Don't Add Garlic Too Early, And 43 Other Tips To Become A Better Cook
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Don't Add Garlic Too Early, And 43 Other Tips To Become A Better Cook

Sep 05, 2023

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Everyday tips, tricks, and gadgets to make what you eat just a little bit more delicious.

BuzzFeed Staff

Of course this might vary depending on where you live!

These Oxo ones are reviewer beloved, and you can buy individual ones or smaller sets separately to upgrade your collection based on what you cook the most!

Get a set of seven bowls from Amazon for $39.99 (also available in smaller and larger sets).

Promising review: ""We use them constantly (like, daily) and so far they have not become scratched, stained, or otherwise damaged. We use them for anything from salads and popcorn to mixing sauces or spices, and they're even dishwasher safe!" —Carlos Morales

Learn more about this trick at The Kitchn!

Check out this tip in action in the recipe for Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry at The Recipe Critic (pictured above).

This is one of our cooking tips from professional chefs, so you know it's good.

Flakey salt on fresh chocolate chip cookies?! Nothing better.

Get a box of Maldon salt from Amazon for $5.49.

Promising review: "Have I become a salt snob? I asked for a marble salt box for Valentines Day, and I couldn't very well put common table salt inside such a beautiful thing, could I? No. I did a bit of research and found out that Maldon's sea salt flakes are the gold standard...even better than the pink salt I bought at the big-box store that rhymes with Bosco! This salt's texture is a delight and the flavor is clean and bright (without being sharp). This is a little luxury in my kitchen, and every time I use it, I'm like, 'Dang. This is the good life!'" —Indiana A.

Check out tips for perfectly seasoning your food for more info.

It's also ~grate~ for fine cheese shavings, easily minced ginger, and more.

Get a top-rated micro-grater from Amazon for $10.98.

—Chili powder: ancho chile, paprika, cumin, and Mexican oregano

—Za'atar: thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac

—Herbs de provence: rosemary, marjoram, thyme, oregano, sage, and tarragon

—Garam masala: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, mace, peppercorns, coriander, turmeric, and cumin

—Ras el hanout: cardamom, clove, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorn, and turmeric

—Curry powder: turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and red pepper

—Cajun seasoning: black pepper, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and thyme

—Chinese five spice: cassia, clove, fennel, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns

Educate yourself when it comes to herbs and spices at Cook Smarts!

Spice racks only *wish* they could. These drawer liners are made of a soft foam to keep your jars in the right position (label up!) so you can quickly grab what you need. And you can trim 'em to fit your drawers!

Get a 10-foot roll from Amazon for $16.07.

Promising review: "This is one of my favorite things I've ever purchased from Amazon! I think this will be my go-to gift for all of my friends who love cooking as much as I do! Freeing up cabinet space and having something that can so easily be rinsed off in the sink makes this a for-sure buy!" —momonono

I've done this with Hello Fresh, and have always had a great experience. My fave recipe so far exemplifies how helpful it is for trying out new recipes and techniques — say hello to my little friend, tempura shrimp. I have thought about making at-home tempura for like.....years, but it seemed like a lot of work, and I'd burn myself on the hot hot oil. But this recipe took all the scariness out of it — turns out I *didn't* need a whole pot of oil to fry these bbs up, a shallow fry worked PERFECTLY. Other things I've learned: how EASY it is to make from-scratch sauces and dressings so you don't have to fill your fridge with countless bottles, that toasting sesame seeds for extra flavor is easy and worthwhile, and how a knob of butter can finish a sauce perfectly.

You can sign up for a plan that fits your diet (including vegetarian and family plans), and you'll get allllllll the ingredients you need to prep each meal! WHILE learning how to cook! Perfect for people who love activities like cooking classes, but don't love human interaction with strangers.

Meals start at $8.99 per serving — skip any weeks you like!

Be sure to check out my review of Hello Fresh for more deets on how it makes cooking easy — and teaches you new skills along the way!

This ceramic nonstick Always Pan is a favorite of several people on the BuzzFeed Shopping team. It's designed to do the work of EIGHT pieces of regular old cookware if you've already reaaallllly run out of cabinet space. It comes with a lockable lid, steamer basket, pouring spout, and a nesting spatula with a built-in rest.

