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Enhancing canned, processed and fast foods?

Although I can't think of a single example right now, often I read posts where people doctor up boring foods by adding extra ingrediants. That never occured to me until reading some posts on Chowhound.

I don't have anthing brilliant. I added some chorizo to some canned lentil soup that made it taste better. I just saw a terrific mole sauce at a Mexican market and thought I could probably pick up a rotissarie chicken and use that with the mole.

Do you have any enhancement tricks you use?

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  1. nothing thrilling for sure but I often make tuna salad with beans for lunch. My "enhancement" is to drain the canned beans & add a squirt of lemon juice...

    I was thinking about this subject the other day & look forward to future posts....I'd also like to add frozen foods to the list...

    1. I always add a handful of spinach and and an egg to instand ramen in the last two minutes of cooking. It just makes everything taste better and gives me some real nutrients. I usually eat Shin ramen, so the veggies and egg go well with the spicy kick.

      1. I love to spice up plain old tuna salad with diced peppadew peppers. Gives it a nice spicy/vinegary bite.

        I add ginger infused sriracha and frozen preshelled edame to those packaged aisan noodle cups. The hot water cooks the edamae perfectly. I think both of these makes them taste more "homemade" and it makes for a quick, easy and filling lunch.

        When I am doing a BBQ for a crowd I buy this great new potato salad from the deli and then add crumbled bacon and fresh chives. Personally I think its better than what I make scratch!

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodieX2

          Yeah, these ideas are what I was talking about, especially the idea of adding bacon and fresh chives to deli potato salad. Those are the types of hints that catch my attention and make me think "What a great idea, why didn't I ever think of that".

        2. I add prepared horseradish and onions to tuna salad for a kick. I fry up breakfast style patties with a can of cornedbeef by adding onion, garlic, spices and bind it with egg. I fry bacon, resrve the fat and heat up black beans and corn in it; I top that with the bacon pieces. I always add more chili powder and hot sauce to canned chili.

          1. I like Trader Joe's potato salad more than most deli versions exactly because it's not all goosed up with pickle relish or mustard. I get it when I'm too lazy to make my own, then bump it with chopped HB egg, some chopped onion and a tad more mayo, which makes it almost exactly like my homemade.

            And the only way I can tolerate canned green beans (or wax beans) is to fry some chopped bacon and onion gently in the pot until the onion is just transparent, then add the drained green beans and some water and salt, and simmer it all together until the beans are a bit overcooked, just like mama used to make'em.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Will Owen

              Same on the green beans but I add some thyme too.

            2. I think generally, processed foods tend to be bland and/or watery and/or sweet. So there are several types of additives that help in various ways, and if helps to take a second and think about what exactly is "wrong" with the food and what you can add that will not just cover up the dish, but actually bring out its best qualities.

              Probably the single most useful is adding a touch of acid (lemon juice or a mild/flavored vinegar), which will sharpen and brighten the flavors. Sriracha, which also has some vinegar, also adds some perkiness. Sauteed onions and garlic in butter or olive oil will rescue almost any meat or veggie dish. And as other people have noted, bacon is great. It's not just because the bacon itself tastes good, but because the salty and smoky flavors also enhance the other flavors in the dish.

              1. I add chili powder and lemon juice to canned veg baked beans - they tend to be cloyingly sweet, and the add-ins balance that.

                Fresh cilantro to jarred salsa or refried beans.

                Chopped chives and a beaten eggs to instant ramen.

                There are more, I'll post as I remember.

                1 Reply
                1. re: piccola

                  speaking of salsa, I always add extra cumin.

                2. When I was young I "cooked" rice krispies w/marshmellows, pizza, and popcorn. I started out adding oil and meats to the frozen pizza. In grad school I started adding meat and veggies to frozen chinese dinners, and salsa/sour cream to frozen burritos. From this start I've moved into preparing all these things (and more) from scratch, becoming a decent cook, and a chowhound addict.

                  1. I like to put steamed broccoli with a little whie grated cheddar and Tapatio hot sauce on Annies mac'n'cheese.

                    1. The only way to enhance fast food . . . is to add it to the trash!

                      If you have to "fix" it before you eat it, then WHY bother?


                      1. One thing I still do when I have time: toast cereal, like Cheerios, before eating. It brings out the nuttiness.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: piccola

                          on a sheet pan in the oven? interesting