Kitchen Tip Quickies: 50+ Neat-To-Know Helpers & Hacks

  1. Strawberries: Wash freshly picked strawberries then take a wide plastic straw and insert it at the bottom of a strawberry–use it to push the stem out.
  2. Measuring Hack: Rinse measuring cup in hot water before using syrup, oil, etc. Will pour out clean and not stick to cup.
  3. Sugar In Fruit Pies: When making pie, sprinkle the sugar under the fruit instead of on top. This prevents pie from boiling over.
  4. Baking Fruit Pies: Cut four small slits into top pie crust and stand one piece of tubed pasta into each slit (choose pasta at least 2 or 3 inches long–cannelloni and cut ziti work well). The juices will bubble up the pasta ‘pipe’ and back down into the pie–instead of running all over your oven. Once pie has finished baking, remove pasta.
  5. Pie Dough Rolling: Try rolling pie dough between two sheets of waxed paper, the dough is easier to manage and doesn’t stick to the table or your rolling pin. Once the dough is in the desired shape and thickness, peel off the waxed paper and place directly in the pie plate. Cut off the excess.
  6. Bigger Cakes From Mixes: To make a bigger cake from a mix, add 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp. baking powder. *Found on loose page from an old cookbook.
  7. Icing Cakes: For one layer cakes, turn the cake upside down before icing so that the top is perfectly flat and even. When icing two cake rounds or squares, place a layer of frosting on the top of one round, then place the other round upside down on top for a perfectly flat top. If the cake rose high and uneven in the middle as it baked, you may need to slice a bit off across the top to lay it flat.
  8. Soften Hard Bread/Buns/Pastries: Lightly spray a cotton dishtowel with water to dampen it (but not make it WET). Wrap the bread in the towel (moist side against the crust) then put into a preheated 300°F oven for about 5 to 15 minutes. The time depends on the size of the rolls or the loaf. You can also zap them in the microwave (covered with a damp cotton cloth), check every 10 to 15 seconds or so.
  9. Neatly Cut Fudge: Use a pizza cutter to easily slice through flats of fudge and candy squares. Make sure the sweets have been chilled or thoroughly set before cutting. The process is fast and easy and the result is nice, neat squares.
  10. Freeze Cookie Dough: Try preparing a few batches of cookie dough at once and freezing the extra that you won’t be baking that day. You can roll the dough in logs first before freezing (wrap the dough really well) and then just slice off and bake what you need whenever you crave warm & fresh cookies.
  11. Soften Butter: A few different methods for speeding up the process of getting soft butter right from the fridge (without melting it): Grate the butter into a bowl–comes down to room temperature faster; Microwave for a few seconds at a time–watch closely because you don’t want to zap it too long; Cut butter into squares and put them into a bowl, insert bowl in a pan of warm–not hot–water.
  12. Remove Dough Quickly From Hands: Keep a small bowl of cornmeal nearby while kneading and working with dough. If you need to quickly answer the phone, the door, or rescue a runaway toddler while your hands are full of sticky dough, rub dry cornmeal on your hands. This removes dough faster than washing your hands in soap and water.
  13. Mashed Potato Warmer: Is there ever enough stove top space when preparing large meals (like at Christmas or Thanksgiving)? Here’s a way to get the mashed potatoes done early and out of the way: Prepare your mashed potatoes an hour or two before serving the meal and store them in the slow cooker (on low heat). Serve with the rest of the meal and they’re still hot and tasty :).
  14. Fluff Up Mashed Potatoes: Try adding a healthy pinch of baking powder to the potatoes when mashing them. For fluffier mashed potatoes, use an electric mixer to whip air into them. Any other additions? Me, I’m a real butter and splash of milk potato masher-er ;).