Get it from Our Place for $145 (available in six colors)

Promising review: "My Always Pan is going to be my new favorite cookware. Super versatile and absolutely beautiful. Love the functionality that it possesses and the versatility range, someone really thought about all the best way to cook with this! Safe, easy to clean, and beautiful to look at! Makes you want to cook more delicious meals all day long! Shipping took a while because I preordered, but I was happy to wait!" —Celyn V.

Our Place is a POC-owned business based in Los Angeles. All of their boxes are packaged with biodegradable and recyclable materials, and the Always Pan is made in a female-owned factory in China.

Check out a review from one of my BuzzFeed colleagues to learn more about this pan!

We've got you covered — here's Everything You Need To Know About Cooking With Cast-Iron Pans.

The basics? Never leave water in the skillet, use thin layers of oil heated past the smoke point to bond with it when seasoning, preheat it when you use it, and only use steel wool when bringing it down to the base layer. But if you do, you can always re-season!

Looking for recipe ideas? Check out 21 Cast-Iron Skillet Recipes You Should Try.

Still don't have one? Get a top-rated Lodge cast-iron skillet from Amazon for $23.75 (for an 8-inch; also available in seven other sizes).

I watched this GIF and suddenly I'm hungry.

We've developed the ultimate guide for cooking several cuts of steak!

Get the chart pictured above from Amazon for $6.77.

And get a probe thermometer with THOUSANDS of 5-star reviews and an easy-read backlight from Amazon for $16.95.

The pad of flesh below the base of your thumb is your guide! When your hand is open, the pad feels like raw meat, when your index and thumbs touch, it feels like rare, thumb and middle fingers touching feels like medium rare, thumb and ring touching feels like medium, and thumb and pinkie feels like (you guessed it) well done.

While it varies by cut of meat and recipe, the rest time is usually 10–20 minutes.

P.S. This fancy cutting board is great for carving meat — it has pyramid-like spikes to keep your cut in place and channels for the juice so it doesn't get soggy before you come back for seconds.

You can get it from Amazon for $37.99.

Learn more about this tip at The Spruce Eats.

This knife sharpener has two grooves (one for coarse sharpening and one for quick touch-ups) to make your year-old knives slice like brand new. Get it from Amazon for $5.99 (available in three colors).

Promising review: "I have had my set of knives for over 10 years. I was looking to replace them when someone recommended trying to sharpen them. I hated sharpening the knives with the sharpener they came with. I wanted something easy. This was it! I sharpened all my knives with it and they are like they were when I first purchased them. This knife sharpener made it quick and easy. It saved me a lot of money from purchasing a new set. If your knives are dull, give this a try. You can't beat it for the price!" —M. Bell

Learn more about this handy sharpener in our editor's in-depth review, and check out our picks for the best chef's knife.

And good news: we have a whole article dedicated to this! Check out The Complete Guide to Knife Cuts for everything you need to know to slice, dice, and chiffonade like a pro.

This one can also use for breads to get that deliciously fluffy, charred crust without a high heat wood fire or brick pizza oven, and it can be used on grills, too!

Get it from Amazon for $35.95+ (available in 14" and 16" sizes).

Promising review: "I have been using pizza stones for over 30 years and recently I wanted to make my pizzas on the BBQ; however, my old pizza stones could not be used over direct heat. Because of the great reviews and the data indicating that the stone could be used over direct heat on the BBQ, I purchased it and was more than pleased. The crust was the crispest I have ever produced and with the same recipe. This proves that the stone DOES make a difference. I won't be making pizza for a while now as I made four pizzas today, of which two are going into the freezer. The photo says it all! Yum yum...white pizza with grilled veggies." —Fran B

Other tips for making perfect rice? If you're making it on the stove, use a heavy-bottomed pot to prevent burning, and during the final stage, put a towel under the lid to avoid extra condensation making it mushy.

Of course you can always use an Instant Pot ($89 from Amazon) or a microwave rice steamer ($18.63 from Amazon) for complete effortlessness.

