Tired of complicated recipes calling for kitchen equipment you don’t have? Or worse, shelling out for a fancy new gadget only to realize there is literally no space left in your cluttered cupboards to store it? There are some easy ways to skip the specialty gadgets and use what you already have to churn out delicious new dishes, no extra utensil drawer space needed.
Here’s what to do if you don’t already have a…
Mortar and pestle
Don’t have a mortar and pestle? For sauces and pastes, try slicing up your ingredients, then smashing and grinding them on a wooden cutting board with the underside of a heavy mug. If you want to grind spices, place them in a zip-top bag, then smash them with a rolling pin or the underside of a heavy skillet. You can also use a plastic wrap-covered, smooth rock to smash ingredients inside of a metal, marble or wooden bowl.
You don’t need a rolling pin if you have a wine bottle handy. Just make sure the bottle is clean and that the label is removed.
Save money on homemade juice with this method. Chop your fruit and veggies into small pieces, then blend them in a high-speed blender. If your blender isn’t super great, you may need to add some water to get things going. Once the mixture is puréed as smoothly as possible, strain it through a fine mesh strainer (line it with cheesecloth for extra-smooth results).
If you run out of cheesecloth and need to strain something, try setting a double layer of paper towels in a fine mesh strainer and straining through that instead. You can also use the same method with a coffee filter.
Don’t have a meat mallet? Use a rolling pin or empty wine bottle instead.
Ice cream maker
Who has room for an ice cream maker? Instead, whip up your favorite ice cream custard recipe. Place it in the freezer, and give it a good stir every 45 minutes or so until it’s frozen to your preferred consistency. The frequent stirring will help prevent ice crystals from forming, keeping the mixture smooth.
To cut butter into flour when making a pastry, you have a few options. Simply use two knives or two forks to cut the fat into the flour. Or pulse the ingredients once or twice in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse sand with pea-size lumps of butter.
Try the original slow cooker — a Dutch oven! Cook your meal in a Dutch oven on the stovetop or in the oven at a low heat setting with the cover on. After a few hours, you’ll have a meal nearly identical to what you’d make in the slow cooker. Even better, you can get a nice sear on any meats and sweat onions and other veggies right in the Dutch oven itself before covering it.
Don’t have a coffeemaker? No problem! Make cold brew iced coffee overnight by adding ground coffee and water to a jar. Or you can try this pour-over method. You can even just boil water, add coffee grounds, and let it steep, then strain it through a coffee filter once it’s at your preferred strength.
To get an airtight seal in a zip-top bag, insert a drinking straw, and close the zip top as much as you can around the straw. Then suck the air out of the bag, pull out the straw, and quickly seal off the hole where it was. You can also submerge a zip-top bag full of food in water just up to the zipper. The water will push the air out of the bag, which you can then seal.
There’s more than one way to open a can without a can opener, though the easiest may be this method that just calls for a spoon.
From shoes to screws and back again, there are tons of household items you can use to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.
Place metal Mason jar rings an inch apart on your baking sheet, then slip cupcake liners inside for an impromptu muffin/cupcake pan.
If you don’t have a roasting rack, all you need to do is take a long piece of aluminum foil and scrunch it up until you have a foil rope. Coil the foil rope inside your pan, and place your roast on top of that.
If you crave uniform burgers for the grill, there’s no need to shell out big bucks for a burger press. Use a peanut butter jar lid with a wide rim to make perfectly sized burgers instead — just line it with plastic wrap, press in your meat, and get grilling.
Double boilers are a cinch to replicate. Simmer 1 – 2 inches of water in a saucepan over low heat. Rest a saucepan, metal or glass bowl that’s big enough to not let any steam escape on top of the bottom pan, and add your ingredients to the top pan. It’s that easy.