  15. Mixing Raw Hamburger: If you can’t stand mixing raw hamburger by hand and the wooden spoon just won’t do, try covering each of your hands in a clean plastic bag (or baggy) and dig in. The plastic bags will still give your hands and fingers free movement, yet keep them free from raw meat contamination. Did you know: Meatloaf aficionados declare that the ingredients must be mixed by hand or the meatloaf is doomed? Check out these favorite tasty meatloaf tips.
  16. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: Try slathering mayonnaise on the outer sides of the bread instead of butter when making grilled cheese sandwiches. Makes a nice and crispy sandwich as well as tastes delicious. Another favorite addition of mine is chopped green onions melted in the sandwich with the cheese. Sweet, at least the green onions are healthy! If you have a favorite twist to Grilled Cheese sandwiches, please share and add them below. I’m officially hungry now ;).
  17. Cabbage Salad Kicker: To take a cabbage salad “out of this world” add chunks of banana just before serving. *Found on a loose page from an old cookbook. Cabbage Salad would be Coleslaw I believe. My mother-in-law always made hers with slivers of apple mixed in with the coleslaw (delish!). Bananas? I’m hesitant to try this lol. If you do, please let me know how it turns out.
  18. Greaseless Griddle Cake: When making griddle cake grease the pan for the first cake. After that rub a piece of raw potato over hot griddle instead of greasing. The cakes brown nicely and there will be no smoke. *Found on loose page of from an old cookbook.
  19. Slicing Meat Thin: If you need really thin sliced meat when making stir-fry recipes or other dishes, try partially freezing the meat before making your cuts. This will make the meat easier to slice very thin since it will hold firm while slicing, no more uneven cuts from the raw meat mushing underneath the knife blade.
  20. Stop Meat Edges From Curling: When grilling steaks or frying up pork chops, sometimes the edges can curl and the meat no longer sits flat in the pan or on the grill. To help prevent that, just cut a slit in the fat along the edge of the meat every inch or so before cooking.
  21. Meat Tenderizer: You can use baking soda as a meat tenderizer. Two different ways to do this: Sprinkle the bicarb all over the meat, rub it in a bit and then let sit (refrigerated) for several hours. You could also make a baking soda/water paste and slather it over the meat. Let it marinate for several hours. Rinse meat before cooking to remove all the residue.
  22. Baking Soda Test: Do you have an old box of baking soda in the pantry and you’re not sure whether or not it’s still good? Fill a small cup half full with vinegar and drop a teaspoon of baking soda in it. If things start fizzing, then the bicarb is definitely active.
  23. Fresh Fruit & Veggies Washing: Sprinkle wet fruit and veggies with baking soda then gently scrub and rinse. This cleaning method safely removes dirt and residue off produce. This was part of Tipnut’s Arm & Hammer week.
  24. Prevent Bacon Spatters: Bacon can be quite a messy item to prepare, try lightly dusting the bacon with flour before frying. This helps prevent the spatters and meat shrinkage.
  25. Veggie Roasting Racks: Try roasting a chicken or roast on top of long slices of celery or carrot sticks. The vegetables act like a roasting rack plus add flavor to the meat. You can eat the vegetables too, yum! Not only do the veggies work well as a roasting rack, there’s one less item to wash ;).
  26. Potato Flakes Thickener: Add dried instant potato flakes to homemade soups and sauces to thicken the consistency. This won’t change the flavor at all and is a sure trick when a dish sauce turns out too watery or thin.
  27. Natural Peanut Butter Storage: Here’s a tip sent in by reader Beth: Regarding natural peanut butter, the type that separates after it sits for a while. Store the unopened jars in the cabinet upside down. The oil will want to rise to the top again and will pass through the solid part to do so, basically stirring itself! Great tip! Thanks for sharing that Beth :)!
