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    22 Sauces And Spices That’ll Transform Bland Home-Cooked Meals Into Flavor-Packed Showstoppers

    A delicious black garlic umami sauce, spice blends from around the globe, a variety of flavorful hot sauces, and other things to level up your cooking.

    1. An authentic Japanese barbecue sauce that's good on basically everything! It's made from delicious, clean ingredients, without any additives, preservatives, or flavoring, and is inspired by the sauce the founder's grandmother used to make!

    A hand squeezing the sauce into a dipping cup next to a bowl of chicken
    the sauce in its container

    I love this sauce! It's the perfect mix of savory, sweet, and spicy, and I've found that it works beautifully whether you're cooking with it or just using it as a last-minute topping or dipping sauce.

    Bachan's is an Asian and Japanese-owned small business founded by Justin Gill, who dreamed of turning his family's sauce into a business ever since he was a kid. Resisting advice to cut costs and water down this prized sauce that earned rave reviews from everyone who tried it, Gill prioritized maintaining its integrity and only using clean ingredients. Their sauce is proudly cold-filled, vegan, small-batch, non-GMO, BPA-free, and preservative-free, while remaining true to the recipe his family used to make over the holidays, inspired by their grandmother Judy Yokoyama.

    Get it from Bachan's for $13.99 or get a two-pack from Amazon for $23.98.

    2. An African and Middle Eastern spice set — it contains nine high-quality spices and spice blends along with a helpful recipe guide to get you started, making it a great gift for the home cook in your life who wants to expand the flavor profile in their dishes.

    the spices in their packaging
    Spice Kitchen UK

    You will receive 20 grams of each spice.

    Spice Kitchen UK is a small, family-owned business that offers freshly ground spices. Founder Sanjay Aggarwal's mother, who grew up in Kenya and India,  spent her life lovingly cooking with spices (and gifting blends to family and friends who raved about them). So when she mentioned to Sanjay that wanted to take on a project to keep her busy during her retirement, Sanjay suggested selling spice tins, and the project took off beyond their wildest dreams!

    Promising review: "These spices are absolutely amazing! They arrived quickly, and from the moment I opened the box I could smell how fragrant they were! I used them promptly for some Moroccan dishes and was thrilled with the outcome. I will definitely be back!" —Emma W

    Get it from Spice Kitchen UK on Etsy for $19.17 (and check out more spice varieties here).

    3. Mike's Hot Honey if you wanna add a pleasantly warming kick to any hot beverage, cocktail, meal, dessert, or snack! This honey is infused with chili peppers for a sweet and spicy combo that's not overwhelmingly hot, but adds a complex flavor reviewers can't get enough of. Reviewers say it's also super soothing for sore throats and colds.

    Hand drizzling Mike's Hot Honey on a pepperoni pizza

    Check it out on TikTok here!

    Promising review: "This is now a staple for my kitchen. How I cooked without it before, I'll never know. Makes the best vinaigrette ever, quick pan sauces for pork, unexpected zip in dozens of dishes. Does it come in gallons? Have given it as hostess gifts several times and everyone gets hooked." —Martha Ronemus

    Get it from Amazon for $13.49 (available in two spice levels and in multiple packs).

    Read one BuzzFeeder's full review of Mike's Hot Honey.

    4. Or Zab's Hot Honey, which uses spicy (and delicious) datil peppers grown and hand-picked exclusively in St. Augustine, Florida to add a uniquely flavored zing to pretty much any dish you can think of. Drizzle it over pizza, into sauces and marinades, onto cheese boards, and pretty much anywhere else you can think of for a slow-burning kick that doesn't taste quite like any other hot honey I've ever tried.

    the hot sauce

    Zab’s was created to share the Datil Pepper’s one-of-a-kind history and heat. They make Datil Pepper hot sauces that pay tribute to the pepper’s naturally perfect balance of sweet heat and signature slow burn.

    Get it from Zab's for $18.

    5. Some Maldon sea salt flakes so you can be your own salt bae and give your dishes a luxurious finishing touch.

    the packaging
    A model sprinkling the salt flakes over figs

    Promising review: "Most casual cooks are completely unaware that there are so many different types of salts that are used for so many different functions in the kitchen and in the course of cooking. I classify Malden salt as a 'finishing salt' in my kitchen. I don't use it to salt pasta water or preseason proteins but rather use it at the very end to finish items, and it makes an enormous difference in what you put on the table and put into your mouth! They are glistening shards that look like glass that crumble easily between your fingers, so that when you put it on top of your finished fish or chicken or steak or a top your vegetables, as it starts to melt, your dish absolutely GLISTENS and has a flavor unlike anything else — unlike what any other salt will impart to the dish that you serve to yourself or to your guests! I simply cannot imagine completing a dish without my box of Maldon salt!" —Lee

    Get it from Amazon for $6.99.

