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9 Essential Kitchen Tips That Will Elevate Your Next Meal

These are the culinary hacks and techniques you didn't know you needed.

Sometimes, all it takes is a dash of hot sauce, the right satuée pan, or a sprinkle of something that has a rich umami flavor to take a dish to the next level. Simple culinary hacks can completely transform a meal but, the question is, what dishes require them?

The team at Meatless Monday called on a few of their culinary ambassadors—which includes chefs, food bloggers, and other plant-based cooking experts—to share some simple ways to elevate your cooking. Whether it's buying a new non-stick skillet, picking the perfect avocado, or upcycling your aquafaba, this collection of tips and tricks can add new dimensions to your plant-based meals.

Read on to see nine essential kitchen tips and techniques you can start using in the kitchen today. Then, don't miss 7 Simple Ways to Waste Less In Your Kitchen!

Add some texture to your meal.

chopped walnuts

A little bit of creaminess, crackle, or crunch can do a lot for an ordinary plate of food. To add some texture, try sprinkling salads with crumbled tortilla chips; adding chopped nuts to quinoa bowls or fried rice; or layering your sandwich or wrap with cool, crispy coleslaw. Garlic-chile crunch, fried onions, Italian-style bread crumbs, coconut flakes, or Indian madrasi mix can also bring some extra texture and seasoning.

Freeze your tofu.


Tofu is a great canvas that can easily be transformed into many of your favorite comfort foods. Freezing tofu before you thaw and press it results in a meaty texture that's perfect for pan-frying or even grilling. And remember to purchase tofu that's labeled as firm or extra firm.

Don't miss What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Tofu.

Get saucy.

tahini dressing

Keep your meals interesting by keeping a stock of sauces in your pantry and refrigerator. A dash of hot sauce, a drizzle of chimichurri, or a tablespoon of tahini can go a long way in adding heat, brightness, or umami flavor to any vegetable, grain, or plant-based meat.

Invest in a non-stick pan.

making pancakes

A non-stick pan makes cooking (and cleaning) a breeze. Vegetables, stir-fry, and plant-based patties can all get a good char without sticking to the pan. The best part? There are plenty of quality non-stick skillets available for $20 or less!

Keep dried mushrooms in your pantry.

dried mushrooms

Dried mushrooms and powdered tomato are great to have on hand to make a quick, flavorful broth or add extra umami flavor to your dishes, says Ayindé Howell of the Meatless Monday culinary ambassadors. These ingredients work well in soups, stews, curries, noodles, beans, or this vegan mushroom Bourguignon from Making Thyme for Health. The possibilities are endless and they keep forever, making these ingredients excellent pantry staples.

Prepare an easy-to-make coconut whipped cream.

coconut whipped cream

If you like airy, fluffy, plant-based desserts, then you have to try this recipe for coconut whipped cream, from Ayindé Howell.

To make the whipped cream, use a chilled can of coconut milk and remove the solid coconut cream that has risen to the top and spoon it into a bowl. Beat on high speed until it starts to thicken and form peaks form (if it's too thick, you can add the remaining coconut water a teaspoon at a time). Be careful not to overwhip the cream as it can soften and turn back to liquid. You can fold in vanilla extract and maple syrup for sweetness. Use it right away or store it in a metal or glass bowl in the fridge.

Check out FDA Is Cracking Down on the Labeling of Alternative Sweeteners!

Pick the perfect avocado.

sliced avocado
Annemarie Grudën/ Unsplash

Avocados inherently add a creamy texture to plant-based cooking, but picking a ripe avocado is an art in itself.

To find an avocado that's ready to eat, peel back the small cap at the top of the avocado and look at the color underneath, says Ivan Castro of the Meatless Monday culinary ambassadors. If the cap comes away quickly and it's green underneath, you've found yourself a winner; if it's a brownish color, the avocado is overripe; if the stem doesn't come off at all, it's probably not ready to eat.

Quickly cut with an egg slicer.

egg slicer

An egg slicer can be used for much more than just eggs. Use it to quickly slice through mushrooms, strawberries, chunks of avocado, and other soft fruits and vegetables. You can layer these slices on toast, pizza, or make these crunchy avocado tacos with pineapple salsa.

Save that chickpea water (aka Aquafaba).

vegan meringue

Aquafaba, the liquid within a can of chickpeas, can be used in a variety of plant-based recipes, including plant-based mayo and other creamy sauces and dressings, says Eddie Garza of the Meatless Monday culinary ambassadors. It's also a great egg white alternative that can be whipped into a plant-based meringue or used to make this strawberry coconut almond coffee cake.

For more, be sure to check out 12 Ways To Make Plant-Based Dairy Products at Home!

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the former news editor of Eat This, Not That! Read more about Cheyenne