HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


10 best ingredients in my kitchen

There is always some products that you use every time you cook in your kitchen. Some gadgets that you cannot live without, some essential things that you absolutely adore.
Here are the best 10 ingredients, products that i use all the time and almost everyday. Without them, i would be nothing in a kitchen.

1. Sea salt. This is the only salt that i use for cooking. Coarse and fine, both
2. Dijon mustard. As a marinade or to do an easy vinaigrette.
3. Herbes de Provence. A french dried mix of herbs that is amazingly fragrant and versatile.
4. Extra virgin olive oil. That is the only oil that i use all the time.
5. Heavy cream. For finishing the soups, the sauces, the pastas, the salads.
6. Cheeses. All kinds. I use the leftover scraps of cheeses in soups, on a pizza. I never throw away cheese.
7. Olives. Because it is always a great appetizer. Not the ones in the can.
8. Parmesan cheese. As a garnish on salads, pastas, soups, as well as in cubes for an easy tapas.
9. Ice cream. It is always an indispensable to make a last minute dessert.
10. Butter. Do i have to say more ...

That would be an interesting discussion to have ; describing your 10 essentials in your kitchen ...


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I agree with many of your posts!!! Maybe it is my midwest sensibility but onions are on my list!!!

    1. Butter
    2. Cream
    3. Buttermilk
    4. Garlic
    5. onions
    6. rice for risotto
    7. Bacon
    8. Parm
    9. Cheddar
    10. olive oil

    It's kind of fun to think about this list!!


    2 Replies
    1. re: foodloverlori

      1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
      2. Kosher Salt
      3. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
      4. Garlic
      5. Onions
      6. Fresh Herbs from my patio
      7. Chicken Stock
      8. Brown Rice
      9. Whole Grain Pasta
      10. Parmigiano Peggiano

      I thought it would be a challenge but...10 isn't enough!



      1. re: foodloverlori

        mmm. I also always have onions, garlic, bacon and Arborio rice on hand. but this was a "Top 10" list. ;) oh, and anchovies.

      2. Sea salt
        Basmati Rice
        All purpose flour

        1. only 10?
          extra virgin olive oil
          rice ( brown, white, arborio)
          sea salt
          Parmesan cheese
          better than boullion chicken

          I could add lots more that I consider "staples" when I cook.....

          1. 1. sea salt
            2. black peppercorns
            3. extra virgin olive oil
            4. lemons
            5. garlic (cloves and scapes)
            6. butter
            7. heavy cream
            8. Parm
            9. shallots
            10. fresh herbs from my raised beds
            11. so sorry but I must add bacon!!

            It's difficult not to add ten more...

            1. 1. olive oil
              2. flour
              3. peperoncino
              4. lemons
              5. anchovies
              6. canned tomatoes from the garden
              7. sugar
              8. cheeses always on stock - ricotta, pecorino, caciocavallo
              9. salt
              10. garlic

              1. Yes, everybody is right. 10 is surely not enough. And we did not talk about the gadgets, pots and pans ...
                and i forgot the lemons, the garlic of course !


                1. Veronique, I'm going to have to check out your blob. When I read your list it almost looked like I had written it. The only notable differences:
                  1. I have several kinds of sea salt. In addition to sel gris and Fleur de Sel, I usually have Australian Murray River salt, and right now I have a hughe bag of Colima sea salt I brought home from Mexico... Mexico's Flor de Sal harvested 10/1/10 on the Vera Cruz coast. and
                  5. I'm addicted to creme fraiche, and have it on hand at all times. I make it from the non-ultra-pasteurized heavy cream Ronnybrook Farms sells around New York. The best!

                  8. I get really upset when friends tell me they've thrown out cheese because the date on the package had passed! Cut off the mold and enjoy the rest!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ChefJune

                    I am so in synchro with your thoughts. I brought back sea salt from Hawaii that is amazing. And how can we go wrong with Creme Fraiche. With maple syrup or homemade jams, it's just paradise.

