Cooking is both a challenge and an art form, and it isn’t for the faint of heart. You will be happy to know, though, that you don’t have to attend a fancy culinary school if you’ve got some good cooking hacks up your sleeve.
Like the Macgyver of all things food and kitchen tools, Alton Brown has been bringing us the best tips, tricks, and cooking hacks on his hit Food Network show Good Eats since 1999.
Although the show ended in 2011, Brown’s cooking hacks are so widely cherished and utilized that the country was begging for more and he began airing again with Good Eats Reloaded in October of this year.
We are SO glad the show is back, as Brown revamps old hacks along with introducing new ones that once you use, you won’t be able to do it any other way.
Whether it’s how to come up with a last minute substitution to butter and oil, or how to grill a couple of butterflied Cornish game hens in about 12 minutes, Alton Brown’s genius cooking hacks will have you covered.
Below are 12+ of some of our all-time favorite Alton Brown cooking hacks that will make you look like a culinary pro at your next dinner party, whether it’s just for one person or many!
1. Salt Your Coffee Grounds
If you are a freak for coffee in the mornings (or any time, really), but hate the bitter flavor that can accompany it, you can cut the bitterness out with this hack.
To mellow out your cup of jo, simply add a pinch of salt to your coffee grounds before you brew. Salt is known to cut through bitterness in most foods and it is no different with coffee.
According to Brown, for about 6 cups of coffee, you’d add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to roughly 12 Tablespoons of ground coffee.
2. Opt For Bread Flour To Add Chewy Texture To Cookies
If you are like many Americans, then you probably hack chewy cookies by underbaking the same cookie dough recipe you’d find on a standard bag of chocolate chips.
There is a better, healthier, and much more wholesome way of making cookies, though, and Alton Brown proves it with this cookie hack of his.
By simply swapping out regular all purpose flour for protein-packed bread flour, and a few other minor alterations such as sugar ratios, Brown has created the perfect and delectable chewy chocolate-chip cookie recipe that will put store-bought varieties to shame.
3. For Truly Deliciously Creamy Scrambled Eggs, Use Mayo
Alton Brown shakes things up a bit in the world of perfectly scrambled eggs in his latest cookbook, Everyday Cook, by adding mayo into the mix.
Generally, if you ask people how they get their eggs creamy they tell you they swear by Julia Child’s famous tip of using water, whereas others will come at you with the age-old tradition of adding milk before whisking.
Brown tosses these famous egg hacks out the door in favor of something completely different; mayo. He claims that this will provide texture in eggs far superior to water or milk, as will using a cast iron skillet and scrambling the eggs after removing from the heat.
4. Substitute Mayo For Oil Or Butter When Cooking Steak
You wouldn’t think that a major chef/mad-scientist like Alton Brown would ever run out of common food staples, but he is human enough that it does happen from time to time.
When he went to make himself a steak dinner and realized he’d run out of both oil and butter, his genius light bulb flashed on and he lathered the steak with some seasoned mayo instead.
Thankfully, he proudly took to his Instagram page to share his steak-MacGyvering skills with the world!
5. Perfectly Roast Your Meatballs In…An Egg Carton?
You read that right. In order to give his meatballs the perfect ration of outer-crispiness to inner-tenderness, he conjured up an ingenious way to wick away grease.
Brown, who’s at-all-costs against making unnecessary purchases or having to leave his house to do so, found something he could use right in his home to achieve the results he was after; an egg carton.
The science behind this is that the cardboard is absorbent enough to wick away the extra grease from his meatballs and durable enough to hold up to the heat of the oven. Leave it to the Bill Nye of food science to bring us this awesome cooking hack!
6. Make A Pork Crown Roast In A Bundt Pan
While cooking twine is certainly useful to have to hand, unless you’re really into your gourmet meals and have the dough to make them, chances are you’re only needing it a few times a year at most.
This means that when you need it you likely won’t have it, which is a real bummer if you’re making something as amazing as pork crown roast.
No worries, though! Yet again, Alton Brown comes to the kitchen rescue with this nifty cooking hack. Simply place your crown roast in your bundt pan and cook away!
7. Use A Small Pot Of Cold Water To Start Your Pasta
If you are the type of person who doesn’t mind finding out you’ve been doing something wrong your whole life, then this is the right cooking hack for you!
According to Alton Brown, you actually don’t need that giant pot full of water to cook the perfect pasta, especially when it comes to the shorter noodle varieties like penne or macaroni. Rather, a smaller pot filled with just enough cold water to cover the noodles is all you need.
Brown prefers the texture of pasta when cooked like this starting in the cold water, which is contrary to the common method of adding your pasta only after the water has begun to boil. Boy, do we LOVE it when Alton’s feeling contrary!
8. Use Rubberbands To Give Your Spring Loaded Tongs Extra Grip
When you are cooking things in a hot water bath, extracting jars and ramekins can be a hot and messy affair. Thankfully, Alton Brown shows us a cooking hack for that in a video on his Facebook page.