Get all the steps for perfecting your pasta at Serious Eats.

—Skinny and long pastas (like spaghetti, linguini, and angel hair) go with light, olive oil–based sauces or cream-based sauces

—Twisty shapes (like fusilli, gemelli, and rotini) go with light, textured sauces

—Tubes (like penne rigatoni, and macaroni) go with thick, chunky, meaty sauces

—Shells (like conchiglie) go with thick, textured meaty sauces

Learn more about making your own dressings at Little Coconutty.

Get it from Amazon for $9.95+ (available in two sizes and two colors).

Promising review: "Best salad dressing shaker ever! This is really a great product if you like to make your own dressings. I find that many bottled dressings are too salty and full of preservatives as well. Making your own is embarrassingly easy and saves you money as well. The wide mouth makes it easy to add the oil, vinegar, etc. and it also has a handy rubber grip in case your hands are slippery! Never buy salad dressing again!" —Ella Dedman

Add dairy ingredients later, because adding them too early might cause them to curdle. And when it comes to pasta add that last, too, because you do *not* want it getting mushy.

For more slow cooker info, check out 17 Genius Tips & Tricks For If You Own A Slow Cooker. And check out this recipe pictured here (it's slow-cooker jalepeño corn chowder) at The Skinny Fork.

Still don't have a slow cooker (first of all, really?). Get a 6-quart programmable Crock-Pot from Amazon for $50.99.

This 5-quart enameled Crock-Pot Dutch oven is beautiful *and* loved by reviewers. Get it from Amazon for $73.99 (available in 12 colors and a 3-quart and 7-quart size).

Promising review: "I am a big Le Creuset cookware fan and was considering paying the almost $300 for their Dutch oven. But I got this to see how often i would even use a Dutch oven before spending all that money on the name brand. Safe to say I will probably just skip spending the money on the name brand because I am so pleased with this purchase. The color is way prettier than any of the other colors out there and for this price, YOU CANNOT BEAT THIS DEAL. I would recommend this pot 20 times out of 10 if you are considering a Dutch oven. TRY THIS OUT YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS PURCHASE!!!" —Nicole Carter

Need some inspiration? Let me show you right over to 18 One-Pot Dinners You Can Make In A Dutch Oven.

Take a 14"x12" rectangle of parchment paper, fold in half and cut into a heart shape (um, CUTE!), put your ingredients on one half of the heart, fold the other half over, and crimp for a tight seal. You're ready to cook!

::Immediately clicks on 16 Parchment-Wrapped Dinners For People Who Hate Dishes:: These recipes include mains AND sides! Dinner = done.

Get a box of 22 precut parchment paper sheets from Amazon for $3.06 or a three-pack of parchment paper rolls from Amazon for $7.80.

Find all the steps and learn How To Never Mess Up Your Poached Eggs Again.

Get a set of two from Amazon for $10.95.

Promising review: "FINALLY! My long search is over for a solution that really works! The eggs poach perfectly! The process involves simply dropping an egg into the poacher and waiting a few minutes for the desired level of firmness — no stirring the water to create a vortex or messing with the egg during cooking! This means that when you need to cook for several guests, multiple poachers can be used to prepare as many eggs as needed at the same time! There was even a handy chart with suggested poaching times which is dead-on accurate. Cleanup is a breeze! I am ordering another set and won't poach any other way than with Good Grips. My only negative comment is that I will probably eat way more eggs Benedict than I should now that it is so easy to prepare the eggs!" —JoeBT

We tested kitchen gadgets against a chef's skills, and you can check out the results for more!

Just fill it with water (according to your chosen level of egg doneness), add up to six eggs, and turn on. When the eggs are done, it'll automatically shut off! Yes, you can take a nap while waiting for your eggs to boil — and not worry about leaving them on too long. The removable parts are also dishwasher safe, so get ready for this to be your new lazy best friend. You can also make poached eggs, scrambled eggs, and omelets in this game-changing product.

Get it from Amazon for $19.99 (available in six colors).

