Word to the wise: Don’t click on the “Discover” tab on TikTok if it’s after 10 p.m. Or if you’re on your way out the door, at work or on, well, any kind of deadline. Because it’s the kind of blackhole where minutes will turn into hours, and before long, you’ll be dancing in front of your mirror, covered in flour from making pancake cereal, wondering why it’s 3 a.m. and everything you own is tie-dyed. You have entered the TikTok Zone.
But there is a bright spot to all of that scrolling—a wormhole, if you will—thousands of #foodhacks videos featuring meal-prep shortcuts guaranteed to save you time. Like everything you see online, though, we had to wonder: How many of these are truly worth the effort—and which are pure hype? We put the top TikTok food hacks to the test, revealing the ten worth trying the next time you’re in the kitchen.
1. Juice a lemon without getting your hands sticky
Like nutritionist Jacqui Baihn (the woman behind this viral hack), I was today years old when I learned you could stab one end of a lemon and squeeze it to release plenty of juice—minus the seeds. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would’ve called B.S. And when I tried it, I was genuinely stunned. It worked even better than slicing and squeezing a lemon, and just as well as using a juicer. Pro tip: Use the tine of a fork to pierce the lemon peel, then stick a chopstick three-quarters of the way up the lemon to create a wide enough channel to really maximize the amount of juice you extract.
2. Hull a Strawberry Using a Straw
If the first strawberry-related viral TikTok hack didn’t deter you from the fruit forever—uh, that soaking said berries in salt water can release tiny bugs, known as spotted wing drosophilas (which are generally considered safe to eat)—you need to try this trick. Stick a straw, preferably a reusable one, from the tip of the strawberry through the other end and watch the stem pop right off. That tough inner core is gone too, leaving you with the best part of the fruit.
3. Reverse-Strain Pasta
Normally, when your pasta’s al dente, you stick a colander in the sink, then pour the pasta and water on top of it, letting the water run out. That’s fine and all, but if you want to save yourself the step of putting the strained noodles back in the pot to toss with sauce—these are precious seconds of time you could spend eating, after all!—try reverse-straining it. As the video shows, you stick the colander in the pot, then let most of the water drain out through the holes in the colander. Just make sure you save a cup of that starchy pasta water for your sauce!
4. Remove egg yolks with a water bottle
Separating egg whites from the yolks the traditional way isn’t so bad: crack an egg, sift the egg between its two shell halves to gradually cut the white away from the yolk. But if you seem to always nick the yolk on an eggshell shard (or awkwardly crack the shell into tiny bits, making this technique impossible), there’s hope for you yet. Take an empty water bottle, holding the mouth up to the yolk and release the pressure on the bottle. It sucks the yolk right up. Sometimes a little bit of the white comes with it, but you’d be surprised how often this hack gets the job done.
5. Peel a mango using a drinking glass
The first time I tried this, I was convinced it wouldn’t work. Maybe occasionally, sure, but…half a dozen mangoes later, and this trick has yet to disappoint. Once you’ve halved the mango lengthwise (avoiding the pit in the center), you line up one end of the mango with the lip of the drinking glass. Then, you use the glass to essentially scoop out the flesh. In one swift move, the mango is peeled.
6. Chill wine using frozen grapes
We’ve all tried wrapping a bottle of rosé or white wine in a damp paper towel and sticking it in the freezer for 15 minutes to quickly chill it, but there’s an even better (read: faster) way—keep grapes in your freezer at all times. Popping a few into your fresh-from-the-store sauvignon blanc cools it quickly without diluting it, like ice would.
7. Make bagels without yeast
When you’ve been deprived of a New York bagel for months, you’ll try anything to replicate the flavor. Except maybe actually water-boil them. Then I saw people combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and Greek yogurt to make bagels, and I was skeptical but willing to try it out. In less than 30 minutes, I had a half-dozen bagels that were better than anything you’d find at the grocery store (though not quite as awesome as my beloved everything with bacon scallion cream cheese from Brooklyn Bagel, if I’m being honest).
Our associate food editor, Taryn Pire, showed me an even easier hack: You can trade out the all-purpose flour for self-rising, and skip the salt and baking powder. You have no excuse not to make these this Sunday.
8. Give hot chocolate the Dalgona treatment
By now, you’ve probably seen (and maybe even tried) Dalgona coffee, the frothy blend of whipping cream, sugar and instant coffee that vloggers in South Korea popularized. Since then, TikTokers have been creating all kinds of riffs on the technique, including this icy twist on hot cocoa. All you have to do is whip 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of hot chocolate mix or cocoa powder, and 4 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream until fluffy (either with an electric mixer or by hand, getting the best single-arm workout of your life). Spoon it atop a glass filled with ice and milk, then stir before drinking. It tastes like a chocolate shake, only it doesn’t feel as heavy. And it spares you from having to wash out a blender, so there’s that.
9. Slice cherry tomatoes in no time
One of the biggest gripes about TikTok food hacks is that anyone who’s spent way too much time on Pinterest or YouTube has probably seen a lot of them already—the ideas are just being shared on a new medium. That doesn’t mean they’re any less awesome. This trick for quickly halving cherry or grape tomatoes (or grapes, if you’ve got young kids who can’t eat them whole yet) is just as brilliant. In a timed test, my husband sliced tomatoes in a third of the time it took me to do it the old-fashioned way.
10. Get the perfect frosting-to-cake ratio
Not to be all Regina George, but we, like, invented this hack. OK, we didn’t actually invent it, but PureWow’s been advocating the cupcake sandwich is the way to eat the treat since 2014. Six years later, it’s just as great.