  28. Flour Bugs: Keep a couple bay leaves in the flour canister to help deter the bugs (flour Weevils) congregating in their favorite hangout. You can toss the leaves loose in the flour or make a rough pouch out of one layer of cheesecloth to keep the leaves separated from the flour. Another tip is to tape the bay leaves to the inside of the lid. Always try to keep flour and other grains in air tight containers, this will help keep pantry pests out.
  29. Squeezing Lemons For Juice: For those who suffer from arthritis or hand pain, use a nutcracker to mangle and squeeze wedges of lemons to juice them. Otherwise jab a fork into the fruit flesh, squeeze both ends of the wedge together (towards the fork) and then twist the fork every which way. Lots of juice!
  30. Herb & Spice Storage: To help preserve flavor, herbs and spices are best stored in airtight containers, out of sunlight and away from heat sources. Store the jars and containers in the pantry or a cupboard. Keeping spices and dried herbs in cute glass jars over top of the stove is a popular practice, but it does negatively affect the flavor of your spice collection.
  31. Make Your Own Celery Flakes: Instead of cutting off the leafy tops of celery and tossing away, try making your own celery flakes. Simply wash and dry the leaves well, place in oven at 180° F. until crispy dried (a few hours), crumble and store in an air tight container. Use the celery flakes in cooking dishes such as soups, stews, stuffing and anything else you’d like to add a little flavor.
  32. Crystalized Honey Fix: If your honey has crystalized, place the bottle or container in a pot full of hot water and let it sit for about 1/2 hour or until the honey is melted. Stir the honey well and the crystals will be gone.
  33. Soften Marshmallows: Slice open the top of a marshmallow bag then place in a large ziploc freezer bag. Freeze. Remove the amount of frozen marshmallows you need as you need them. Thaw and they’re soft and ready to use. If you have hard marshmallows in the pantry, try tossing a piece or two of sliced bread in the bag. Seal, then check after a few days. The marshmallows should be soft again.
  34. How to Keep Cookies Soft: Keep these treats moist and chewy by throwing a few slices of apple in your cookie jar to keep them soft. Don’t do this if you like them crispy or crunchy ;).
  35. Lunch Box Notes: When packing lunch for your child, include a little note just for them to brighten their day while they’re at school. I learned this tip from my son, when he was younger he let me know his friend had nice notes from her mom in her lunch every day–I’d say kids look forward to getting them ;).
  36. Use A Pastry Brush To Butter Pans: Use soft butter and a pastry brush to grease decorative cake pans, bundt pans and muffin tins. The brush makes it much easier to get into all the grooves. Martha’s Good Things for the Kitchen booklet also suggests to butter the top of muffin pans between the cups as it helps remove the baked muffins easier.
  37. Reuse Butter Paper Wrapping: Save the paper or foil wrap from blocks or squares of butter and use them to grease baking pans. Keep the paper refrigerated in a separate baggy. Not only do they do an effective job buttering the pans, it also puts to good use something we often toss freely.
  38. Muffin Tin Use: After stuffing peppers and tomatoes, arrange in a muffin tin before sticking them in the oven. They’ll stay upright and keep their shape perfectly! You could also do this with baked apples or other round or stuffed items.
  39. Fill Empty Muffin Tins With Water: If your muffin or cupcake recipe doesn’t fill all the spots in your muffin pan, fill the empty places 3/4 full with water. This will help protect those slots from darkening or getting scorched.
  40. Easily Color Shredded Coconut: If you’d like to color shredded coconut for toppings on cakes and desserts, simply put the coconut in a clean jar (only one half jar full at a time), add a few drops of food coloring in your choice of color, then cap the jar and shake it until all the coconut is evenly tinted.
  41. Add Flavor To Vegetables: Toss in a bouillon cube or two to the boiling water instead of salt when cooking vegetables. Adds a delicious flavor to the veggies. Another alternative is to add a couple roughly halved cloves of garlic to the boiling water, then lightly tossing veggies in butter once cooked.
