10 of the Best Things TikTok Taught Us in 2021 That We’ll Be Taking into the New Year

published Dec 8, 2021
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We’ve all become rather obsessed with TikTok in recent years. From viral food trends (remember when so many people made the feta pasta recipe that stores sold out of feta?) to cooking and kitchen hacks, we’ve learned so much and have been entertained in the process.

Gone are the days when we needed to turn to a celebrity chef’s television show or a favorite cookbook to get a cooking tip or kitchen hack (although we’re still totally here for it). Now, we just need to open up an app on our phone. But what are some of the most important lessons TikTok has taught us this year? It was hard to break it down, but here’s our top 10 list.

1. Freezing Garlic 

Credit: Joe Lingeman
The Freezer Garlic Trick You’ll Wish You Had Known Forever Ago

We love garlic so much. But between the peeling and the slicing, it can be kind of hard to have readily available in a pinch. (Like, say, when we need a pinch of garlic!) But TikTok taught us the beauty of freezing garlic so that we have it on hand whenever needed. It starts with a fair bit of prep. You’re going to have to peel a bunch all at once and throw it in a food processor. Then, when it is blended to a paste-like consistency, you can store it in the freezer. This will last months, so next time you need a bit of garlic to add to that sauce or stew, no need to peel and chop: Just pull a bit down from the freezer and throw it in the pot.

2. Making a Salmon Rice Bowl

Credit: Sara Tane
I Tried the Leftover Salmon Rice Bowl That’s All Over TikTok and It’s My New Favorite Lunch

This salmon rice bowl was an absolute internet sensation. Originally shared by popular TikTok user Emily Mariko, this is a food bowl that is made easier and more cost-effective by using leftovers. Take your cooked salmon, mash it up, and add to rice with soy sauce, Sriracha, and mayo. From here you can add all sorts of other things, from avocado to wasabi peas, but the original creator suggests ingredients like cucumber and kimchi. Bonus points for an innovative way to enjoy leftovers!

3. Salvaging That Avocado

Credit: Naomi Tomky

TikTok has taught us all sorts of brilliant ways to make avocados less of a chore to prep (they are always enjoyable to eat!), from how to pit them more easily to how to make simple and healthy avocado chips. But one issue has remained — and that’s dealing with an avocado that’s starting to brown. Some of us may put it in an airtight container with its pit, or add some lime juice, but these things have varying levels of success. This year, however, a TikTok user suggested taking a small amount of olive oil and rubbing it into the avocado once opened. This does seem to slow down browning (or oxidation), but you’re going to want to remember to keep it wrapped up in the fridge, too.

4. Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs

Credit: Rochelle Bilow
I Tried the Annoyingly Brilliant TikTok Trick for Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs and WOW

TikTok has taught us all sorts of interesting ways to make eggs (like how to make hard-boiled eggs in the air fryer, sans any water). But perhaps the most interesting hack was this weird-but-simple way to peel hard-boiled eggs that actually works! It starts by doing something we’d normally never want to do: cracking the egg. But in this case, it’s a small crack. Then you boil the egg as usual.  After boiling the egg, you’ll put it in a cold-water bath and shake. That’s it! The shell will just lift off the egg — no peeling required! Wild, but it really works.

5. Getting Tomato Paste out of the Can

Credit: Danielle Centoni
The Easiest Trick to Get Tomato Paste Out of the Can

We use tomato paste a lot, and it has so many cooking possibilities. The reality is, though, that getting the paste out of the can is sometimes not all that easy. Sure, you can get most of it out, but there’s always the bit left behind that’s hard to get. TikTok to the rescue once again, though, with a hack that advises using a can opener to remove the top and bottom lids of the can. Then, you push the bottom lid through the can, and use it almost as you’d use a pastry scraper (but push it with a wooden spoon, not your fingers, you don’t want to end up cutting yourself). Then, it’ll get every last bit of paste out of the can and into your bowl, and in a perfect cylinder as well. 

6. Making Baked Feta Pasta

Credit: Sara Tane
I Tried the Baked Feta Pasta That’s Taking Over TikTok (Yes, You Should Make It Immediately)

While this isn’t really a hack, it did show us how to look at feta in a whole new way. Feta has long been a favorite for crumbling in a salad, but this recipe instead baked it with tomatoes, basil, and garlic, and then incorporated it into a pasta. This recipe proved so popular that blocks of feta soon sold out in stores nationwide. It’s not surprising, either: It’s easy to make and surprisingly delicious. 

7. Making Pasta Chips

Credit: Perry Santanachote

Yes, another TIkTok lesson that involves pasta! These pasta chips are a fun spin on the dinner favorite because you start out by boiling pasta as you normally would, but then you season it and add it to the air fryer or oven. Voila! You have “chips” made out of pasta that are ripe for dipping in your favorite spicy marinara or pesto. This too became quite the rapid sensation for a lot of the same reasons that people love other food hacks on TikTok — it’s fast, easy, and ends up being quite tasty.

8. Softening Cold Butter

Credit: Joe Lingeman
A Brilliant Tip for Softening Butter in 2 Minutes or Less

If butter comes out of the fridge and is super cold and hard to spread, this can be really annoying when trying to butter that muffin or bagel. But rather than waiting for that butter to thaw to room temperature before spreading (hey, we’re hungry!), there is an ingenious TIkTok hack for softening butter quickly by filling a tall glass with boiling water, letting that water sit in the glass for 30 seconds, and then placing your stick of butter in the glass (after you’ve emptied the water out). That’ll soften the butter quickly and have it ready and easy to spread.

9. Making Perfectly Round Cookies

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk
A Tiny Trick for Making Perfectly Round Cookies Every Time

This is a hack we can very much use as we enter the holiday baking season. This TikTok user taught us that a simple way to ensure our cookies are round and not unevenly shaped is to take a biscuit cutter and reshape the cookies as soon as they come out of the oven.  It’s a great way to neaten the edges and get the rounds we want, without mess or fuss.  “Perfect, uniform cookies,” as the video says.

10. Cleaning Burnt Cookware

Credit: Danielle Centoni
I Tried a Viral TikTok Hack to Clean the Burnt Bottoms of My Cookware — Here’s How It Went

TikTok is amazing for cooking and food hacks, but we all know a big part of working in the kitchen is cleaning when we’re done. This time of year involves a whole lot of pots going at once, and that may mean a kind of stressful degree of cleanup. But TikTok offered a brilliant hack for cleaning the bottoms of burnt pans. First you turn the pot over so its bottom side is on top, and sprinkle salt and baking soda all over the burnt part of the surface. Then, sprinkle Dawn and scrub with some steel wool. Finish by laying on paper towels and sprinkling with white vinegar. When you pull away the paper towels, the burnt gunk will come with it. It’s magic!

Did you learn any tips or tricks from TikTok this year? Let us know in the comments section below.