You can secure the right cookbooks, find the very best recipe and arm yourself with the best kitchen gadgetry around but if you don’t have the right ingredients, that dog just won’t hunt. Just ask the Chowhound faithful who take to the message boards to discuss their favorite pantry ingredients.
Maybe you thought your pantry was fully stocked but you might want to think again. From lemongrass stir-in paste to coffee flour and this cult-favorite chili sauce, these are the top 25 most-discussed pantry items on Chowhound.
For more, check out our full list of 100 Most-Discussed Cookware, Cookbooks & Kitchen Products ever.
Vanilla consistently proves to be one of my personal favorite flavors in sweet applications, and it seems to be the case for our readers as well. These fancy Tahitian beans come whole (dried) and vacuum-sealed for freshness.Buy Now
For a fast hit of umami and mysterious black hue, squid ink is a really fun ingredient to have lingering around your pantry, especially during Halloween. But it’s definitely not something you’ll want to harvest yourself. Luckily, this Spanish squid ink can add depth of flavor to a sauce, risotto or soup, is reasonably priced, and has a long shelf life.Buy Now
If you didn’t think mayo could get any better, check out this organic spread from the fancy condiment kids, Sir Kensington’s. This mayo is made with 100 percent USDA certified organic sunflower oil, free-range eggs, organic lemon juice, and a pinch of black pepper.Buy Now
Related Reading: This Vegan Mayonnaise Is Even Better Than the Real Thing
California’s Huy Fong Foods might be most famous for Sriracha, but for my money, the chili garlic sauce is where it’s at, and it seems readers agree with the sentiment. A teaspoon of this doesn’t just add heat—although there is plenty—but also a healthy punch of sweet garlic, too.Buy Now
Bourbon and maple are two O.G. American-made products that take time to produce but are very much worth the wait. They also happen to be awfully complementary to one another, as in this 100 percent pure organic Vermont maple is aged in bourbon barrels, adding a touch of whiskey spice. Drop a splash in your coffee or a more traditional pancake breakfast and thank us later.Buy Now
While this might sound like something Hunter S. Thompson might have sprinkled under his tongue in the sixties, it’s actually a medium heat chili lime seasoning that would make any chicken breast or skirt steak pop. You can only get it on this online retailer which carries a slew of interesting small food brands.Buy Now
This quality whole-wheat couscous is made from durum semolina and cooks up to a perfect al dente to host your favorite Mediterranean flavors or on its own as a hearty side dish.Buy Now
Cultured butter is a European style made form fresh cream but with added live bacterial cultures which eventually results in a deeper, richer, nuttier butter that you can use for cooking but is especially good just spread onto a slice of good sourdough.Buy Now
Related Reading: What Is the Difference Between Butter and Ghee?
We’ve written plenty about paella before, and one of the key elements to a good one—if you ask most Spanish chefs worth his or her weight in chorizo—is the rice. Bomba rice is the rice to use as it both holds plenty of delicious and flavorful broth like a sponge but is also able to caramelize, creating that oh-so-tasty soccorat on the bottom of the pan.Buy Now
It may not be prime crawfish boil season but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep some shrimp crawfish and crab boil seasoning on hand for whenever the moment strikes.Buy Now
A little birdy told me that Italian olive oil imported from Greece and Italy is not as well-regulated as California. This could explain why our readers are into this California blended EVOO which you can snag for less than $10 for 17 ounces at Target.Buy Now
Now, this may not be a pantry ingredient in the truest sense of the word but you’ll be glad to have a few bags of these around for quick snacks with exactly no bad stuff added. Just dried fruit rinds and skins (where a lot of the nutrients are), and adds a nice sweet pop to summer salads.Buy Now
Are you a lemongrass addict? Don’t worry this is a safe space. It’s one of my favorite flavors and having a little stir-in paste blended with oils and lemon juice is the easiest, breeziest way to add this delicate flavor to soups, stir-fries, or sandwiches.Buy Now
Boring old tomato BBQ sauce is so last year. This peppery Alabama spin on the classic Southern condiment has been making a splash. Read more about Alabama white sauce here or snag a bottle from Sur La Table below.Buy Now
I still remember being coerced into eating tofu as a child by my mom’s vegan friend so it does come as a bit of a shock to know there is a tofu substitute. So meta, you guys. Hemp tofu strikes similar tofu chords with regard to texture and taste to the original stuff but is completely safe for a soy-free diet.Buy Now
If you’re on a high protein, low-fat diet egg whites are one of the better foods to incorporate as much as possible for easy breakfast and mid-day snacks. These organic valley egg whites are pasteurized and ready to hit the pan. (No cracking required).Buy Now
Related Reading: Why Do We Call Deviled Eggs ‘Deviled’?
The uses are endless for ACV and include salad dressings, marinades, sauces and more. This time of year, consider making fire cider to ward off colds and keep your immune system chugging. This stuff is a superfood and it’s no wonder there’s interest in it year after year.Buy Now
Where my umami-heads at? This miso rub gets right down to business perfect for fish of all sorts, but especially a rich oily salmon filet and fresh lemon to cut it all. Perfection.Buy Now
Related Reading: The Best Coffee Subscriptions for Every Type of Coffee Drinker
Vanilla extract is one of those things it’s just wise to spend a little extra money on. The good stuff can make a dish great while the cheap stuff just falls flat. Nielsen-Massey is the decidedly good stuff and, in addition to their classic vanilla, have this Madagascar Bourbon extract to play with.Buy Now
A full flavor salt harvested from the coastal town of Maldon, England this is a perfect finishing salt for just about anything, really. Its rich richness melts into food in a way other salts don’t and you’d be wise to have a box on hand at all times.Buy Now
Nothing worse than getting all set up to knock out your famous Sunday marinara and realizing you don’t have crushed tomatoes. Pomi shelf-stable boxed and bottled tomatoes are a favorite to have on hand in those moments and you’d be wise to stock up while you’re thinking of it.Buy Now
Anchovies make for an easy weeknight meal chopped and tossed with pasta garlic, and good olive or on top of the flatbread with shaved parmesan. A good jar of Ortiz Anchovies or “Anchoas” in oil will be your new go-to pantry favorite.Buy Now
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