  42. DIY Non-Slip Bowls: No need to buy expensive mixing bowls with rubber bottoms–just set a bowl on top of a damp cloth and no more worries about it sliding around while you’re mixing something.
  43. Cheesecloth In A Pinch: If you’re out of cheesecloth you can use a sheet of paper towel or a coffee filter to line a colander or strainer and then strain liquid. Single use only and you may have to do in batches.
  44. Open Tight Lid Jars: If tapping around the lid with a knife won’t loosen a jar lid, try putting on a pair of latex gloves then twisting the lid off. This gives a good grip that won’t slip. Another helper: cut a square of leftover nonslip shelf liner and keep that on hand to unscrew lids.
  45. Separate Eggs With A Funnel: If you don’t have an egg separator and need just an egg white or yolk for a recipe, you can use a small kitchen funnel. Crack the egg gently then break into the funnel. The white of the egg will flow through the funnel leaving the yolk behind. No funnel? You could also clip a corner off a ziploc bag and use that as a funnel. Make sure to place the funnel inside a glass so the egg white is contained ;).
  46. Reuse Nylon Mesh Bags: If you buy veggies that are bagged in nylon mesh, you can use that mesh for various cleaning jobs around the house and yard. Just wad up the bag and use it as a scrubber.
  47. Finding Broken Glass Under Soapy Water: If you break glass in soapy water while doing dishes, to prevent cutting yourself while looking for it you can use a tall clear drinking glass or a wide clear glass bowl–keeping the top part above the bubbles, push the glass into the water and use it as a lens to look around and find the broken pieces.
  48. Protect Cookbooks & Recipes: Recipe cards and cookbooks getting a little grungy and marked with goop? To prevent this from happening or the damage from getting worse, place them in a clear plastic bag first before using them to prepare a dish. This will keep them from getting smudged up with gooey fingers, yet still be perfectly readable when doing a quick check on a measurement or instruction.
  49. Extra Oven Rack: Take out the extra oven rack when baking and you can use it for the cooling rack. Works for cakes, cookies, hors douvres, whatever you like. If you’re baking smaller items that might fall through, simply cover the rack with tinfoil first (fold foil tightly over the edges). Works like a charm!
  50. Put Out A Stove Top Grease Fire: Douse the fire heavily with salt or baking soda. Turn off the heat as soon as it’s safe to do so without being burned. This is a great way to use expired baking soda or the boxes you just replaced in the fridge, keep those in the cupboard beside your stove. Teach children how to do this as soon as they’re old enough to start cooking.
  51. Repair Rusty Dishwasher Racks: A co-worker found a way to fix up her dishwasher rack by using vinyl caps. You can buy repair kits that contain both liquid vinyl repair paint and vinyl tine caps or ends. They come in a few different colors too so you can match with what you have. Search Amazon for Dishwasher Rack Repair and you’ll find a few options. Prices range from $10 to $30 so it’s not expensive at all to get your dishwasher rack fixed up.
  52. Easy Jello Mold Release: Cover the open side of the mold with a plate and then flip. Let it sit at room temperature until the Jello drops out itself (about 45 to 60 minutes before serving). Just cover with plastic wrap and re-chill if you prefer serving jello molds cold. Tip #2: Dip the mold in hot water right up to the top of the rim (but not seeping over into the Jello) for about a minute and then cover the open side of the mold with a plate, flip over. If the jello doesn’t pop out onto the plate easily, dip the mold in warm water again and repeat.
  53. Remember to keep the handles of cookware turned in so they are completely over the stove top and they are not protruding over the edge of the stove at all. It’s far too easy for young children to reach up and pull a hot pot down on themselves or to bump into the handle and set a pan with hot grease flying when rushing around preparing a meal.

