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15 Things We've Learned from Alton Brown

The "Good Eats" star has plenty of tricks up his sleeve.

Alton Brown, hero and mentor to many aspiring cooks and professional chefs around the world, is constantly cooking something new up whether it be an episode of Good Eats or a YouTube tutorial for The Food Network. The charismatic TV host, celebrity chef, and best-selling author gives some of the best tips and advice to his fans, whether it be ways to make your recipes easier or the correct knife techniques to take your cooking to the next level.

After 15 seasons of Good Eats, there are plenty of tips Brown has shared that will help home chefs improve their practice. Here are some of the best lessons we've learned from Alton Brown—you'll want to try them all ASAP.

Don't overthink your dishes.

Hungry woman looking for food in fridge

When a fan on Reddit asked Brown how he decides what to make for dinner, his response was simple. "Step one: open the refrigerator door," Brown wrote.

You might think such a prominent chef puts so much thought and energy into all of his meals, but he taught us that sometimes you can just go with your gut and what's available in your fridge.

The knife you use matters.

knife sharpening

Want to take your cooking to the next level? Invest in various types of knives. Whether you're slicing meat or vegetables, you should be aware of the different techniques and blade styles before cutting. (Brown breaks down the different types of knives in this video.)

In his Reddit Q&A, the chef had some great advice for a fan who wanted to perfect her knife skills, too. "First, purchase a good knife (and yes this will cost money) and a good cutting board (people forget how much that matters). Then practice…that's the only way," Brown wrote. "Examine your cuts, then figure out what will make them better. Oh, and remember: Never force a knife."

You don't have to keep up with all of the food trends.

Cheese board

Brown shared on Reddit that he doesn't follow food trends. "I generally just hate trends," he wrote. "But if I had to pick one, it's probably the slow acceptance of vegetarian food as just…good rather than 'vegetarian.'" The chef makes a great point—even meat eaters can appreciate a delicious plant-based meal once in a while.

There's a right way to carve a turkey.

Carving turkey

Brown knows all the best tips and tricks for cooking and carving a turkey, no matter the occasion. He suggests starting by removing the turkey breasts in two large chunks, followed by the drumsticks and then the wings.

And as you cut the breast meat into smaller pieces, you'll want to cut across the grain to "make a tender turkey even more tender," Brown explained in a Food Network video.

Don't overlook pork fat, aka lard.

bowl of lard

Pork is a great source of "both meat and cooking fat," Brown said in an Iron Chef America video. The chef explains that rendered pork fat is the preferred style—it works in so many different dishes, including baked goods. Lard may have a bad rep among health enthusiasts, but it definitely packs a flavorful punch.

Spices are everything.

Turmeric red pepper sumac cumin and fennel flowers

Many people learn from Brown's use of whole spices and his variety of spice mix recipes. In his Reddit Q&A, a fan asked Brown what spices he recommends for the pantry and what his favorite combos are. "That is so up to individual tastes but for me when it comes to 'whole' spices: nutmeg, cumin, coriander, black peppercorn, allspice, black cardamom," Brown wrote. And if you can grind each spice yourself, you'll notice the fresher taste.

There's a step-by-step method for perfecting crepes.

Chocolate banana crepe

Thanks to a Food Network tutorial from Brown, we've learned three different ways to make the perfect crepe. He shows step-by-step recipes for savory and sweet crepes, including what ingredients you need, how long to cook them for, and how to make them sweet or savory.

You can make cooking exciting, even when it's just for yourself.

Roast chicken

For people who work all day and live alone, cooking can be stressful. Brown gets it, and he has a solution: Make recipes that work for multiple meals. "Think about maybe only cooking a couple of days a week but make things that turn into great leftovers," Brown said to a fan on Reddit. "I know it sounds over-simplistic but one roast chicken can be turned into salads, sandwiches…you name it. Above all, don't put too much pressure on yourself. Life's hard."

Brewing coffee at home can be just as delicious if you know how to do it.

coffee grounds on spoon from jar

Want to make your own delicious coffee at home? Now you can! All you need is some water, freshly ground coffee, kosher salt, a French press, and a microwave.

If you don't have an electric kettle, you can bring the water to a boiling point by putting it in the microwave. Then, using a French press, slowly pour the hot water into the coffee to let the grounds swell up. Let it sit for four minutes, and then use the French press plunger, Brown advises.

A bonus coffee trick from Brown is to add a pinch of kosher salt in with your coffee grounds. It won't give you a salty cup of Joe—instead, it will help cut some of the bitterness from the coffee.

Adding mayonnaise to scrambled eggs will make them creamier.

scrambled eggs on white plate with garnish

Maybe you've heard of adding mayo to grilled cheese. But what about adding mayo to scrambled eggs? Brown suggests trying this strange trick to make your scrambled eggs creamy. Just a spoonful of the stuff will do the trick.

Preserved lemons are the key to the best-ever lemonade.

mason jar of preserved lemons

Whipping up a batch of homemade lemonade? Adding preserved lemons, rather than fresh ones, will kick the drink up a notch. Brown's lemonade recipe calls for preserved lemons, lemon juice, and sugar—it's simple but effective.

An electric kettle is the key to perfectly cooked rice.

white rice

If Brown's preferred coffee-making method didn't convince you to get an electric kettle, maybe his rice hack will. Brown's recipe for "Perfect Rice in a Rush" involves using an electric kettle to warm the water and then adding that to the rice in a saucepan.

Cook your pasta in cold water.

straining pasta in sink

If you haven't tried Brown's infamous cooking hack yet, there's no time like the present. For smaller cuts of pasta, there's no need to boil a huge pot of water, Brown says on his website. Instead, combine cold water with dry pasta and boil it from there.

Paper towels are the key to baking bacon.

crispy bacon on a pan on grill

Have you tried cooking bacon in the oven, only to set off your smoke detector when you go to take it out? Brown has a solution. Put paper towels on a baking sheet below the bacon slices to soak up the grease and keep things from getting too smoky.

The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

Never look back.

chef slicing ham on wooden block

Brown's success comes down to one thing: not dwelling on the past. In his Reddit Q&A, he told a fan, "I'm going to be really honest, the secret to my success is that I never look back…ever." Whatever Brown is doing, it's definitely working for him.

With these cooking hacks and life lessons in mind, you can bring a bit of Good Eats into your own home. You don't have to be a professional chef to cook a great meal, and Brown knows that, too.

Lindsay Paige Stein
Lindsay Stein is a freelance writer specializing in food and travel stories. Read more about Lindsay Paige
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