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"I Discovered It After I Inherited My Grandmother's Handwritten Recipe Book": People Are Sharing Their "I'll Never Tell" Cooking Secret Weapons

"I always assumed it was an old family recipe passed down from my grandmother. When I discovered the truth, I was floored."

Chances are you have a family recipe or favorite recipe that holds a special place in your heart. But what happens when you realize that dish contains a secret you never suspected? People from the BuzzFeed Community and the r/Cooking subreddit are sharing the surprising cooking secrets they've learned to be true, which have since rocked their culinary worlds.

1. "My grandma always showed up to holidays with her special cheese dip and told us it was a special family recipe. Two years ago, my mom finally gave me the recipe. I found out it’s just Rotel dip."

Cheese dip with tortilla chips.

2. "I worked in a high-end restaurant that was well-known for its cheesecake. It was just cream cheese and marshmallow fluff blended together, then placed in store-bought graham cracker crusts."


3. "The spinach dip recipe on the Knorr vegetable soup mix packet is my secret weapon. People always ask for the recipe whenever I make it. They look shocked when I tell them to go to the grocery store and buy the soup mix to discover the recipe."

Spinach dip

4. "My grandmother is from Italy, and people always assume she must make delicious, authentic Italian food. Turns out our 'family sauce recipe' is super basic and not unique at all. Anyone could make it. What makes it good is practice and just letting it simmer all day."

Homemade red spaghetti sauce in a pot.

5. "I begged my grandma for her brownie recipe, and she finally gave in. It's Betty Crocker super fudge, but she mixes in the fudge packet instead of putting it on top. All these years, and I'm just realizing my favorite treat came from a box."

A bowl of chocolate brownie ingredients being stirred.

6. "My secret fudge recipe that's been under lock and key for decades is literally just melting chocolate chips and dumping condensed sweetened milk in. Everyone in my family thinks I'm this pro fudge maker."

Mixing chocolate batter.

7. "For decades, I thought my grandmother's pumpkin pie was homemade and the best I'd ever had. Nope, just the recipe from the back of the Libby's canned pumpkin!"

A slice of pumpkin pie.

8. "My wife came back from Norway and told me about how she fell in love with a magic spice that made everything taste amazing. We searched for it everywhere. It's MSG. A sprinkling of MSG powder can really elevate a dish. People can be so afraid of it because they've been fed misinformation about its health effects. So, unless a guest specifically mentions an allergy, I'll keep adding MSG to my food without telling anyone."

MSG seasoning powder.

9. "Everyone thinks I make the best of the best chocolate chip cookies. I just follow the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse chocolate chip bag to the letter."

Homemade chocolate chip cookies on a wire rack.

10. "I begged my grandmother for her banana pudding recipe, and now people beg me to make it. It's the recipe from the back of the Nilla wafer box."

Banana pudding

11. "My boyfriend is always amazed at how my scrambled eggs taste so good. He’s convinced I have magical scrambling powers. I finally realized he doesn’t know I use a lot of butter, and I feel like I can’t reveal it now."

Pieces of butter melting in a hot pan.

12. "My snickerdoodle recipe is a family favorite. Everyone loves them. In reality, they are chunks of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough, rolled in cinnamon and sugar. It's stupid easy, but I will never tell."

Snickerdoodle cookies.

13. "We had a recipe for oyster dressing that was like family lore when I was a kid. My first Thanksgiving away from the family I called my aunt for the recipe with pen and paper in hand. Her secret: 'Take a box of stuffing and throw in a can of oysters.' It weirdly never tasted as good after that conversation."

A close-up of stuffing.

14. "My mom made the BEST banana bread when I was growing up, and later told me she was using the recipe on the back of the Gold Medal Flour. It comes out delicious every time!"

A knife cutting into a loaf of banana bread.

15. "On the back of the Crisco vegetable shortening label, there's a recipe for oatmeal cranberry cookies. Even people who claim to hate oatmeal cookies always tell me that my 'homemade' version is the only one that they'll eat."

A pair of oatmeal cranberry cookies.

16. "My grandma’s 'secret' fudge recipe is the one on the back of the marshmallow fluff jar."

A hand holding a piece of fudge.

17. "I inherited my grandmother's cookbooks when she died, which are all handwritten recipes. That's when I learned that her famous baked beans start with, well... a can of baked beans."

Baked beans and toast.

18. "I received my grandmother's recipe box, and I was so excited. Then I realized it was almost exclusively the clippings from the back label of quick-cook foods."

A file of different handwritten recipes.

19. "I have a friend who is a baker. Turns out she just adds sour cream to boxed cake mix."

Sprinkle cake mix.

20. "My 'secret recipe' for green bean casserole is literally the recipe from the back of the French's fried onion box, with bacon and grilled onions added. It’s a hit every year."

Green bean casserole with fried onions.

21. "My beloved chocolate cake is from the recipe on the back of the Hershey's cocoa mix box. People love it every single time I make it!"

Homemade layered chocolate cake.

22. "I knew this old lady who was famous for her biscuits. One day, a restaurant asked her to make their biscuits, and as a result, they started doing very well (always selling out of biscuits). Everyone knew her biscuits had Bisquick in them, but no one knew her exact recipe. Turns out, she had been using the recipe on the back of the box!"

Cutting circles out of dough.

23. "My mom makes the most amazing chocolate chip cookies. I finally asked her where her recipe came from, assuming it was passed down by my grandmother or something. She tells me it's the Toll House recipe. I. WAS. FLOORED."

Chocolate chip cookie batter.

24. "After my grandmother passed, there was some fight back and forth over her pecan pie recipe. Turns out it was on the back of the Karo syrup bottle the whole time."

A close-up of pecan pie.

25. "If I cook anything that requires breadcrumbs, I use chicken flavored Stove Top stuffing in their place. I also use them as mini croutons in my salads."

Preparing meatballs.

26. "Whenever I'm making a cheese sauce, I add a piece of processed cheese like Kraft singles. It basically turns it into Velveeta. It’s revolutionized my homemade mac 'n' cheese game."

Steaming hot macaroni and cheese close up.

So, what's a surprising cooking secret or recipe hack that has made you say, "Woa, I didn't expect that." Tell us in the comments below!