The Best Cooking Tips We've Learned From the Pioneer Woman

Ree rarely leads us astray!

Ree Drummond
Photo: NBC/Getty Images

From dishing about the essential Southern potluck recipes on our Biscuits & Jam podcast to filling us in about her three must-have kitchen tools to sharing her treasured potato chip-topped Funeral Potatoes casserole, we like to think we're basically BFFs with Ree Drummond.

OK, that might be a stretch, but we've been lucky enough to interview and showcase enough of her delicious Pioneer Woman dishes, it can feel like we've studied and savored it all.

But thanks to the complete archives of her Food Network show now available on Discovery +, we were able to dive into the hidden details of episodes old and new. Now running for more than a decade and 31 seasons strong, Drummond continues to teach us old fans new tricks.

5 of the Best Cooking Tips We've Learned From The Pioneer Woman

Read on to steal some of Drummond's most brilliant cooking hacks, go-to family meals and food waste-reducing ideas.

1. The best way to prepare cinnamon toast involves zero toasters

Drummond has ~feelings~ about cinnamon toast. In her blog post from April 2010, she explains: "If you wanted to make the worst cinnamon toast on earth, you would put a piece of bread in the toaster and remove it when it's…toasted. Then you would—gulp—spread softened butter on the warm toast…Then you'd sprinkle on the cinnamon/sugar. Terrible! No dimension at all! The butter hasn't had a chance to soak into the bread. No caramelizing. Nothin'."

Instead, Drummond swears by her sheet pan method. She's such an advocate for this process, in fact, she's not only walked us through it on her blog, but also on her TV show and via Instagram Stories.

Fans now call it, "My absolute favorite toast! Perfectly decadent and oh-so simple," and admit, "I've been making cinnamon toast for years, you know, toast the bread, spread the butter, sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. But THIS. This is on a whole new amazing wonderful level."

There are three hidden secrets that make her method the best, Drummond says:

  • Spread slices of untoasted bread with softened butter, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla.
  • Transfer the prepared bread to a sheet pan and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, then broil until bubbly.
  • Dust with more cinnamon sugar, if desired, then use a pizza cutter to smoothly slice each piece into diagonal halves.

2. An egg-in-a-hole is only the beginning

In other breakfast news, we have adored Drummond's classic five-minute Egg-in-a-Hole for years. Simple, single-skillet, and speedy, this has been a regular on family morning menus since she first posted the recipe on her blog in 2008.

Paired with a couple slices of bacon and a fruit salad, you thought breakfast couldn't get much better. That is, until Drummond upped the ante in 2018 with her Egg-in-a-Hole Sandwich that one fan calls, "the best-ever sandwich."

To recreate it, sizzle up two egg-in-a-holes, then stuff them with your favorite BLT (or other sandwich) fixings).

3. Your waffle maker is handy for so much more than waffles

Here at Southern Living, we've played around with Cinnamon Roll Waffles and Rainbow Waffles, and of course have our favorite Cornmeal Waffles. You'll notice a theme with those: They're all sweet.

So we were surprised and delighted to see Drummond bust out her waffle iron to press everything from hash browns and pizza to a reuben and a turkey-bacon sandwich.

4. Struggle to get your family to eat vegetables? Make salad out of their other favorite foods:

When we're sharing supper with picky eaters, our usual moves are to hide them in a casserole or douse them in sauce. Thanks to Drummond, we have a new weapon in our sneakily-healthy arsenal: comfort food-inspired salads—or comfort foods topped with salad!

Her Herbed Chicken Caesar Salad Pizza features all of the elements of an entree-style chicken Caesar salad atop a pizza crust. Buffalo Chicken Salad is basically everything you'd find in a pub's chicken wing basket (including blue cheese, celery and spicy, saucy chicken) over a bed of lettuce.

Quite possibly best of all, though, is Drummond's next-level Cheeseburger Salad. It features romaine lettuce, ketchup- and mustard-coated ground beef, cheddar cheese, pickles, and other fast-food sandwich fixings alongside adorable hamburger bun croutons.

5. Trim down on food waste by turning to three recipe concepts that are ideal for odds-and-ends

Throughout her 31 seasons, Drummond has focused a few episodes solely around the concept of meals made to clean out the fridge at the end of the week. This is a savvy strategy for many reasons:

  • It's a trek from Drummond's Pawhuska, Okla. ranch home to the nearest grocery store.
  • It cuts down on her family's food waste.
  • It's a budget-friendly move to make the most of your stock.

It takes just 10 minutes to blend up a batch of Fridge Gazpacho (that uses strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper. Produce Drawer Primavera can be tailored to the seasons; come spring, Drummond "shops from her produce drawer, adding bell peppers, squash and mushrooms along with asparagus and fresh oregano." And in a Fridge Raid Shakshuka that's ideal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Drummond tosses in some extra kale, a bounty of bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese.

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