Food Hacks That Really Work – 11 Kitchen Shortcuts – Cooking Tips

From making eggs with cookie cutters to whipping cream with a whisk and storing ginger in vodka, these 11 genius food hacks will make life in the kitchen more fun and cooking easier, too.11 food hacks that really work

Getting great food on the table doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Just take advantage of these simple DIY food hacks and you will save money, time and the aggravation of kitchen tasks.

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What are food hacks?

Food hacks are tricks, shortcuts, or novelty methods of doing things in the kitchen to save time, money and become more productive and efficient in the task of cooking.Slicing onions

These ideas are a part of a whole group of hacks called life hacks and can relate to more than just cooking. Many of the chores that we spend a great deal of time doing have associated hacks to make life easier.

I’ve also put together a list of over 30 gardening hacks that save loads of time in the garden.

From storing ginger in garlic, to whipping cream with a whisk and freezing buttermilk to use later, these food hacks will make your work in the kitchen much easier.  Click To Tweet

11 food hacks that really work!

You’ll learn how to soften brown sugar, chill wine with frozen grapes and so much more. These 11 handy food hacks may just change the way you spend time in the kitchen forever!

Softening brown sugar food hacks

Brown sugar is great in recipes but if you don’t use the whole box of it, you will likely find a hardened mess the next time you need to use it.   

There is no need to throw the box away!  Just use this cooking tip to soften brown sugar easily.
Cooking hack - soften brown sugar with bread

Add a slice of bread to the bag or container of brown sugar. Within a few hours (longer if it is really hard), the brown sugar will become soft again.

Why does this work?   The slice of bread contains moisture. This moisture will evaporate if the bread is exposed to air. 

However, if the bread is in a sealed container with some dried out brown sugar, the water vapor molecules will stick to the sugar crystals. This causes them to be surrounded by a thin layer of water, so the sugar will soften and crumble.

Tip: Be sure to remove the bread so that it does not grow mold.

These are some other kitchen hacks that will help to soften brown sugar:

  • Zap the brown sugar in the microwave for a few seconds
  • Cover the brown sugar with a damp clean towel and leave overnight. It should be soft by morning.
  • Place the brown sugar in a zip lock bag and add a slice of apple.
  • Wrap brown sugar in aluminum foil and cook it in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Check out this post for more brown sugar softening ideas and tips to store brown sugar.

Cookie cutter eggs hack

It’s time for some fun in the morning. If you are like me, you will have a whole host of cookie cutters that you rarely use.  Put them to a creative use by making cookie cutter eggs.

Get creative with cookie cutter eggs

Kids love these breakfast treats and even the kids who don’t particularly like eggs might be tempted to eat them.

Any shape of cookie cutter will work as long as it has a decent sized edge.  The one pictured here is a flower but you could let your imagination go wild.

Imagine the smile that an egg on a plate shaped like a flower would bring?  Use your festive shapes for any holiday breakfast treat.

For this breakfast shape, a flower cookie cutter was used.  Metal cookie cutters work best because they are coated and are designed withstand the heat to make eggs. 

This food hack works best if you like your eggs sunny side up, of course!

Amazon has the egg rings in both flower and star shapes as well as many other designs. 

For more ideas for using cookie cutters to make eggs, head on over to this cookie cutter eggs post.

Shucking corn food hack

One of the pleasures of summer is eating corn on the cob – until you get a mouth full of corn silk, that is. This corn on the cob hack will teach you how to cook corn easily so that every trace of corn silk is gone when you shuck the ears.Get silk free corn every time with this fool-proof coking hack

The trick is to cook it in the microwave, husks and all. The steam will release the husk slightly so that you can pull off the entire outside, along with the silk, in one motion when it is done.

I’ve created a tutorial that walks you through the process. Find out how to easily get silk-free corn, every time here.

Storing ginger hack

Ginger is one of those spices that I need when I want to do a Chinese stir fry, but I find that I can’t use up a big piece of it fast enough to prevent deterioration.  I’m always on the lookout for different means of ginger storage.

'Cooking hacks - storing ginger in vodka

Ginger Storage is Easy with a Bottle of Vodka!

It is possible to freeze ginger, but I have found it will get mushy when defrosted.  If you do freeze it, grate it in a frozen state and return the unused portion back to the freezer.

