Weeknight Cooking

20 Essential Kitchen Hacks

June 11, 2014

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: Put away your appliances -- today, we're hacking everything.

Shop the Story

Some days are meant for lingering in the kitchen -- for tempering chocolate on a marble slab and listening to the warm crackle of bacon in the skillet.

Other days, we go rogue. We break our rules with abandon and make the most of what’s in our kitchens, right now. There will be no double boilers or heat diffusers to stand in our way -- and if you forgot to bring your butter to room temperature, don’t worry about it. Because tonight, we’re doing it all MacGyver-style -- that is, if MacGyver hacked sous vide machines instead of diffusing bombs with a toothpick. You already have everything you need -- so let’s get cooking. 

• Make the breakfast of champions, like a champion: bake your bacon and get perfectly peeled eggs, every time.

• Finish it off with a fresh juice -- no juicer needed

How to Bake Bacon How to Juice without a Juicer

• Next, prep your fruit. Pit your cherries, sans pitter, and turn your citrus zesting upside down.

• Forgot to stale your bread? Pop it in the oven. While you wait, soften your butter without mercy.

• If you’re working with chocolate, hack your own double boiler -- but if you need it tempered, do it in the microwave

How to stale bread How to temper chocolate in the microwave

• No time for the grocery store? Whip up some makeshift buttermilk with just two ingredients. While it curdles… 

• ...replenish your flour bins with DIY cake and self-rising flours.

How to DIY cake and self-rising flours

• Ready? Let’s cook. Turn your rice cooker into a sous vide machine and hack a steamer for your pork buns. 

• Then, keep it all warm with an improvised heat diffuser

How to Hack a Steamer 

• Do you have a sheet pan? A piece of aluminum foil? You can make a tart pan of any size

• Treat yourself to butter pecan ice cream -- minus the churning -- and s’mores, campfire be damned.

How to Make Butter Pecans 

• Once you’re done cooking, use your pantry items and food scraps to clean up the kitchen. 

• Finally, grab a spoon and crack open a beer -- you deserve it. 

How to open a bottle of beer without a bottle opener

What are your favorite kitchen hacks? Let us know in the comments!

Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Karen Terry
    Karen Terry
  • softenbrownsugar
  • Bebewatson
  • Jessica
  • Brocka
Lisa is a noodle fiend and a chocolate hoarder. She probably wants to make you cookies.


Karen T. May 25, 2015
I found out one day while making a cake in the food processor, use a funnel to add your dry ingredients as the processor is running. You won't have a mess.
Rosa L. May 25, 2015
If you use a canning funnel, the larger opening lets the flour go through faster than a regular funnel. Whether you can or not, you will find so many uses for a canning funnel.
softenbrownsugar May 21, 2015
Having several links used to annoy me too, until I just started clicking on all the links with the wheel on my mouse. That opens a new tab each time, and it's so much easier to click on each tab, read the hint (and possibly comments), and then 'X' the tab out. Maybe everyone knows that already, but I just thought I'd throw it out there. :)
CFrance May 21, 2015
The fact is, it takes you away from the article and into a new window with each click. You could end up with 20 windows open, if your computer would even handle that.
Bebewatson May 20, 2015
Give me a break--- way too clever...ie annoying--just list the damn "hints"
Jessica May 20, 2015
I agree that having the information in the article instead of having to click on all the links would be a big improvement!
Brocka May 20, 2015
This would be a lot less annoying if they weren't all separate links, ugh
CFrance May 20, 2015
Sora May 20, 2015
Bacon in the oven is thee number one most convenient kitchen hack!! Ever! And to make it even easier, line your pan with aluminum foil. ZERO cleanup and tons of bacony goodness.
CFrance May 20, 2015
I counted 19 clicks in this article. Seriously! Why not put everything into one article so one doesn't have to click and click and click. It'll take me days to get through all this what with having other things to do as well. It looks interesting but a lot of going back and forth. Just a suggestion for next time--put it all on one page, please.
Dave's C. May 20, 2015
Each link goes to an article...they're probably not going to put 20 articles on one page.
CFrance May 20, 2015
They could if they took the time.
saltandserenity June 18, 2014
Love how your brain works Lisa! What a fun article.
My favourite hack is half a lemon dipped into kosher salt to clean my copper pots!
Luvtocook June 17, 2014
I have three generations' worth of cast iron, inherited as well as bought for myself. The best cleaner for cast iron is Kosher salt: it provides friction for cleaning and leaves no flavored residue, soapy or otherwise.
Lisa S. June 17, 2014
We're team Kosher salt, too!
Jeanmarie T. June 17, 2014
These look really interesting, but I HATE that they're all individual links and not all on one page. Boo, hiss.
Lisa S. June 17, 2014
Thanks for your feedback, Jeanmarie!
Jean-Guy B. June 15, 2014
My favourite kitchen hack is getting garlic off your hands without soap by just rubbing them against stainless steel cutlery under cold running water. ... Not theat you always want it off your hands.
Lisa S. June 17, 2014
Glad to know I'm not the only one who sometimes enjoys alliums on her hands...
Nissrine @. June 11, 2014
Love your writing style. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
Lisa S. June 11, 2014
Thank you, Nissrine -- you just made my day!
Nissrine @. June 11, 2014
You had me at MacGayver....used to love watching it.
puttakka June 11, 2014
I learned from my mother to clean pots and pans (especially cast iron) with coffee grinds. They scrub without scratching and also remove food smells (like eggs, meat, and fish).
I submitted this to Cook's Illustrated, but they were not impressed.
Lisa S. June 11, 2014
Genius! I'll have to try that the next time I'm tempted to reach for my steel wool.
Nissrine @. June 11, 2014
Genius indeed!
Janene June 16, 2014
Love the sustainability of this and the best part is.... It works no fuss!
Kate S. June 16, 2014
Coffee grounds are miraculous. They're good for EVERYTHING!