June 18, 2024

28 Cooking Tips People Were Taught By Their Loved Ones That They Still Use In The Kitchen Today

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We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the best piece of cooking advice they’ve ever received, and wow, they delivered! Here are some of the most useful tips and tricks you may want to try in the kitchen:

1.“Oversalted your pasta sauce? Brown sugar saves it and makes it so much richer.”


2.“My grandmama was an old school southern cake baker and she NEVER let anyone cut into a cake the day it was made. Layered cakes need at least one day to rest for the flavors and frosting to properly get to know each other. Even cupcakes taste better the day after they’re assembled.”


person icing a cake

Kerry Elsworth / Getty Images/EyeEm

3.“Here’s a simple rule my mom taught me that her mom taught her: Don’t measure over the mixing bowl (or pot). It’s just so easy, especially when distracted, rushing, or with kids/pets running around, to accidentally over-pour or have something knocked out of your hand and into the mix. While it might not be critical with all ingredients, it can mean having to toss whatever you’re making and starting again from scratch.”


4.“Fry spices in oil before adding them to a dish in order to enhance their original flavors and make them bolder and more intense. It also gives them a brighter and fresher aroma. The more technical term for this is ‘tempering’ your spices, and my mother taught me to do it because it’s fairly integral to South Asian cooking, and that’s where we are from.”



Deeba Rajpal / Getty Images/500px

5.“Always have your ingredients out in front of you. Mise en place is great, but I don’t have enough little bowls, nor do I want to clean all of that. However, if I don’t have the container of the ingredient out on the counter, I WILL forget something. I set all my containers (especially spices) out on the counter before I start.”


6.“Carrots in homemade spaghetti sauce! Shred them and cook them down. No one can tell they are in the sauce, and it makes the sauce sweeter. My family is from Italy and that’s what my grandfather always did, then my mom, and now me.”


shredded carrots

Fotografiabasica / Getty Images

7.“Add a pinch of sugar for savory dishes, like soups or dressings. This complements the flavor of the dish.”


8.“My aunt was the go-to cook of the family. She told me to always pull my cookies out two-to-five minutes earlier than their full baking time. Let cookies finish baking on the pan from the residual heat, and they will be the softest, chewiest cookies ever.”


cookies out of the oven

Mint Images / Getty Images/Mint Images RF

9.“My grandmother is one of the best cooks and bakers I know, and one of her ‘rules’ was: If you want something pretty, order it. Stop striving to make it look like the picture. I have taken this to heart, especially with cakes and baked goods. Yes, you can try to make things pretty when you’re hosting and hoping to make an impression, but when it comes down to it, all people will care about is the taste of the product in the end. I was honestly amazed at how much I would ruin something trying to make it perfect, and then this advice would come into my head. It’s homemade; it can be ugly and sloppy. Who cares? As long as it tastes good. So yes, my cakes may look like a 3rd grader decorated them, but hey, no one says a peep while they’re digging in!”

“And no, I’m not saying that decorating is a waste of time or that it’s pointless. If it’s something you enjoy and have the skills to do well, carry on. This is more or less for the people who feel the need to keep adding to the cake until they’ve accidentally messed it up beyond return. Keep making your ugly delicious cakes or your beautifully decorated ones. No pressure as long as people eat it up!”


10.“I got this one wonderful suggestion from my late husband, who worked in food service for years and years. A squirt of ketchup and a spoonful of sugar will take the ‘canned’ taste from canned soups and vegetables.”



Charmian Perkins / Getty Images

11.“My mom always said, ‘A good cook is a clean cook!’ I always make sure to have all my ingredients out before I start, put them away as I use them, clean up the dishes as I go, and load up the dishwasher. Make things so much easier!”


12.“Rub a cut lemon across your cutting surface before chopping onions and it will help prevent the tears from flowing.”


someone cutting a lemon

Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61

13.“Not really a cooking tip, but a cookware tip. Don’t. Put. Your. Nonstick. Pans. In. The. Dishwasher. Unless the manufacturer says otherwise, dishwashers over time will break down the nonstick coating, which makes them flake and chip. I always wondered why my pots and pans never lasted long before flaking on me until my mom told me they’re not meant to be put in the dishwasher ever.”


