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Just 23 (Very Good) Dishes That Use Up Commonly Forgotten Ingredients In Your Fridge, Freezer, And Pantry

If you've never had to throw out expired spices you've kept for 5-plus years, congratulations — you're the 1%.

I haven't cleaned out my pantry in ages. Anyone else? 👀

The author's messy spice cabinet, full of disorganized spices that are mostly full.

Recently, u/anythingkinder asked the Reddit community to share the "one ingredient you bought specifically for a recipe that's been sitting unused in your pantry since then," and let me tell you — I am feeling very attacked! Even though I basically cook for a living, my kitchen is overflowing with ingredients I've used one time (and one time only).

That said, this list of commonly forgotten-about ingredients is packed with ideas and inspiration from redditors, along with some of my own tips and advice mixed in. It's time to raid the deeeeeep dark corners of your pantries and fridges, folks — and then make some pretty darn delicious food out of everything you find.

1. OLD BAY: Sprinkle it on popcorn for an instant flavor boost.

2. CORNMEAL: Quickly run it through a blender, and then simmer it on the stove to make goes-with-anything polenta.

3. BALSAMIC VINEGAR: Toss it with strawberries and a bit of sugar — then use it to top everything from granola to ice cream.

Balsamic strawberries in a serving bowl

4. SHORTENING: Combine it with flour and buttermilk to make the world's easiest (and flakiest) three-ingredient biscuits.

5. TAHINI: Drizzle some in this simple pumpkin bread for an anytime-snack cake that's perfectly nutty and ridiculously moist.

Pumpkin Tahini Loaf

6. NUTRITIONAL YEAST: Blitz with apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic for a super-creamy dressing (that just so happens to be 100% plant-based).

Nutritional Yeast Dressing in a glass Mason Jar

7. MISO: Spoon some into regular instant ramen for an easy weeknight meal that's bursting with umami.

Creamy miso ramen in a white bowl with chopsticks

8. HARISSA: Combine with mayonnaise to make harissa mayo, and use as a two-ingredient dip for pretty much anything your heart desires.

9. POWDERED MILK: Add to your next batch of chocolate chip cookies for an extra punch of creamy richness.

10. STAR ANISE: Simmer in a warm bath of red wine, citrus, and warm spices for a cozy mulled wine that practically makes itself.

11. GOCHUJANG: Use this fermented pepper paste as a succulent glaze for this weeknight stir-fry that's as easy to make as it is wildly delicious.

Sweet And Spicy Gochujang Chicken

12. MOLASSES: Round out the savory, meaty flavors in your next pot of chili with the perfect amount of sweetness for a cold-weather favorite that's totally competition-worthy.

Chili Con Carne in a dutch oven being scooped by a ladle

13. FISH SAUCE: Use in this perfectly balanced Larb Gai for a light meal that's super quick (and only requires one skillet).

Drizzling sauce over Larb Gai in a lettuce wrap

14. CARDAMOM: Combine with cinnamon to enhance this expertly spiced coffee cake that's 1) packed with apples and 2) finished with a delightfully crumbly streusel topping.

Cardamom Apple Coffee Cake on a serving platter

15. ZA'ATAR: Sprinkle over freshly grilled flatbread (brushed with olive oil) for an herby, handheld appetizer that'll disappear fast.

Grilled flatbread topped with a za'atar and olive oil blend

16. SESAME OIL: Elevate your stir-fry game forever with Three-Cup Chicken — a Taiwanese dish that should have a prime spot in your weekly rotation.

17. POWDERED SUGAR: Mix with peanut butter for a satisfying four-ingredient dessert that'll please any crowd.

Peanut Butter Snowballs

18. NORI: Wrap around rice and pan-fried Spam to make this Hawaiian snack that's effortlessly portable and oh-so-delicious.

19. CANNED ARTICHOKE HEARTS: Combine with frozen spinach and cream cheese to make this crowd-pleasing dip that's lightyears better than the store-bought version.

20. CLOVES: Use in tandem with molasses to create these snappy, spiced cookies that are destined to be dunked into a tall glass of milk.

Molasses Clove Cookies

21. CAPERS: Make this ultimate pantry-staple pasta dish using ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, like capers, olives, and canned tomatoes.

Lifting spaghetti alla puttanesca out of a skillet to serve

22. SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK: Lend creaminess and sweetness to Thai iced tea for a luxurious but simple afternoon pick-me-up.

Thai Iced Tea in two drinking glasses

23. ANCHOVIES: Let 'em dissolve into the best-ever tomato sauce, and you might just ditch buying store-bought tomato sauce once and for all.