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Staying home instead of going out to eat, drink, and be merry? Aww, how sad!
There are many factors that can prevent you from meeting the gang for happy hour drinks and appetizers at the local bar, or from going out with the whole family for a fun meal together:
Bad weather, limited finances, crazy work schedules, fussy newborns, tons of homework, contagious coronavirus pandemics…
Just reading that list has us curling up on the couch under a fuzzy blanket, whimpering softly.
Cabin fever can become discouraging, especially if you’re stuck at home for longer than anticipated. But this is actually the perfect opportunity to get excited and cook some fun meals in your own kitchen!
As long as you are prepped with a well-stocked pantry and fridge, you’re well on your way to making a variety of good meals.
But we want more than good – we want lip-smacking, lick-the-spatula, take-a-third-helping tasty!
If you already have a big supply of the basics (think rice, pasta, beans, frozen or canned veggies, and maybe some eggs and meat), let’s add some fun flavors to bring excitement to your home cooking!
Our roundup of 15 big and bold pantry condiments will introduce you to a large selection of flavor-packed, shelf-stable ingredients. We’ll suggest an assortment of sauces, dry seasonings, spreads, sweeteners, and meal helpers to give your next meal a big boost.
Excited yet? Stop staring out your window and sighing – it’s time to get in your kitchen and start cooking!
Hey, Hot Stuff
Let’s start off with the boldest of the bold! Release the fiery dinner dragons by using any of the following spicy sauces and spreads.
1. Green Chili Sriracha
Red is so yesterday! The hot new trend for the most beloved spicy sauce goes green with Jojo’s Sriracha Green Chili Sauce from Love Hard.
Love Hard Jojo’s Sriracha Green Chili Sauce, Available from Mouth
Jalapeno, Anaheim chili, and poblano pepper are all fermented and mixed with additional ingredients like garlic, salt, coconut palm sugar, and vinegar to create this delectable vegan concoction.
Instead of your usual hot sauce, add a dollop of this Sriracha on top of tacos or fajitas.
And if you need a little booze (no judgement), consider making green-themed Bloody Mary’s with green tomatillos and a few dashes of this Sriracha.
2. Hot Korean Gochujang Sauce
For those who can’t let a single meal go by without a big punch of heat, you’ll want to add this hot sauce to your stash right away!
We Rub You Hot Korean Gochujang Sauce, Available from Mouth
Gochujang is a popular fermented Korean red chili pepper paste. It’s thick and flavorful, with a super fiery kick. A few tablespoons of We Rub You’s Hot Korean Gochujang Sauce will give your next chili, stew, or stir-fry deeply flavored nuances of sweet, savory, salty, tangy excitement.
We’d even use this plain, just like ketchup, for dipping fries or chicken fingers.
But be warned: it’s a hot one!
3. Buffalo Aioli
Mayo is the heart and soul of so many kitchens.
We spread it on deli sandwiches, burgers, and grilled cheese. We mix it into egg salads, potato salads, and pasta salads. We use it for making essential party appetizers like deviled eggs and creamy dips.
If this is one condiment you can’t live without, we understand you.
Buffalo Aioli, Available from Stonewall Kitchen
If you don’t have the patience to make it from scratch, we really understand you.
And if you love a spicy kick in many of your recipes, we really really understand you!
This Buffalo aioli is going to become one of your essential kitchen staples. You can sub in this fiery condiment in every dish where you’d typically add plain mayonnaise.
Your highly entertained taste buds can thank us later.
Dry, But Definitely Not Dull
Your spice rack already stores the essentials you need for cooking, but we bet there’s still some extra room for some stellar dry seasonings.
4. Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper
We’re sure you’ve seen those big variety packs of smoked salts at the store. You may have even tried a few.
But have you ever heard of smoked black pepper? Or even crazier yet, a smoked bourbon black pepper?!
Bourbon Barrel Foods Bourbon Smoked Pepper, Available from Mouth
Bourbon Barrel Foods’ Bourbon Smoked Pepper is a seasoning with an impressive bite. Made in small batches, quarter-cracked Malabar black peppercorns are slowly smoked with wood barrel staves that were once used to age Kentucky bourbon.
5. White Truffle Sea Salt
Every home chef needs one secret ingredient, that special, transcendent “something” that takes a recipe to the next level of unforgettable deliciousness.