Don’t miss this collection of substitutes, you’ll have info at your finger tips for making things like your own buttermilk, a baking powder substitute, a recipe to make your own cake flour and more.

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    • Clara Tingle

    Grilled Cheese – Use a George Forman Grill. Heat up grill. Butter one side of bread or spray with butter flavored spray. Place cheese between slices of bread and grill until golden. Both sides grill at once to no need to flip over. Also, try grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches. A local restaurant used to serve them. Very tasty.

    • Cindy

    Another tip for instant mashed potato flakes, use to batter your fried chicken… First dip, Flour/salt pepper, second dip, Egg, third dip, instant mashed potato flakes !!!! Comes out crispy and crunchy !!!

    • kitkat

    When I make grilled Cheese sandwiches I add half a small avocado. Just cut an avocado in half and mash with a fork. Put cheese on bread, add mashed avocado, and more cheese on top so cheese is touching both pieces of bread with avocado sandwiched between. Grill as usual. Supper yummy!!

    • Kay

    Add mango to coleslaw instead to apple. Makes a nice change.

    • Jess

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    We have grilled cheese and soup for dinner every so often (fancy ones for hubby and me and plain ones for the kids) and so we can all eat together I found I can make four at a time on my George Foreman Grill. It does both sides at once and only takes about 3 minutes to done! Such a timesaver and then we can sit down at the same time. Also, seconds are done in a snap! I set the sandwiches up first, then turn it on. It gets super hot, so stay close!

    • Jennifer

    Ok, down here in Louisiana we make a grilled cheese with 2 slices of cheese with Louisiana Hot Sauce in between. It’s killer!!! The rest is the same as a regular grilled cheese.

      • William

      For an additional touch, coat the outside of the butter or mayo with grated parmesan cheese. Just be careful it doesn’t burn. very tasty

    • Diane

    On grilled cheese sandwiches, appreciate the mayonnaise idea 9will try next time). Another DELICIOUS! twist on those sandwiches….. I like thin-sliced tomatoes & lighty-sprinkled oregano inside those sandwiches too! – hhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmm GOOD!!!

    p.s. already liking your website & looking forward to my daily tips! – I found EXACTLY what I was looking for just a minute ago when I was stumped in the kitchen concerning measurement conversions – your charts are wonderful! Thank you!!

    • rachel bailey

    i found a great way to keep cottage cheese fresh. since it is so expensive i thought others would like this tip. after opening the first time when you put it away turn it upside down. iv’e kept cottage cheese good for 6 weeks!!!

    • Morgan

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    i always put a knifeful of mayo on the inside of the sandwich and then put my cheese on and grill as usual with butter on the outside. the mayo on the inside makes the cheese creamier. one other thing i like is to make a grilled cheese the above way and make a half grilled cheese (just one piece of bread with cheese) and then put the two together. so you get a double-decker with a crunchy piece of bread in the middle. yum! i like the tomato idea. gonna try that sometime.

    • Dawn

    When I was in the army, we made Grilled Chz sandwiches between foil with a hot iron…since iron’s were the only “heat” source we were allowed 🙂

    • Golden Jewel

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    I love to put pepperoni in mine and mozzarella cheese, sometimes even a shake of italian seasoning! But definitely lots of butter on the outside no matter what on the inside!

    • laura gayle

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    use some really great, thick bread, add sunflower seeds between the cheese slices and dip in ranch dressing or thousand island dressing… makes for a great summer sandwich this way with a nice salad.

    • Mr T

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    Try adding a bit of Marmite, it goes all gooey when heated and tastes great with the Cheese and tomato sauce.

    • Lauren

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    I love doing grilled cheese with fresh basil and a “fancier” cheese like fontina combined with mozzarella. It’s absolutely perfect for dipping in tomato soup.

    • Mary

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    Try it with pesto in it.

    Soooooooo good.

    • Bex

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    Just to spicey-up an old favourite, butter the outsides of the bread, insert some kind of favourite cheese (mine’s Cheshire from England) and put a spoonful or two of salsa from the jar in between the cheese slices…toast up, flip and toast again in the toaster oven (in a fry pan actually is even better).

    • Tipnut

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    Michelle that’s how my grandma made them too, and they were always the best grilled cheese sandwiches I ever had. She also topped the cheese with chopped green onions, yum!

    • Michelle

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    I have been making the grilled cheese sandwiches on my waffle iron. The cheese melts perfectly, and the ridges hold up perfectly when dipping into tomoato soup.

    • Renee

    ETA: Quick Tip: Open Tight Lid Jars

    The best way to open a jar is to use a bottle opener. Pry the lid slightly until you hear a little pop and voila! The jar opens easily. It works every time.

    • jim spice

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    At college, the first time grilled cheese was served, I got to the end of the serving line and asked the lunch lady where the maple syrup was. All in earshot looked at me in amazement. That’s how I ate them at home, and thought everyone else did too.

