This is a continually updated list of pantry staples and food items we love and recommend.
Kerrygold butter can find it in more and more local grocery stores. But if it’s not available in your stores, you can also order it online. It has the best flavor of any butter, hands down. I’ve tried a lot of other grassfed butters, mostly from California, and none of them had this flavor. Guess it’s that Irish pastureland.
We recommend Dunkin’ Donuts Regular. Their decaf is also really good.
Coffee is an absolute requirement for most of us to drink in the morning. But it’s good for more than drinking in a hurry before you leave the house.
You can make dry rubs for meat with coffee. You can make homemade mochas and save the time and money it takes to go through your local coffee house drive through.
Baking powder is important for – you guessed it – baking. You can usually find it at any local grocery store, but you can also order it online.
While science is finding that salt isn’t as bad for most of us as they used to think, doctors advise some patients to avoid it. If you’re one of these, try No-Salt Sodium Free Salt Alternative for a substitute that actually tastes like salt. Many salt substitutes are delicious, but they taste like other seasonings. This one actually tastes very much like salt, and you can use it as a 1-to-1 substitution ratio.
Couscous is a wonderful item to keep on hand. You can throw together a surprising number of quick meals featuring couscous. You can buy regular golden couscous or the larger Israeli or “pearl” couscous.
Olive oil is great in homemade salad dressings. You can also add some herbs to it and dip bread in it. It also has some health benefits.
My favorite olive oil is California Olive Ranch Arbosana Extra Virgin. It has so much wonderful nutty flavor. If you want something a little more affordable but still so delicious, their Everyday Olive Oil is amazing.
Toasted Sesame Oil
One of the best tasting oils you could ever have is toasted sesame oil. It tastes exactly like toasted sesame seeds. This wonderful nutty flavor is good as the oil in an oil and vinegar salad dressing. You can also use it in pasta salads, to cook french fries, etc.
Grated parmesan cheese can add such a wonderful flavor to lots of meals. It’s great with any Italian dish, and also almost anything with tomato.
Raw honey tastes like a much more flavorful version of regular honey. It’s intense and delicious, and it takes less raw honey then regular honey to get the sweetness you want.
Golden syrup is a buttery sweet syrup that you can use as a one-to-one replacement for corn syrup. It has more flavor and can even be used in candy making.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is another great substitute for corn syrup that will even work in hard candy making.
Eden Foods Shoyu (Soy) Sauce
Eden Foods Soy Sauce is not like any other soy sauce you’ve had. It’s made in the traditional way soy sauce is made in Japan, which is not how any other brand in the US (at least not that we’ve found) does it. It has an intense flavor that leans a little more toward tamari sauce than modern soy sauce.
Tapatio is our favorite hot sauce. It’s a little thicker and less vinegary than other brands. It has a robust flavor.
Tobasco is probably the best known and most popular hot sauce out there.
Worcestershire sauce has a wonderful tangy, savory, slightly spicy flavor. It’s great added to meats, stews, hamburger meat, and all sorts of savory foods. Because of its intensity, it’s best to add it while cooking rather than after serving.
Psst: it’s also wonderful in Bloody Marys.
Za’atar is a Lebanese hyssop and sumac based seasoning mix that you can order authentic versions of online or possibly find locally, depending where you live. In the US, other herbs like thyme are often substituted. This is the real deal.
Morton’s Seasoned Salt
Morton’s seasoned salt adds a terrific flavor to all sorts of meals. It’s amazing just sprinkled onto fast food fries. Use it in place of salt or sometimes in addition to salt.
Garlic powder has a slightly less intense flavor than actual fresh garlic. But this is a plus and some recipes. It’s wonderful for making garlic toast, for example. End it also makes a pretty darn good substitute when you don’t have fresh garlic.
Onion powder is an amazing seasoning. It adds an nice onion flavor to any food item. While fresh onion is better in many dishes, onion powder has the advantage of never being rank.
Smoked paprika has a delicious flavor that’s a little bit spicy and a little bit smoky. It’s great on meats, roasted corn on the cob, and in compound butters.
Life without spice is just life. Or something. Anyway, life needs chili paste. I use Huy Fong Sambal Oelek Ground Fresh Chili Paste, which you can get from Amazon.
It’s not so spicy that even a tiny bit will transform a sauce into liquid fire. You can add just a little and see how that tastes, and then add more until you reach the desired spice level.
Any chocolate syrup is delicious, but this Torani Dark Chocolate Sauce is something special. It’s thick with a rich, intense dark chocolate taste.
Torani is the same company that makes a lot of delicious flavored syrups. Like those, this one is perfect for adding to coffee (see How to Make a Homemade Mocha) or pouring over cheesecake or ice cream.
Cocoa powder is always great to have around. It’s useful in baking, making mocha drinks, or putting in no-bake desserts. It’s full of nutrients, too. No, really.
Almond extract can be used to scent homemade potpourri and sachets. It’s also wonderful in cooking.
Every kitchen needs a good bottle of vanilla extract, and Nielsen Massey’s Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract is my favorite. It has a very intense, rich vanilla flavor that you don’t find in every brand.
Mint extract tastes great in all kinds of things. Add a small amount to hot or iced tea, add it to cakes or cookies, or add it to hot chocolate or mocha drinks. You can also use it as a preservative in craft projects like homemade glue.
Other flavoring extracts
You can get strawberry extract, cinnamon extract, butterscotch extract and coffee extract too. All of these are great in beverages, in baking and in no-bake type desserts.
It used to be hard to find cinnamon sticks, except at around the winter holidays. So you had to buy them then and stock up for the whole rest of the year.
But now cinnamon sticks are available year-round online, if not at your local grocery store. And because they are sometimes reusable, they can last you a long time.
Cinnamon sticks add cinnamon flavor when you put them into any sort of hot liquid. You can put them in tea, mocha drinks, or mulled wine to add a touch of spice.
You can also grate them into powder for cooking. And you can use them to make homemade potpourri and sachets.
Cinnamon powder is another great way to get the taste of cinnamon into foods and some drinks.
Grass Fed Beef
Grass fed beef from Richard’s is sustainably farmed. The grass for the cows isn’t treated with herbicides or pesticides either. The flavor tends to be richer and stronger than regular beef.
Turbinado sugar, or “raw sugar”, is simply fresh-cut sugar cane that didn’t get bleached and processed like regular white table sugar. It retains more of the original caramel flavor and has a lovely golden color.
It has a coarse texture and doesn’t dissolve as quickly as regular sugar. This makes it perfect for sprinkling on top of treats or whipped cream or even rimming drink glasses with sugar.
Cream of Tartar
Cream of Tartar is used to make candy, meringues, angel food cakes, and our corn syrup free lollipops. It’s also used as a natural cleaning agent.
Matcha Green Tea
Matcha Green tea is a powdered tea grown in Japan. It’s considered a superfood that is supposed to boost your metabolism.