5 of the Best 1-Ingredient Upgrades We Know

updated Nov 22, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

There’s a whole lot of magic waiting to be had in the kitchen. And one of the quickest ways to achieve said magic is with an instant upgrade. What’s that, you ask? It’s when you can grab a seemingly innocuous ingredient from your pantry and completely transform what you’re cooking with it. Those moments are rare, but when they occur they are magical. Here are five to keep in mind.

1. Make baked chicken much crispier with mayonnaise.

If you want to make baked chicken that tastes fried, reach for mayonnaise. The fat in the condiment coats the breading while it bakes, crisping the breadcrumbs and adding flavor that mimics pan-fried chicken. As a bonus, mayo also adds a layer of moisture that protects the chicken and keeps it super juicy.

Get the tip: The $3 Ingredient That Makes Baked Chicken Taste Fried

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Turn balsamic vinegar into a glaze for everything.

Balsamic glaze is one of those fantastic sauces that somehow upgrades everything it touches: pan-seared pork chops, caprese salad, and vanilla ice cream, to name just three. And while you can buy balsamic glaze at the grocery store, why add another bottle to your pantry? If you have balsamic vinegar you already have everything you need to make it yourself. Simply pour regular balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until it becomes thick and syrupy.

Get the recipe: Balsamic Glaze

Credit: Lauren Volo

3. Put pickled jalapeños on your boxed mac and cheese.

Pick up a can of pickled jalapeños the next time you’re at the grocery store and tuck them away for boxed mac and cheese emergencies (you know the ones). Sprinkle a couple of jalapeños on top of your bowl along with a drizzle of the tart, vinegary juice that they’ve been soaking in. It will add just the right amount of heat and tang to help cut through the creamy richness.

Get the tip: The Spicy, Tangy One-Ingredient Upgrade for Mac and Cheese

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Shower frozen tater tots with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.

Lawry’s Seasoned Salt is a pre-mixed blend of salt, sugar, onion, garlic, and spices such as paprika and turmeric. It’s good sprinkled on lots of things, but shower it on frozen tater tots before popping them in the oven and they’ll become even more irresistible.

Get the tip: The Secret to Even Better Tater Tots Is Already in Your Pantry

Credit: Leela Cyd

5. Used condensed milk to make Rice Krispies Treats super gooey and soft.

If you have a can of sweetened condensed milk collecting dust in your pantry, pull it out the next time you go to make Rice Krispies treats, and add it in with the butter. It lends an extra-milky flavor and makes them ultra-gooey. But even more importantly, it keeps them soft for days.