10 Non-Essential Pantry Items That Are Still Really Fun to Have Around!

10 Non-Essential Pantry Items That Are Still Really Fun to Have Around!

Kelli Foster
Oct 22, 2014
(Image credit: Dana Velden)

We've talked a lot about pantry staples over the years. And rightly so, as every kitchen needs a well-stocked pantry and there are some items that are universal must-haves. We've paid particular attention to basic pantry essentials, tips for stocking a pantry on a super tight budget, and how to keep your pantry packed with healthy items.

Today we're moving beyond essentials and sharing our favorite pantry items that are simply fun to keep around!

A well-stocked pantry makes meal planning and cooking a whole lot easier, and a lot more fun. Here are 10 of our favorite pantry items that aren't quite essentials, but that are great to keep around.

1. Pure maple syrup - It's hard to eat a plate of pancakes, waffles or French toast without this sweet stuff. Plus, it's a great natural sweetener.

2. Nutella - Just as nut butters are a pantry mainstay, this irresistible chocolate hazelnut spread should be, as well!

3. Mirin - Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking wine. If you've never used it before, it's a nice way to enhance and balance sauces that rely on tamari or soy.

4. Dijon mustard - While it makes a lovely sandwich spread, I love Dijon mustard for its crucial part in making a winning vinaigrette.

5. Harissa - Not only is this aromatic North African chile paste a great way to spice up meals, it's super versatile. Use a spoonful of harissa to enhance soups and stews, add a kick to roasted veggies and make hummus more interesting.

6. Nuts - Whether you use them for baking, as a topping on your morning oats, of just for snacking, nuts are always a welcome pantry item. Raw almonds, pistachios and walnuts are my go-tos.

7. Worcestershire sauce -A dash of Worcestershire is a quick and surefire way to add that perfect savory umami flavor to any dish.

8. Tahini - Tahini is a sesame seed paste, and an essential ingredient in hummus. But, it can also do so much more - it's a wonderful addition to homemade salad dressings, sauces and even cookies.

9. Coconut milk - Canned coconut milk has become one of my most beloved pantry items! Use it for a quick weeknight curry, a decadent bowl of oats, in smoothies, or for a whipped topping to go with dessert.

10. Parmesan cheese - You will almost always find a block of good quality Parmesan cheese in my fridge. It's a necessary accompaniment to a plate of pasta, a few slices make a nice afternoon pick-me-up, and the rind is always a welcome addition to a pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove top.

What are your favorite non-essential, fun to have pantry items?

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