We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their smartest ingredient swaps. Here are the tasty results.
1. Use oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs for all your binding needs.
Submitted by elynnelim.
Get the recipe for these doctored Swedish meatballs here.
2. Try sunflower seeds as a cheaper alternative to pine nuts.
3. Use the liquid from canned chickpeas (aquafaba) as a vegan substitute for egg white.
“You can use it for meringues, macaroons… chocolate mousse. It’s amazing!”
Submitted by rebeckat.
Get the recipe for vegan meringues here.
4. Spread hummus rather than mayo on your favorite sandwiches.
Submitted by missalexis.
Try it in an open face tuna melt! Get the recipe here.
5. Ditch the breadcrumbs and add crushed goldfish to top your mac and cheese.
Submitted by Hayley Morrin, Facebook.
Up your game even more by making them into mac and cheese balls. Get the recipe here.
6. Opt for applesauce rather than butter or oil in your baked goods.
Submitted by caceyw.
These glazed applesauce donuts have no butter or oil in them at all. Get the recipe here.
7. Substitute the white sugar for pudding mix in cookies.
“Not really healthier, but it’s yummy.”
Submitted by jenomalleyd.
Check out a recipe for quadruple chocolate pudding cookies here.
8. Swap out butter for avocado when baking a cake.
Submitted by anaisv3.
Get this recipe for chocolate avocado cupcakes here.
9. Cook rice in broth instead of water to boost the flavor.
“It can round out an otherwise one-dimensional meal!”
Submitted by jazzye2.
Get this recipe for cilantro lime rice here.
10. Replace eggs with a combo of chia seeds & water.
“It helps the texture and consistency that eggs usually provide in things like bread or cake.”
Submitted by raphaelahops.
Get the recipe for vegan whole wheat waffles here.
11. Substitute pure maple syrup for white sugar.
Submitted by tayr481c6c6af.
Get the recipe for these skinny brownies made with maple syrup and applesauce here.
12. Use yogurt instead of cream in curries or soups.
Submitted by srishtis418aa0121.
Totally necessary when there’s a chill in the air. Get this recipe for sweet potato coconut curry soup here.
13. Use cauliflower to make mashed “potatoes.”
Submitted by lianar4ede8ff53.
Add rosemary and garlic because DUH. Learn how to make it here.
14. If you’re out of buttermilk, swap it out for milk with a little vinegar or lemon juice added.
“Make tasty scones any time!”
Submitted by samantham4922961e7.
Check it out here.
15. If you’re out of brown sugar, mix molasses with plain white sugar.
Submitted by Ashley Blom, Facebook.
Get the super easy how-to here.
16. Cook your brats in beer instead of oil.
“It’s not anywhere near healthy, but it tastes better.”
Submitted by stephaniep79.
Get this recipe here.
17. Swap out one egg for half of a ripe banana.
“The final product is moister and has subtle natural sweetness.”
Submitted by malloryd4de0e7ca3.
*Bonus* you can eat the batter or dough without being afraid. You can find the recipe for this chocolate banana monkey snack cake here.
18. Use greek yogurt instead of butter and milk when making boxed mac and cheese.
“Works best with white cheddar flavors.”
Submitted by ecocrafty.
Or try cottage cheese! Get the recipe here.
19. Coat your chicken in crushed Ritz crackers, not breadcrumbs.
“Turned out to be some of the best cutlets I have ever made!”
Submitted by jessicaf22.
Check out the recipe for Ritz cracker butter chicken here.
20. Use evaporated milk instead of heavy cream in desserts.
Submitted by s0muchcoffee.
You’ll remove some of the calories AND not have to run to the grocery story every time you need fresh heavy cream. Learn how to make evaporated milk ice cream here.
21. Low on flour? Pulverize graham crackers to fill out baked goods.
“Never have I eaten better muffins.”
Submitted by anna42.
Get the recipe for strawberry cheese cake graham cracker muffins here.
22. Use creamy avocado instead of mayonnaise in pretty much anything.
Submitted by gilbertomorenos.
Try these guacamole deviled eggs for the holidays this year. Get the recipe here.
1. Cut clean up time in half by using slow cooker liners.
No more soaking overnight or scrubbing like there’s no tomorrow. $8 here.
6. When cooking, add dairy products — like milk or cheese — at or near the end.
Cooking dairy products at high heat for a long period of time can cause them to curdle, so save them for last. (Recipe for this creamy corn chowder here.)
7. The same goes for things like pasta, (cooked) beans, and small vegetables.
Sauces can cook low and slow, but in order to keep pasta al dente, you’ll want to add the noodles within the last 10 minutes or so — or, for the very best results, cook them separately on the stovetop. (Recipe for short rib sauce here.) Similarly, things like cooked beans and tender vegetables should go in last, since you only want them to heat through and not turn to mush.
8. To build flavor, brown meats on the stovetop first.
Is it absolutely necessary? Nope. But is it almost always worth the extra few minutes of prep? Yes. Quickly searing the meat adds a savory, caramelized flavor you just can’t get from the slow cooker on its own. (Recipe for French Dip sandwiches here.)
9. Avoid overcooking by running the slow cooker overnight instead of during the day.
No more stressing out about leaving work on time, or letting that pulled pork overcook while you’re stuck in traffic. This way, you can also take your time with any prep the night before, instead of rushing through it in the morning.
10. Things that don’t require any stirring (like dried beans) are ideal overnighters. The same goes for stews or chilis that taste better after they’ve had a chance to sit.
Three cheers for coming home to reheat-and-eat dinners that are actually delicious. (Also: More on how to slow-cook dried beans here.)
11. Make sure hot food cools down properly before you store it.
If you cook overnight and are pressed for time in the morning, you can expedite the cooling process with a DIY ice bath. More info on that — and on why you should never put hot food in a cold fridge — at The Kitchn.
12. Don’t open the lid unless you have to.
Unless you’re adding ingredients or the directions call for you to give it a quick stir, avoid lifting the lid. The lid traps heat, and every time you remove it, it can take up to 30 minutes to regain proper temperature. (Recipe for Braised Short Ribs and Cabbage here.)
13. But you ~should~ remove the lid if you end up with too much liquid.
If you’ve accidentally added — or are left with — too much liquid, remove the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking. This will let some of that extra liquid reduce down. (Recipe for Corned Beef & Cabbage Soup here.)
14. Big, fattier cuts of meat are usually what slow cookers do best.
Lean meat (like chicken breasts) can get tough when heated for long periods of time. But fattier cuts — like short ribs, shanks, or shoulder — are ideal when they’re cooked low and slow. The heat lets them break down over several hours, and the fat helps keep the meat juicy and tender.
16. You can also use your slow cooker to make DIY projects, like homemade potpourri.
Perfect for the holiday season. Find more slow cooker DIYs — from soap, to dip-dyed candles, to homemade Play Dough — at Brit + Co.
17. Maximize your meal planning by adding freezer-friendly recipes to your roster.
Big-batch, freezer-friendly options mean you can prep (or bulk prep) in advance. Then just pack away, and use whenever you’re ready. Find more easy slow cooker recipe ideas here, and vegetarian ideas here.
Got all that? Go forth and slow cook