Promising review: "If hard-boiled eggs are at all a part of your life, this device will change everything. Reclaim lost hours, catch up on missed TV, reconnect with old friends and family -—anything is possible with the free time you'll find at your disposal as you drop six eggs into this beast, press a button, and then walk away. What will you do? High-intensity exercise? Model building? Learn a second language? I hear your concern. 'What if I become so engrossed in my newfound love of taxonomy that I forget about my eggs?' Fear not, efficient chef. Like the trump of Gabriel himself, the unmistakable tone of this technological marvel could rouse the dead and will bring you running to your fresh-and-ready ova's side. The Dash Go Rapid Egg Cooker is what mankind has been working towards since the first roundish stone was shaped into a wheel. Witness the apex of human innovation!" —J. Mercer Crenshaw

This one's from the makers for the Instant Pot(!!!) and here's what BuzzFeed Food writer Hannah Loewentheil has to say about it:

"I'd been contemplating buying an air fryer for quite some time, but it wasn't until I found myself cooking every night with my family due to COVID-19 that I finally decided it was the right time to get one. Friends of mine were raving about their new Instant Vortex Plus Six-in-One Air Fryer, so after reading similar feedback on Amazon, I decided it looked like a winner. I figured I would be using this appliance primarily as air air fryer, but as an added bonus, it can also roast, broil, bake, reheat, and dehydrate food. I've had this air fryer for about three weeks now, and I can honestly say it's become the hero of my kitchen. It preheats quickly, it's large enough to a good amount of food at once, it's easy to clean, and it makes food taste crispy on the outside and moist on the inside without any oil. I've been using my air fryer to make vegetables just about every night and it makes them taste so good. If you're cooking for kids, picky eaters, or you just don't get so excited about eating vegetables, the air fryer could be perfect for you. If you like chicken, the air fryer might change your life, and I don't mean that to be dramatic. The air fryer produces restaurant-quality chicken that tastes absurdly decadent, except there's no oil involved in the cooking — just air. We also tried making sesame chicken in the air fryer using boneless skinless chicken thighs. The sesame chicken tasted almost identical to my favorite Chinese takeout, and it had nothing to do with my cooking skills. Thanks to the air fryer, the chicken gets so crispy. I couldn't believe I made this at home!!"

Get it from Amazon for $114.99.

Check out the full review, plus some air fryer recipe suggestions for more!

Get it from Amazon for $10.75.

Promising review: "I love this knife! I stumbled upon a description when I was shopping for a sushi knife. It was so cheap, I decided to take a chance. Wow. It is such a great little knife. Yes, it works perfectly on soft tomatoes. But, to be honest, I use it for many other fruits and vegetables. It is amazingly sharp, the serrated edge is very effective, and it has a great feel in my hand." —Jane S.

Learn more at Food52.

BuzzFeed has tons and tons and tons and tons of sheet pan meal ideas to get you started, but just get experimenting with your favorite flavors!

Need some quality pans to get you started? Try Oxo's two-piece set of nonstick baking sheets (one half sheet, one quarter sheet) for easy cleanup! Get the set of two from Amazon for $36.99.

Promising review: "I haven't used these pans yet but I see they're thicker and well made rather than the other brands and as long as I take good care of them, (washing them with soft dish cloths by hand) they'll last beautifully for years. I ADORE all Oxo products. They're worth every penny. I've bought almost all of their kitchen products and other gadgets through the years because they'll last forever! If anything is wrong, they'll make it right immediately." —Debbie Allen

Masterclass has a super-helpful rundown of which oils to use for what dish. Check it out here!

And if you're looking for a suggestion, try the Chosen Foods avocado oil pictured above (it's the brand I use — they also sell big ole jugs at Costco as well). Get a 1-liter bottle from Amazon for $20.95.

—Fish and shrimp: 15 to 30 mins

—Tofu: 20 mins to 12 hours

—Chicken: 30 mins to 6 hours

—Lamb, beef, and pork: 4 hours to 12 hours

Haven't been making your grilled cheeses with mayo? Now is the time to start. Thomas Jefferson voice: "If you don't know, now you know."

Check out all the instant ramen hacks for more.