People Are Sharing "Add-In" Ingredients That Make A World Of Difference In Their Cooking

People Are Sharing "Add-In" Ingredients That Make A World Of Difference In Their Cooking

We all have our "secret ingredients" or flavor boosters that seem to automatically enhance a dish. For example, the first time I tried combining soy sauce and butter and drizzling it on popcorn, I almost couldn't believe I hadn't been making it this way my whole life. So Redditor u/Iron_Undies asked, "What's an add-in that, to you, is a game changer?" Here's what people (including some members of the BuzzFeed Community) said.

1."Mustard is an emulsifier and has lots of good uses when it comes to cooking. I add mustard powder to béchamel/cheese sauce to keep it from breaking, and Dijon to any vinaigrette to keep them from separating."

Melty cheese being stirred in a pot with a wooden spoon. The cheese appears smooth and creamy, with some visible seasoning
Image Professionals Gmbh / Getty Images/Foodcollection

2."Fish sauce is a universal secret ingredient. It'll be that thing people who eat your food will think, 'There's something in here that's special, but I can't put my finger on what it is.' It's fish sauce..."


3."I add some curry powder to cream sauces/dishes. It's not enough to taste the curry; just a little. It always makes the sauce feel more complex or adds more body."

A bowl of lentil soup garnished with cilantro and a dollop of butter on top
Neha Gupta / Getty Images

4."Nutmeg is a great ingredient for cream sauces and some dishes, especially freshly grated, so it still has some 'zing' to it. Nutmeg, in general, is underrated, IMO, and we should re-embrace it."


5."Cooked white rice in meatloaf. Use rice instead of breadcrumbs. You'll get a juicier, fluffier meatloaf every time."


6."Anchovies in sauces or hearty soups. Chop them up small, and they will just melt in. I love it for pizza sauce. And I'm telling you, even people who hate anchovies don't notice they're in there."

A baked meatloaf, partially sliced, placed on foil inside a kitchen
Haha21 / Getty Images

7."I add MSG to soups, sauces, etc. It's best used when dissolved into something wet. If there's not something saucy, soupy, or oily there for the MSG to dissolve into, you'll be able to taste the MSG rather than just tasting its secret oomph."


8."When I make scrambled eggs, I like to mix in a dollop of cottage cheese before I start cooking. It really makes the eggs creamy and smooth."

A person is cooking scrambled eggs in a pan on a stove, using a wooden spatula to stir them
Nortonrsx / Getty Images/iStockphoto

9."Sumac as part of the dry rub on any smoked meats — it has a citrusy tang that balances the smoky/salty/umami flavors without incorporating any liquid that can disrupt the binder and other dry ingredients."


10."Tahini in chocolate chip cookies. My colleagues love my chocolate chip cookies, but I refuse to tell them my secret ingredient for the fun of it. I rotate the types of cookies I bake every week, but my chocolate chip tahini cookies disappear quickest."

A glass bowl filled with chocolate chip cookie dough, being stirred with a wooden spoon. Chocolate chips are scattered around the bowl
Bruce Peter Morin / Getty Images

11."Whenever I make cinnamon rolls, I always add cardamom. It adds a depth of flavor to the cinnamon and makes them taste slightly less sweet."


12."Herbs de Provence in hash browns. My recipe is shredded potato fried in an equal amount of butter, or more butter if you prefer, and a sprinkle of herbs de Provence at the end."

Two hash browns frying in a pan with hot oil
Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

13."Coffee in chocolate cake or brownies. I add just enough to amp up the chocolate flavor."


14."My go-to for any dish that feels like it needs something is a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This includes desserts, especially if I feel they taste too sweet. A little balsamic really cuts the sweetness and adds some depth."

Close-up of a Caprese salad with sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze
Getty Images

15."Keep your leftover jar of pickle juice. It can be used in many ways to add depth and awesome flavor. It's our secret weapon in potato salad."


16."Miso paste in pesto sauce! My favorite homemade pesto sauce uses miso and no Parmesan. You wouldn’t even know you’re missing it. It’s divine."

Close-up of a food processor with green pesto-like mixture and a metal blade
Juanmonino / Getty Images

17."Chipotle in adobo sauce takes tomato-based dishes to the next level for me."


18."I always add soy sauce when making a red pasta sauce. I can make it with various ingredients, start from scratch, or use jarred pasta sauce and simmer on the stove to heat it, but no matter what, I always add a dash of soy sauce. It elevates it so much."

Close-up of a skillet containing simmering tomato sauce with chunks of vegetables and herbs
Os Tartarouchos / Getty Images

19."Vanilla instant pudding mix (just the powder) in cookies! It makes them nice and soft, and they stay that way for days."


20."Whenever you make a savory quiche, spread a thin layer of mustard (any kind you like) on the bottom crust before pouring in the filling. Delicious."

A baked quiche with visible pieces of vegetables and bacon, set on a wooden cutting board
Jaker5000 / Getty Images

21."Gochujang is a great addition to any cheap pasta sauce in a jar."


22."Make your oatmeal with tea! I love a good Earl Grey oatmeal with honey or vanilla coffee creamer. It's just a nice take on something classic."

A bowl of oatmeal with a spoon in it, placed on a textured surface
Iuliia Mikhalitskaia / Getty Images

23."Angostura bitters. Just a dash adds a nice, subtle spice note to anything. Meat sauces, stews, and fruit desserts are particularly nice."


24.And finally, "Add a block of Boursin to any cream-based pasta sauces (like Alfredo) or mashed potatoes."

A close-up of creamy fettuccine alfredo being lifted from a pan with a pasta server
Candice Bell / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Do you have one to add? Use the comments below to tell me about your favorite "secret ingredient" add-in that you use to elevate a popular dish. Or, drop it into this anonymous form.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.