To get some extra grip on your spring loaded cooking tongs when dealing with slippery surfaces, simply take a couple of food grade rubber bands and wrap them around the “claws” of each tong arm. The rubber will grip any surface, even in hot water.
9. Use A Standard Plastic Water Bottle To Soak Your Skewers
Generally speaking, if you’re going to be grilling kabobs or anything else of using skewers, you want to get a good 1-2 day soak on them first.
Fair enough, but the only problem is a) finding a storage container large enough to fit them and b) keeping the skewers submerged in water (because you know…wood floats).
Alton Brown came up with the perfect hack by submerging his skewers in a plastic water bottle! You can fit a handful of skewers in the bottle, and they will float straight upward for easy grabbing.
The water bottle is compact enough to always keep some soaked skewers to hand in the fridge.
10. Spritz A Baking Pan With Water Before Laying Down Parchment Paper
Parchment paper is a wonder-tool in the kitchen with literally hundreds of applications, and because of this, it happens to be one of Alton Brown’s most prized kitchen possessions.
The only thing wrong with it is that it can be a pain in the buns to keep the parchment paper from slipping and sliding around in a pan while you’re trying to drop cookies or pour batter but, of course, Alton has a hack for that.
The culinary rock-star easily fixes this little problem by lightly spraying down his baking sheet with water before laying the parchment paper and loading it up with the goods. The water acts as a natural adhesive and keeps the paper perfectly in place.
11. Use A Panini Maker As An Indoor Grill
Sometimes life doesn’t always permit us the chance to grill our meat. Whether it’s because you forgot to get charcoal or propane, or simply because it’s freezing outside and you don’t want to stand out in it while you grill your game hens, sometimes it’s just not the most relaxing way to cook a meal.
Alton comes to the rescue again, though, and this time it’s with his panini maker!
The floating hot plates of this appliance allow you to get a nice flat press on whatever you’re cooking, which helps cook it faster while keeping it moist and gives those nice, finished grill marks that make dinner look oh-so-appetizing.
12. For Perfect “Hard Boiled” Eggs, Use Steam
With diets like Keto and Paleo on the trend, hard-boiled eggs are practically a staple in millions of homes across America.
While the method of boiling water to hard cook an egg is easy in and of itself, this hack is more about fine-tuning the eases with which you can peel the eggs after they’ve been cooked.
Unfortunately, when hard boiling your eggs the cooking process might be easy, but the peeling process can go horribly awry and ruin your nice-looking eggs.
Alton Brown turns to steam as a solution to this and even better if it’s in a pressure cooker. The hot steam allows the eggs to sit still and cook faster and more evenly, resulting in easy peeling.
13. Pop Your PopCorn In A Metal Bowl To Avoid Burning
When you are pan-popping pop-corn, it can be easy to accidentally burn the product before all your kernels have popped.
Alton Brown suggests that, in order to avoid burning those precious kernels, to use a large metal bowl to cook your popcorn in.
They work better than a standard pot by allowing enough room for your already popped kernels to come to the top as you shake the bowl, settling all of the unpopped kernels at the bottom near the heat.
Now you never have to deal with the sickeningly overwhelming smell of burnt popcorn again!
14. Use A Mallet And A Cleaver To Cut Through Squash
Squash is a fantastic vegetable to add to just about any meal, in some form or another. The only thing that can be irritating about cooking with squash, really, is trying to cut through the sucker!
If you’ve ever tried it, you’ll know that it takes the average person a good bit of elbow grease to slice butternut squash in half, for instance. Fortunately for the safety of our limbs, there is a hack that makes this job much, much easier.
Alton Brown suggests cutting squash by starting with the right tools, a mallet, and a butcher’s cleaver. By gently tapping the mallet on top of the cleaver, the pressure combined with the edge of the blade will force even the toughest squash open!
Please SHARE this with your friends and family.
Follow your friends or be the first to join our group
15. Create Your Own Rice And Nut Flours With A Coffee Grinder
The best kitchen hacks are comprised of ones you can use something you have to hand for completing a complicated task and that saves you precious time and money in the process, and this cooking hack does both!
When you are faced with a recipe that calls for rice or almond flour, rather than running out to buy some that has been prepacked and that you’ll likely only use a cup or two of, save yourself the hassle and mill some of your own.
It may sound complicated, but Alton Brown assures us that this is his go-to method when he needs a more obscure spice or flour. It works perfectly well, and you can make only exactly as much as you need! Just start with one to two tablespoons at a time.
We are sure that there will be many, many more wonderfully handy cooking hacks to come from Alton on his Good Eats Reloaded series, and we can’t wait to see what they are. In the meantime, you can use some of these to get grinding in the kitchen with comfort and ease. Now, go get to cooking!