14.“Put a splash of water in the pan when you’re frying bacon. The water renders the fat out of the bacon and it come out sooo crispy!”


bacon cooking on the stove

Jena Ardell / Getty Images

15.“Always make the recipe EXACTLY as it is written the first time, THEN do the tweaking. If you change something about a recipe to begin with, you’ll never truly understand what it could’ve become.”


16.“I have so many tips, but the most important one is the simplest: quality ingredients. You know that expensive restaurant you love the food from? They are most likely using very fresh and higher quality produce, meats, and dairy. That heirloom caprese salad will not taste near as good with watery tomatoes, processed cheese, and dried herbs. The fresher, the better.”


tomatoes mozzarella and basil

Claudia Totir / Getty Images

17.“Read the recipe all the way through before you start. It’s all fun and games until you realize the thing you wanted to serve immediately needs to rest for an hour or chill overnight.”


18.“Add a little vinegar to marinating chicken. It’s an absolute game changer!”


chicken marinating in a pot

Annick Vanderschelden Photograph / Getty Images

19.“My grandma always taught me that baking is a science. Your measurements should be precise for the most part. But, cooking is much more about measuring with your heart or eyeballing it (though there are some exceptions).”


20.“My parents are both chefs and my dad owned a deli growing up. I used to help prep food here and there and the biggest life-long takeaway I learned is that if you crack two eggs together, only one will break. Every. Damn. Time. It’s SO much easier than cracking against the bowl.”


egg shell

Priscila Zambotto / Getty Images

21.“I’m from Louisiana, and a dish that I sometimes forget is not commonly eaten elsewhere is gumbo. Gumbo is a soup/stew that is different from pot to pot and VASTLY different from cook to cook. For example, my grandmother’s base to her gumbo is brown, but my mom’s base tends to be red. I have tried making gumbo before, but it never seems to taste like home. It’s missing something, and both of them know what it is. They have held this ‘secret ingredient’ over my head all throughout college, but last week I finally figured it out: It’s Tiger seasoning, a seasoning local to Louisiana, but that I’ve seen in some other places. I found out by sheer accident because I was out of a different seasoning and used it instead. I immediately called mom and she busted out laughing. ‘We were going to see if you would use every seasoning in the cabinet before you got to that one!'”


22.“Use plain yogurt or watered-down sour cream instead of heavy cream. It adds an amazing, savory flavor and creamy texture.”


spoon with yogurt

Jonathan Kantor / Getty Images

23.“Make sure the pan you’re cooking on (pizza pan, sheet pan, etc.) is heating up in the oven while the oven preheats. It makes a huge difference for sheet pan meals (veggies, meat, etc.), and is phenomenal on pizza crusts!”


24.“Don’t overcrowd the pan! I was certain that it didn’t matter, but my wife insisted. One time, we were doubling a recipe that called for ground beef and diced onions, so we put half in a small pan and the other half in a large pan. The difference was night and day. The meat in the small pan looked gray and the onions smelled sulfurous. They steamed instead of browned. The large pan had nice, caramelized onions and the ground beef looked better, too.”


ground beef in a pan

Jeff R Clow / Getty Images

25.“Spices will be enhanced and their flavors magnified during cooking. So, if you’re making Thanksgiving stuffing for instance and you’re not sure if you’ve added enough thyme or poultry seasoning, it’s good to remember that.”


26.“Set the table before cooking. If you cook first and then try to get out plates, utensils, glasses, etc., your dinner guests will not be impressed by the chaos.”


table set

Linda Raymond / Getty Images

27.“Get a cheap bottle of actual wine instead of cooking wine. It tastes much richer and doesn’t have added salt.”


28.Finally: “A pack of pudding mix added to any boxed cake mix makes the most moist cakes ever! My grandma used to make every single birthday cake for us each year. We’re connoisseurs of homemade cakes!”


batter on a mixing whisk

“creativ Studio Heinemann, Red C / Getty Images/Westend61

Do you have a cooking tip you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments!

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.