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Gross Food Hacks That Will Change Your Life

A little creativity in the kitchen can spice things up, but we're not talking about baking and three-layer cake from scratch and decorating it to look like a favorite anime character. This is about trying unusual tricks that might make you cringe a little bit. You might feel kind of nauseous when you first see them but if you're willing to try, some of these hacks could turn into lifelong habits.

LSU College of Agriculture stresses the importance of reading recipes from start to finish instead of just skimming them over, and we couldn't agree more. But we can almost guarantee that you won't find some of these hacks in your favorite recipes, no matter how hard you look. Try to keep an open mind, and you might want to experiment with a few. You could even love the results and end up putting them in your own cookbooks. In any case, what follows will probably change your life in a seriously nasty — but maybe helpful — way.

Use SpaghettiOs to whip up a pie

Are your kids whining that their heated-up-in-a-pot SpaghettiOs with Meatballs is boring? A wildly popular TikTok video features a woman putting together a kids' dinner in less than a minute, and that's the main ingredient. The entire can gets poured into a pre-made pie shell, and she then cuts the ends off four slices of bread, slathers butter on tops, and sprinkles them with garlic salt. The SpaghettiOs get covered with cheese (of course) and topped with the trimmed, buttered bread slices The final result that emerges from the oven doesn't look appetizing, but you and your kids might love it.

But beware, as no one is shown cutting into the pie or eating it. And as a side note, this video doesn't tell you how long to bake it or the correct temperature. Gross food hack videos like this can quickly go viral, but there might not be a follow-up review of how these things actually taste.

This cook could've included this information since more time was available. As of February 2022, TikTok videos can now be up to 10 minutes long, even if user attention spans only last the previous video limit of 3 minutes. But you won't need to invest a lot of money or time on this one, and who knows? Maybe it could be your go-to weeknight meal after soccer practice.

Suck up drain out the beef fat

Grocery stores and markets generally sell ground beef with 4% to 20% fat and you can see the ratios (like 80% lean/20% fat) on the packaging. Leaner cuts cost more, but you can buy higher-fat versions and drain them. All you'll really need is a colander and a glass or ceramic bowl. Once the meat is cooked, scrape it out of the pan and into a colander that's on top of a glass or ceramic bowl. Plastic bowls are not recommended, as the heat can damage or melt them. Pour hot water over the meat from your tap or a mug.

After pouring in the water, use a kitchen fork or spoon to move the meat around afterward to drain any residual water and fat. It's not a good idea to let the meat drain into your sink, because the water and oil will go down the drain. This could eventually clog up your pipes, especially if you pour oil down them often. 

You can also opt to gently tip the pan to the side until the oil gathers along an edge. Then, you take a turkey baster, suck up the fat, squirt it back out into a separate container, and let it cool. This collected fat can be frozen to use later.

North Dakota State University's Food Wise also advocates for ground beef rinsing (sounds gross when you put it that way), and recommends using very hot (not boiling) water and wiping the pan with paper towels when finished. Use the cooked ground beef as normal, but remember this: Fat adds taste, so you might have to add some back with spices and other flavorings.

Cook fish in your dishwasher

Appliances like air fryers are so versatile, but what about your trusty dishwasher? Believe it or not, you can cook salmon in it, but choosing to run a regular wash cycle with dish detergent at the same time could be questionable. TheSalmons.org does this and prepares the fish with lemon and pats of butter. You can add seasonings but might want to wait until after the fish is cooked through. Wrap the fish tightly in two pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil, and drop it in your dishwasher's top rack. Run the hottest washing and drying cycles, without any detergent.

YouTuber Tom Scott tried poaching salmon in his dishwasher, but used only olive oil, stressing the importance of sealing the foil tightly. But guess what: There were dirty dishes inside, and he used dish detergent. He pulled the salmon right out after the final cycle, but it was hot – be sure to wear potholders. He tasted it and claimed it was perfect. If you want to try this gross hack, be sure that the fish is at the proper (safe) temperature before digging in. According to the USDA, the minimum temperature for fish is 145 degrees.

Use a beer can to prepare a chicken

This is a legit recipe that you can make on your grill, but what's the purpose of placing an empty can into a chicken's butt? Barbecue Bible claims that this recipe is nothing new, a tried-and-true method that involves placing an opened beer can inside the chicken and propping it up vertically on a grill pan. The theory is that the beer inside heats up and produces flavorful steam, which makes the chicken moist and tasty.

ThermoBlog claims that beer can chicken has been around for 25 years, and tried it in a smoker. They removed some of the beer from the can and added seasoning under the skin. The chicken was described as being very good, but that could have been because it was seasoned so well. Another plus of beer can chicken is the cooking position. 

Instead of lying flat, the chicken is literally standing on its legs so it gets browned on all sides. Just be sure to test it with a thermometer — the USDA suggests the safe cooking temperature for chicken is 165 degrees. But if you want tender, tasty chicken and this method seems a bit vulgar, just can cook it in a slow cooker instead.

