Juice: The Secret Cooking Ingredient You Didn’t Know You Needed (Plus 5 Recipes to Get You Started)
When it comes to incorporating liquids into your recipes, juice usually isn’t at the top of the list. Oils, broths, or water? Definitely. Wines, liquors, and other favorite spirits? Sure thing. But juice? If we’re being honest, it isn’t always on everyone’s radar.
We’re here to tell you that should change.
You see, juice is the secret cooking ingredient you didn’t know you needed, and it’s a flavorful way to spice up existing recipes (or find new ones altogether).
While juicing has become a worldwide phenomenon as a beverage or dieting choice, many fruit and vegetable juices that would be delicious additions to your favorite recipes have stayed in the fridge rather than your pan.
The Benefits of Cooking with Juice
Cooking with fresh juice, whether you squeeze it yourself or buy it bottled (we won’t judge) allows you to brighten a recipe without the added fat or calories. Whether you’re looking to sweeten a meal or add in a bright, refreshing acid (like a lemon), cooking with juice will help you get there.
Additionally, incorporating juice into your recipes will add extra nutrients (think vitamins B and C) to your meals. Those extra nutrients will make a big impact when you’re using them as a replacement for heavy fats or oils such as butter or margarine. Especially when you consider that many juices contain zero saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium or added sugar!
What’s the Difference Between Juice and Other Fruit or Vegetable-Based Liquids?
You may find yourself wondering, what’s the difference between juice and another fruit or vegetable-based liquid like a soup or puree?
The biggest difference comes down to texture and the process used to create juices vs. soups or purees. Juicing a fruit or vegetable requires two things: pulverizing the fruit/vegetable and then removing any solid substances left behind (the fruit/vegetable fibers).
This leaves behind the liquid we’re all familiar with. When pureeing fruits and vegetables, though, you leave the fibrous materials behind. This creates a substance that has a bit more viscosity but still maintains the consistency of a liquid. Another key difference? Many pureed fruits and vegetables are cooked first, while juicing typically begins with raw produce.
Tips for Cooking with Juice
If you’d like to incorporate more fresh-squeezed juice into your cooking routine, it’s important that you’re making and storing it properly. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting the juice (and the fruit) – which costs you both time and money.
The best way to keep fresh juice on hand is to juice your fruits in bulk and freeze it. You can freeze your juice in an ice cube tray for handy, small portions or freeze it in bulk for larger recipes.
Before you can store your juice, though, you have to make it. Juicing is an easy process that you can get started on in just a few steps.
- Step 1: Get ahold of a quality juicer (otherwise known as a juice extractor).
There are two styles of juicers on the market: centrifugal juicers and masticating juicers. Centrifugal juicers are the more basic of the two, but are ideal for fruits and vegetables while the masticating juicer is better for leafy greens, nuts, etc. The difference is in the juicing process. Centrifugal juicers feed produce through a spinning blade, while masticating juicers “chew” produce with multiple augers.
Need help finding a juicer? Check out this guide to get started.
- Step 2: Purchase your produce.
Before you can juice anything, you’ve got to have produce on hand. Get started by planning out your recipes (more on that later) and head to your favorite grocery store to stock up on fresh produce.
- Step 3: Prep your produce.
Before feeding your produce through your juicer, wash and cut or dice it so it fits in your juicer. Then, you can begin feeding it through the machine.
- Step 4: Rejuice and repeat!
Once you feed your produce through the machine, check to see if your pulp has any juice left (so you don’t waste valuable juice!) Once you’re satisfied, dish up your new drink and enjoy.
Staple Items You Can Create with Juice
Why just stick with juice? Once you’ve decided on which produce items you’d like to juice, you can transform them into versatile pantry staples that you can incorporate into virtually every recipe you can think of.
Here are a handful of staple items you can create using fresh juice:
- Sauces and Glazes
Acidic fruits like lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit make wonderful sauces and glazes. To create a sauce or glaze, add your juice to a pan over high heat until it thickens and becomes syrupy. You can then store the sauce in an airtight container or add vegetables or meat for an instant meal.
Similar to making sauce, you can create a delicious marinade using a variety of juices by combining it with either another oil or sauce (like olive oil, soy sauce, chili sauce, etc.) and your desired seasonings. Pro tip: orange juice makes a wonderful marinade.
Let it soak for a while so all the ingredients absorb the flavors before using it on your meat or fish!
Looking for a quick, easy, and healthy salad dressing? Toss together fresh lemon juice with vinegar and oil for a dressing that’s sure to please.
Combine fresh juice (specifically vegetable juice) with chicken or beef stock for a flavor-infused stock that’s perfect for soups and stews.
Our Favorite Produce for Juicing
There are no shortage of produce options when you’re trying to make fresh juice. With dozens (if not hundreds) of options, you may find yourself overwhelmed. Not to worry, though! We’ve curated a list of our favorite fruits and vegetables to get you started on your juicing journey.
- Apples: This antioxidant-packed fruit is a go-to favorite for juicing and cooking alike; apples help to lower cholesterol and boost your immune system
- Oranges: Another go-to favorite, orange juice is packed with Vitamin C, which helps with cell regeneration and boosts your immune system
- Lemons: Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, which makes lemons a fresh and common favorite fruit for juicing
- Lime: Similar to oranges and lemons, limes are packed with Vitamin C and can help your intestinal tract, too!
