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Social media is chock-full of clever cooking hacks that promise to take your meals from good to great. For instance, you can add a robust coffee rub to your steak for out-of-this-world flavor or make a rich meatless spaghetti sauce in a cinch with bouillon cubes.

There’s a seemingly endless supply of these simple pointers to wow your dinner guests. The latest brilliant tip that’s been making the rounds on TikTok and Instagram has blown us away: By adding a sprinkle of an overlooked pantry staple, you can make your ground beef juicier and more flavorful than ever.

Generally speaking, preparing ground beef is not a particularly challenging task. There is, however, a common issue that can rob ground beef of its flavor and tenderness while cooking.

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When ground beef cooks, it often expels a large amount of liquid. The resulting large pool of liquid can make it harder for the heat to reach the meat, making caramelization and browning difficult.

It’s possible to work around this by cooking in smaller batches to avoid generating a large amount of moisture, but that doesn’t necessarily solve the issue of the meat losing its delicious flavor.

But there’s one ingredient that has the power to solve your ground beef dilemma. Best of all, this method is scientifically backed by America’s Test Kitchen. If you want to get the best flavor and texture from your ground beef, add a bit of baking soda.

To put it into scientific terms, baking soda raises the pH of the meat’s surface, which serves to prevent proteins from bonding excessively, allowing the meat to hold on to its tenderness.

But how do you add it to your beef? The amount of meat you’re cooking will dictate how much baking soda to mix in. A good rule of thumb is to use about 1/4 teaspoon per pound of ground beef.

By following this method, you can help your ground beef to cook more efficiently and brown more effectively without fretting about any pesky pools of water. Once you try it, you’ll never go back to bland, underdone meat.

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