There are a ton of cooking tricks that are the culinary equivalent of a get-rich-quick scheme: they’re overly complicated and unlikely to be fruitful, unless you already have the know-how and finesse to go toe-to-toe with chefs like Gordon Ramsay. Most of us don’t.
With that set-up, would you believe us if we told you there’s still hope for all those who just want to soften butter? It’s tough to beat (literally) cold butter, but waiting for a stick to reach room temperature can put your evening baking plans on hold. Luckily, there are wise chefs out their willing to share their butter-softening secrets and forever change the way laymen get by in the kitchen…
Sometimes, you just want to spice things up in the kitchen, but trying to follow the never-ending list list of internet kitchen hacks can be an impossible chore. So let’s start with a simple tip to melt butter.
Let’s say you had a night of baking planned out: the kids were going to help or the significant other was coming by. Maybe you just want some butter for toast. Either option calls for softened butter.
Suddenly, panic strikes! You realize you had every intention of leaving your butter on the counter so it could soften before you baked, but you accidentally left the stick tucked away in the fridge. And there’s a good reason not to use cold butter anyway.
Recipes that call for softened butter utilize sugar to help aerate the fat. When the butter is soft, the sugar can whip air pockets into the batter or dough, which then captures the baking soda or powder. This creates a fluffier end product.
Butter that’s too hot or too cold simply doesn’t get aerated by the sugar. In fact, it’s so important to soften your butter for some baking recipes that countless cooking blogs have offered their own tried-and-true methods for speeding up the process. Few come close to one YouTuber’s strategy.
It was YouTuber OnePotChefShow that delivered the perfect solution to your baking butter woes. His channel provides all kinds of quick tips, but few match the quality and accessibility of his butter trick.
Rather than wait for your butter to warm up organically, the YouTuber said, grab your butter, a plate, and a glass of hot water. With these three simple items in hand, you’re well on your way to solving your problem.
Here’s how it works: first, you’ll want to cut a piece of butter — however much you plan on using — from the stick and set it out on a plate. No, you aren’t just going to wait for it to melt.
Next, take your glass of hot water, and let it sit out for a minute until the cup absorbs some of that nice heat. Once it’s warmed, dump out the water and wipe the inside of the cup. You’re minutes away from room-temp butter.
Take that hot cup, turn it upside down, and place it right over the butter, giving your little square of tasty fat a wave of residual heat. If you let it stand over your butter for a minute or two, it should be the perfect consistency for you to spread! But this begs a question.
Why not just use the microwave? Well, they’re finicky. A second too long, and you’ll be looking at liquid butter, which will change the consistency of your cookies. They’ll be gross. Cooking is chemistry, and that’s why you need to study up before donning the chef’s hat.
For instance, onions are a pain in the eye to chop! It’s hard to see what you’re doing through all those tears. Next time you’re working with an onion try putting a metal spoon in your mouth. It lifts the soft palate and prevents tears from forming.
Then consider this: have you ever left the kitchen for even just one minute only to come back to the water you left boiling spilling out everywhere? Next time place a wooden spoon over the top to prevent overflow.
Sometimes it can be tricky to peel off the shell of a newly hard-boiled egg without wrecking it. Instead, after cracking your egg, place it in a glass of water and shake it. The cracked shell should peel away easily afterward.
It doesn’t matter who you are, no one likes having to clean dishes after a meal. By putting your taco ingredients inside a bag of Fritos, you get the crunch and salt of a taco without any mess. Talk about inspired.
Most people agree Nutella is quite delicious, so why not savor every last bit in the jar? When you find yourself scraping the plastic bottom with a spoon, throw some cake batter in the container and put it in the microwave for a minute. Boom! Instant Nutella cake!
Finding a healthy but enjoyable snack isn’t always easy. That’s why this simple idea is perfect: place Popsicle sticks into yogurt containers and freeze them overnight to make healthy yogurt pops!
If you have some extra potatoes you don’t plan on using for a bit, prevent them from spoiling quickly by placing a fresh apple among the cluster. One bad apple ruins the whole bunch, but one good apple saves the whole bushel.
Sometimes you buy a coffee and don’t finish it, but instead of dumping it out when it gets cold, freeze the rest in ice cube trays. Reach for them instead of plain ice the next time you have a cup of cold brew!
