15 Ways To Use Instant Coffee, Other Than Brewing It
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15 Ways To Use Instant Coffee, Other Than Brewing It

May 31, 2023

There are few ways to make coffee with the same ease and relative inexpense of instant coffee. All you have to do to make instant coffee is add a couple of spoonfuls of the granulated powder to hot water, stir, and you'll have a ready-to-drink coffee beverage within seconds. But what exactly is this magical powder?

The truth is that instant coffee is made with liquid coffee that has been either freeze-dried or spray-dried into crystals. As a result, one cup of instant coffee has slightly lower caffeine than a regular coffee at between 30 and 90 milligrams per serving. But although this coffee has significantly less caffeine than your standard cup of Joe, it doesn't lack in java flavor.

The convenience of instant coffee and its flavor make it a staple ingredient in every home kitchen — even if you don't drink coffee or prefer the craftsmanship of a French press. Here are some ways you can maximize the utility of instant coffee in your kitchen.

Gnocchi is one of the best pasta varieties; these plush potato dough pillows are made meticulously and perfect for a tomato or butter sauce. One of the unexpected ways you may have never thought to upgrade your gnocchi recipe, though, is to include instant coffee. You should add instant coffee grounds to the gnocchi dough because the crunchy flecks of coffee complement the soft gnocchi dough in both texture and flavor.

The trick to adding instant coffee grounds to gnocchi is always to add the ingredient sparingly. You'll only need a tablespoon of coffee grounds for your entire gnocchi recipe. Then, add the gnocchi to the dough with the rest of the ingredients to avoid overworking the gluten and turning your pasta stodgy.

Your sauce pairings can either go the sweet or the savory route, so long as you highlight the coffee flavors in the dough. If you're making savory pasta, pair a nutmeg bolognese (the spice works remarkably with the coffee) or integrate the pasta with ricotta cheese. For an after-dinner dessert of gnocchi, prepare a spiced browned butter sauce that will set your gnocchi center-stage.

A smoothie is always a great way to start your day. Not only do you get a blast of fiber from the fruit, but the use of ingredients like Greek yogurt or peanut butter is bound to keep you satisfied long after you finish sipping it. If you like the taste of coffee in the morning, we recommend adding some instant espresso powder to your smoothie.

While adding coffee to your smoothie can add a bright java flavor, it can also make it too wet. Instant coffee crystals, on the other hand, can infuse coffee flavor without altering the beverage's texture. Pair your instant coffee with fruits like bananas and special ingredients like cacao nibs, peanut butter, and chocolate.

If you would rather make a milkshake (because who doesn't love ice cream), you can also utilize your stockpile of instant coffee. For an extra caffeinated twist on your milkshake, use coffee ice cream, instant coffee, and chopped chocolate-coated espresso beans.

Dry rubs are a critical step in the pursuit of a great steak flavor. While you may reach for your brown sugar, peppercorns, and garlic powder first, you should consider stepping out of the box a little bit when it comes to your dry rubs. Our coffee-rubbed steak recipe utilizes freshly ground coffee beans, but it can be easily swapped out with instant coffee granules instead.

Why is coffee an important component of this dry rub? It acts as an important steak tenderizer and helps create a crust that seals in moisture. In addition, coffee is also an acidic ingredient, which helps amplify the salty and savory notes of the other dry rub ingredients and the steak itself. Once you apply the marinade to the steak, allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes to help it to tenderize the meat. For the most flavor, though, you should allow the steak to sit in the fridge overnight.

One of the quintessential uses for instant coffee and its more potent cousin, instant espresso, is for baking. For example, instant coffee is often used in chocolate desserts like chocolate cake and brownies because it accentuates the cocoa flavor. Rarely will you notice that the flavor of the coffee itself actually comes through, but you will notice a more chocolatey taste.

There are several different ways to add instant coffee to your dessert. The first is adding a teaspoon of instant coffee with the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing well to ensure the granules are well-dispersed. Our recipe for mocha brownies notes the espresso power should be mixed in with melted butter, sugar, and vanilla extract to allow the granules to dissolve. In addition, if the recipe calls for blooming the cocoa powder, you can mix some espresso power in with the cocoa before adding the hot water.

