If you’re not-so-savvy in the kitchen or just feeling too tired to cook something complicated, you’ll love that these ingredients can be added to just about any dish for a flavor boost.
When asked which ingredient they put on absolutely everything, the internet weighed in with must-have spices, seasonings, and foods that your pantry should never be without.
Here’s what they said:
Is there such a thing as too much garlic? This individual didn’t think so, writing, “Recipe says ‘Add 1-2 cloves…’ Well, that can’t be right. I won’t even be able to taste it. Let’s start with five cloves and see if we need more.”
Another offered some cooking advice, saying, “The real tip is to add garlic near the end of cooking if you want to taste it more in the meal.”
2. Old Bay
The popular seasoning proved to be a favorite of Marylanders who voiced their support in rapid fire, but the love for Old Bay didn’t end there. Said one parent, “My kids won’t eat mac and cheese without a heavy sprinkle of Old Bay.”
Added another commenter, “That’s my secret ingredient when I make guacamole. Have gotten many compliments.”
3. Chili Crisp
Described one commenter of the Asian condiment, “It’s peppers, fried garlic and shallots, peanuts, and some bonus spices all fried in oil and used as a condiment. Or, in my case, things like ramen, stir fry, etc. are used as a condiment for chili crisp.”
Lao Gan Ma is decidedly the internet’s favorite chili crisp brand, with one person declaring, “My favorite part about eating white rice at home is shoveling Lao Gan Ma on it. It’s spicy, savory, salty, crunchy, and a little funky.”
4. Black Peppercorn
“Black peppercorn, freshly ground, is probably my most universal ingredient for savory cooked foods,” said one home chef.
Offering an alternative to freshly ground black pepper, another begged, “Please invest a few bucks in a mortar and pestle. You’ll understand as soon as you realize how even more wonderful peppercorns can be when they’re ground as fine as baby powder. The floral-like aroma is intoxicating, and no more discovering chunks of pepper stuck between your teeth later on, either.”
5. Hot Sauce
“I have like 15 hot sauces for different occasions. I can’t imagine anything but sriracha for fish tacos, Louisiana hot sauce for red beans and rice, gochujang for lettuce wraps, and Cholula for breakfast tacos.”
“Gochujang is becoming a staple in my kitchen. It’s so rich without being heavy,” agreed another hot sauce enthusiast.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there on monosodium glutamate (MSG). “I was always afraid to use MSG until I further educated myself on it. Now I always put a sprinkle on all meat dishes I make, and it’s a game changer,” wrote one MSG-lover who didn’t realize that the seasoning isn’t harmful.
Responding to their comment, another wrote, “A sprinkle? Those are rookie numbers, you gotta bump those numbers up. If you aren’t going through a bottle every week, you’re not using enough.”
7. Sesame Chili Oil
This responder put it best, “This could have really done wonders on some dorm food.”
Sesame chili oil is full of flavor and easily added to just about any dish. One user went so far as to claim that “the West is missing out on its goldmine of flavor.”
“Seems obvious, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of home cooks who just don’t use enough (or any) salt in their foods.
“We take it for granted, but it’s the single most amazing addition to almost any dish. Adding a little salt to sweet dishes makes the flavor pop. I’ve put salt in my coffee for years, and now if I get a coffee without salt, it just tastes flat. Use more salt, people!”
“Adobo is a type of all-purpose seasoning that typically includes salt, granulated garlic, black pepper, oregano, and turmeric. There are variations of and varieties that have cumin added or other seasonings as well,” described an individual of the Mexican spice blend.
While everyone seemed to agree that adobo is amazing on several different dishes, one user emphasized that “Adobo on sunny side up eggs or any savory breakfast is amazing!”
Find more Mexican flavors: Wanderlust Cooking: Let’s Go to Mexico!
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Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.