15 People Share Their Secret Ingredients That Put Their Cooking Above The Rest

Jordan Claes
Unsplash | Maarten van den Heuvel

Learning to cook is an incredibly rewarding life skill. It can be intimidating at first, but once you get a few simple dishes under your belt it almost becomes second nature.

It also helps if you happen to know a few tricks of the trade that elevate your food. Have a look as these 15 people share the secret ingredient that helps put their dishes above the rest.

Sautéed ginger is out of this world!

Unsplash | sentot setyasiswanto

"Sautéed ginger + green onions in meat, especially chicken! A dab (or more) of soy sauce at the end of cooking adds flavor and that wonderful browned color (also very good for other sautés too)." - Reddit u/kuxgames

"Fish sauce or Worcestershire." - Reddit u/friedchickendinner

Unsplash | Nico Smit

So I can't speak when it comes to using fish sauce in food, but boy oh boy am I a fan of Worchestershire sauce. You can use it in quite literally everything you cook and all it takes is just 1-3 shots.

Don't be afraid to incorporate some anchovy paste into your next meal.

Unsplash | IƱigo De la Maza

"Can’t believe I’m the first to say this, but anchovy paste. Just a wee bit gives you the same umami as soy sauce without thinning or tons of sodium." - Reddit u/tkay64

"Shallots. Shallots are what make restaurant food taste like restaurant food." - Reddit u/ level 1 jnewhart

Giphy | Heather - PamLloyd PR

A shallot looks just like a small onion, only packed with twice as much flavor and taste. While amateurs dice onions, a true chef will always reach for a shallot in the kitchen.

Add soy sauce for a little extra kick.

Unsplash | GoodEats YQR

"Soy sauce! Add it to everything! Making spaghetti sauce? Add soy sauce. Making a chili con carne? Add soy sauce. I’ve even put it in mushroom risotto and I just love it!" - Reddit u/BujoBujoBujo

"Butter makes pretty much everything better." - Reddit u/mtn_forester

Giphy | Kerrygold USA

I have yet to encounter a dish wherein an extra drizzle of melted butter didn't add to the overall taste experience. A little can go a very long way into elevating your dish.

Chicken fat.

Unsplash | James Wainscoat

"Store the fat and some skin in a Mason jar and make stock with the bones. When you have enough fat render it down to an oil and use it to infuse some good chicken flavor to a dish." - Reddit u/uttabonk

"I just discovered using mayo instead of butter for grilled cheese and I'm obsessed." - Reddit u/krex10_


It might sound weird but don't knock it until you've tried it. Using mayo on the outside of the bread instead of butter will give a much more desirable and delicious crunch.

Don't underestimate the power of cinnamon.

Unsplash | Diana Polekhina

"I also add cinnamon to meaty dishes, like stews. Just a dash, not enough for things to taste like cinnamon. Maybe also some nutmeg. It adds an amazing depth of flavor and people are surprised when they hear what did it." - Reddit u/Leavesofsilver

Just a spoonful of sugar.


The next time you find yourself making a homemade pot of marinara sauce, try adding just a teaspoon of white granulated sugar to the mix. It really helps to accentuate and bring out the flavors.

Turn up the heat with just a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Unsplash | Elle Hughes

"A pinch of cayenne pepper steps up about any savory cream based[sic] dish. Scalloped potatoes, fettuccine, etc. It just gives it a new depth of flavor." - Reddit u/codelycat

"I always put chocolate in my chili. It makes such a huge difference." - Reddit u/Cassieisnotclever- Reddit u/


I like to consider myself a chili connoisseur and I'm proud to say that I myself have a recipe that's been known to knock people's socks off. I am 100% going to try this the next time I whip up a pot.

Rice vinegar.

Unsplash | Louis Hansel

"Pretty much anything requiring soy sauce means I'm putting in some vinegar, whether it's called for or not. People who cook a lot know the value of acids, but I've wowed some people by showing how it takes fried rice to the next level." - Reddit u/Soulaire

"Maple syrup to almost anything." - Reddit u/Beansneachd


I'm from Southwestern Ontario so of course, I'm biased, but yes to this all the way. The next time you plan to throw some chicken on the BBQ, try adding maple syrup to your glaze.

Mayo will take your garlic bread to a whole new world.

Unsplash | Waldemar Brandt

"When I want to make really good garlic bread, I mix a bit of mayo in with the butter. You can do this with grilled cheese to[sic]. It helps it not brown as fast I've heard, plus adds flavor." - Reddit u/StephRN77

h/t: Reddit