If you've ever tried to make flavored buttercream frosting, you know how difficult it is to prevent it from getting too watery and weeping. However, if you're making a coffee frosting, you can keep your frosting stable by using instant coffee granules instead of strongly-brewed coffee. The granules are first dissolved in about ½ ounce of hot water, meaning that the coffee flavor is highly concentrated yet dissolved enough to prevent you from biting a speck when you eat your frosting. You'll need about one tablespoon of instant coffee granules for each cup of butter in your recipe. Use your coffee buttercream to top your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, or use it as a base frosting for a coffee-lovers birthday cake.

You can also use instant coffee granules to make a thinner glaze. The coffee-flavored glaze is perfect for homemade cinnamon rolls or drizzling on top of a coffee cake. You'll want to follow the same steps as the buttercream icing but use a bit more milk to help thin it out.

There's no better way to start your morning than with a bowl of oatmeal and a coffee. But you can get the best of both worlds by including instant coffee in your oatmeal recipe. You can make this oatmeal in your microwave, which makes it perfect for busy mornings. Combine a serving of old-fashioned oats with water (or milk for added creaminess), a few teaspoons of instant coffee granules, cinnamon, and your sweetener of choice. Stir together well to incorporate before microwaving on high for a few minutes. If you prefer your oatmeal thicker, you can allow it to stand longer after cooking or increase the cooking time.

If you aren't a fan of hot oatmeal, you can also add instant coffee to your overnight oatmeal recipe. Mix the instant coffee with your choice of milk, oats, spices (cinnamon and nutmeg are our favorites), and optional ingredients like chia or flax seeds. Let the oatmeal sit in the fridge for at least six hours before enjoying it.

Homemade ice cream never has to be boring when you have a container of instant coffee lying around. It is the secret ingredient to homemade ice cream because it easily dissolves in the ice cream base and pairs well with both vanilla and chocolate flavors. You'll only need to add about a half-teaspoon to round out your other ice cream ingredients but not produce a noticeable coffee undertone. However, if you want a strong coffee flavor, you'll need to add upwards of two to three tablespoons of granules to your ice cream base.

If you don't want to commit to making a whole batch of ice cream with instant coffee, you can also add a sprinkle on top of your favorite scoop and wait a few minutes for the granules to melt and hydrate into the ice cream before digging in. Another alternative is to make ice cream syrup by combining sugar, water, and instant coffee powder and allowing the mixture to simmer on the stove for at least 10 minutes until thickened. Then, pour liberally on your ice cream and enjoy.

Homemade chili is the ultimate warming food during the fall and winter months. One of the best ways to amplify the flavors of your favorite chili recipe is to add a few tablespoons of instant coffee powder to the pot as it's cooking. You should consider adding coffee grounds to your chili because instant coffee plays well with the flavors of cinnamon and cumin while also adding an organic undertone that complements the complex textures of the dish.

You can add the instant coffee directly to the chili or mix it together with water before adding it to the pot. The flavor is smooth yet mildly bitter, which can also complement special additions to your chili, like cocoa powder, warming spices, and alcohol. Since you're just looking for a flavor to complement the chili rather than overpower it, add just a tablespoon or two, taste it, and go from there.

Tomato sauce and instant coffee seem like yet another unlikely pairing. But instant coffee is the ingredient that will change your spaghetti sauce forever. The tip was initially suggested by Salisbury's, a British grocery chain, in 2015, and received its fair share of kickback from lovers of the "spag bol" (an abbreviation of spaghetti bolognese). But, after some trial and error, many folks who tried the trick were forever converted.

Adding a bit of instant coffee to your tomato sauce or bolognese is particularly useful in curbing your sauce's acidity and astringent flavors. Recipes will typically advise cooks to dissolve the instant coffee in the hot stock and add it to the recipe after any meat or vegetables being added have finished cooking. People who have tried this technique note that the flavor of the sauce is much more pronounced and well-rounded than if the coffee was omitted.

We're always looking for ways to upgrade store-bought cookie dough (seriously, that stuff is so bland). One of the easy ways to convert a sugar cookie or chocolate chip cookie dough into something more special is to add a few teaspoons of instant coffee to the pre-made dough. Although instant coffee is less intense in flavor and color than espresso powder, it helps perk up the chocolate flavor in the cookie and, if you use enough, can morph your mocha masterpiece without making your dough too wet. Instant coffee is the pantry staple Ina Garten uses for bakery-level cookies because it dissolves right into the dough; if you added regular coffee, you'd find unappealing flecks of coffee beans scattered throughout your cookie.

