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25 Brilliant Cooking Shortcuts You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

Save time prepping food and make cooking easier with these cooking hacks that are pure genius.

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Egg yolk on wooden spoonPhoto: PIMPAN/Shutterstock

Use an empty water bottle to separate egg whites and yolks

Crack an egg into a shallow bowl, then hold the mouth of the bottle near the yolk and gently squeeze. When you release the squeeze, the yolk will be sucked out, and you can deposit it into another bowl.

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Cooking shortcuts - Close up view. Greasing bundt cake pan with vegetable shortening and flour to bake funfettti bundt cake.Photo: Shutterstock

Cut corn with a Bundt pan

To remove corn from the cob quickly, stand the cob upright in the centre of a Bundt pan. Holding the top of the cob steady, stroke a chef’s knife downward along the sides to remove kernels. Scrape the cob with the back of the knife to release juices. Kernels and juice collect in the Bundt pan—meaning one less mess for you to clean up.

Here are the ways you’re using your kitchen appliances wrong.

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Cooking pasta in waterPhoto: Zapylaiev Kostiantyn/Shutterstock

Skip the pasta rinse

Rinsing noodles washes away flavour and natural starch, which helps yummy sauce stick. It’s why some recipes suggest saving pasta water to use in sauce. Instead, skip the wash and spread drained pasta on a pan to cool.

Make sure you’re avoiding these pasta cooking mistakes.

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Cooking shortcutsPhoto: Taste of Home

Don’t cry over a broken cake…

Instead, make a trifle by layering salvaged cake pieces with fresh whipped cream and fruit in a pretty glass bowl, advises Tamar Adler, chef and author of An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace.

Craving cake but don’t have a lot in the pantry? No problem! These easy cake recipes can be made with just a short list of ingredients.

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Cooking shortcutsPhoto: Taste of Home

Keep counters clean with a baking sheet

Place all ingredients on an empty baking sheet prior to prepping them. (This will help you catch spills and avoid wasting time hunting for an item as you cook.)

These simple three-ingredient recipes come together in a snap!

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Pizza wheelPhoto: Sebastian Studio/Shutterstock

Pizza wheels chop herbs

Turn in the chopping knife: Instead, roll over herbs like parsley and cilantro with a pizza wheel for quick and safe slicing. A pizza wheel also effortlessly chops foods like pancakes and pasta for small children.

You won’t be able to resist these crazy pizza toppings!

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Cooking shortcutsPhoto: ThamKC/Shutterstock

Use a countertop bowl for easy garbage

As you cook, toss scraps, eggshells, and other garbage into a large bowl. This will contain messes and save time if a trash can isn’t readily accessible. Line the bowl with a plastic bag to make cleanup even easier.

Here are more kitchen hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Hard-boiled eggsPhoto: New Africa/Shutterstock

For easier hard-boiled eggs, salt is your BFF

Want the shells of hard-boiled eggs to come off in big chunks instead of a million tiny pieces? Add a teaspoon of salt to the cooking water before putting in the eggs.

Learn how to correct the mistakes you might be making with eggs.

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BlenderPhoto: Creative Family/Shutterstock

Clean a blender sans sponge

Fill it one-third full with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid, recommends Woman’s Day. Run it for 10 seconds. Rinse and dry.

Find out why you should never wrap your leftovers in foil.

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Gourmet bread crumbsPhoto: Sea Wave/Shutterstock

Whip up gourmet bread crumbs in a pinch

Got extra burger or hot dog buns? Tear into pieces and freeze in a zipper-top bag. Ten to 20 pulses in a food processor will transform them into ready-to-use bread crumbs—no thawing necessary.

These are the foods you’re spoiling by putting in the fridge.

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Squeezing lemonPhoto: batjaket/Shutterstock

Juice a lemon with a microwave

Zap a lemon for 10 seconds to break down cells and make the juice flow faster, suggests Laurent Tourondel, chef and partner at Arlington Club in New York City. This is good to remember when trying to squeeze out as much juice as possible for a vinaigrette.

Don’t miss these other genius microwave tricks!

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Cooking shortcutsPhoto: Joerg Beuge/Shutterstock

For better pie crusts, use a cheese grater

A cheese grater makes quick work of piecrusts and biscuits. Instead of cutting the butter into the flour, simply grate a stick of frozen butter, and then toss the shreds with flour until a crumbly mixture forms, says Beth Moncel, creator of

Learn how to freeze cheese properly!