Storing ginger, even in the fridge, (unless you use it often) usually means that you ends up with a wrinkled piece just when you decide to use the ginger in a recipe.

Here is a neat ginger storage hack that includes vodka. Hey! What is not to like?  Vodka is not just for drinking.😉

To store the ginger in vodka just peel the piece of ginger and chop it into 1″ pieces. Place the cut ginger into a small jar of pure vodka. Dry sherry, sake or rice wine will also work.

The ginger will stay very fresh and won’t get that slimy film that you can get with just plain water. Also, there is no  residual alcohol taste. Use it up over the course of a couple of weeks.

It’s not just vodka that will keep the ginger fresh. Any spirit will do but it may change the flavor quite a bit. Vodka keeps the ginger the longest and changes the flavor the least of all the spirits.

Stored this way, the ginger will retain its flavor and crisp texture for a long time. You can grate what you need and replace the rest back into the jar.

As an added bonus, over time, the alcohol will take on a ginger taste and can be used in cocktails, so there is no waste of the vodka!

Making vanilla ice cubes

Have you ever heard of a vanilla ice cube?  This simple food hack makes a yummy ice cube that can be used in all sorts of drinks and cocktails.  

Use the ice cubes in coke to make vanilla coke, or add them to make a delicious iced coffee or tea. The options are limitless.

These vanilla ice cubes give a creamy vanilla taste to whatever you decide to put them in.

Cooking hacks - Making ice cubes with vanilla beansTo make the vanilla Ice cubes, you’ll need almond milk, sugar, a vanilla bean and pure vanilla extract.

Not only do these ice cubes add the flavor of vanilla to your drink, they also add some creaminess, and a touch of sweetness.   Think of all the cocktails just waiting to use these!

Vanilla beans have a very intense flavor, so using them in the recipe gives us the best results. You can find them online or at Whole Foods or other specialty stores. 

Combine the almond milk with the granulated sugar in a saucepan. Add the vanilla bean and heat until the flavors combine. Mix in a touch of pure vanilla extract for an even more intense flavor. 

Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve when cool.  

Pour into silicone ice cube trays, and freeze into cubes. Add the cubes to any drinks to give it a lovely hint of vanilla. 

Frozen grapes for wine hack

Chilled wine is a great drink to have when it’s hot outside, but sometimes we end up with a bottle that has not been cooled down yet. 

Don’t water down your warm wine with ice cubes.  Keep frozen grapes in the freezer and add them to the warm wine. It is a great way to chill wine.Freeze grapes to chill wine

Why chill wine with grapes? 

This food hack makes so much sense, since wine is made from grapes in the first place. If you keep a bag of frozen grapes in the freezer, you can just use them as needed. You will never again have a warm bottle of white wine!

Ice cubes will chill the wine but water it down as they melt. Frozen grapes won’t do this.

You’ll maintain the flavor of your wine, chill the wine and give yourself a healthy snack at the end of your drink. Triple benefit!

Peeling garlic cooking hack

Garlic adds so much flavor to any recipe, but those tiny cloves can be a chore to peel. That does not have to be the case with this food hack.

What if I told you that there is a way to peel an entire head of garlic in just seconds?

Food hack- how to peel garlic

To peel the garlic quickly, all you need are two bowls (one metal) and a head of garlic.  Shaking the containers with the garlic inside removes the skins easily in about 30 seconds.

I’ve put together a tutorial with video to show how this peeling garlic hack works.

Freezing buttermilk hack

If you are like me, you will find that most recipes call for much less than a carton of buttermilk and the rest of it can go to waste before you use it again in another meal idea. 

Don’t waste the rest of the container.  Freezing Buttermilk is the answer.

Cooking hacks - how to freezer buttermilk

When you are done with your recipe, pour the remainder of the buttermilk into a Tupperware container and freeze it.  Be sure to measure it first and mark the container so that you will know how much the container needs.  1/2 or 1/4 cup measurements are handy.

I find normal ice cube trays handy for this job. They hold about 2 tablespoons, so using 2 of them in a later recipe gives you 1/4 cup, or 3 will work out to 1/3 cup.

There are also extra large silicone ice cube trays that hold about 1/2 cup of liquid and this makes them perfect for the task.

When it is time to use the buttermilk in future, just thaw and incorporate into any recipe!

Whipped cream hack

Homemade whipped cream is much better than an aerosol version any day of the week.