- Pineapples: Pineapples are anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial. They’re great for recipes you want to add a tropical flavor to and can even help dissolve blood clots
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
- Carrots: Packed with vitamins (and flavor), carrot juice can add a surprising sweetness to your recipes while also adding a fun pop of color
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes can add a pleasant acidity to your meals, and the high lycopene content has a ton of health benefits – tomatoes have even been shown to prevent cancer!
- Wheatgrass: Wheatgrass is a nutrient powerhouse and contains iron, calcium, magnesium, amino acids, chlorophyll, and vitamins A, C and E
- Spinach: The benefits of spinach juice are almost limitless, and provide numerous health benefits and nutrients like carotenes, amino acids, iron, iodine, potassium and magnesium, and Vitamins A, C, K, E and B complex
- Kale: Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense produce foods on the planet – just one cup includes Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Manganese, Calcium, Copper, Potassium, and Magnesium!
- Cucumbers: This high-water content veggie is a favorite for juicing, especially with its light and mild flavor
Our Favorite Juice Recipes
Okay, you’ve got your juice, your fresh produce, and you’re ready to whip up something delicious in the kitchen.
Check out some of our favorite juice recipes below!
5-Minute Green Goddess Dip (Source: Epicurious)
Check out this quick salad dressing recipe below, which incorporates your favorite green juice! We’d recommend spinach, but feel free to experiment.
Instructions: In a medium bowl, stir together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup green juice, 1 finely grated garlic clove, 1 tsp. anchovy paste or 2 finely chopped anchovy fillets, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Taste, adjust seasoning, and add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, if desired. Serve the dip with crudités or pita chips.
Orange-Sesame Noodles with Grilled Shrimp (Source: MyRecipes)
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 10 ounce soba noodles or spaghetti
- 1 cup snow peas
- 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.2. Boil noodles according to package directions. Before draining, add snow peas and carrot. Let cook 30 seconds.
3. Drain pasta, peas, and carrot, and toss immediately with orange juice mixture. Set aside.
4. Brush shrimp with sesame oil, and grill or saute 3 to 5 minutes.
Pro Tip: Your HexClad pan is perfect for cooking shrimp!
- Arrange pasta on serving plates, and top with shrimp.
20-Minute Creamy Lemon Garlic Chicken (Source: That Low Carb Life)
- 1 pound thin sliced chicken breasts
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon dill
- Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and heat until shimmering.
- Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until browned on each side and cooked through, about 8 minutes total. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
Pro Tip: Your HexClad pan is perfect for cooking chicken and vegetables!
- Add the chicken stock, to the pan and whisk to deglaze the pan. Add the lemon juice and garlic to the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Allow chicken stock to reduce by half, about 10 minutes.
- Whisk the butter and cream into the chicken stock until butter has melted and mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Return chicken to the skillet and sprinkle with fresh dill. Cook for 1 minute to rewarm the chicken.
- Serve immediately.
2-Step Peach, Ginger, and Carrot Juice (Source: Health Ambition)
- 1 sweet potato, cut into 4 pieces
- ½ inch piece of ginger root
- 3 large carrots, halved
- 3 peaches, pitted and halved
- Wash and prep your veggies and fruit.
- Feed the sweet potato, ginger root, carrots and then finally the peaches through your juicer and serve over ice.
Jerk Chicken with Homemade Marinade (Source: NYT Cooking)
- 2 3 1/2- to 4-pound chickens, quartered, or 8 whole legs, or 5 to 6 pounds bone-in, skin-on thighs
- 1 large bunch scallions (about 8), white and green parts
- 2 shallots, peeled and halved
- 4 to 6 Scotch bonnet chili peppers, stems removed, or habaneros
- 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
- 2 tablespoons ground allspice, more for sprinkling
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt, more for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
- Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
- At least 1 day before cooking, pat chicken dry with paper towels. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and grind to a coarse paste. Slather all over chicken, including under skin. Refrigerate 12 to 36 hours. Bring to room temperature before cooking and lightly sprinkle with more salt and ground allspice.
- Prepare a charcoal grill: Clean and oil grates, and preheat to medium heat using one chimney of charcoal. The temperature can start as high as 300 degrees and go as low as 250. For best results, coals should be at least 12 inches away from chicken. If necessary, push coals to one side of grill to create indirect heat. Add two large handfuls of soaked pimento (allspice) wood sticks and chips (see note) or other aromatic wood chips to coals, then close grill. When thick white smoke billows from grill, place chicken on grate, skin side up, and cover. Let cook undisturbed for 30 to 35 minutes.
Pro Tip: Don’t have a grill? No problem! You can still make jerk chicken in the oven or in your HexClad pan.
- Uncover grill. Chicken will be golden and mahogany in places. Chicken thighs may already be cooked through. For other cuts, turn chicken over and add more wood chips, and charcoal if needed. Cover and continue cooking, checking and turning every 10 minutes. Jerk chicken is done when skin is burnished brown and chicken juices are completely clear, with no pink near the bone. For large pieces, this can take up to an hour. Serve hot or warm, with rice and beans.
There you have it – a handful of recipes that incorporate fresh juice that you can use to get started on your juicing journey. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions, and best of luck!