If you, like us, are always looking for ways to make cooking at home a little easier and more appealing, a couple products can make all the difference in taking a simple dish from bland to absolutely crave-worthy. But we get it — figuring out which spices you need, what seasonings go together and how to balance your own sauces and dressings can be overwhelming, expensive and reason enough to just opt for ordering in. Fortunately, there are a ton of exciting products out there to help you create restaurant-quality food sans the culinary degree.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up 16 of our favorite food products that’ll make achieving flavor in your cooking a whole lot easier. Many of the brands we’ve highlighted are small businesses meeting demands for high-quality condiments, spices and sauces that you can’t find in most grocery stores. Others are focusing on making different cuisines and flavors — from West African to Vietnamese and Mexican — things you can incorporate into your everyday cooking. One thing we can guarantee? That these products are bound to get you more excited about being in the kitchen.
When it comes to high-quality spices and spice blends, Spiceology tops our list — and the list of tons of professional chefs. You truly can’t go wrong with anything from the brand, but Greek Freak is what helped me understand the power of a really great spice blend to completely transform simple recipes. While there’s always a learning curve to understanding what spices you like and how to balance and pair them with different foods, blends are a fast track to food that tastes professionally made. Greek Freak is perfectly balanced, not overly complicated yet super flavorful, and brings new life to the simplest of dishes. It’s great on all types of proteins like chicken and fish, but it’s an absolutely holy grail for me when it comes to roasting vegetables — something I do multiple times a week. Not only are they convenient, easy-to-use and time-saving, spice blends are also a great way to save space in your kitchen without sacrificing on flavor. The brand also has a lot of great sets available, which are the perfect way to try out a range of curated blends or gift to the foodie in your life.
Beloved for its luxurious truffle-themed products, Truff’s ability to balance the strong and unique flavor profile of truffles with various condiments and sauces — from hot sauce to pasta sauce and even mayonnaise — is unmatched. We’re fans of basically everything the brand has ever launched. But this truffle oil has a permanent spot on my kitchen counter. Particularly if you, like me, have a very particular obsession with truffle fries or truffle popcorn, this oil is just what you need to dramatically turn up the luxury on the most basic of dishes or snacks. Unlike other truffle oils I’ve tried, this one tastes a lot less artificial or manufactured, and a lot more like the truffle-seasoned dishes I’ve had at restaurants.
My go-to seasoning choice for any sort of protein over rice, Bachan’s sauces are the perfect way to add a bit of umami deliciousness to any meal. The Original Japanese Barbecue Sauce is most comparable to Japanese teriyaki sauce but has a lot more depth and smokiness and less overt sugariness, and it isn’t too salty. It’s also a fantastic marinade for making teriyaki salmon, chicken and whatever else you can dream up. While the original is our recommendation for those new to the brand’s sauces, you can’t go wrong with its Three-Pack Sauce Bundle. The yuzu flavor has an extra bit of tartness for a slightly brighter taste, while the hot and spicy has a subtle yet noticeable mouthwatering heat for anyone who prefers a bit of spice in their sauces.
Brooklyn Delhi is creating flavor-packed condiments inspired by Indian culinary traditions, and this tomato-based option is our absolute favorite from the brand — and one of our favorite products for spicing up all sorts of foods. The Indian pantry staple achaar, sometimes referred to as an Indian pickle, is a condiment made from a combination of vegetables and fruits, spices and chili peppers. It’s not a hot sauce, a tomato sauce, a salsa or a curry, but it has elements of all of those things. It’s mouthwateringly tangy, incredibly rich and savory, and has a perfect amount of spiciness. Achaar is traditionally eaten alongside rice, curry, dal and yogurt, but we’ve found that it’s versatile enough for just about any and all savory foods. Not only can you top it on everything from eggs and meats to noodles, it’s also delicious when mixed into soups, stews and even other sauces for adding that extra bit of complexity.
For hot sauces that bring more than just heat to your food, we’d recommend Heartbeat Hot Sauce. While the brand has a whole ton of different sauce offerings, this pineapple habanero option has a delicious and unintimidating mild-medium heat that’s packed with fruity, peppery flavors. It’s perfect for brightening savory foods like wings or for adding a dash of flavor to simpler foods like eggs or potatoes.
$74 at Brightland
Never would I think I would be the type of person to splurge on olive oil. But when you discover an olive oil like Brightland, it’s just natural. The secret to Brightland’s deliciousness starts the same way all good food does: with high-quality ingredients. The brand carefully sources olives from a family-run farm in California, which are then cold-pressed into custom-blended oils. Unlike generic olive oils, the brand is all about ensuring that its olive oils and vinegars are never overprocessed or rotten, and free from fillers or artificial preservatives. The two oils in this duo are the brand’s bestselling, foundational extra-virgin olive oils. While Awake is designed for roasting and sautéing, Alive is a perfect complement that’s suited for drizzling over greens and using in dressings and marinades. Check out our Brightland review here.
Pepper flakes are one of my favorite ways to add the perfect amount of heat to any dish. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unremarkable, not-so-hot options out there. Flatiron Pepper Co. pepper flakes are a staple in my household because they pack a ton of heat without any of the extra salt or flavorings that might compete with dishes. If you sprinkle generic pepper flakes on pasta or pizza, we can promise you won’t go back after trying these. This classic option contains a blend of habanero, jalapeño, arbol and ghost peppers — so you can be sure it’s hot.
