10 Ingredients That Add Tons of Flavor to Your Cooking


My Buffalo-fried chicken with Buffalo gravy

I believe in concentrated flavor so it's not unusual for me to cut up my aromatic veggies into tiny bits to get lots of flavor in each bite or do a reduction on the stove using things like balsamic vinegar, lemon and garlic. 

Here's my 10 favorite things to always have on hand!


I use these often enough that I dice them up, put them on a cookie tray and freeze. Once frozen, I store in a jar in the freezer. This makes them easier to remove when they are individually frozen first. Jalepeno gets added to many foods from omelets and chili to cream cheese for bagels. That bit of heat enhances all the other flavors going on. I'm never shy with it. In fact, I make a burger relish with onion, jalepeno, diced bacon, and diced pepperoni. 

everything bagel seasoning

This seasoning is just amazing. There is nothing it doesn't go with as it has an onion base to it and the additional spices make it a counter shaker. I keep it on the counter and shake it into everything and even top my garlic bread with it. 

hot italian sausage

I am never without hot Italian sausage in the freezer. This is crumbled and pan fried to add to spaghetti sauce, mixed into meatballs. That delicious heat makes it a better meat than hamburger in most dishes. What it does for homemade soup is off the charts!

roasted red peppers 

These are a fantastic add to so many things. I work them into sauces, homemade sandwich spreads (upcoming post about my sandwich spreads coming soon!). I like to work it into anything you utilize bell peppers for because they are sweeter and smoky, less raw, and no belching. 

crushed red pepper flakes

Heat! Sprinkled on pizza, worked into spaghetti sauce, dashed onto condiments on sandwiches, kneaded into meatballs. Whatever you're doing, the heat of red pepper flakes amps up the flavors. 

balsamic vinegar

You can't go wrong with balsamic vinegar. When it is reduced with some garlic and lemon, it can drizzled onto anything. It's a fantastic salad dressing component. It's like worstershire sauce replacement. 

grainy mustard

I used to keep grainy mustard around because I love to make a ploughman's platter with meats, cheeses, nuts, grapes, bread.... I found over time that it can be utilized for a punch to anything from egg salad to chicken salad, mixed with mayo on sandwiches, placed on a cracker with a slice of salami.... It has this very vinegary taste and pop when you bite the seeds. Oh yum!


Once again, horseradish is a heat factor. A super taste that is universally adored. It's not just for when you're having a steak and potato. A bit of this in any sauces or dressings adds a component that makes it superior.

fresh herbs

There is a brightness to fresh herbs that makes everything taste so gourmet-produced. I like to grow cilantro, parsley, rosemary, dill, chives, basil, oregano, and thyme. Ideally, a bit of diced fresh herbs atop a completed dish adds flavor and finishing that makes it complete.


A bit of acidity goes a long way in dishes. There isn't much you make that couldn't use some lime. There are a lot of lemon lovers out there and lemon has its place, but if I have only one citrus around to cook with, lime has a lingering tang that can't be beat. When they are in season in the winter, I like to buy a bunch, juice them and freeze the juice for later use. 

Some of my other standbys are sun-dried tomatoes, buffalo sauce, and ginger root. 

Happy flavorful cooking!


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