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Wine ice cubesPhoto: Ahanov Michael/Shutterstock

Flavour sauces and stews with leftover wine

Freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays to add flavour to sauces and stews. White and sparkling work best in creamy or clear and brothy soups (think chowder and simple vegetable), while red wine goes well with tomato or beef-based varieties (think chili). Add a few generous splashes per portion.

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Photo: etorres/Shutterstock

Flip natural varieties of peanut butter upside down

This position allows the pool of oil near the lid to move through the rest of the jar and make the peanut butter creamier (and to skip messy stirring). Just make sure the cap is screwed on tight to avoid a greasy pantry shelf.

Discover the secret to making foolproof fudge.

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Cooking shortcutsPhoto: Jesus Fernandez/Shutterstock

Use your porch to refrigerate

If your fridge is full because you’re hosting a party, place hardy perishables (like fruits and vegetables) in a cooler outside near the back door. Doing so will free up a lot of extra shelf space while still keeping food cold.

Find out how to keep ice cubes from sticking together.

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DoritosPhoto: ruzanna/Shutterstock

Leftover Doritos? Think outside the chip bag

Smash a handful of chips, stuff into a clean pepper mill, and grind away onto everything from mac and cheese to broccoli.

Canadian chefs share their best-ever chili recipes!

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Cooking shortcutsPhoto: Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock

Make friends with your kitchen scissors

Use them to chop cooked or tender raw vegetables (especially greens) right in the bowl or pan, suggests Mark Bittman in his book How to Cook Everything Fast.

These are the pantry essentials with the longest shelf life.

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Cherry tomatoesPhoto: More Than Cake/Shutterstock

Halve cherry tomatoes fast

Save time on your next salad: Find two similarly sized storage container lids. Place cherry tomatoes on top of one, then firmly hold the other lid on top of the tomatoes. Use a very sharp knife to slice through the entire bunch at once.

Here’s how long you can really freeze food.

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Apple slicesPhoto: stickasa/Shutterstock

Apple cutters slice potatoes

You’ll have perfectly sized pieces to bake as wedges.

Intimidated by homemade bread? Don’t be! These easy bread recipes are perfect for beginners!

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Chocolate ice creamPhoto: Taste of Home

Soften ice cream hard as a brick

Heat a sharp knife under warm water, then use it to make one-inch-deep cuts in a grid formation, spacing the lines about an inch apart. This increases your ice cream’s exposed surface area, speeding up the thawing process (similar to the beef trick). Run a scooper under warm water, and easily serve up each section.

Save on your next grocery bill with these brilliant money hacks!

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Beef steaksPhoto: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Defrost meat last minute

Thank high school science for this neat trick: Remember, metal conducts heat. Place meat in a plastic bag, then put it on top of an upside-down aluminum pot. Fill another pot with room-temperature water, and set it on the meat. In five to 10 minutes, your meat will be defrosted.

Think twice before you throw out these underrated cuts of meat.

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Mouldy breadPhoto: AjFile/Shutterstock

Cut away the mould

Before you toss suspect-looking leftovers, know this: firm foods are more likely to be salvageable than soft foods. Mould generally can’t penetrate deep into hard cheeses like Asiago and cheddar, so it’s OK to cut off about an inch. The same goes for firm produce like bell peppers and carrots. However, chuck mouldy-looking foods with high moisture content—yogurt, soft cheeses, cooked leftovers, and bread. Porous foods are likely to be contaminated beneath the surface.

Learn how to grate cheese the easy way!

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Strawberry slicesPhoto: UMB-O/Shutterstock

Chop strawberries with an egg slicer

Use an egg slicer to quickly chop strawberries for fruit salads and desserts. Or cut avocados for sandwiches and uniform mozzarella slices for salads and pizza.

Learn the one ingredient that makes the fluffiest pancakes ever!

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Mason jar lidPhoto: Reece with a C/Shutterstock

Twist open a mason jar for easy fried eggs

For perfectly round fried eggs (handy for breakfast sandwiches), heat a pan and spritz Mason jar rings with cooking spray. Place the rings on the pan, and slowly drop one cracked egg into each of the rings. Cook for about five minutes for a medium yolk. Use tongs to remove the Mason jar rings, and serve.

These are the foods you can actually cook in the microwave.

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Cooking shortcutsPhoto: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Whip up French toast in your microwave

Rub a pat of butter on the bottom of a mug; fill it to the top with chopped bread. In a separate cup, mix one egg, three tablespoons of milk, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Pour the mixture into the mug, and microwave for one minute.

Next, check out the cooking mistakes that can ruin your food.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest