Smart Cooking Hacks, Tricks, and Tricks You Should Know

These are actually very smart.

My name is Hannah and I write about food for a living, which means I constantly come across cooking tips and tricks. Of course, not all food hacks are worth trying, but every now and then I come across an idea that makes me stop and think, “Wow, that’s really, really smart.” These are some of the most promising cooking hacks I’ve seen lately.


Bread and fry (or air fry) Babybel Cheese for an awesome new take on mozzarella sticks.


Fry an egg in crisp chili to seriously upgrade your next bowl of instant ramen.


To prevent the bread in your breakfast sandwich from getting soggy from runny eggs, ketchup, or hot sauce, sprinkle shredded cheese on each slice of bread to create a cheese crust or barrier. Compile your sandwich so that the bread crust touches the egg and condiments.


Make crispy pickle chips using only pickles, cheese and a mini muffin tin. Sprinkle a little cheese into each muffin cup, add a pickle to each, and top with more cheese. Bake at 400°F and scoop out each pickle nugget with a spoon.


Use grilled, fried or roasted potatoes in place of your favorite meat in tortillas or fajitas. They taste delicious and hearty, but are so much cheaper than meat.


Breathe new life into a stale loaf of bread by running it under running water, then baking it in a hot 300°F oven for about 10 minutes. The oven steams stale, soggy bread and makes it look like new.

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Thinly slice your leftover meatloaf and fry to develop a nice golden crust. Crispy slices make an epic meatloaf sandwich.

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Next time you make tacos, replace your flour tortillas with Taiwanese Scallion Pancakes from Trader Joe’s (or frozen Scallion Pancakes from the local market).


Cut a slice of pizza in half and press the two slices together. Put it in a panini press or on the stovetop for an insanely good pizza sandwich.

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Combine a box of Hamburger Helper with any mixed vegetables you have (fresh or frozen) for a cheap, quick, and surprisingly satisfying meal.


For a cheap and easy meal that rivals any takeout, try making Spam Fried Rice. The ingredients will only cost you a few dollars, and it’s just as tasty as fried rice made with a much more expensive protein.


Switch Up Your Homemade Pizza Sauce: Tired of marinara? Try pesto, vodka sauce, romesco, or maybe a bit of everything.


Use frozen taquitos as a base for enchiladas. Simply place the taquitos in a baking dish and top them with your favorite store-bought enchilada sauce, diced tomatoes, and shredded Mexican cheese. Then cook until the cheese begins to brown.


Put a little mayonnaise in your cake, cookie or brownie batter. Mayo is mostly eggs and oil after all, it’s not that hard to figure out why it makes your baked goods better.

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Hand with spoon mixing cake batter for christmas baking in blue bowl


Reheat Trader Joe’s Tangerine Frozen Chicken, but omit the sauce. Instead, coat it with your favorite sauce, such as buffalo sauce, garlic parmesan, or lemon pepper. They basically turn into amazing boneless wings.

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed


Liven up the boxed macaroni and cheese with a dollop of cream cheese and mustard (Dijon, old-fashioned mustard, or even powdered mustard). The cream cheese adds, well… creaminess, and the mustard gives it a deeper savory flavor.


Replace your average bread with frozen naan and turn it into the best panini or grilled cheese sandwich ever.


Turn any frozen pizza into a deep dish. Thaw it for 20 minutes, place it in an oiled cast iron skillet, add the toppings and cook it for another 10 minutes.


Mix applesauce with cinnamon and half and half in a bowl. This two-ingredient dessert tastes like a chilled apple pie filling and you can make it in under a minute.

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Adding an extra egg yolk to any cookie recipe will result in softer, chewier cookies that taste freshly baked even after a few days in the fridge.

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For the simplest and laziest lasagna, layer frozen ravioli with tomato sauce and mozzarella and bake.


Add a layer of grated cheese inside the hard taco shells and let melt. Not only does the cheese hold the taco shells together, it also tastes great.

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Upgrade your bagels for breakfast…or dessert, with this TikTok tip. Slice a plain bagel and top each half with cream cheese and cinnamon. Air fry the bagel (or put it in the toaster) at 400°F for about four minutes until the bagel is golden brown and the cream cheese looks fluffy. Finally, decorate with a drizzle of honey.


Replace some of the liquid in your waffle batter with seltzer water or another carbonated drink like ginger ale. The result: really fluffy and airy waffles.

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Save time when preparing dinner by adding a splash of baking soda to oatmeal or polenta. It cuts the cooking time in half.

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Turn basically any canned fruit into a one ingredient sorbet. Have something like peaches or pineapple in light syrup. Freeze the contents of the box overnight and in the morning, remove the lid and pour the liquid and frozen fruit into a blender.

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Cook eggs in onion rings for perfectly shaped fried eggs ready to place directly on a burger, toast or sandwich.


Instead of making grilled cheese on the stovetop, make it in a waffle iron. It’s faster, less greasy, and gives you perfect pockets for dipping and mopping up tomato soup.


Instead of cooking your rice in water or even broth, try cooking it in coconut milk. It adds a bit of creaminess and fat and it’s so much tastier.

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Sprinkle garlic powder and Italian seasoning on the outside of your grilled cheese bread. Boom: you have grilled cheese on garlic bread.

Photo by Cathy Scola/Getty Images

Have you tried any of these cooking hacks? How did it work? Or do you have another smart food upgrade that others should know about? Tell us in the comments.

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