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The 10 Cooking Hacks and Tips That Changed Your Life in 2023

From saving rice water to the best cookie recipes, the most read Eater at Home stories of the year

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Seven chocolate chip cookies on a drying rack.
The “perfect” chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Bettina Makalintal
Rebecca Flint Marx is the editor of Eater at Home. Her areas of expertise include home cooking and popular culture.

Taking a look back at 2023 as it manifested in Eater at Home’s most popular stories, a couple of things become readily apparent: y’all really like kitchen hacks, strong opinions, and cookies. This year, you wanted to know why it makes sense to save your rice water and keep a rotisserie chicken in the fridge, and how to host a backyard barbecue without being eaten alive by flying insects. And maybe some of you also miss your George Foreman Grill and suspect that you’re not getting what you need from the big spoons in your utensil drawer. Below are the posts that made you click the most; we recommend reading them with a plate of cookies by your side.

10. I Really Miss My George Foreman Grill

A fascinating phenomenon of the ’90s, the George Foreman Grill was also an intrinsic part of Eater correspondent Jaya Saxena’s childhood. The grill was widely marketed as a “fat-reducing machine” thanks to its 20-degree slope and as such became a complicated emblem of the decade’s diet culture. But for Saxena, growing up as the only child of divorced parents, the grill was, as she writes, “the first half-step into the world of cooking for myself,” and valuable proof that she didn’t have to depend on her parents to eat.

9. The Ultimate Guide to Sandwich Breads

Eater’s Sandwich Week devoted numerous posts to the fine details of sandwich construction, but none resonated as much as Dayna Evans’s guide to sandwich breads. No sandwich is complete without it, Evans noted; without it, she wrote, it “is merely a charcuterie board.” Her taxonomy encompassed a baker’s dozen of options, from rolls and pita to deluxe options like baguettes and ciabatta.

8. The Best Cookie Recipes, According to Eater Staff

Cookies inspire predictable and enduring joy, so it’s little surprise that our round-up of favorite cookie recipes has a place here. Compiled during the height of baking season, it features cookies that would have a place at any swap — hello, strawberry rose snickerdoodles and pretzel linzers with salted caramel — but as true aficionados know, a good cookie recipe is welcome any time of year.

7. Everyone Should Eat More Cottage Cheese

Like many people, Eater reporter Amy McCarthy was once a cottage cheese hater — until she realized that it could be eaten with savory ingredients. In making it a regular part of her breakfast, she has come to appreciate its nuances: the brand you buy matters, and its lumpy texture, so off-putting to some, can be made thick and creamy with a quick whir of the blender. “It’s time for cottage cheese to reclaim its rightful place at the breakfast table,” McCarthy writes — and she’s not alone in her opinion.

6. Keep a Rotisserie Chicken in the Fridge

In September, we published our very first cookbook. Not just a collection of recipes, it is also a compendium of valuable advice, as this excerpt demonstrates. A rotisserie chicken, as Eater restaurant editor (and Eater cookbook author) Hillary Dixler Canavan writes, “means you’ve got meals for a whole week.” Use it in soup, or congee, or empanadas, or lettuce wraps — but whatever you do, don’t throw away the carcass, which can be simmered into a delicious broth.

5. We’re Using Big Spoons Wrong

Eater at Home thrives at the intersection of minutiae and cultural trends, which is exactly the intersection where Jaya Saxena’s inquiry into our use of spoons lives. After noticing a fervent devotion to small spoons in certain quarters of the internet, Saxena wondered: “Is the dinner spoon really that unwieldy? Or are we just using it wrong?” Her inquiry led her back to the 19th century, when etiquette guides decreed that forks should almost always be used in place of spoons, and to consider whether the utensil drawer of the future might make big spoons the stuff of, well, 19th-century etiquette guides.

4. The Best Sriracha Substitutes to Survive the Huy Fong Shortage

In April, Huy Fong Foods, the maker of Sriracha, declared it was experiencing an “unprecedented inventory shortage” for the second time in two years. Amy McCarthy was here to help, with a guide to acceptable substitutes for the eternally popular hot sauce, including harissa, other sriracha brands, or literally any other hot sauce. As she pointed out, “it’s important to keep in mind that pretty much any hot sauce you love will do.”

3. Add Rosemary to Your Water

People in this country are always being told to drink more water by other people who seem to have little appreciation for how boring water is. Perhaps that’s why Amy McCarthy’s simple hack found so many receptive readers — a sprig of rosemary, she writes, is a simple way to make a glass of water “taste colder and more refreshing,” and unlike a wedge of lemon, “it won’t leave a bunch of gross-looking floating pulp in your glass.” We’ll drink to that!

2. How to Dine Outdoors, Minus the Bugs

Part of Eater’s April Patio Week, Amy McCarthy’s story answered a question that was apparently on a lot of people’s minds as the summer months approached. University of Nebraska entomologist Kait Chapman helpfully broke down the different kinds of bugs you have to watch out for, and the best ways to ward them away from your outdoor meals. (Hint: bug zappers and citronella candles don’t work.)

1. You Should Be Saving Your Rice Water

Chefs are always telling us to save our pasta water, but really, we should be saving our rice water, too. “As cooks from rice-loving cultures around the world have long known,” Eater’s Bettina Makalintal writes, “rice water is a useful byproduct in both cooking and housekeeping.” Whether you want to thicken a stew, make your sheets softer, or water your plants, the water you save from rinsing rice can do that. And given this story’s reach, we can only imagine that a lot of you took that advice and ran with it.