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    Chefs Are Sharing The One Secret Ingredient They Use To Improve Common Dishes, And I'm Taking Notes

    Never underestimate the power of these.

    If you cook often, you probably have an ingredient or two that you can't imagine living without. So redditor u/liberta0407 asked the chefs of Reddit, "What is your single favorite ingredient and why?" Here are some of the responses.

    1. "Lemon juice. It enhances flavor in almost anything. Vinegar is too dominant for me."

    Making salad dressing with fresh lemon juice.

    2. "Sumac."

    "Get yourself a huge bag for like $15 and thank me later. It's lemony, salty, sweet, smoky, and earthy. Sprinkle it on toast, curry, chicken, steak, tacos, deviled eggs, even ice works on just about anything."


    3. "Soy sauce. I will put it on anything...including fruit."

    Vegetable stir-fry over rice with soy sauce

    4. "Gochujang. If you're making a savory dish that could use a spicy or umami kick, Korean red chili paste is the answer."

    Spooning gochujang onto bibimbap

    5. "Kerrygold butter. It's silk on the tongue. So delicate and delicious, and so much better than any other butter I've tried."


    6. "Kaffir lime leaf. It’s an incredible addition to all kinds of soups, curries, and rice. It complements dishes that rely heavily on fragrant and aromatic flavors."

    Thai green curry with chicken, pepper, and kaffir lime

    7. "Cayenne powder. I throw a pinch in everything to give it a zing!"


    8. "Za'atar. It's a mix of sumac, ground sesame seeds, and other herbs."

    Labne with za'atar and pita bread.=

    9. "Toasted sesame seed oil. It adds a light nuttiness and saltiness to any dish."


    10. "Bay leaves. Like salt, you don't want them to be the dominant flavor in anything, but they make a night and day difference in stews and pasta sauces."

    Making chicken soup with thyme and vegetables

    11. "Worcestershire sauce. It adds such a nice umami kick."


    12. "Paprika makes everything taste better."

    Sautéing sausage and vegetables with paprika

    13. "Vinegar. It is often the ingredient that's missing when people add more salt and spices to their cooking, wondering why it doesn’t taste quite as good as the restaurant version."


    14. "Thyme. It pairs especially well with meat, tomatoes, and beans."

    Soup in a big pot with fresh herbs

    15. "Cardamom. It gives a warm, floral scent and flavor to whatever you bake and can be paired with so many things."

    "Treat yourself and add some cardamom and orange zest to your next batch of banana bread."


    "Thyme is great in cocktails, too. It pairs well with acid and sugar."


    16. "MSG. The ultimate flavor enhancer."


    17. "Black garlic. It makes everything taste a hundred times better. Crush it into a paste and make a compound butter."


    18. "Nutritional yeast. It makes everything taste more complex and a bit funky. I absolutely love it."

    Nutritional yeast on a salad of vegetables

    19. "Tajín seasoning adds a bit of lime and a little kick to your food. I put it on almost everything."


    20. "Garam masala. It's so good in many savory dishes."

    Garam masala on a bed of peas, kale, potatoes, and other vegetables

    21. "Vanilla extract. It is to sweet as salt is to savory."

    Baking with vanilla extract

    22. "White wine. Some chefs like to add a dash of lemon or lime juice to their foods, but I think white wine works better."


    23. "Chicken thighs. They're so much juicier, more tender, and more flavorful than chicken breasts. Not to mention, they're way cheaper, too."

    Chicken thighs in a creamy spinach sauce

    24. "Buttermilk. It's an underrated ingredient you can use in marinades and dressings as well as in baked goods like breads and cakes. It just adds that extra zip."


    25. "Garlic. I add at least three times more than whatever a recipe calls for."

    Someone peeling garlic on a cutting board

    26. "Nutmeg. It goes in the sweet stuff, in savory stuff, and even in some drinks."


    27. "Stock cubes. They add a lot of flavor, seasoning, and depth."

    Leeks, onions, a bouillon cube, and olive oil

    28. "Anchovies. They give so much more depth to many pasta dishes."

    A plate of bucatini with anchovies

    29. "Mushroom seasoning. It's versatile, salty, savory, and an umami bomb. I most often use it in Asian-inspired cooking in place of or in addition to salt."


    30. "Fried egg. There aren't many dishes that can't be improved with a fried egg on top."

    A piece of avocado toast topped with a fried egg

    31. "Fish sauce. It's the ultimate flavor bomb. It beats soy, miso, kombu, anchovies. It can transform almost any dish."


    What's your go-to secret ingredient that will make just about anything taste better? Share in the comments!

    Note: Some of these responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.