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I'm Low-Key Obsessed With Flavor Boosters; Here Are The Ones I Cook With Most

Instant upgrade. Every time.

Hi, I'm Hannah, and here's a look at the most important drawer in my kitchen.

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

It's where I keep all of my spices, condiments, and seasonings, which, as you can see, are plentiful. That's because I'm a firm believer that a scoop of chili garlic sauce or mustard aioli can instantly upgrade whatever you're cooking.

A bowl of turkey meatball soup topped with red pepper flakes and Parmesan.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

I might have a bit of a problem, but I can't walk into a market without coming out with at least one new bottle of small-batch mustard, spicy harissa, or tomato jam. That being said, I've tried a lot of flavor-boosters. Here are my absolute favorites that I'd recommend to every home cook.

An aisle full of Asian-inspired condiments.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

1. Mike's Hot Honey

Ashleigh Dodson via Amazon / Via, Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

An oldie but a goodie, Mike's Hot Honey is the ideal mix of spicy and sweet. I use it most often on pizza (pepperoni + hot honey = heaven), but it also tastes amazing on roasted Brussels sprouts, ricotta toast, on grilled cheese, and everything in between. As weird as it might sound, I even use this honey in cocktails add a little kick (hello, spicy margaritas).

Get it from Amazon for $9.59.

Amazon / Via, Sandy P via Amazon / Via

I'm a big fan of Trader Joe's chili onion crunch. It's so flavorful and affordable and I highly recommend buying it. But if you don't live near a Trader Joe's, this Lao Gan Ma chili crisp hot sauce is similar and absolutely delicious. Put it on pasta, roasted vegetables, chicken, shrimp — you name it! If you like a little heat, this stuff makes everything taste better.

Get a family-size jar from Amazon for $14.20.

3. Maya Kaimal Butter Masala Simmer Sauce

A jar of Maya Kaimal butter masala simmer sauce with ginger, tomatoes, spices, and tomatoes on the side.
Amazon / Via

Whether you're making butter chicken or cauliflower, or you just want to spice up some rice or grains, this Indian-style curry simmer sauce is SO good. You can use it with any protein or veggies for a home cooked meal that honestly tastes like take-out.

Get it from Amazon for $10.21.

4. Soom Sesame Ground Tahini

Amazon / Via

You might associate tahini with hummus, but turns out there's so much more you can make with it. Soom's tahini is the nuttiest, creamiest version I've tried. I use it all the time in salad dressings, sesame noodles, or to drizzle on top of roasted veggies like sweet potato and cauliflower.

Get a pack of two from Amazon for $16.50

5. Kewpie Mayonnaise

Amazon / Via, Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

Let me start off by saying I'm not really a mayo person, but there's something about this Japanese mayonnaise that is so darn good. It's sweet but slightly tangy, light and zesty, and never clumpy. It has irrevocably changed my sandwiches, slaws, and tuna salad for the better, and I'll never go back to the regular stuff.

Get a pack of two from Amazon for $14.50.

6. Spiceology Togarashi Shichimi Blend

Amazon / Via, Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

I first tried togarashi shichimi in Kyoto and loved it so much I bought a jar without even knowing what it was. So be warned: this Japanese seven-spice seasoning blend is tough to go without once you've tasted it. It contains Sichuan peppercorns, sesame seeds, nori flakes, New Mexico chili powder, orange peel and more, and it gives a giant flavor punch to whatever you're cooking. A little of this goes a long way, and I love sprinkling it in soup, on seafood, or in stir-fry.

Get it from Amazon for $20.99.

7. Mina Harissa Hot Sauce

Amazon / Via

Harissa paste, a mixture of peppers and spices, is a common ingredient in North African cuisine. Mina takes harissa and mixes it with a spicy almost buffalo-esque sauce to create this seriously crave-worthy sauce. Try it on roast chicken or salmon over couscous.

Get it from Amazon for $9.40.

