Even though I went to culinary school, some of the greatest kitchen wisdom I’ve learned has come from my mom and grandmother. This knowledge extends beyond specific recipes or classic techniques—what I value most are the little tips and tricks I’ve picked up just by watching them in the kitchen.
My mom cools her cookies on a flattened brown paper bag, which absorbs excess grease and keeps the cookies crisp on the outside, but tender on the inside. She never throws away bacon fat (a wise woman) and sticks a slice of Wonder Bread in her holiday cookies to keep them fresh.
My grandmother taught me that if you want a proper grilled cheese, you will need a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet and a lot of butter. She also once shared her secret to longevity: Eating a few gin-soaked raisins a day. I come from a long line of knowledgeable matriarchs.
It’s no surprise then that I have fallen in love with the “grandfluencers” who are sharing their kitchen wisdom on TikTok. There is something so wholesome about watching this older generation share their cooking wisdom with the world. I recently went down a rabbit hole to find the best recipes and cooking hacks from the Grandmas, Grandpas, Nonnas, and Nonnos of TikTok, and here are 20 of my very favorite tips. This list includes grandfluencer wisdom shared by their grandchildren.
Barbara Costello of @brunchwithbabs
Costello, who describes herself as “Everyone’s Grandmother,” took the internet by storm when she began sharing her family cooking advice in 2020. You can instantly feel the love when you start watching her videos.
Tip 1: Make-Ahead Gravy: Without a doubt, the most stressful part of Thanksgiving is the gravy. It’s usually the last thing you make as everyone crowds around the kitchen, counting down the seconds to dinnertime. Babs’ genius hack for making and freezing gravy ahead will take (some) of the stress out of your next Thanksgiving feast!
Tip 2: Degreasing Sauce: Use this clever hack from Babs to eliminate excess fat in braises, soups, stews, or sauces. Simply fill a large ladle with ice, then press the bottom of the ladle on top of the liquid you want to de-grease. The cold from the ice will attract the fat, so you can easily discard it.
Tip 3: Serve Ice Cream to a Crowd: It’s clear from this hack that Babs has thrown a lot of birthday parties for little ones! She expertly lines a muffin tin with cupcake liners, then adds a scoop of ice cream to each. These scoops get stashed in the freezer until it’s time for dessert, then you pop an ice cream cone on top of each scoop, peel off the liner, and you are good to go.
Erin O’Brien of @erinnobrienn
O’Brien achieved viral success by sharing one of her grandmother’s favorite recipes, a Crunchy Lemon Parmesan Salad. She often cooks with her Nana and Mother, sharing their family classics.
Tip 4: Crunchy Lemon Parmesan Salad: This video has garnered over 30 million views across various social platforms, which is a lovely reminder that sometimes the simplest food really is best. I also love how Erin cuts the lemons vertically to extract every last drop of juice.
Nonna Pia of @nonnapiaa
Nonna Pia has 3.3 million followers on TikTok thanks to her adorable personality and drool-worthy pastas.
Tip 5: Homemade Cavatelli Maker: Did I immediately buy this cavatelli maker on Amazon after watching this video? Yes, I did. I love watching Nonna Pia to see her amazing pasta tools and authentic Italian recipes.
Lynn Yamada Davis of @cookingwithlynja
A retired MIT engineer who’s known for her outrageous food videos, Lynja has received more than 252 million likes on TikTok.
Tip 6: Mini Pancakes: While Lynn made these tiny pancakes for a gerbil (TikTok can be weird and wonderful), I found the hack of using a pipette to dish out pancake batter to be genius. My kids love anything tiny, and this is an easy, mess-free way to pull off bite-sized pancakes.
Grace Geramita of @nonnagracie
She lovingly refers to her 4.5 million followers as her “grandchildren” and signs off each video with “I’ll be your Nonna.” It doesn’t get much more heartwarming than that!
Tip 7: Sheet Pan Chicken Parm: I only considered using a sheet pan for chicken Parm once I saw this amazing video. I love how the wide surface allows for maximum bubbly cheese goodness. Plus, the way she breads the cutlets in giant stainless steel bowls is a pro move!
Linda Skeens of @lindaskeensblueribbon
In 2021, Skeens won 25 ribbons for her delicious home-cooked recipes at the Virginia-Kentucky District Fair and had a viral moment. She now shares the recipes for some of these prize-winning recipes on her TikTok.
Tip 8: A Visual for Soft-Ball Stage: Anyone who’s ever tried their hand at working with sugar knows that things can go wrong quite easily and quickly. While a thermometer is essential for candy-making, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to do a visual test as well. Linda explains how her mother would use a cold cup of water, then add a drop of the candy into the water. Once it cools, if it’s soft and you can work it with your fingers, it’s ready.
Dawn Hodges @hodgesfarmtexas
Hodges shares a mix of food, farm, and gardening advice on her popular TikTok channel.