If you consider yourself a cookie purist and avoid any store-bought dough, you can make your own mocha cookies from scratch. Add the instant coffee powder to the batter with your butter, eggs, and vanilla extract. We recommend refrigerating your cookie dough for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld together.

Streusel is more useful than at first glance. You can sprinkle streusel, which is merely defined as a mix of fat, flour, and sugar, on top of pies, muffins, and coffee cakes. The creative license you have over this crumb topping is impressive. For example, some bakers will add cinnamon to complement an apple pie or lemon zest for lemon bars.

If you incorporate instant coffee granules into your streusel topping, you'll notice a spectrum of flavors depending on how much you add. When making a coffee-centric coffee cake, we recommend adding upwards of three or four teaspoons of instant coffee to the streusel. But, if you're just looking for a toned-down coffee cake, stick to using a half-teaspoon for the entire streusel.

Besides coffee cake, your instant coffee streusel coffee will pair well with fluffy and moist chocolate chip muffins or pumpkin streusel muffins — especially if you love pumpkin spice lattes.

Yogurt and smoothie bowls are easy, nutritious breakfast meal options that are easy to customize with your favorite blend of berries, fruits, and our personal favorite — granola. If you love the taste of coffee and the crunchy consistency of granola, find synergy with homemade coffee granola. You can add nuts and seeds like chia, flax, sunflower seeds, and pepitas to boost the fiber content, and even add a little bit of chocolate for an ultra-indulgent breakfast accompaniment.

Toss your add-in ingredients with rolled oats, coconut oil (essential to prevent burning and keep your granola stuck together in small clumps), and instant coffee or espresso powder. Then, bake your mixture until crisp.

Some of our favorite complements to the coffee granules in this recipe are amaranth seeds, dried coconut flakes, almonds, and, of course, chocolate. The hardest part is to resist eating your granola by the handful.

The summertime is the perfect time to sit back and enjoy one of the coolest treats ever invented: popsicles. Popsicles are a perfect treat for all ages and much less labor-intensive than homemade ice cream. If you're customizing your pops this summer, make coffee pops using instant granules. You can mix instant coffee with sweetened condensed milk and freeze it in a popsicle mold for a simple summer treat.

If you have sticks of Maxim instant coffee powder — a creamy Korean instant coffee made with instant coffee, powdered milk, and sugar — you can make portable pouch pops to cool down over the summer. Simply pour the powder out of the packets (saving the packets) and mix with a 1-to-2 or 1-to-3 ratio of powder to water, depending on how much coffee flavor you desire. Then, pour the mixture back into the packets once it's adequately cooled. Freeze the instant coffee packets standing up in a cup for a few hours before enjoying them.

If you can add instant coffee to a dry rub, it isn't radical to think you can add it to a barbecue sauce, too. You should incorporate coffee into your next barbecue sauce because the coffee amplifies the salty, smokey flavors also in the sauce, thus helping round out a medley of components guaranteed to take your ribs to a new level.

To add instant coffee to your barbecue sauce, you'll want first to hydrate it with water. We recommend following a 1-to-3 ratio of grounds to water to help concentrate the flavor as much as possible. Use the same amount of hydrated coffee as tomato paste for a balanced tomato sauce. Next, cook down all ingredients until the sauce is thick and viscous. You can also make a no-cook version of barbecue sauce by combining instant coffee granules, ketchup, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.

Coffee ... vinaigrette? We were skeptical at first, too. But, instant coffee is an easy way to upgrade the flavors of your roasted root vegetables, spicy arugula salad, or anywhere where you would use a vinaigrette. Combine the instant espresso with your choice of vinegar and sweetener before gradually emulsifying with oil. Then, add salt and pepper before dressing your greens and you'll have the perfect summer salad.

Why does coffee work well in a salad dressing? Coffee can be very floral in flavor, making it the perfect companion to other vegetal flavors. The vinegar and the sweetener also add an element of brightness that can help round out the robustness of a coffee.

Once you have your base vinaigrette, you can explore and customize it with different ingredients. For example, Dijon mustard is one ingredient you might want to include in your coffee vinaigrette; it adds some heat and can help your dressing remain emulsified.