"You Can't Even Taste The Soda": 26 Simply Genius Cooking Tips That People Learned From Their Own Family Members

"You Can't Even Taste The Soda": 26 Simply Genius Cooking Tips That People Learned From Their Own Family Members

There are many ways to learn how to cook, but some of the best kitchen tips and techniques come from family. So recently, I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me about a family cooking tip or recipe hack they swear by. Here's what people had to say!

1."When making potato salad, add a splash of dill pickle juice as the final ingredient. My Polish grandmothers, both immigrants, taught me this trick."

A close-up of a potato salad with slices of boiled potatoes, chopped green onions, and eggs mixed in a creamy dressing


Edith Polverini / Getty Images

2."My grandmother made the best sugar cookies, and the trick is to use lard. Lard makes for the best cookies, pastries, and biscuits. It adds subtle flavor and a distinct body to baked goods that shortening can't touch. It also beats butter since butter tends to make things a little tough. Save your butter for frosting!"


3."Use seasoned rice vinegar instead of lime juice in your guacamole. You can thank me later."

Hands holding a bowl of mashed green avocado with a spoon on a wooden table

—Matt, Washington

Olga Pankova / Getty Images

4."Three words: Lipton. Onion. Packets. Add one of these to dishes like meatloaf, beef stew, or potatoes before roasting them. I add it to so many recipes, and people always wonder what the secret is. A Lipton onion packet is the game changer ingredient passed down from my mom and aunt."

—Kara, Tennessee

5."I thicken my New England clam chowder with instant potatoes."

A bowl of creamy white soup with round crackers and bits of meat, with a spoon lifting some soup and crackers from the bowl

—Judy White, Massachusetts

Sergio Amiti / Getty Images

6."When measuring sticky ingredients like honey, maple syrup, or corn starch, spray cooking spray in the measuring cup first to prevent the ingredient from sticking. It will pour right out, and you won't leave any behind."


7."Always save your parmesan rinds! Keep them in the freezer and throw them into soups before you hit the simmer stage. It's perfect in Italian soups like pasta e fagioli, or tomato-based soups. You can even add a rind to chicken noodle soup. It's such a nice background flavor that will amp up your dish."

Close-up of two pieces of Parmesan cheese next to a metal grater on a wooden surface

—Steph, Pennsylvania

Jannhuizenga / Getty Images/iStockphoto

8."Adding any flavor of instant pudding mix to a sugar cookie recipe is a quick way to make delicious cookies. Also, always add more vanilla extract to cookies than is called for. If a recipe says one teaspoon, I change it to one tablespoon!"

—Joe, New Jersey

9."In my house, we marinate meats we will grill (like steak, pork chops, or chicken) in either Italian salad dressing or French salad dressing at least an hour before grilling. The dressing adds a wonderful flavor."

Grilled steaks with char marks cooking on a barbecue grill

—Cheryl, Michigan

Jonas Rönnbro / Getty Images

10."We sharpen knives using the bottom of ceramic bowls. My mom has been doing this my whole life, and I always thought it was common knowledge until I saw a YouTube video where people were shocked and excited to learn this trick."


11."When making sugar cookies, roll them out in sugar, not flour, to prevent them from sticking. The result is so much tastier."

Circular cookie cutters and dough on a wooden surface, ready for baking sheets


Adam Gault / Getty Images

12."Save the water from boiling potatoes to use in the gravy. It's a great thickener and tastes amazing."


13."Grating onions on an A-frame cheese grater is easier and faster than chopping (plus, it saves your eyes from burning). Onions 'melt' into the recipe and blend better. Along the same lines, use your cheese grater for egg salad with a better mouthfeel. It's fast work, has better consistency, and has a more appealing look.

Close-up of a hand grating a white vegetable, possibly cabbage or parmesan, into a bowl


Timur Malazoniia / Getty Images

14."Add a splash of Sprite or club soda to pancake batter. The carbonation makes them lighter and airier, and you can't even taste the soda!"


15."For fluffy rice, add a splash of vinegar, and for shiny rice, add a splash of sake before you cook the rice. Don't worry, it won't taste like vinegar or sake at all."

Two hands holding a white bowl of steamed rice

—Anonymous, Japan

Yuuji / Getty Images

16."Soak Cuban bread in warm water, squeeze the excess, and add it to your meatball recipe. You will have the most moist and tasty meatballs ever!"


17."My sister taught me this quick egg salad recipe I swear by. She scrambles some eggs, and while they are still quite wet, she adds some garlic powder. Then, she finishes scrambling until the eggs are almost dry. She takes the pan off the heat, adds mayo, and mixes it all up. It tastes delicious, hot or cold. You can also add chopped ham, some onions, etc."

A person stirs food in a pan on a stove. Cooking ingredients and a lit candle are near the pan


Triocean / Getty Images

18."I make taco meat and sloppy Joe's from scratch, but the problem is it can get too watery at times (probably from cooking down onions). When I was a kid, my mom would thicken these recipes with instant mashed potato flakes from a box. Just a little bit will get rid of the excess liquid. It works every time."

—Brad, Ohio

19."My mother always made vinaigrette salad dressing, and her secret was to add an ice cube while shaking it up. It makes the flavors blend more smoothly."

A person in a white shirt shaking a glass jar with mayonnaise


Annabelle Breakey / Getty Images

20."My mom always put sugar in the cooking water when boiling fresh corn. The corn always comes out sweet and juicy."

—Rose, Florida

21."Sear your meat before stewing or roasting it, especially in a slow cooker (and especially beef). This makes the difference between tough, relatively tasteless meat and meat that falls apart with a fork. I spent too many years making mediocre beef stews and roasts and couldn't figure out why."

A close-up of a pot containing a cooked meal with a piece of seasoned meat, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and various herbs


Lauripatterson / Getty Images

22."My husband's grandma always added a splash of oil to the pot of water when making hard-boiled eggs. The shells will just peel right off. It's seriously a game-changer!"

—Courtney, Oregon

23."My grandmother loved to bake. She had the best cakes, which she made from boxed mix. Her trick: Switch the water for milk, add an extra minute of mix time with an electric hand mixer, and put the cake in the freezer for several hours before frosting. I've followed this advice for years, and it works."

A hand holding a spoon drips batter into a mixing bowl on a wooden countertop. Various kitchen appliances are seen in the background


Finn Bjurvoll Hansen / Getty Images

24."Marinate chicken in pickle juice for GREAT tasting fried chicken."

Close-up of breaded chicken pieces frying in a pan, with a fork lifting one piece


Avatarmin / Getty Images

25."Using kitchen scissors to trim chicken breast is much easier than using a knife. You have so much more control and effectively trim the unwanted tissue without wasting the good parts of the chicken."


26."Instead of greasing and flouring a bundt cake pan, generously butter it and coat it with white granulated sugar. It never sticks, and it makes a thin crust on the outside of the cake to keep the inside moist."

A circular Bundt cake with powdered sugar on top, placed on a wooden table next to a fine mesh strainer and a checkered cloth

—Jen, Ohio

Manyakotic / Getty Images

Do you have one to add? Tell me about a cooking tip or recipe hack that you learned from family or that has been passed down by generations. You can also submit your response via this anonymous form.