Rachael Ray's Best Cooking Tips For Home Chefs

Few daytime talk show hosts have arrested the attention of television viewers quite like Rachael Ray. The celebrity home cook does so much more than whip up delicious meals in front of a live studio audience. She's written a slew of successful cookbooks, introduced stores to her own line of cookware, and holds the title of Editor-in-Chief of her very own lifestyle magazine, per her official website. Yea, this woman seems to have her hands in so many pots that it should make her head spin. However, with a can-do attitude about pretty much every aspect of life, Ray attacks every day with enthusiasm matched by very few other celebs, and that's why so many people tune in every afternoon to see what kind of secrets she'll share next.

The Rachael Ray brand has splintered off from food-centric entertainment into so many different facets of life. Viewers gather tips about all sorts of things, including makeup products, home décor ideas, and health advice (to name a fraction of them). However, many of her fans are all about her kitchen wisdom, which she has plenty of. Every home chef benefits from as many culinary tips and tricks as possible, and Ray seems to have an endless amount of advice hidden under her sleeves. Grab your apron, fire up your oven, and hold onto your skillet because these are some of the best tips Rachael Ray has offered her audiences.

1. Slice into a stuffed beef tenderloin one inch at a time to unroll

When you first look at a stuffed beef tenderloin, it seems like it takes a brave home cook to step up to the plate to tackle such a behemoth of a meal. When you look at the tenderloin tied up tightly with string, it looks like a tree trunk resting on an oven tray. Amateur cooks might opt to go with something a little less bulky if they don't feel confident handling such an immense amount of meat. Still, for those ready to tackle it, Rachael Ray has some good advice on how to ensure the end result looks like the masterpiece you had in your head from the very start.

The massive hunk of tenderloin Ray has on her countertop is stuffed with garlic, walnuts, herbs, and blue cheese, and she has it rolled tightly and bound with string to ensure the whole slab stays in one cylindrical shape. But, before she could add any of the stuffing, she had to cut into the tenderloin and splay the entire thing on a tray. Using a very sharp knife, she explains on the "Rachael Ray Show" that you need to cut into the meat in one-inch increments and peel it back before making the next cut. It's a slow process but necessary to evenly lay out the tenderloin.

2. Use one egg for every inch of pan when making a frittata

A morning without something nourishing and tasty can often lead to an unproductive day. Not many people allow themselves a substantial amount of time to whip up something in the kitchen before heading out, but a frittata is an awesome way to kick things off for those who do time their day accordingly. Well, you better believe Rachael Ray has some good advice when whipping up a delicious breakfast frittata for you and your family. 

Ray steps into the kitchen to show viewers how to make a five-cheese frittata, because why only use one kind of queso when you can toss in four more? Now, one of the things you always want to keep in mind whenever making any dish is portion distribution. The last thing you want to do is screw up your measurements and leave one person with a significantly smaller portion than everyone else. So, when it comes to the frittata game, Ray shared on the "Rachael Ray Show", "for every inch of the pan, use one egg. A six-inch pan gets six eggs, an eight-inch pan gets eight eggs, and so on. This ensures the delicious fluffy egg dish fits the pan perfectly and feeds everyone evenly.

3. Roast your pork tenderloin directly above sliced apples and pears

Whoever was the first person to figure out that pairing a juicy, rich piece of meat with a sweet fruit deserves a huge round of applause. The sweet-and-savory combination plays perfectly on the palate, and the decadence of the fatty meat is far more tolerable when cut with a sweet flavor to balance everything out. For example, pork's flavor is kicked up many notches with the accompaniment of the right fruit. In one of Ray's episodes, she shows her viewers how to make succulent pork tenderloin with apples and pears, and she's got a nifty little trick that turns an already butt-kicking dish into an extravagant flavor-blasted punch to the mouth.

After cutting up several apples and pears into slices and scattering them into a pan, Ray splashes in a hefty amount of apple brandy to add a zesty apple kick to the fruit mixture and covers the slices in a light layer of salt for more flavoring. Now, this is where things get interesting. Ray places a rack in the pan over the fruit, and then she puts the dry-brined piece of pork tenderloin on the rack. This means that while the pork slowly roasts and all those rich coat-your-mouth juices start accumulating, they drip onto the pears and apples to give the sweet fruit a glistening savory coating. Sweet, savory, hearty, and crisp. This dish has it all.

