7 Full-Flavored Foods That Can Improve a Recipe

Have you ever come across a recipe that calls for a lengthy and somewhat overwhelming list of ingredients? Sometimes, you don’t want to have to pick up 20 items to create a meal, which is why it’s important to always have these 7 ingredients on hand. Just a dash of these full-flavored foods and spices can quickly transform a dish from bland to one that’s bursting with flavor. Boring recipes will be a thing of the past after picking up these powerful, flavored-packed ingredients.

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

1. Cocoa

Cocoa can be added to almost everything, and just a tablespoon of it can quickly transform your snacks and meals. According to the Daily Burn, one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder — which contains 3 to 9% of the recommended daily intake of iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc — can add rich flavor to nuts, smoothies, oatmeal, puddings, and yogurt.

Looking to add some depth to your chili? Just one to two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa will enhance your chili’s flavor tenfold, per The Kitchn. Make sure when you’re shopping for your cocoa you look for a higher fat content; the best flavored cocoa contains more fat, and you won’t have to use as much, according to the Mother Nature Network. Also opt for unsweetened cocoa powder and avoid packages labeled as “ground chocolate.”

Source: iStock

2. Vanilla Extract

Have you ever noticed how often vanilla pops up in recipes? That’s because just a touch of vanilla extract can make a dessert pop. Birthday cakes, cookies, and brownies are just a few delicious desserts that rely on vanilla for sweet flavor. In fact, Will Cook For Friends writes that a drop or two of vanilla can even enhance the sweet taste of chocolate.

According to The Kitchn, the role vanilla plays in your baked goods is the equivalent to the role salt plays in savory dishes. A very small amount is able to enhance all of the other flavors in a recipe. What hapens if you forget to add it? Your pastries and cakes won’t turn out as good, most likely tasting fairly flat and flavorless. Surprisingly, while recipes often call for an extremely small amount of vanilla extract, it is one of most influential ingredients in your recipes. 

Source: iStock

3. Cinnamon

If you’ve ever made the mistake of adding too much cinnamon to a recipe, you’re probably well aware of just how much impact this spice can have on a dish. Just a dash of cinnamon adds a warm layer to recipes, and can make a meal sweet or savory, depending on what you’re going for, according to Chocolate and Zucchini. Similar to vanilla extract, cinnamon helps to boost the taste of the recipe’s other ingredients with just a sprinkle adding more dimension and flavor. Add a touch of cinnamon to your coffee, oatmeal, yogurt, or nuts, and you’ll quickly realize just how flavorful this tasty spice is.

You can purchase cinnamon in either stick or powder form. The sticks can be stored for longer, but the ground powder typically has a stronger flavor, writes The World’s Healthiest Foods. An easy way to ensure your cinnamon will pack a strong flavor punch? Give it a whiff, making sure that it’s giving off a sweet smell, which shows that your spice is still nice and fresh.

Source: iStock

4. Bouillon Cubes

Bouillon is a cube that can instantly add flavor to soups, stews, and gravies. Livestrong writes that the cubes are made by concentrating and dehydrating stock, then pressing it into solid form. To create a hearty broth that’s bursting with flavor, all you have to do is boil water with a bouillon cube. Due to its high concentration of flavors, the cubes often give off a salty taste, eliminating the need to add additional sodium to a dish, according to Livestrong.

Consider using chicken bouillon for an easy way to enhance recipes that call for chicken, onion, parsley, and spices. Beef bouillon will work to concentrate the flavors of beef stock, onions, carrots, parsley, and spices, while a vegetable bouillon will quickly enhance a recipe’s savory flavors, writes Knorr.

Source: iStock

5. Honey

Honey has the ability to make a dish mild, spicy, buttery, fruity, herbal, or woodsy, depending on its nectar, writes AllRecipes.com. Follow this rule when it comes to honey: the darker the honey, the stronger its flavor. It works well in both sweet and savory recipes, and is a great all-natural unprocessed sweetener. It is, in fact, sweeter than white sugar, meaning you can use less of it when baking, but still get the same sweetness, per AllRecipes.com.

The Home Baking Association writes that honey will provide your baked goods with a golden crust color, tons of flavor, moistness, and moisture retention. A honey’s flavor will vary depending on the blossoms visited by bees, and includes clover, orange, sage, sunflower, or mixed flower. Choose the flavor that best suits what you envision your final end product to taste like. Breads, sweets, pastries, salad dressings, soups, baked beans, and bars are just a few of the things that honey will enhance.

Source: iStock

6. Cumin

This seed is a part of the parsley family and is known for its smoky and warm taste. Cumin is often found in Indian and South American dishes, as well as Tex-Mex style taco seasoning, according to Nutiva. Due to the warm flavor it brings to dishes, it’s often used in stews and soups. A touch of cumin has the ability to add depth and a toasty flavor to any dish you’re preparing. The best part about frequently turning to cumin to transform a recipe’s taste? You can add a lot of warmth and flavor to recipes without adding sodium, calories, and fat, per Joy Bauer. A little cumin will save you from having to add a variety of spices and sodium to your favorite meals.

Source: iStock

7. Lemon Juice

Looking for an ingredient that will add tons of flavor to a variety of dishes? Lemon is exactly what you need. In fact, if you ever take a bite out of a dish and realize it’s missing something, using a squeeze of lemon will instantly fix the food’s blandness. The Kitchn writes that just a touch of lemon juice is able to brighten a dish and make its flavors distinct, but without actually making the dish taste like lemon. The trick to using lemon juice is to add it slowly. All you need to start with is a teaspoon or two, taste it, and then add more if you need. Since it can add so much flavor, you don’t want to overdue it with this one. A little too much lemon juice can cause a dish to taste too acidic.

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