                    And those scraps of cheese when your are making a soup, that's a well kept secret.


                  2. Great lists all around. My ten are:

                    1. Parmesan cheese (great with breadcrumbs as a crust for chicken)
                    2. EVOO (for all the reasons listed previously)
                    3. Butter
                    4. Onions
                    5. Green onions (almost everything I do needs freshness and these invariably provide it)
                    6. Coconut milk (great for sweet or savory applications)
                    7. Nuoc mam (umame!)
                    8. Canned tomatoes (sauce, soup, even thicken with a roux over biscuits!)
                    9. Kosher salt
                    10. Chicken stock

                    1. 1, Extra Virgin Olive Oil- use for everything
                      2, Butter- well, butter is butter and no, there is no replacement for butter
                      3, Soy Sauce- Love the taste
                      4, Garlic- nothing says flavor like garlic
                      5, Bacon, yes bacon...bacon bacon- my husband gets nervous when he runs out of it. He will probably pick bacon over me if there is a fire in the house.
                      6, Eggs- The 2nd thing my huband will pick after bacon if there is a fire.
                      7, Onion- A good base for everything...sauteed onion in bacon fat..yummy..
                      8, Chicken stock-
                      9, Canned tomatoes- pasta sauce, stew, baked ziti...endless possibilities
                      10, Herb de Provence- I too love this herb mixture. It's so versatile...from eggs to roasted potatoes to pork chops to grilled chicken.

                      1. Everybody has items that I agree with totally! It's interesting that lots of you have sea salt somewhere in the list. Though I have sea salt, and kosher salt, I'd be happy to do without them. Partly for health reasons, and partly just because my taste buds are so sensitive to salt, that the cheeses, bacon, olives or other ingredients provide enough salt for me.
                        I think another 10 items would round it out just fine, but here's my top of the list.

                        Sharp Cheddar
                        Parmigiano Reggiano
                        Olive oil
                        Fresh ground black pepper

                        1. 1. Butter
                          2. Duck fat
                          3. Bacon fat
                          4. Kombu
                          5. Japanese/Taiwanese soy sauce
                          6. Mirin
                          7. Spanish olive oil
                          8. Salt of various types
                          9. Pepper of various types
                          10. Bacon

                          That's what's always around though all 10 do not make it into everything I make.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: wattacetti

                            Wattacetti, glad I'm not the only one considers duck (or goose) fat an essential. My list includes 1. salt (various types, sea and kosher), 2. fats (duck, goose, bacon, EVOO, butter), 3. cheeses (too many to list but always Parm, cheddar, goat), 4. garlic, 5. onions, 6. homade stocks (think the freezer currently has duck, chicken, veggie, and rabbit), 7. pepper (lots of kinds, including tellicherry, green and pink peppercorns, chipotle, ancho, etc.), 8. lemons, 9. parsley, 10. vinegars (sherry, balsamic, champagne, red wine, cider, etc.)

                            Yes, I know I cheated by not picking just ONE thing for each, I picked one category. That's the advantage of answering late ;-)

                            1. re: Niki in Dayton

                              Yeah! There's no such thing as too much butter or too much duck fat.

                              I also have chicken fat lying around but don't use it in too much quantity to warrant counting it; currently trying to score some cockscomb so that I can use the fat to confit it.

                              You have to add comet-tail and long pepper (Piper longum) to your mix.

                          2. It looks like we all have very similar tastes here! Here is my list (complete with gadgets too)

                            1. Cheese: I can't pick just one. I always have at least $50 worth of cheese in the fridge and trying a new cheese is always a thrill.
                            2. Dry white wine
                            3. Immersion blender
                            4. Dutch oven: I live for soups and stews
                            5. Freshly made pasta: nothing else like it
                            6. Peppercorns
                            7. Vegetable stock
                            8. Garlic!! It is the base to almost all my food
                            9. Arugula: You can use it to finish any dish, throw it on a sandwich, or make a fantastic and simple salad
                            10. Cream cheese: You can add it to all kinds of food for a fantastic little zing!

