10 Pantry Ingredients Sunny Anderson Always Has on Hand — Plus, All the Clever Ways She Uses Them Up

updated Feb 27, 2021
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Credit: Courtesy of Food Network

On top of her regular gig of co-hosting The Kitchen (you know, the one with the “e”!), Food Network star Sunny Anderson has somehow made time to host two brand-new shows: My Fave vs. Your Fave (premiering February 28 at 9 p.m. ET on Cooking Channel) and The Easter Basket Challenge (premiering March 1 at 10 p.m. ET on Food Network). Of course, when she’s not busy filming and regularly contributing to Food Network Magazine, she’s at home cooking up a storm in her own kitchen … like so many of us.

We caught up with Sunny to chat all things pantry, including the staples she finds herself reaching for the most. Here are her top 10 pantry essentials (plus all the creative ways she uses them up!).

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Canned Black Beans

“One of my favorite staples is canned black beans. You can do so much with them. You can turn them into a bean dip, or use them in quesadillas, bean soup, and chili. [They’re] also just a smart protein.”

2. Peanut Butter

“Peanut butter is great for my juvenile needs like peanut butter and jelly. I also love peanut butter-flavored anything, like pancakes and cookies. It’s also a great emulsifier in sauce. I just used it in a pulled pork dish on The Kitchen. It’s got that earthy taste that comes through, plus this great body and texture. I love creamy peanut butter in a sandwich, and the raw kind for cookies and sauces and things like that. I also like honey-flavored peanut butter for toast.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Fried Onions and Jalapeños

“I love the ones that come in the little canister, that you sprinkle over green bean casserole. They’re great with scrambled eggs. The jalapeño version is actually spicy too. I like to crinkle them over eggs, grits, a burrito, mac and cheese, salad, chili. Instant texture from your pantry is pretty awesome. We’re used to getting that crunch from fresh items.”

Credit: Sarah Crowley

4. Boxed Cake Mix

“Boxed cake and brownie mix is perfect for an emergency, you know, every once in a while when you just want some cake. You can even make half of it, just one layer. I’ll add extracts, use butter instead of oil — something to increase upon the flavor. “

Related: I Tried 21 Different Boxes of Chocolate Cake Mix — Here Are the 3 I’m Buying from Now On

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

5. Pancake Mix

“All of these things are filed under ‘I can make it, but why?’ I love a good just-add-water pancake mix. I eat them probably five or six times a month. It’s also waffle mix if you add a little bit more butter.”

Credit: Photo: Justin Bridges | Food Stylist: Tyna Hoang

6. Grits

“Grits are a really great grain made from the inside of the corn. I grew up on white grits. They make a great breakfast but they can also be a really good side to a braised meat, grilled pork chops, etc. They take on whatever flavor you pair them with.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Flour

“Flour does everything. I can make tortillas with it; when I decide to make pie crust, I’ll make that; it thickens gravy. It’s a necessity. I never run out because I always have a backup.”

8. Cereal

“All kinds of cereal. I’m not talking adult cereal — I mean kids’ cereal. Captain Crunch, Raisin Bran, Reese’s Puffs. I have, like, 40 kinds. I love an endless bowl of cereal — you have some milk leftover, pour in more cereal, then you need some more milk — it just keeps going.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman

9. Chips

“Chips galore — all kinds of chips. I can’t have a sandwich without chips. I love potato, tortilla, puffed, corn. I love a ketchup-flavored chip right now. And I also love lightly salted, low-sodium chips. You taste them and you’re like, ‘They could have done this from the jump’! Lightly salted chips are my everything.”

Credit: Kelli Foster

10. Sambal Olek Chili Paste

“My final thing is, I think, my favorite. My sambal olek and other spicy chili sauces are the best. I love going to the Asian market and getting jars that have flames on the label. If I’m making gravy, or soup, or eggs, anything like that, I scoop some out to add a little heat.”

Credit: Courtesy of Food Network

Thanks for sharing, Sunny!