We consider Jacobsen Salt Co.’s White Truffle Salt to be that Holy Grail – an ingredient that brings infinite possibilities for creating a luxurious meal.
Jacobsen Salt Co. White Truffle Salt, Available from Mouth
Italian white truffles are blended with sea salt hand-harvested from the Oregon coast to create a gourmet finishing salt with complex flavors.
Right before serving, sprinkle just a little (a pinch is all you need!) on your next batch of oven-baked fries, roast chicken, or creamed soup.
We place great value on rice, both as a long-lasting pantry food item and as a reliable, filling side dish.
But it can easily become an ingredient that’s too ho-hum in its simplicity. After repeated use in countless dinners, it can seem… well…
Plain. Boring. Bleh.
Furikake is a beloved Japanese rice seasoning mix, made with a base combination of sesame seeds, salt, sugar, and seaweed flakes.
Nori Fume Furikake Rice Seasoning, Available from Amazon
And that’s just one option.
You can purchase a colorful variety of seasoning mixes containing a medley of flavor-packed concentrated ingredients like bonito flakes, dried yolk powder, dried salmon, horseradish, and mustard.
Sprinkled over rice, you get little punches of savory umami flavor that pairs seamlessly with many dishes. We love a simple breakfast or snack of steamed rice, a fried egg with a runny yolk, and a generous dash of furikake on top.
7. Chicken and Pork Rub
The ultimate rub for chicken and pork, right at your fingertips!
Stonewall Kitchen’s Chicken and Pork Rub is an easy source of full-bodied flavor for your meats.
Chicken and Pork Rub, Available from Stonewall Kitchen
Here’s the no-frills ingredient list: granulated garlic, kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper, thyme, and oregano.
This condiment will be your saving grace when salt and pepper just aren’t enough to season your next carnivorous craving. Use it generously on any cut of pork or chicken before cooking.
Spread the Love
Creamy, tangy, jammy, and savory, enjoy a tasty variety of spread-worthy condiments! Just a few tablespoons go a long way to maximize flavor in your next meal. Read some of our favorites below.
8. Roasted Garlic Bread Spread
Toasty garlic bread, hot out of the oven? Crisp, buttery, aromatic, and addictive!
Can you think of anything better? Impossible, you say?
Roasted Garlic Bread Spread, Available from Stonewall Kitchen
We might have to argue with you on that point, all in the name of convenience! Because who really wants to peel all those garlic cloves?
Stonewall Kitchen’s Roasted Garlic Bread Spread does the prep work for you – and each jarful is already filled with a smooth and savory combo of roasted garlic, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper.
All you have to do is spread the tasty mixture onto your favorite crusty bread, and bake to toasty perfection.
9. Sun-Dried Tomato Olive Tapenade
It takes a certain kind of person to like olives.
Not everyone appreciates punches of salty brine and tangy vinegar, or a meaty meat-free texture. But if you do…
A tapenade will be your new BFF in the condiment world.
Sutter Buttes Natural and Artisan Foods Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade, Available from Mouth
As passionate cheerleaders of Team Olive, we’re rooting for this Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade, made by Sutter Buttes Natural and Artisan Foods.
This particular jar adds even more textural and flavorful fun with chunks of sweet sun-dried tomatoes, mixed with kalamata olives, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and red pepper flakes.
When you’re deciding how to incorporate this into your next meal, aim for Italian inspiration: toss large spoonfuls of this tapenade in bowlfuls of homemade pasta, spread it thickly over crostini, or add it to the filling when you’re making stuffed artichokes.
10. Blue Cheese Herb Mustard
Plain yellow mustard, we’re finally breaking up with you. We found something new – something bold, flavorful, creamy, cheesy… and just a little crazy.
But a hint of craziness is good. It’s delicious, actually.
Blue Cheese Herb Mustard, Available from Stonewall Kitchen
Stonewall Kitchen’s Blue Cheese Herb Mustard is the mad scientist of the condiment world – it’s a crazy-seeming combo of ingredients, with a genius result!
This condiment has a classic Dijon mustard base. But the classic flavors that you’re used to end there! With blue cheese and herbs mixed in, you’ll love the smooth, creamy texture and pungent flavors.
But don’t limit it to just sandwiches and salads! Spread it on pork tenderloin before roasting for a juicy main course.
