8 “I’ll Never Tell” Cooking Secrets We Learned From a Viral Reddit Thread

From crushed Trader Joe’s cookies to the power of pickle juice.

By Caitlin Clark
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Without a doubt, my favorite cooking scene in any film is the grilled cheese sequence in Chef. I could watch Jon Favreau lovingly slice toasted sourdough scored by Courtney John’s “Lucky Man” time and time again. The soft sizzle of butter, the scrape of a well-worn spatula, the parental refusal of Favreau’s character to cut off the crusts for his son—it’s all weirdly addicting and absolutely lethal to watch on an empty stomach. We all wanted to know his culinary secrets.

Favreau clearly understood the greatness of the grilled cheese scene. On his 2019 Netflix series The Chef Show, the filmmaker broke down exactly how to make the famed dish. The secret wasn’t exactly groundbreaking: be liberal and diligent with your butter. Sure it was simple, but it shows how honing in on one detail can truly make all the difference. I was reminded of this buttery revelation while revisiting an incredible thread (thanks, Buzzfeed!) from Reddit’s “cooking” community. One Redditor posed the question: “What’s your ‘I’ll never tell’ cooking secret?” Over 4,000 commenters weighed in with their stealthy go-to’s.

From crushed Costco and Trader Joe’s cookies to the power of pickle juice, we gathered some of our favorite cooking secrets from the viral thread. Prepare to be amazed.

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The versatility of ramen continues to amaze.

My mashed potato gravy is butter, flour, water, and a ramen packet. Usually beef, chicken, or creamy chicken depending on the protein. — u/sifumokung

For anyone looking to up their pumpkin spice game this fall, these baking secrets deliver. 

I like to use chai masala instead of pumpkin pie spice in just about anything it calls for… My pumpkin pies are well-regarded in my friend circle but the secret is the crust is just crushed up Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger cookies and melted butter. — u/kaophyre

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Leave it to a “freaky fast” favorite to revolutionize a classic.

I worked at Jimmy John’s for a while and they had us use a little soy sauce in the tuna salad. I’ve been making it that way ever since (10 years) — u/hellenfeller

This kind soul is spreading the word on the excellence of pickle juice.

The only one I can really think of is adding pickle juice to tuna or chicken salad. Adds just the right amount of tartness. I do tell though. Spread the knowledge! — u/nickyneptune

These responses were just as useful:

  • I add pepperoncini juice from the jar of peppers. — u/zombica
  • If you like pepperoncini and you like martinis, try subbing the juice for the olive juice. Hella good. — u/ladydanger2020
  • You have discovered the single most transformative aspect of cooking that most people discover much later than they should—the importance of acids. — u/foodandwhining

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A solid reminder that one man’s trash is an inventive chef’s treasure.

At Costco, they have these cashew clusters that are insanely good! There are always a bunch of crumbs and dust at the bottom of the bag. I grind it up and use it as part of my flour when making cookies. People always go crazy for my cookies! — u/coffee-jnky

When it comes to cinnamon, be as brave and as bold as this chef.

I’ve never been the type to have a secret like this, but if people knew how much cinnamon I used they might have questions. I add it to a lot of dishes to add some earthiness and depth, but not in amounts where you can actually taste cinnamon. — u/noneedforaname.

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Sometimes you just have to think inside the Jello box.

Jello vanilla pudding powder substitutes half of my sugar in cookies! It keeps them super soft for days and gives them almost a cake interior. Shhhh… — u/life_on_the_nickle

Another Redditer added: For frosting? Whip up some very cold heavy whipping cream and a box of pudding mix. Instant buttercream deliciousness. — u/caddyben

Of all our favorite cooking secrets, this one was beautifully simple. 

You have to brown the butter, no one ever takes the time to brown the butter. — u/roadtrip-ne

Visit the original thread for even more cooking secrets; just be sure to set time aside for pouring over the comments. And when in doubt, always use more butter.

What is your “I’ll never tell” cooking secret? Drop them below!