Wood has a tendency to trap liquids and hold stains. Instead of letting your cutting board turn into a multi-colored mess, use lemon and fresh salt to give it a thorough scrub and watch the stains disappear.
Many times herbs are sold in large bushels, and you may not be using the whole thing at one time. Don’t let them go waste; put them in ice cube trays with cooking oil or butter and freeze them for an instant herbal sauté.
Who doesn’t love waking up in the morning to the smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns wafting through the house? If you want to take your buns to the next level, put them in a waffle iron!
If you want to impress the heck out of people using pancakes, get yourself a rice cooker and make your flapjacks in it. They’ll be so much thicker and fluffier than if you were to use a stovetop skillet.
As delicious as those green creamy fruits are, they brown really quickly. To prevent this from happening, spray the avocado or guacamole with cooking oil to create a barrier between the fruit and the air.
Cut the entire watermelon into quarter chunks, then cut into each quarter vertically and horizontally. When you’re finished, run the blade along the rind and viola!
It’s difficult to remove the pits of cherries without destroying much of the fruit. However, placing a cherry on a bottle top and using a long thin instrument, such as a chopstick, you can push the pit through without a problem.
It can be nearly impossible to work an actual peeler around a piece of ginger — they’re so awkwardly shaped. But, using the edge of a spoon will help you dig into the deepest crevices without a problem.
After a lot of use, sponges get nasty. They can harbor all sorts of germs and bacteria, but instead of throwing them away, wet them and place them in a microwave for at least two minutes. Nearly all of the harmful germs will die.
Cutting off either end of your kiwi, line it up with a glass and simply pull it down to remove the skin in a couple of easy swoops! Beats trying to dig it out with a spoon!
It might seem like there’s really only one way to shuck corn, but if you cut off one end of the cob, you can easily slide the whole thing out without peeling away anything!
Stop cooking your bacon in a frying pan! You can cut back on grease and have evenly cooked, crispy, mess-free bacon in a snap if you simply bake it in the oven. Plus, you can whip up a lot more bacon at once that way. That’s a win-win.
Instead of springing for all-organic produce, focus on the thin-skinned fruits and veggies that don’t already have a natural protective layer against pesticides, like tomatoes.
Olive oil is also one of the most notorious food fakes out there! It is amazing just how many brands of oil masquerade as “olive oil” when, in fact, olives never came near the bottle. Read the ingredients carefully.
Rice might seem nutritious and pretty easy to make. However, taking shortcuts—like not rinsing it—can result in exposure to pesticides. Using leftover rice is also a gamble. It’s a real breeding ground for bacteria.
When you’re trying a new recipe, always follow it to the letter the first time you make it. Once you’ve mastered it, you can go ahead and try some substitutions, but there’s a reason why they say baking is a science! Messing with one ingredient can change the whole recipe for the worse.
It’s tempting to overlook the simple step of washing your fruits and vegetables before you eat them, but you really should. E coli and other common bugs that cause tummy trouble could be lurking on your produce. Never assume anything is washed!
Don’t throw away your pickle jar just because you’ve eaten all of the pickles! The brine inside the jar itself makes for a great meat marinade. It can also help you polish copper pots and can make for a refreshing drink rich in the salt your body needs after a workout.
Stop holding your knives by the handle. Yes, this advice seems silly—they come with handles for a reason, for goodness sake! Still, if you want to use your knife in a safer way while prolonging its life, grip the top side of your knife at its hilt instead.
When you clean out your fridge, do you find yourself getting rid of too much spoiled food or uneaten leftovers? If this sounds familiar, you might need to start reorganizing the items in your fridge to prevent spoilage and make things easier to access.
Don’t just throw your food on the grill and keep your fingers crossed that it all works out. For delicious barbecued meals, make sure you let your meat marinate overnight—or at least an hour—to enhance its natural flavor.
Did you know that you’ve probably been cooking pasta incorrectly your entire life? Before you dump your noodles into the pot, make sure that the water is just as salty as the ocean. Also, make sure to save a cup of that pasta water to add to your sauce for more flavor.
Did you know that measuring cups and spoons have a big difference? The cups are actually designed for wet ingredients and the spoons for dry. If you need to measure out a large amount of dry ingredients, you’re actually better off using a scale.
If you’re not letting your cooked meat rest for five minutes after taking it out of the oven, you’re missing out on the juices being able to impart their full flavor. Let your meat take a break before slicing it! You won’t be disappointed.