Tip 9: Crisp Fridge Pickles: In her viral recipe video for fridge pickles, Dawn calls for a secret ingredient to make the pickles extra crisp.
Linda of @mamalindacooks
Linda refers to herself as “Your Asian TikTok Mom.” All I can say is she has some very lucky kids based on her delicious recipes. What caught my eye is a video she shared of her mother making wontons like an absolute boss.
Tip 10: Wonton Shaping: In this video, Linda shares her 76-year-old Taiwanese mother’s technique for folding wontons using only a butterknife and many years of practice. Her technique is mesmerizing!
Daphne Oz of @daphneoz
Oz is famous for her own culinary chops, but I love when she shares hacks from her grandmother on her popular channel.
Tip 11: Perfectly Dressed Salad: When entertaining, Daphne’s grandmother taught her to make her salad dressing in a large serving bowl, then cover it with a plate. Add the greens on top and store them in the fridge. When ready to serve, pull out the plate and toss for a perfectly dressed salad sans soggy greens!
Martha Stewart of @marthastewart
I’d be remiss to forget the chicest grandma of all time: Martha Stewart.
Tip 12: Lobster Meat Hack: Of course, Martha knows how to eat a lobster gracefully. I love her hack for removing lobster tail meat in one fell swoop using a fork.
Tip 13: Removing Garlic Smell From Hands: This is a trick I learned in culinary school, but skip the tuition loans and learn it from Martha instead. If you have a strong garlic smell on your hands, after washing, carefully rub them on something stainless steel to get rid of the odor.
Giuseppe Federici of @sepps_eats
Federici, a digital creator, often features videos of his Nonna’s recipes, and you can really feel the love.
Tip 14: Reduce Acid From Tomatoes: When cooking with canned tomatoes, it can be hard to control the acidity of the final dish. I love Nonna’s tip of adding baking soda to reduce the acid from the tomatoes in her sauce for arancini.
Tracy of @officiallytracytime
A self-proclaimed “CEO of Snacks,” she shares many taste tests on her beloved account.
Tip 15: Softening Brown Sugar: Like my mom’s trick for keeping cookies fresh, Tracy shared her grandmother’s secret for softening brown sugar. Place hardened brown sugar in a container and add two slices of white bread. Let sit for a few hours, and the moisture from the bread will soften the sugar, so you are ready to bake.
Michael Symon of @chefsymon
He needs no introduction, but did you know Symon was a grandfather? His grandbabies are lucky to have him around to make them breakfast.
Tip 16: Perfect Crispy Fried Eggs: The way I was in awe of this carbon steel pan, clearly a kitchen essential. It’s hard to pick a favorite tip from this video as all of his content is so educational, but here are just a few. Keep limes at room temperature to yield more juice. If you don’t like cilantro, don’t use it (i.e. don’t be an internet troll!). Baste egg whites with oil to set them while keeping the yolk runny. When making crispy fried eggs, crack them into a bowl first, then add them to the pan all at once so they cook evenly.
Giovanni of @nonno.giovanni.cooks
There are many cooking Nonnas on TikTok, but allow me to introduce you to one of my favorites.
Tip 17: Maximize Basil Flavor: Nonno explains that, to preserve the true flavor of basil, it must be torn by hand rather than chopped with a knife. This may seem unscientific, but using a knife can actually bruise the leaves, causing them to oxidize faster. Also, when you use a knife, many essential oils of the basil will be lost on the cutting board.
Vi and Grandma of @lifewithgram
I could have watched this adorable account ALLLL day. Vi shares footage of her grandmother, who is from Guyana, making delicious family recipes.
Tip 18: Don’t Peel Ginger Skin: Using a spoon to peel ginger is one of my favorite kitchen hacks, but Vi knows that when making something with a lot of ginger, there is no need to peel; just give the ginger a good wash. Her recipe for homemade ginger beer looks delicious—her secret ingredient is fresh sugar cane.
Ellen Park of @melon_park
Park has gone viral for sharing the amazing lunches her Korean grandmother makes for her.
Tip 19: Wash Your Rice! Then Wash It Again: Most home cooks know to wash their rice, but this video shows that rice should really be rinsed about seven to eight times. By washing it in a pot versus a strainer, you can really tell when the water is no longer murky, which means your rice is ready to cook.
Alice Roberts of @aliceroberts_
She’ll soon have you all wishing you had an adorable French grandpa like hers. Her account has a dedicated series featuring all the amazing home-cooked meals by her 87-year-old French grandfather.
Tip 20: Simplicity Is Best: I don’t know where to start with this video. What stood out to me most was how simple, yet delicious this cucumber salad looked, and it made me very envious of the yogurt available in France. I love how he tasted everything as he went, ensuring everything was perfectly seasoned. I also love how he expertly placed a towel under his mixing bowl when emulsifying the dressing to keep it stable. Très bien!