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Cooking Tips

Baking Soda Can Save You Time in the Kitchen

  Just a pinch can cut cooking times in half. 
By Published June 28, 2022

For those times when every minute matters in the kitchen, a simple way to speed up cooking can be a lifesaver. Enter sodium bicarbonate, a.k.a. baking soda.

Unassuming as it may be, baking soda is nothing short of a powerhouse when it comes to quickly softening numerous types of vegetables, dried beans, and polenta. Adding just a pinch to the food as it cooks creates an alkaline environment that weakens the cell walls of the ingredients so they break down and soften more quickly. 

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Make These Foods Cook Faster with Baking Soda

POLENTA

For polenta to lose its hard, gritty texture and turn creamy, enough water must penetrate the corn’s cell walls that the starch granules within swell and burst (or “gelatinize”). When a pinch of baking soda is added at the start of cooking, the pectin in the cell walls of the corn quickly breaks down, weakening its structure and allowing water to enter and gelatinize the starch in less than half the time.

GREEN BEANS

When baking soda is added to the cooking liquid for green beans, their pectin rapidly disintegrates, turning the legumes silky soft in minutes.

DRIED BEANS

Baking soda can work wonders on dried beans, saving you up to an hour of cooking time. Just be sure not to add more than ⅛ teaspoon per pound of soaked beans at the start of cooking—too much and the beans can end up tasting soapy and unpleasant.

CARROTS AND BROCCOLI

Adding a ½ teaspoon of baking soda to the simmering carrots or broccoli for pureed soups helps the vegetables break down quickly and create restaurant-level creaminess.  

ALLIUMS

Incorporating a smidge of baking soda into onions or shallots while you sauté or caramelize them causes the alliums to rapidly soften so they nearly melt.

Recipes Made Faster with Baking Soda

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.