    Since, I have continued this practice, but have learned to love them in the only other acceptable variation, dunked in Campbell’s Tomatoe Soup.


    • Red Clover

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    When my son was 5 he wanted a “meal” he could cook.

    So, modified Grilled Cheese was perfect.

    Step one 2 slices of bread in the toaster.

    Step two: once the bread is toasted put one slice of cheese between then and place it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to melt the cheese.

    Quick and dirty, but kid friendly grilled cheese is done.

    Not the most tasty ever… but the kiddies love to be able to make the sandwiches on “soup and sandwich” day

    • miss mara

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    I love to add green and red peppers, and also jalapenos! Another nice addition is some drained salsa, it gives it a very comforting and south of the border taste.

    • Shannon

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    I love grilled cheese and onion, though I’ve never tried green onions. Another favorite addition is a juicy slab of tomato. Like putting the tomato soup (perfect match for any grilled cheese) in the sandwich!

    • Pauline

    ETA: Quick Tip: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    Ham in grilled cheese is always good. Thin sliced tomatoes or sweet onions is great also.

    BTW, we always dip our grilled cheese in ketchup.

      • Ms Kat

      Pauline –
      You must be my cosmic sister (or something equally mysterious)! My favorite grilled sandwich of them all is ham & cheese WITH sliced tomatoes, and of course, dipped in ketchup. Kind of a twist on grilled cheese with tomato soup. De-lish! However, I must confess, lately I’ve been dipping in 50/50 mustard (reg yellow) and ketchup. Gives it a nice subtle tang. I may need to go make one. Mmmmmmmm!

    • Jenn

    ETA: Quick Tip: Open Tight Lid Jars

    for new jars you can’t get open, if you wedge a butter knife between a thread on the jar and the lid, and *carefully* put force against the lid, the saftey seal will pop and the lid will twist off easy as pie.

    i also heard running warm water around the lid helps loosen up food deposits that keep the lid stuck tight after opening.

    • Chester's Clean House

    ETA: Quick Tip: Reuse Nylon Mesh Bags

    Thanks for another great tip. I used it on my son’s high chair and it worked great. I think he gets more food on his high chair then in his mouth.

    • Kansas A

    ETA: Quick Tip: Bigger Cakes From Mixes

    I did this for my kid’s combined birthday party this weekend and it worked great! I used a golden cake mix and it was so moist and delicious everybody had seconds! Great tip!

    • Beverly

    ETA: Quick Tip: Fluff Up Mashed Potatoes

    Roast a whole head of garlic in the oven with a sprinkle of olive oil for 1 hour(while you peel and cook the potatoes). Mash the garlic into a paste and add to the potatoes with butter,sour cream, salt and pepper. Roasted garlic is mild and Mmmmm!

    • Greg!

    ETA: Quick Tip: Fluff Up Mashed Potatoes

    I’m a real butter, garlic and a splash of real cream guy sometimes.

    Sometimes, sourcream and (garlic)chives.

    I’m thinking the baking powder, coupled with buttermilk might make them fluffy as a cloud.

    I love me some mashed potatoes!

    • katybear

    ETA: Quick Tip: Freeze Cookie Dough

    My dad used to do this all the time when we were growing up with his famous chocolate oatmeal cookies. We had a big deep freeze in the garage and he’d make like 4 or 5 big long logs of dough, roll them up in wax paper and then a layer of foil on the outside and label them. Then when we had company coming or whatever, he’d get one out and cut off a few cookies and bake. So easy. Great for those potluck parties at work when you don’t have time to make anything fancy.

    • Pearl

    ET: Quick Tip: Soften Butter

    Like that grate idea. I slice very thin but that could be fun too.

    • lornadoone

    Ah, and now I see the links below to both of those tips. Oops!

    • lornadoone

    Adding a slice of bread to a bag of brown sugar that’s gone hard also works really well. Additionally, a slice of bread in a container of home-made cookies keeps them soft and moist.

    • Monica

    ETA: Tip: How to Keep Cookies Soft

    You can also place one slice of bread in the cookie jar – works the same way!

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