You can take the time to get out your stand mixer and whip it, of course, but if you are looking for just a small amount of it, it’s easier to whip it by hand with a whisk.Food Hacks - Whipping cream with a whisk

Just grab a bowl and be sure that the cream is chilled before you start. Cold cream whips faster.  If you think to chill a metal bowl and the whisk earlier in the day – even better.

To whisk the cream, just beat it until soft peaks start to form. Be patient and you’ll have soft and fluffy whipped cream in no time at all.

Once you have the soft peaks, fold in some sugar to taste. Be sure to do this before you have stiff peaks, or you will end up over-whipping the cream.

Left over sauce food hack

Left over Sauce is something that always seems to happen when I make stove top dishes. Since I mainly cook for two people, here is always too much of it to use right away.

Here is a tip for using the left over sauce that is similar to the buttermilk hack – Just freeze the sauce in ice cube trays!

How to freeze left over sauce

Use a silicone ice cube tray with a removable lid and place the left over sauce in it. 

Label the tray and just pop out a cube or two when you need just a small amount of sauce to flavor your dish.

This saves the time of making a new batch of sauce and makes any protein taste great.  Plus, you can make a meal for just one or two depending on how many cubes you use.

It’s not just sauce that can be done this way. I remember traveling in Germany one time and visiting some friend who were going to make gravy for some chicken.  

They had the gravy in an ice cube tray and just took out what they needed for the meal.

NOTE: This food hack is safest with sauces that have had no meat in them.

3 and 4 ingredient meals food hacks

I love to cook as much as the next person, but there are days when a recipe with 15 ingredients is just too much for me to contemplate.

On days like this, I reach for some standby 3 and 4 ingredient meals. These three ideas are quick to prepare and have no more than 4 ingredients in total.

Why not try one the next time you are in a hurry?3 and 4 ingredient recipes

Pizza Dough Roll ups

Afternoon snacks are fun time at our house with this yummy snack.  These pizza dough roll ups are fast and easy to do and have just 3 ingredients.  You could add other pizza toppings if desired before rolling.

The roll-ups are super easy to prepare them and the kids will think you are a rock star for this special dinner treat.

Start with a can of crescent roll dough. Open the container of dough and separate it into the small triangles that would normally make a crescent roll.  

Top each of the triangles with a little pizza sauce and add a piece piece of mozzarella cheese. (String cheese works great. You can just cut it into small pieces.) 

Roll the dough around the mozzarella cheese and then bake in a preheated 375 º F oven for about 12 minutes. Serve hot.

Grilled sausages and vegetables

These grilled sausages and veggies on the BBQ are a fun way to bring the taste of home to a camping trip or outdoor BBQ party. With just 4 ingredients, they make a really quick meal.

Seal peppers, potatoes, zucchini and sausage in an aluminum foil pouch and grill them for a quick dinner. You can wrap individual packages up for each member of your party and throw the whole thing on a charcoal grill.

The indirect heat of the coals will cook both the meat and the veggies to perfection. This recipe can also be cooked on a backyard gas BBQ.

Easy biscuit doughnuts

Do you have portion control issues when it comes to doughnuts? (Raising my hand!) This recipe for 4 ingredient biscuit doughnuts is perfect for you and your waist line. 

Open the can and cut a hole in the center of the biscuit. You can save the part you cut out and roll it to make doughnut holes! 

Mix together cinnamon and sugar.  Dip the biscuit in the butter and then in the sugar mix and bake for 14-18 minutes at 350 °F

Pin these food hacks for later

Would you like a reminder of these 11 cooking hacks that really work? Just pin this image to one of your cooking boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.11 Food hacks that really work

Now it’s your turn to share your food hacks!

What food hack have you found that works for you? Leave your suggestion in the comments below and I’ll include some of my favorites in the post with a shout out to you.

Admin note: This post first appeared on the blog in April of 2013 as one tutorial. I have updated the post to add an additional 10 food hacks and have added a video for you to enjoy.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  2 comments for “Food Hacks That Really Work – 11 Kitchen Shortcuts – Cooking Tips

  1. Dawn
    02/06/2016 at 8:03 am

    Thanks for the tip on storing ginger in vodka! Just one question – can I store it in the pantry, or does it need to be refridgerated?

    • Carol
      02/07/2016 at 2:29 pm

      I’ve kept it in the fridge to make sure it keeps the longest time.

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