    6. A jar of Za'atar you will always wanna have on hand in the kitchen. This delicious Middle Eastern spice blend is made with wild thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, salt, and sunflower oil, and it's great on hummus, meats, bread, olive oil, nuts, pizza, and more.

    Reviewer photo of the jar, which is about the size of their hand
    Photo of grilled cheese with za'atar

    Promising review: "This za'atar is the best quality I have found. I've also found that the balance of sumac and thyme to be just right. This instantly spices up my boring meal prep food and I put it on my chicken, meats, salads, yogurt, or just in olive oil — basically it makes everything taste so much better. I highly recommend it!" —TC

    Get it from Amazon for $10.99+ (available in two sizes).

    7. Black Garlic Umami Sauce to add a super savory, deep garlic flavor to just about any dish you can think of.

    The black garlic umami sauce in its bottle

    As a garlic enthusiast, this sauce makes me very very happy. It adds a rich flavor to whatever you pour it on, but manages to do so subtly, without overwhelming the dish. It's great on its own, but blend it with other sauces to unlock it's true power, and thank me later!

    Promising review: "This is the closest thing we've found to that black garlic sauce they include with the fancy ramen bowls, and the house loves it! Use it on all kinds of cooking, but especially ramen and marinades!" —KCB530

    Get it from Amazon for $10.82.

    8. Some amazing hot sauces from Hot N Saucy — they mix flavors like garlic, beet, and sweet potato with just the right amount of heat to make you feel like you've entered hot sauce heaven.

    garlic n peperoncini, beet n fresno, and sweet potato n habanero hot sauces
    Hot N Saucy

    This Black woman-owned business is based in NYC!

    Get the hot sauce flavor pack from Hot N Saucy for $30 and check out all of their products and individual sauces at Hot N Saucy.

    9. A bottle of “Sizzle” extra virgin olive oil that, unlike most other EVOOs, is actually made for *cooking* thanks to its use of mid-harvest olives that give it a more mellow flavor perfect for drizzling *and* sizzling! Plus, it comes in an easy-to-use squeeze tube that'll make you wonder why all olive oil doesn't come like this.

    The olive oil in its squeezable container

    Promising review: "Delicious olive oil (still yummy enough to bake with, dunk bread, or drizzle on ice cream), but I love cooking with Sizzle! It's mild and the squeeze bottle has truly changed my life. I feel like I have so much more control over the amount of oil I'm using. I quickly used my first bottle and this was me stocking up! Graza is my new go to :)" —Becky W

    Get it from Graza for $15 (also available in multipacks and as a subscription).

    10. And a pesto-infused olive oil — it'll make you rethink the possibilities of olive oil! This stuff packs a flavor explosion with prominent flavors of Genovese basil, Parmigiano Reggiano, and a touch of fresh garlic that'll transport your tastebuds straight to Italy.

    The pesto olive oil in in its bottle
    Jonathan Mazzei / BuzzFeed

    This stuff is unreal!!! My parents got it as a gift and couldn't believe the flavor when they first tasted it. They shoved it under my nose with slices of gorgeous, crusty bread and demanded I try it for myself. I couldn't believe how strongly the pesto flavor came through without being overwhelming or tasting in *any way* fake. My tastebuds were almost confused as to how this flavor was coming straight out of olive oil with no pesto anywhere to be seen. A little goes a long way. I can't recommend this enough!

    Get it from Fustini's for $20.95.

    11. A fiery larb starter pack from Omsom to add spicy, sweet, salty, tart, and subtly nutty Southeast Asian flavors — based on the traditional Laos-born dish, Thai larb — to any meal! The blend of Red Boat fish sauce, lime juice, cane sugar, thai dried chili flakes, and toasted rice powder are sure to bring something special to a variety of dishes.

    Gif of the sauce being poured onto meat in a pan
    The larb

    Promising review: "Great larb at home! The kit was super easy and yummy!!! Really authentic! I like it it kind of spicy so I added a little Thai roasted chili paste! Will order these again!!!" —DEIRDRE E.

    Get a three-pack from Omsom for $12.

    12. A cult-favorite popcorn salt — it'll give you instant movie theater flavor by using fine season salt flakes that actually stick to the kernels instead of just falling to the bottom of the bowl like ground salt. Anyone who has worked at theaters, amusement parks, or carnivals has probably seen this secret ingredient that the pros don't want you to know about, so if you're looking for that classic flavor — start here!

    A carton of Flavacol salt
    Reviewer image of buttery popcorn
    Emma Lord/BuzzFeed,

    Promising review: "I used to use Flavacol during my time working at an amusement park and popping popcorn for hungry guests, so I knew this was what the 'professionals' use. I am happy to report that using this does make your popcorn taste like it was just popped at a movie theater. I like to put a little bit of oil on my kernels, mix in some Flavacol, and then add it to the pot of oil on my stove top when it's hot enough (as opposed to sprinkling it on top of freshly popped corn, which I could see easily accidentally adding too much). It also means that I'm no longer loading up my popcorn with additional toppings like butter or plain salt. Yum!" —Kate R.

