, thus, she has a hamster named Hamlet.