                            That was actually so hard... I got to 10 and was a little sad.


                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Veggie Liv

                              Immersion blender is definetely my all time best gadget. To do creams of vegetables, sauces, super smooth mashed potatoes, mayonnaise, it is fantastic. And the amazing thing is you can bring it with you anywhere when you travel.


                              1. re: verodreams

                                Exactly! And, BONUS, it's so easy to clean. I'm about to go home and make some creamy, satisfying roasted vegetable puree right now.

                            2. Salt
                              Rice wine vinegar
                              Balsamic vinegar
                              Dried Shitake Mushrooms
                              Soy sauce
                              Yellow mustard
                              All-purpose flour

                              1. Oh so many wonderful things on your list. I'm finding I have to adjust my diet since I have allergies to wheat, eggs and dairy apparently. :(
                                My new top ten are
                                1 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
                                2 Lemons
                                3 Quinoa
                                4 Coconut Milk
                                5 Lemons
                                6 Chickpeas
                                7 Currants
                                8 Cashews
                                9 Tahini
                                10 Rice

                                So far so good. I have a lot more to add, but these are always around. :)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: adventuresinbaking

                                  It must be so bad to have allergies. So many things that you have to exempt from your diet. i always wondered if i was allergic to green peppers because for me it is a big no no.


                                  1. re: verodreams

                                    allergies take a lot of the fun out of life! It is funny though, I could give some things up easier than I could give up stuff like green peppers, garlic, onions and tomatoes. Luckily, not so much allergic to those. :)

                                2. Re your #7: I get some great Spanish olives in cans.

                                  1. 1 Butter
                                    2 Parmesan cheese
                                    3 whole wheat pasta
                                    4 broth
                                    5 spinach (I chop it up in everything)
                                    6 chili powder
                                    7 garlic
                                    8 olive oil
                                    9 salsa
                                    10 peanut butter

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. At dinner, I was telling DH about this thread, and he suggested that it would be interesting to know where the posters are all located, since some of our lists are so similar and some are so different. I am from the Midwest, now living in Georgia. My tastes have definitely stayed Midwestern. Staples of a Southern cook would be far different from mine.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                                        i am located in Virginia, but i was born in Quebec and i lived in Hawaii.


                                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                                          Good point! I'm in Phoenix, Az, so I don't have as many fresh herbs and things growing like other do. I'm also a vegetarian, so that affects my list greatly.

                                        2. 1. olive oil
                                          2. sea salt
                                          3. garlic
                                          4. green onions
                                          5. lots of cheeses
                                          6. eggs
                                          7. bacon
                                          8. wine
                                          9. lemons
                                          10. greek yogurt

                                          I have plenty of other pantry items to fall back on, along with shopping for fresh veggies 2-3 times a week - but these 10 feature most regularly in pulling together meals. I live in New Orleans.

                                          1. EVOO
                                            Chicken stock (homemade)

                                            1. Hi all,

                                              There are many, many more things I use that are also important. But, narrowing it down to ten, I don't use all of these EVERY time I cook but I'd be hard pressed to cook without any of them.

                                              1. Flour
                                              2. Butter
                                              3. Eggs
                                              4. Leavening
                                              5. Cream
                                              6. Marsala
                                              7. Lemons
                                              8. Salt
                                              9. Pepper
                                              10. Cumin


                                              1. http://homeindisarray.blogspot.com/20...

                                                Kosher Salt
                                                Heavy Cream
                                                Homemade Chicken Stock
                                                Red & White wines
                                                Cheeses - primarily parmesan, sharp cheddar, and chevré

                                                A PNW cook myself.