    Get it from Amazon for $9.25.

    13. A variety pack of Truff sauces — featuring the Original, Hotter, and White Truff hot sauces — ready to throw a party for your tastebuds and work their way into way more meals and snacks than you'd expect!

    All three sauces in front of their box
    Gif of the writer pouring some of the Original TRUFF sauce into a dish to show its consistency and color
    Truff, Jonathan Mazzei / BuzzFeed

    This stuff is excellent and really grows on you! The first time I tried it, I wasn't entirely sure how I felt, but by the end of the first week, I found myself reaching for it with almost every meal. While all three options have a lot of similarities, they each have their own distinct personality. At first, they were all a little creamier and almost...tomato-y (?) tasting than I expected. Then, I realized there was NO dairy or tomato present at all, but a thickness and slight sweetness almost reminiscent of red bell peppers. The truffle flavor is present but subtle, and the sauce has a solid kick without being overwhelmingly hot. As far as the differences between the three, the White Truff sauce is a hint sweeter than the other two, the Original has a slightly earthier flavor than the others, and the extra spiciness of the Hotter Truff sauce spreads through the mouth quicker and is definitely hotter than the rest. Verdict: They're all really good! So far, these sauces have shined brightest when added to a nice tomato sauce, drizzled over a slice of pizza, scooped up by crispy french fries, and, believe it or not, even added to a salad dressing, but that's still barely scratching the surface! Plus it comes in a very classy looking box that's great for gifts.

    Get it from Amazon or Truff for $69.99, or try just the Original for $17.98, the White Truff sauce for $34.99, and Hotter Truff sauce for $17.98.

    14. Or a jar of Sabatino truffle seasoning if you're looking for a pure, yet delicate truffle flavor that's easy to add into any dish.

    the seasoning next to a burger

    Promising review: "I am a chef and have tasted lots of truffles and truffle preparations. This is not the most pungent truffle condiment, but it is one of the truest. The aroma is quite strong, but the flavor is somewhat delicate. Since it doesn’t contain much sodium, you can pile it on to your heart's content. I’ve put it on soups, eggs, sandwiches, cheese, and whatever I want to truffle. Oils with synthetic truffle aroma will give you more of a wallop, but that overpowering blunt force is why lots of chefs don’t like the fake stuff. This is a much more natural black truffle flavor, although it doesn’t diffuse as much as high-quality black truffle, which almost gets into your skin when you eat it. If someone were curious what black truffles taste like, this would be a great introduction." —EagerEyes

    Get it from Amazon for $13.99.

    15. A jar of Matiz Sofrito that's ideal for making a next level paella, but is also a fantastic sauce for meats, fish, pasta, eggs, and more! This sofrito is made from a family recipe using tomatoes that are slow roasted in olive oil for over three hours, giving your dishes a rich, fresh flavor without having to spend a bunch of time in the kitchen.

    A jar of Matiz Sofrito on a table next to some tacos

    Matiz works with the small family producer Estilo Kiki in Valencia, Spain to produce this handmade sofrito.

    Promising review: "Usually I make my own sofrito, but I was wondering if I could save time without compromising flavor. This is an awesome alternative! Delicious and expeditious." —Dot A

    Get a 12.3 oz. jar from Amazon for $13.99.

    16. A jar of Sichuan Chili Crisp from Fly By Jing you'll wanna use on EVERYTHING. Seriously. It's hot and tingly without being overwhelmingly spicy, and its bold flavor is so delicious, you won't be able to get enough. This sauce is mind-blowing on everything from noodles and eggs, to pizza and even ice cream! *Plus*, it's vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, and made without preservatives or artificial flavors.

    Gif of the sauce being drizzled over a variety of foods including, pizza, noodles, and eggs
    Fly By Jing

    Jing Gao, the founder and CEO of Fly By Jing, is a chef, entrepreneur, and a globally-renowned expert on Chinese cuisine. While the flavors are inspired by her hometown of Chengdu, Jing's recipes are deeply personal and offer a unique taste you won't find anywhere else.

    I got this sauce as a gift, and I have been obsessed ever since I tried it. It combines the most prized Sichuan peppercorns with fragrant dried chilies, fermented black beans, garlic, shallots and more for a numbing, umami-rich flavor that has enhanced truly everything I've tried it on — without overpowering the other flavors. I've been struggling to find the right sauce to take my home-cooked dishes to the next level, and let me tell you, this is it! Plus, the packaging is super cute and thoughtful, and mine even came with a beautiful little zine that includes a breakdown of the ingredients, some amazing recipe ideas, and more!

    Get it from Fly By Jing for $15 and Amazon for $14.79.