Bag your bacon and eggs

Many people are too tired to fire up their grills in the morning but will make an exception if they are camping. There's no reason to stop yourself from having bacon and eggs when you're enjoying the outdoor life, even if the cooking medium (a brown paper bag) gets pretty disgusting. What's the best way to do this on a hot barbecue grill?

Let's Camp S'more advises against cooking this breakfast over a flaming grill, so be sure that it's hot and smoldering instead. Simply put a few slices of bacon in the bottom of a small brown paper bag, then cracks a few eggs and pour them in. The bag needs to be rolled up loosely, with the top securely folded down. Place your brown paper bag on your grill (over a smoldering fire) and keep a close watch.

The sides of the bag will begin to get visibly greasy. Once the grease spreads halfway up the bag, carefully remove it with a potholder or tongs. Now, you can open the bag and sprinkle in some cheese — close it back up and wait a minute until it's melted. You can eat the concoction right out of the bag — but if that seems icky, just dump it on a plate and dig in. If you don't eat pork, you can swap it out for turkey bacon.

Make a cream sauce from cream cheese

Another trending TikTok video shows a cook using a hack to create a quick, thick sauce that some people might see as gross. The chef claims that this dish is "better than Olive Garden." It seems as though she's probably referencing Olive Garden's shrimp alfredo — but the restaurant's dish certainly seems significantly lighter. 

She first sautées shrimp in half a stick of butter and adds diced tomatoes and spices. That seems fine, but then she dumps in two entire blocks of cream cheese and 1-½ cups of heavy whipping cream. The dish is finished with ½ pound of parmesan and fresh spinach.

This heavy-looking pasta dish seems like it has a super-high fat content, and here is some eye-opening information. A 1-ounce serving of Philadelphia Cream Cheese has 10 grams of fat and contains 29% of the daily allotment of saturated fat. One brick is 8 ounces — and the chef shown in the video adds two. It's hard to tell how many people this dish will serve, but since she uses 1-½ pounds of shrimp we're guessing it can serve two to three.

In addition to elevating your risks of high cholesterol and heart disease, dishes like this can sit like lead in your stomach. Still, it can be a nice treat once in a while.

Mix popcorn with mayo

The thought of mixing fresh popcorn and mayonnaise together might turn your stomach, but Molly Yeh's Twitter video about popcorn salad has more than 3 million views. And when you watch it, you'll probably wonder how this popcorn hack could taste good enough to want to eat. She mixes up white cheddar cheese-seasoned popcorn and mayo as a base, and what could be grosser than that?

To finish this salad, she adds in shredded carrots and other diced veggies, then mixed up the concoction gently with a spatula. Next, she tops the popcorn mixture with trimmed celery and watercress leaves. This adds more flavor, texture, and color, and does not get combined with the other ingredients.

Popcorn Carnival makes popcorn salad differently, with a homemade dressing. This source cautions that the popcorn will quickly get soft once it is dampened, so it should probably be eaten quickly. This is the kind of recipe that you can really play with, adding in things like crisp bacon, green peppers, and different spices. 

Still can't wrap your head around it? A Reddit contributor raves about mayo and popcorn and mixes a few tablespoons right into the popped bags. And instead of blending in the mayo, the bag goes back in the microwave for about 20 or 30 seconds. We recommend eating this mess with a spoon.

Drink pickle juice straight from the bottle

Full pickle jars contain two things: pickles and brine. You don't have to throw out that leftover juice because it can be easily made into a frozen treat. According to iHeart, this can be done with any kind of brine. Traditional Kosher dill can be used or you might like something sweeter like bread-and-butter pickle juice. You don't have to strain it, either. Just pour it into popsicle molds or paper cups and stick them in the freezer. This practice is common enough that it's been monetized — you can even buy them online. Retailers sell them on Amazon – but most are made like ice bars or freezies instead of popsicles.

A number of professional athletes drink straight pickle juice to relieve cramps, so eating gross-tasting pickle pops could very well help with your performance. MedicalNewsToday shares pickle juice health benefit studies that show mixed results, and posts that people with ulcers should not consume the stuff. Still, some believe pickle juice is good during and after workouts, to help with stomach pain, and for curing hangovers. If you can swallow or eat the green stuff, more power to you.

Soak strawberries to see tiny bugs

Those innocent-looking, juicy red strawberries on your counter could be hiding a secret, and there's a good — but gross — way to find out. There's been a slew of TikTok videos about soaking strawberries in salt water, and one shows what can happen when you use this method. Be warned that you will never, ever, not want to do this before eating fresh strawberries. A TikTok video shows a woman pouring salt and water into a container, and then she adds fresh strawberries. She pulls one out and you get a close-up view of teeny, tiny things crawling on the surface. They are almost camouflaged but are definitely alive. What the heck are they?

Try not to get too nauseated, because these little invaders won't hurt you and you have probably been eating them all your life. They are likely the larva of the spotted wing Drosophila. This fruit fly also likes other kinds of berries — like blueberries and raspberries – and lays its eggs inside of them. Don't vomit just yet since even though they look disgusting, they won't hurt you. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach assures us that while their appearance may make you lose your appetite, they are perfectly harmless.