4. Add clumps of butter to your pumpkin lids before putting them in oven

Pumpkins are awesome vessels to serve meals in. What better way to sling some festive food than in a massive squash that everyone already associates with fall? There's no better way, and Ray knows it. That's why she takes to her kitchen and shows her viewers how to make roasted pumpkins teeming with rice, egg noodles, nuts, and dried fruit. It's an epic meal, but Ray, being the skilled cook she is, walks her fans through it step by step on the "Rachael Ray Show" to help them realize they too can whip up something as elegant and ornate as her. And, in classic Ray fashion, she has a pretty awesome trick up her sleeve.

After cooking the noodles, sautéing the rice, and combining all of the ingredients that go inside the roasted pumpkins in a large skillet, it's just about time to place the filled gourds into the oven for a few final minutes so the rice and noodle mixture soaks up that delicious pumpkin flavor. But not before one quick final step. The lids of the pumpkins are often discarded, but Ray points out they're perfectly edible –- and tasty –- pieces of squash. That's why she recommends adding a few dollops of butter on the underside of each lid before popping everything into the oven. Now you'll have even more delicious pumpkin to enjoy when it finally comes out ready to hit the table.

5. Use gochujang ketchup for a extra kick of flavor in kimchi fried rice

You can't set foot in an authentic Korean restaurant without seeing kimchi on the menu. According to The Spruce Eats, the fermented cabbage is a staple dish that has been vital to the culinary culture for generations. Though not Korean herself, in one of her episodes, Ray shares a kimchi fried rice recipe with viewers. If your only experience with cooking fried rice is reheating day-old take-out, there's one tip Ray has that's sure to get you on the right path.

Making the kimchi fried rice isn't difficult. The process is just adding rice, veggies, and kimchi to a skillet and tending to it while everything cooks down and the flavors combine into each other. And, in case you're fearful about attempting to make kimchi, Ray uses the store-bought stuff, so you too can skip the time-consuming fermentation process. Instead, pour a jar of the sour cabbage directly into your pan. Just like most Korean dishes, uniquely potent spices give this rice its wow factor, and to achieve this, Ray adds a couple of squirts of gochujang ketchup. Gochujang is a sweet, savory, and spicy chili paste that complements the fermented cabbage perfectly and kicks the rice's flavor up a notch. These three flavor profiles mixed with the richness of tomato ketchup make for a must-have ingredient for this rice dish.

6. Separate ground sirloin and chorizo in a skillet before seasoning

Whenever you're making tacos, it's never a bad idea to mix your meats. Why go with simple chicken nestled in your taco shells when you could mix and match a couple of delicious cuts for a far more savory bite? Plus, you can pick two types of meat with different flavor profiles for a contrasting one-two punch of deliciousness your appetite craves! Well, when Ray fired up her oven and got to work showing fans how to put together some delicious tacos, she couldn't just settle for one carnivorous taco filling. And, she had a super helpful tip when it came to doubling down on the meat.

In an episode of the "Rachael Ray Show," Ray used ground sirloin and beef chorizo to make tacos. She placed the meat into a skillet to start the browning process, but she didn't mix the two types of meat. The chorizo sizzled in one half of the skillet while the sirloin was nestled on the other side. Ray explained that the reason for this separation is that when it comes time to season the meat, she only intends to season the sirloin. That's because chorizo is already very heavily seasoned, so adding more would be overkill. By only showering the sirloin with seasoning, neither meat will taste overly salty, which means your tacos will hit a balanced home run every time.

7. When making dumplings and pasta, don't toss the ingredients simultaneously

When you're craving a hearty meal that won't have you digging through the fridge an hour later, pasta is a great choice. The starchy noodles are very filling, and you can mix and match so many different ingredients that the combinations are pretty much endless. But, few dishes can coat your stomach like pasta with a side of meatballs. But, in one of Ray's episodes, she flips the script on the typical beef and pork meatballs and uses ricotta cheese and breadcrumbs instead. It's a delicious vegetarian spin on the classic Italian food, but she has a very important warning for all those who attempt to make it.

Once the pasta is cooked and sauced and the meatballs are rolled and feeling firm, it would feel natural to any home chef to take both ingredients and toss them together in whatever sauce they're using so the pasta and meatballs get a uniform coating. However, this is exactly what Ray says not to do. Why? It's simple: The meatballs are far more delicate than the pasta, and therefore they'd entirely fall apart during any vigorous tossing motion. Instead, toss the pasta separately and then spoon sauce over the meatballs in a separate dish to ensure they stay intact. 

