All chefs have certain ingredients they can't live without, but they're typically those you know and use often like salt and pepper, bay leaves, eggs, and lemon, as Real Simple notes. If you'd like to pleasantly surprise your family or your guests at the table, you'll want to try some of these 5 Secret Ingredients That Can Transform Any Recipe.
What is it about those incredibly delicious dishes that the best home cooks and chefs prepare? It's that je ne sais quoi, something that isn't a magic trick but often a special "secret" ingredient that was discovered after experimenting that makes them not only tasty but interesting.
This post may contain affiliate links which means we receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
5 Secret Ingredients That Can Transform Any Recipe
Dried kombu is remarkably versatile. A fine kombu powder can be mixed with spices and used to flavor all sorts of dishes, while also serving as a natural thickener. It's great for thickening sauces while enhancing the flavor. A sweet powder or syrup can even be made with it to use in creative cocktails for something different that will make all those you serve it to ask you what your secret is.
Bacon jam is a sweet, smoky, savory spread that can turn almost any dish from average to impressive. It's a secret weapon everyone should have in their arsenal of staple ingredients.
Spread it onto a Monte Cristo sandwich for a unique twist on the fried ham and cheese delight. Or serve it on the side as a dip.
It makes a great burger topping, it's fabulous swirled into mac n' cheese or even used in a roasted Brussels sprouts dish. Some people like it so much they eat it on its own with a spoon.
That candy you loved as a kid can totally transform a dessert recipe or even some of your favorite snack foods. For example, this colorful seven-layer cake combines 24 packets of the candy with 7-up and 10 pounds of frosting for a decadent bombshell of a treat no one will ever forget.
Or decorate the rim of any cocktail that you'd normally use sugar for with Pop Rocks instead. Then there's Pop Rocks Popcorn that calls for melted white chocolate and a variety of Pop Rocks in the flavors of your choosing like tropical punch and bubblegum.
When cooking plant-based foods, you can create deep, intense flavors using mushroom powder, which is similar to the flavor you'd typically get from fish or meat.
The result is an amazing vegan or vegetarian dish, particularly for stews, sauces, or even tom yum soup.
You can make it yourself by blending shiitake or dried porcini into a powder, or simply purchase mushroom powder. Adding a bit of soy sauce and miso along with it is fantastic, even in Mediterranean-style fare.
Crushed potato chips are a great way to add a crunch to many different dishes.
They're commonly used crumbled on top of a tuna casserole, but you can mix them into mac 'n cheese, a chocolate chip cookie recipe for a sweet and salty flavor, or make some kid-friendly oven-baked chicken fries using a mix of crushed potato chips, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese.
The options are truly endless.