Amazon / Via, Rachael via Amazon / Via

If you like some heat, you're going to love this Calabrian chili pepper spread. This spicy condiment is a great addition to anything from roasted meats and fish to veggies. My favorite way to use it is mixing a spoonful into tomato sauce for pasta, pizza, or chicken Parmesan.

Get it from Amazon for $12.99.

9. Pommery Meaux Mustard

A jar of Pommery Meaux mustard.
Amazon / Via

There's Pommery Meaux mustard and then there's all other mustard. This stuff is the gold standard, IMO. Yes, it's a bit of a splurge for something you can usually find for cheap, but it's well worth it. It's whole-grain mustard so it has a great texture, and it tastes slightly tangy and a bit sweet. I use this not only as a sandwich spread but also in salad dressings, chicken or fish marinades, and more.

Get it from Amazon for $12.

10. Yuzu Mayonnaise

A bottle of yuzu mayonnaise.
Amazon / Via

You might think all mayonnaise is equal, but you haven't tried this citrus-infused spread. It's tangy and creamy and fresh and it should be in your refrigerator. Try using it on grilled cheese, in chicken salad, or just as a general sandwich spread and you'll never go back.

Get it from Amazon for $9.49.

Amazon / Via

Tabasco and Sriracha don't hold a candle to this Peruvian hot sauce. It's the perfect balance of heat and flavor. It isn't overpowering or so spicy that it masks the flavor of your food, but it has a great zing to it and a bit of sweetness.

Get it from Amazon for $10.99.

12. Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce

Someone pouring Secret Aardvark habanero hot sauce onto a burrito.
Amazon / Via

Another must-have for the hot sauce enthusiast, this Secret Aardvark stuff is the real deal. It's a mix of Caribbean and Tex-Mex flavors, made with spicy habanero peppers and sweet roasted tomatoes. While it falls on the more mild side of the heat spectrum, you can truly put it on anything savory for a flavor boost.

Get it from Amazon for $8.99.

13. Trader Joe's Mushroom & Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning

Two bottles of Trader Joe's mushroom and company multipurpose umami seasoning.
Amazon / Via

This magical combination of porcini and white button mushroom powder, dried onion powder, ground mustard seed, crushed red pepper, and thyme makes everything taste more savory and straight-up flavorful. Sprinkle this baby on mac 'n' cheese, steak, scrambled eggs, or even popcorn.

Get it at your local Trader Joe's or a pack of two from Amazon for $12.

14. Truff Hot Sauce

Amazon / Via, Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

I wrote all about Truff hot sauce when I first tried it, and I'm still a very loyal fan. You won't find my fridge without a bottle of this spicy stuff. Some truffle-infused hot sauces and olive oils taste processed and fake, but Truff hot sauce is seriously high-quality. I wouldn't dare eat scrambled eggs without a generous drizzle of it.

Get it from Amazon for $17.98.

15. Nori Fume Furikake Rice Seasoning

Amazon / Via, Austin via Amazon / Via

Plain rice isn't my favorite, but a few sprinkles of this umami-packed seasoning made of seaweed flakes and sesame seeds changes the game. It's also a must-try addition to any poke bowl.

Get it from Amazon for $6.03.

16. Bushwick Kitchen Weak Knees Gochujang Sriracha Hot Sauce

Avocado toast topped with a fried egg and Bushwick Kitchen's Weak Knees Goghujang Sriracha sauce.
Amazon / Via

When I first bought this sweet-meets-spicy hot sauce infused with Korean chili paste, I thought it would last me a long time. I was wrong. I go through a jar of this irresistible stuff maybe too quickly. I especially love it on breakfast foods like avocado toast and eggs.

Get it from Amazon for $10.99.

17. Haku Black Garlic Shoyu

A bottle of Haku black garlic shoyu sauce.
Amazon / Via

My bank account hates this stuff, but my stomach craves it. Imagine the salty flavor of soy sauce, but a million times better, with a deeper, garlic-infused flavor. I drizzle some of this stuff onto roasted vegetables and use it in marinades, and it always takes an average meal to the next level.

Get it from Amazon for $40.14.

What's your favorite underrated flavor booster? Share in the comments!

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