8. Add cheese in stages when making mac and cheese

Macaroni and cheese is pure comfort food. We all ate it as kids, and the dish's richness warms the soul and sends our minds into a nostalgic daze of simpler times. Obviously, Ray can whip up a mean batch of the stuff, and in one episode, she even made a wildly unique version with roasted pumpkin, spicy cheddar, and even picked jalapenos! This was mac and cheese on steroids, and even though the ingredients were unique, she had one simple tip to follow.

The tip came into play when it was time to add the grated cheese into the pot and start the melting process. Before adding the cheese, Ray made a roux using equal parts butter and flour to create a thick base, then added milk to create a béchamel sauce to build onto. Little by little, she would add a bit of cheese, then stir the pot until the cheese was almost entirely melted. This is exactly what you need to do to ensure a perfect cheese sauce. Do not dump the entirety of the cheese into the pot at once. Stirring a little in at a time means everything will melt evenly. Follow that advice, and you'll have the best mac and cheese on the block.

9. When making tofu ramen, you can purchase pre-baked tofu to save time

There's never a wrong time to dive headfirst into a rich bowl of ramen noodles. It's Asian comfort food at its finest, full of veggies and glistening slabs of pork belly, all simmering in an umami-packed broth. But if you want to throw back a bowl of this liquid godsend without any meat, tofu makes for a delicious alternative, so you still get a meal packed with protein. Ray used tofu in a ramen recipe she showed home viewers on the "Rachael Ray Show." While she did a phenomenal job walking fans through the ramen-making process, she had one suggestion along the way she knew many people would gladly take advantage of.

If you like a lot of ingredients in your ramen, the process is pretty time-consuming. You have to make the broth, prep all the veggies, stir together the miso paste for the umami flavor, and prepare the noodles, so they're not overly soft and chewy. Finally, you have to prepare your protein, as well. But, here's where you can cheat, according to Ray, if you decide to use tofu. Instead of cutting up a block of uncooked tofu, glazing it with sesame oil, and baking it in the oven, you can buy already-baked tofu at the supermarket to save valuable time. Now that's a time-saving hack worth investing in.

10. Barely simmer hotdogs for an authentic New York City hotdog texture

No trip to the Big Apple is complete without sinking your teeth into a street corner Sabrett hotdog. (Or "dirty water dogs," as some people refer to them.) You can find vendors on almost every street corner, and they're all slinging up the same stuff. So even if you pass by a dozen of them, know there's another two dozen up ahead waiting eagerly for your appetite to stop by. If you want the real New Yorker experience, you get the full house: mustard, ketchup, kraut, and Sabrett onions and sauce. But, what makes these bunned delights even better is you can make them in the comfort of your own kitchen. However, Ray points out one strict rule you need to follow if you're going for authenticity. 

According to Ray on the "Rachael Ray Show," the secret to replicating the iconic hotdogs is all in the way you boil them, which means cooking them ever so gently. You don't want the water to come to a rolling boil. You literally want it to barely simmer while the dogs float casually, slowly warming up and remaining soft throughout for a moist bite. Some people might like the snap of a firm outer hotdog casing, but when it comes to N.Y.C. dirty water dogs, it's all about the soft mouthfeel.

11. Keep an eye on your pasta when making cannelloni to avoid sticking

Preparing a big batch of stuffed cannelloni is the perfect way to satisfy a large group of people ready to chow down on something super filling. The pasta itself is similar to sheets of lasagna, but it's usually filled with some kind of cheese and meat stuffing. Once stuffed, it's rolled into small logs, smothered in sauce, and baked in the oven until golden brown. It's rich, heavy, delicious, and overly satisfying. When Ray broke out several sheets of cannelloni on the "Rachael Ray Show" to make chicken and spinach stuffed tubes of the sheeted pasta, she implored audiences to keep one very vital thing in mind while preparing the dish.

That bit of vital information? Keep an eye on the pasta while it cooks! When dealing with strands of noodles, you can pretty much let them boil in the water without having to tend to them too often. However, because cannelloni pasta is a rectangular sheet, it's prone to sticking to the other pieces in the boiling water. This means when you finally pull it out, it'll tear into pieces, and you'll have to start the whole boiling process again. Save yourself the headache and give the pasta "a little nudge" from time to time.