                                                1. 1. Kosher Salt
                                                  2. Bragg's Amino Acids
                                                  3. Garlic
                                                  4. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
                                                  5. Eggs
                                                  6. Broth or Stock
                                                  7. Fennel
                                                  8. Thyme
                                                  9. Unsweetened Almond Milk
                                                  10. Lemon

                                                  Runners-up:Cauliflower, Scallops, Spaghetti Squash, Onions, Leeks, Bay Leaf, Curry, Celery

                                                  I'd prolly be ashamed to admit some of my favorite gadgets...

                                                  1. 1. extra virgin olive oil (not the fancy stuff though)
                                                    2. parsley
                                                    3. butter (pref. salted)
                                                    4. lemons
                                                    5. Parmesan Reggiano
                                                    6. soy sauce
                                                    7. brown sugar
                                                    8. onions
                                                    9. garlic
                                                    10. milk

                                                    oh dear, I ran through that way too quickly. kosher/sea salt and black pepper are givens, I feel (hope). my #11 would be chicken broth/Better than Bullion.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                      REQUIREMENT WHEN SALT IS NOT USED SINCE IT ACTS AS A PRESERVATIVE .

                                                      I WOULD ADD 2 ITEMS NOT PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED : FISH SAUCE AND SAMBAL OLEK CHILI PASTE .

                                                    2. 1. Unsalted Butter
                                                      2. Olive Oil
                                                      3. Mustard, at least two types
                                                      4. Garlic
                                                      5. Fresh Ginger
                                                      6. Lemons
                                                      7. Eggs
                                                      8. Onions
                                                      9. Hard grating cheeses, Parm, Pecorino, Asiago
                                                      10. AP Flour

                                                      Like most of us, I could easily go on and on, but these are the essentials I just can't live without. Gotta have my butter, garlic and lemons.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                        oh, eggs! how could I forget? of course...

                                                      2. It's really interesting seeing names I recognise from other threads (especially WFD) who cook such an array of amazing meals and all have very similar staples!

                                                        I'd go for:
                                                        1. Olive oil
                                                        2. Black pepper
                                                        3. Sea salt
                                                        4. Fresh red chillis
                                                        5. Limes
                                                        6. Canned tomatoes
                                                        7. Garlic
                                                        8. Shallots and/or onions
                                                        9. Bouillion powder/stock cubes - if I had a bigger freezer, it'd be home-made stock
                                                        10. Butter

                                                        1. 1) Wine - because if I run out of everything else, it should be there, yes?
                                                          2) Cheese
                                                          3) Pasta
                                                          4) Rice
                                                          5) Garlic
                                                          6) Chilli flakes
                                                          7) Lemon
                                                          8) Parlsey
                                                          9) Olive oil
                                                          10) Frozen peas

                                                          So yeah, I live on carbs, fat and booze. It's the Nigella diet.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: ultimatepotato

                                                            Funny, sounds like my diet.

                                                            First mention of frozen peas, yay. On my top 20 list, at about 14.

                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                              Frozen peas definitely make it into the top 20, along with eggs at 11. And wine or Noilly Prat. I should have thought about this harder before posting my original list...

                                                              1. re: gembellina

                                                                It's pretty tough to chose just the top 10. 20 or 30 choices would have been much easier. I really had to think about it, and did some editing. I thought about wine, 11 for me, didn't list salt and pepper, as it's kind of a given, although I did have salt on my first list. This is a more challenging list to create than meets the eye.

                                                            2. re: ultimatepotato

                                                              This looks pretty much like what I would choose. Except for parsley. I think I would replace that with cilantro. (I'm in Az). I love frozen peas though. perfect for throwing into some pasta, rice, cous cous, or just eating with a touch of sea salt and lots of pepper!

