16 Cooking Hacks We Learned From Our Parents

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The No. 1 reason that Grandma's and Mom's food was better than yours? They weren't afraid of cooking with a little fat. Whether they would use chicken fat, lard or pure butter, our parents taught us that you should read the amount of fat listed in a recipe as a suggestion - and then use way, way more. That's where all of the flavor comes from! And though you may think fat is bad for you, there are a surprising number of reasons you should actually eat more fat.


Refrigerate your cookie dough before baking

If you want your cookies to be pillowy soft but not flatten out as you bake them, refrigerate your dough and thoroughly chill it before you put it into the oven. This allows the fat to penetrate the cookie and the sweet ingredients, like sugar and vanilla, to marinate and become more pronounced.


Use dental floss to cut doughy, sticky ingredients

Cutting sticky foods like cinnamon roll dough or soft cheeses can be a hassle and super messy. But if you use (unscented, unflavored) dental floss, you can easily slice through a number of tricky ingredients with accuracy.


Italian dressing is a quick and easy marinade

If you're not sure what to make for dinner on any given night, look no further than your pantry. Mama taught us that a bottle of salad dressing, especially Italian dressing, makes a super simple and super scrumptious marinade for a chicken breast. Adding the marinated and grilled chicken to a bowl of pasta or serving it with a side of roasted veggies is one of our favorite quick, easy and delicious chicken recipes for a busy weeknight.


Use dowel rods when rolling out dough to keep it even

When rolling out dough for a nut roll, cookies or any other baked good, place 1/8-inch thick dowel rods on either side of the dough. Doing this will steady your rolling pin and result in an even thickness throughout your dough. This way, your end result will all bake at the same rate.


Save bones for stock

Making your own stock is easier than you think, and it's another thrifty hack we learned from our parents. If you save your vegetable scraps and carcasses from turkey, rib roast or whatever meat you had for dinner and simmer them all together, you'll make a broth that's better than anything you can buy at the grocery store.


Cold water and plastic wrap will keep your guacamole fresh

You've made the most delicious guacamole ever, but despite your best efforts, you cannot finish it all in one sitting. Our mom gave us one hot tip: Press plastic wrap firmly along the surface of the guacamole and up the sides of your storage container, creating a barrier. Then cover with cold water. We're not sure why this trick works, but if Mom swears by it, we'll trust it.


Just get takeout

Mom and Dad knew when to call it quits. Whether you burned your roast chicken, forgot to pick up an integral ingredient at the grocery store or just had a really long day at work and are tired, you should know when to take care of yourself, relax and order takeout from your favorite pizza chain.


A cast-iron skillet makes EVERYTHING better

Why should you invest in a good cast-iron pan? Because this heavy tool is one of the most versatile items you can have in your kitchen. Our parents taught us that no pan gets a sear on your steak or adds flavor to fried chicken quite like a cast-iron skillet. And if you use your cast iron for everything, everything you make will just turn out better and better. As your skillet absorbs oil, the seasoning adds flavor to your pan, creates a natural non-sticking surface and also provides protection against rust.


Sprinkle cinnamon on top of your drip coffee

Even if you're drinking the very best coffee in America, a black cup of java can still be bitter. If you don't want to use an artificial sweetener or creamer for your coffee, sprinkle some cinnamon in your mug. The spice will help to cut some of the bitterness. This hack is one of our favorite healthy ways to sweeten coffee.


When boiling eggs, use older eggs

If you want to cook and peel hard-boiled eggs perfectly every time, don't start with a dozen eggs you just bought at the grocery store. Older eggs will peel much more easily. Our mom suggests adding said older eggs to a pot of cold water, bring them to a boil, take them off the heat and stew for 13 minutes. Then you can make the most delicious deviled eggs with ease!


Add soy sauce to your eggs

Ever wonder why the eggs in your chicken fried rice are so darn tasty? It's because Asian restaurants flavor their eggs with soy sauce instead of plain ol' salt as they scramble them. Our parents would do the same thing growing up, and once you try your eggs with soy sauce, you'll never eat them without it again.


You can revive old lettuce

Did the spinach in your spring mix get all sad and droopy before you had the chance to put it into the best salads ever? If you want to bring that green back to life, fill a sink with cold water, about 4 inches deep, and add 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Put your lettuce into the bath and it will crisp right back up.


Frozen food is just as good as fresh

When Mom and Dad were on a budget, they'd forego fresh fruits and vegetables and opt for frozen broccoli, peas and berries. As it turns out, frozen food is just as healthy as fresh produce and it keeps much longer.


Turn leftover pie dough into a new dessert

Remember the days spent sitting on the kitchen counter as your mom baked one of her signature pies? After she trimmed the pie dough from the edges of the dish, she would sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on said dough and bake it quickly for an extra sweet treat. This is one of our favorite cooking hacks from our parents, because it means less waste and more dessert!


Don't soften your butter by microwaving it

If you're baking cookies or a cake, chances are it calls for a certain amount of butter, softened. Except... you didn't have the foresight to take your butter out an hour or two before you started baking. What to do? Your instinct may be to go straight for the microwave and put the stick of butter in for 15 seconds or so, but this quick fix will just melt your butter and mess with the consistency of your final product. Instead, put your butter in a zip-close bag and roll it out using a rolling pin. This will soften the stick in a jiffy! This quick tip is just one of the many hacks home bakers need to know.

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