One of the most delicious chili crisp oils on the market, this 100% all-natural product has that perfect heat that complements everything from noodles and rice to meats and fried eggs. It’s hot without being painful or sharp, and the spiciness is slightly numbing and incredibly flavorful and savory. It’s packed with high-quality ingredients like Erjingtiao chilis, tribute pepper (a rare and prized Sichuan peppercorn) and 100% organic, cold-pressed, non-GMO Sichuan Caiziyou oil — a longtime staple of traditional Sichuan cooking. If this sounds up your alley or you’re looking for more ways to bring delicious Chinese flavors into your kitchen, you can’t go wrong with the Core Four Sauce Set. It includes the original Sichuan Chili Crisp in addition to an extra spicy Sichuan Chili Crisp, a super-versatile and mouthwatering Mala Spice Mix (for those who love that numbing effect) and, my personal favorite, Zhong Sauce — a slightly sweet and tangy yet still spicy sauce that’s a perfect complement to the chili crisp oil.
An exciting new brand founded during the pandemic, Amjul is making it easier than ever to bring bold, vibrant and delicious flavors from West Africa — inspired by the founder’s Sierra Leonean heritage — into your kitchen. This mango sauce and marinade is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and boasts actual mango chunks alongside honey and habaneros. There’s a bit of heat, but nothing that’ll compete with the product’s other flavors, or that of what you’re cooking. We’d recommend trying it alongside the brand’s Best of the West dry spice blend, which features a range of popular spices used in West African cooking in just one jar.
If you’re looking for a quick way to whip up a deliciously complete meal, Omsom’s sauce kits are our best answer. The brand’s starters are ready-to-use pouches, each of which has been perfectly proportioned with all the flavors, seasonings, oils and aromatics you need to replicate some of your favorite Asian dish flavors. The Southeast Asian sampler is my standout, which is probably because I love Southeast Asian food but lack the skills, experience or ingredients to regularly re-create my favorite dishes at home. And Omsom changes that. Check out our Omsom review here.
I’ve never been a huge Italian dressing person, but this dressing has been my latest go-to for any simple salads. It has all the great parts of a simple dressing — acidity from the vinegar and sweetness from the grapes — along with its not-so-secret ingredient: Parmigiano Reggiano. The addition of the cheese gives the dressing a richness and savoriness that’s as satisfying and substantial as a creamier dressing while still being an overall lighter option that’s perfect for tons of different uses. It’s particularly delightful for sprinkling over anything that could use some sweetness and cheesiness — from chopped cucumbers and tomatoes to a simple Italian-eqsue sandwich.
For the more health-conscious among us, Tia Lupita hot sauces pack a ton of flavor with a wonderfully simple ingredient list. This chipotle option is our favorite — it’s packed with that smoky, full-bodied flavor perfectly combined with that quintessentially chipotle sweetness. All the brand’s sauces are handmade in small batches, and ingredients are sourced from local farms. They’re gluten-free and keto-friendly, and they have no added sugars or preservatives. It also contains less salt than similar options, meaning you still get the flavor you crave without the high amounts of sodium or sugar.
Deliciously sweet with the perfect amount of heat, this wildflower hot honey is infused with scotch bonnet and habanero peppers for a kick that blends perfectly with the rich sweetness of a high-quality honey. It’s perfect for drizzling on pizzas and over meats like chicken or ribs. My absolute favorite way to use this is alongside cheeses, crackers and other jams for a charcuterie board that will blow your guests away.
One of my favorite meals is Korean bulgogi over rice, something that my mom would always make for us on weekends or special occasions. But as anyone who has tried can tell you, nailing the marinade is no quick or easy task. There’s a lot of different elements to balance, and very often a blender or food processor is involved. The marinades from We Love You have everything you could need to nail that restaurant-quality taste in a bottle. All you need is your protein of choice — we recommend a good rib-eye or flank steak — and you’re well on your way to a totally delicious meal that friends and family will be raving about.
Acid League’s vinegars aren’t just super-tasty products to enhance your cooking. By nature of being raw, unfiltered and fermented with top-notch produce, herbs and spices, they also pack the benefits of probiotics — a crucial component to overall digestive health. The Meyer Lemon Honey is a classic option, and a perfect first foray into the brand’s living vinegars. The brightness and acidity of the lemon and vinegar are beautifully balanced with the sweetness of the honey. Simply add to anything you would typically sprinkle with lemon juice — my favorite being roasted vegetables and grilled seafood. It’s also a great base for making your own dressings.
For the days when you want to whip up a delicious meal at home but lack the time and ingredients, Haven’s Kitchen’s squeezy sauce packs are just what you’ll wish you had in your cabinet. This collection of the brand’s top four flavors is everything you need to get a sense of how delicious and easy to use these meal helpers are, and will make about 20 meals. They’re multipurpose and versatile, and can be used as a topping, as a marinade, as a dressing or really in any way you can think of. A huge plus is that the pouches are 100% recyclable through TerraCycle, and any plastic produced by the brand is recycled or eliminated in an equivalent amount through its partnership with Plastic Credit Exchange (PCX).