                                                            3. eggs
                                                              fresh herbs

                                                              1. 1 salt
                                                                2 olive oil
                                                                3 unsalted butter
                                                                4 shallots
                                                                5 flour
                                                                6 sugar
                                                                7 eggs
                                                                8 lemon
                                                                9 wine
                                                                10 chicken stock

                                                                1. 1. Salt
                                                                  2. Butter
                                                                  3. Heavy cream
                                                                  4. Black or white beans
                                                                  5. Shallots
                                                                  6. Lemons
                                                                  7. White wine
                                                                  8. Black pepper
                                                                  9. Cheese cheese cheese
                                                                  10.Canned tomatoes

                                                                  1. 1. Flour (AP, Whole Wheat, Spelt, Rye, Bread)
                                                                    2. Eggs
                                                                    3. Oils (EVOO, Olive Oil, Grapeseed, Truffle)
                                                                    4) Yeast
                                                                    5) Cheese (Hard and Soft Cheeses)
                                                                    6) Homemade Tomato Puree
                                                                    7) Fresh Herbs
                                                                    8) Tomato Paste
                                                                    9) Homemade Stock & Wine
                                                                    10) Green Onions

                                                                    1. 1. Kosher salt
                                                                      2. ground pepper
                                                                      3. butter (salted)
                                                                      4. olive oil
                                                                      5. mayonnaise
                                                                      6. worchestershire sauce
                                                                      7. garlic
                                                                      8. cream cheese
                                                                      9. onions
                                                                      10. veggie or chicken broth

                                                                      1. I'm going to echo many of the ingredients many of you foodies have already said. Glad to see we're all on the same page.

                                                                        1. Garlic
                                                                        2. Sea salt
                                                                        3. Olive oil
                                                                        4. Capers
                                                                        5. Cracked black pepper
                                                                        6. Sharp cheddar cheese
                                                                        7. Soy sauce
                                                                        8. Anchovies
                                                                        9. King Arthur flour
                                                                        10. Various nuts, for toasting

                                                                        That was harder than I thought!


                                                                        1. In no particular order

                                                                          1. Butter
                                                                          2. Eggs
                                                                          3. Citrus fruit (any varieties)
                                                                          4. Mustard (any variety)
                                                                          5. Chiles
                                                                          6. Vinegar
                                                                          7. Tomatoes
                                                                          8. Onions
                                                                          9. Garlic (any form)
                                                                          10. Fresh cilantro or parsley

                                                                          1. Let's see if I can come up with 10:
                                                                            1. Kashmiri saffron (I'm obsessed)
                                                                            2. Raw almonds
                                                                            3. Organic unsalted butter
                                                                            4. Fage
                                                                            5. Ghee
                                                                            6. Crunchy almond butter
                                                                            7. Basmati rice
                                                                            8. Eggnog
                                                                            9. Almond oil/almond extract (cheating and counting it as 1 item)
                                                                            10. Popcorn
                                                                            and, if I can add a guilty pleasure #11, Stacy's Naked pita chips, but the ones from Costco, which are much thicker and crunchier than the grocery store ones. Uh oh, one more: sun dried tomatoes.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: pine time


                                                                              Who needs anything else? :)

                                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                                Omg those pita chips are TDF. Like eating pieces of pie crust. Obsessed with those.

                                                                              2. 1. Red Wine
                                                                                2. King Arthur Flours - All-Purpose, Sir Lancelot, Bread Flour
                                                                                3. Fats: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Plugra Butter - Salted & Unsalted.
                                                                                4. Cheeses: Mozzarella, Brie, Camembert
                                                                                5. Protein: Rib-eye, WHOLE Shrimp (head-on, shell-on), Catfish, Tilapia
                                                                                6. Kosher Salt / Pepper - Fire-in-my-belly hot
                                                                                7. Yeast
                                                                                8. Plantains
                                                                                9. Sugar
                                                                                10. Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer - my black beauty...my onyx dream...my one and only baked goods enhancer

                                                                                1. 1. sea salt
                                                                                  2. extra virgin olive oil
                                                                                  3. white wine
                                                                                  4. lemons
                                                                                  5. garlic
                                                                                  6. onion
                                                                                  7. hot paprika/red pepper
                                                                                  8. fish sauce or anchovies
                                                                                  9. whole grain flours (make my own pastas & etc)
                                                                                  10. fresh herbs (if I had to pick one, it would be rosemary)