11. French Onion Confit
Looking for a classy condiment to give your home cooking a delicate touch of elegant flair?
Here you go, Fancy-Pants.
The French Onion Confit from Three Little Figs is a slow-cooked jammy concoction of Walla Walla sweet onions, red onions, brown sugar, vinegar, herbs, wine, and brandy.
Three Little Figs French Onion Confit, Available from Mouth
Spread it over anything. Seriously. No wrong answers here.
Our brains have crashed from recipe overload.
Just A Touch of Sweetness
How do you subtly add a unique touch to your next homemade dish? All you need is a dainty drizzle of something sweet! These condiments will surely entertain any big sweet tooth.
12. Mike’s Hot Honey
Would you ever expect sweet honey to have a feisty personality?
Even Winnie the Pooh, a true honey fanatic, would do a double take if he stuck his hand in a pot of Mike’s Hot Honey!
Mike’s Hot Honey, Available from Mouth
Infused with chili peppers and mixed with a little vinegar, this spicy sweetener is all natural, gluten free, and paleo-friendly.
Drizzling over fried chicken is an obvious must.
For other unique ideas, use it as a glaze for roasted rosemary carrots, mix it with ginger to coat roasted salmon, or even add it to muffin batter, macaroon batter, or pizza dough to add a little heat to your favorite carbs!
13. Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
Okay, this is a completely different product from your ordinary balsamic vinegar!
Thick and syrupy, balsamic vinegar glaze is a far cry from its liquidy sibling. It’s not as sour and acidic as plain balsamic vinegar. Instead, there is an ideal sweet/sour balance here that you’re going to love.
365 Everyday Value Organic Glaze with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Available from Amazon
This concentrated glaze is extra tasty mixed with sauteed mushrooms, or served with Parmesan cheese and bread on a cheese plate.
But we actually love using this ingredient as part of the dessert course. The tanginess is a perfect complement to sweet dishes! For a dessert like no other, drizzle this glaze over fresh berries and vanilla bean ice cream.
A Jumpstart to Dinner
Don’t be embarrassed. You don’t have to cook a homemade dinner completely from scratch all the time! Let meal starters and pasta sauces give you a small break!
14. Pulled Pork Simmering Sauce
It’s not cheating, it’s not cheating, it’s not cheating. We swear.
Sometimes, even the best home chefs need some extra help to get dinner on the table for the family. Luckily, Stonewall Kitchen offers a series of meal starters!
You supply the meat (or vegetarian substitute), and Stonewall Kitchen provides everything else you need – all in one jar.
Pulled Pork Simmering Sauce, Available from Stonewall Kitchen
Right now, we’re loving their Pulled Pork Simmering Sauce. Just slow cook a pork shoulder along with the sauce for a few hours to get a succulent dish that rivals any Southern barbecue. Or, better yet, throw it in your Instant Pot.
15. Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
If you already have jars upon jars of homemade tomato sauce given to you by your sweet Italian nonna in the cabinet, you might be craving something else for pasta night!
Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce, Available from Stonewall Kitchen
Try Stonewall Kitchen’s creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce. The subtle sweetness that you’ll taste comes from apples and brown sugar that are pureed with the squash, making it an ideal addition to all of your cozy fall-themed pasta dishes and comfort food like lasagna, mac and cheese, sweet potato gnocchi, and ravioli.
And don’t be afraid to think beyond the pasta! Add some of this sauce when you’re making a dreamy, creamy risotto. Or even use it as a dip for bread and crackers.
A Pantry with Personality
Buy one, buy eight, buy them all! Any of these big and bold condiments will help bring flavorful personality to your pantry and your home cooking.
Being housebound for whatever reason can become humdrum. It’s no fun (and sometimes a little scary), especially when you’re waiting in your home for an unknown length of time for the COVID-19 quarantine to be lifted so you can finally grab a drink with your friends, or go out to dinner with your family.
Until then, your home kitchen is waiting for you, with boundless opportunities for you to craft tasty, nurturing, and comforting meals for you and your loved ones!
What are your favorites from this list? How will you use them to brighten up your homemade meals? We’d love to know! Leave a comment below, and let’s chat!
Product photos via Mouth and Stonewall Kitchen. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is a hungry foodie living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she is not tearing through her city's best cheesesteaks, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.