Everyone wants to save time and effort, but who wants a bunch of single-use kitchen tools clattering around in the drawer? Once the joy of specialized tools to slice, whip, core, wedge, and juice wears off, we eventually want these tools to do more than one job. Can you slice other food with an egg slicer? Can an apple cutter save time and tears chopping onions? What can keep your pizza wheel busy when not carving up a cheesy homemade pizza?
Let's investigate popular hacks and see which ones actually make life easier. In our new YouTube series, Hack Chat, we test, analyze and rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 for how useful, easy and special they are. These hacks use kitchen tools to do jobs they were never meant to do. Find out which ones to skip and which are keepers.
01 of 07
What Else Can You Cut with an Apple Slicer?
It’s so good at cutting apples, but people really want this bulky tool to do other jobs. One TikTok claimed that this hack could put an end to onion-induced crying. It didn't The circular center that makes this the perfect tool for cutting out apple cores created odd wedges around a confusing onion cylinder. They'd work for fajitas. The cutter did not make it all the way through an onion, a potato, or a plum leaving the produce attached by a layer of skin that we had to carefully separate from the sharp blades. The experience was a little boring. The upside? This tool neatly separated the pit from a very firm plum and the bite-size wedges fell pleasingly into a flower shape.
Helpful: 2 Easy: 3 Pretty: 1
02 of 07
Pizza Cutter Chopped Salad
Making a chopped salad with a pizza cutter is a good idea if that's the only sharp tool in your home. If you have a knife, cut ingredients with that, instead. This hack is about putting everything into a bowl, or onto a board, then driving the wheel back and forth all over until you have chopped salad. All the foods slid around in the bowl, as I slid the wheel, creating randomly shaped, odd-size pieces. And as I ran the blade up and down and criss-cross in the bowl to get all of the pieces chopped, I was certain that the blade would eventually slice open my other hand. It took a long time to chop the salad. In the end, I had salad, my shoulder was tired and I was stressed out.
Helpful : 1 Easy: 0 Dangerous: 4
03 of 07
Veggie Peeler Chili Seeder
This hack did not make life easier. Using the curved tip and swivel action of a vegetable peeler is supposed to make it easier to clear seeds out from a chili, but this hack was fussy and inefficient. I just didn't get it. I used a knife to slice the stem off of the chili and moved the peeler end into the chili, and swiveled it around. Unless you have to stuff the chili, simply slice the chili cheeks off with the knife.
Helpful: 1 Easy: 3 Loneliness: 5
04 of 07
Stand Mixer Chicken Shredder
This hack saves time, mess, and annoyance shredding chicken for chicken salad. It requires a fancy appliance that most people do not own. If you have a stand mixer, this trick is terrific. Put cooked chicken into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. I tried it with both cold and warm, and both poached and leftover rotisserie chicken. All of them worked but the warm poached chicken was my favorite. It shredded three breasts in about 30 seconds. Clean-up was easy. The texture of the shreds is the best part. They are soft and ready to absorb the mayo and mustard and become a chicken salad.
Helpful: 5 Easy: 5 Expensive: 5Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Slicing Non-Eggs with an Egg Slicer
You should absolutely strawberries with an egg slicer for strawberry shortcake. Just nestle a berry into the divet horizontally, and slice. This removes the stem and makes nine perfect slices in one fell swoop. The slices are round, and not a triangular berry shape, but that doesn't matter. Slicing mushrooms with an egg slicer is another time-saver. It crushes them slightly. Use a knife if you need the mushrooms to be pretty. Avocado and banana are too soft. You have to cut them first and both get squashed and crushed into the grate. Mozzarella balls are too big. The wires do not cut through firm veggies like peppers. Squishy foods do not fare that well, either, so don’t bother with tomatoes, kiwis, plums, or peaches.
Recommend: Yes (and no)
Helpful: 4 Easy: 5 Magic: 3
06 of 07
Make Whipped Cream in a French Press
This hack makes whipped cream, using a French Press, by plunging the filter up and down. The cream squishes through the filter and several minutes later, the canister and the filter are covered with thick whipped cream that lacks fluffiness. Chances are you have a whisk and a bowl. Use those to whip the cream properly. If not, use a lidded jar or a cocktail shaker. Both of these hacks are preferable. Pumping the french press plunger 200 times is tiring, awkward, and mildly embarrassing to watch. I had to grip the handle to keep the French Press from flying off of the counter and shattering. It was messy. The whipped cream tasted a bit like coffee. This is not a good hack but it was silly. Try it if you are very bored, want a shoulder workout, and have misplaced your whisk.
Helpful: 3 Easy: 0 Cardio: 4
07 of 07
Juice a Lemon With Tongs
This hack works well enough. It is simple and easy to do, using leverage to squeeze the juice from the lemon without spending a lot of energy. Stick a lemon half between the arms of the tongs and squeeze the ends. A lot of juice comes out but it mangles the skin a bit. A reamer might have gotten more juice out. This was faster and easier than juicing a lemon with your bare hands.
Helpful: 4. Easy: 4. Specialness: 2
How to Tell if a Hack is Good
What is a hack? It’s an unconventional way to do something, that uses ingenuity, and solves a problem. A good hack gets the job done. A bad hack crushes your tomatoes and also your dreams, it’s disappointing, more difficult than the real way to do it, dangerous, messes up your food or your kitchen. A bad hack makes you feel dumb, and you are definitely not dumb. A good hack saves space, time, effort, or money. It makes things easier and maybe more fun. The Spruce Eats cares about all that!
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Heather Ramsdell, Senior Editorial Director of The Spruce Eats hosts the YouTube series, Hack Chat. She’s passionate about publishing stories and recipes that are clear and accurate to help home cooks make food they love. She hosts Hack Chat because she believes that you really can build a better mousetrap but dislikes trickery especially if it wastes your time. She grew up in New England and would rather fix than replace things. She has worked as a test kitchen director, cook, author, carpenter, and sculptor’s assistant. She has tested hundreds of hacks in the search for well-designed tricks that make life easier and more fun.