What’s the difference between a good cook and a great chef? There are several contenders for the right answer, but for our money? It all comes down to a good hack— and we’ve got EIGHT! These 8 smart and surprising kitchen secrets will turn you into a pro FAST.

Whether you’re picking your peppers, baking banana bread, or examining your eggs, there’s a hack here that’s sure to help you, make your life easier, and make your cooking go by faster. Keep reading for our full written explanations of how to do each one!

8 Kitchen Secrets

  1. Pick your peppers with a 1-2-3-4.

    Count lobes on peppers to see if good for cooking or eatingTipHero

    Did you know bell peppers can be “male” or “female”? While people are torn on whether or not it’s really true, we find that the number of lobes DOES determine if they’re better for eating in a salad or cooking in your favorite spicy dish. All you need to do is flip the pepper over and count the number of lobes. Four lobes means the pepper is female, making it sweeter and better for eating, while 3 lobes are male and better for cooking!

  2. Freeze leftovers for fast cooking.

    Freeze leftover herbs, wine and stock in ice cube trayTipHero

    If you find yourself with leftover herbs, wine, or cooking stock from your latest recipe adventure, don’t let them go to waste. All you need to do pour or place them into an ice cube tray – adding some olive oil to the herbs – and freeze! You’ll have perfect cubes of herbs, wine and stock for easy, portion-ready use in your future cooking.

  3. Bake your bananas.

    Soften bananas in oven for banana breadTipHero

    Getting bananas to the perfect state of ripeness is an art. Getting them to that place just in time to bake? That can feel impossible— unless you know this trick! All you need to do is place bananas on a sheet pan and pop them into the oven at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. The banana skins will blacken and soften, and you can make your banana bread immediately after.

  4. Freeze and dice your meat.

    Slice and dice meat easier by freezing firstTipHero

    Good things? Recipes that call for delicious diced bacon. But a bad thing? Actually trying to slice and dice those rubbery strips before you cook them up. Luckily, there’s an easy fix you can apply to ANY meat you want to slice. Just pop it in the freezer for just 15 (for bacon) to 20 (for thicker meats) minutes, and it’ll slice up super easily.

  5. Drink up for a rolling pin.

    Use a wine bottle as a rolling pinTipHero

    No rolling pin? No problem! An empty wine bottle works just as well— and it’s a fun and tasty tool to procure, too.

  6. DIY a dough cutter.

    Use a water glass in cut circles in doughTipHero

    Another slippery food we sometimes have difficulty cutting? Dough, of course. Rather than buy a special dough cutter for your homemade biscuits and rolls, just coat the rim of a normal water glass in flour and use THAT as an easy way to get perfect circles of dough without pesky sticking.

  7. Use a grater for great butter.

    Soften butter in a hurry with a cheese graterTipHero

    The biggest problem we hear from fellow home cooks over and over? How to get perfectly-soft butter in a flash. The answer is easy and truly great: a cheese grater! Spread your stick of butter on the large side of a box grater and you’ll have spreadable butter in no time flat.

  8. Float your eggs for freshness.

    Test egg freshness by floating in glass of waterTipHero

    This trick has been used by chefs for the last 100 years! All you need to do to determine if that carton of eggs is old or fresh is to place an egg in a container of water and watch what happens. Those that sink are fresh, and the floating eggs are OLD!

Smart, huh? If you want more tips, tricks and hacks where these came from, we’ve got you covered: