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Nine of the best flavour-boosting store cupboard ingredients

Bursting with flavour, just a little of these punchy ingredients will go a long way, making them fantastic investments that your purse and taste buds will thank you for.

  1. Anchovies

    These small, oily fish pack a strong, umami (savoury) flavour. Rich and meaty, they’re a key ingredient in both Worcestershire sauce and Asian fish sauce. A popular addition to pasta sauces, anchovies are great for giving a salty boost to simple suppers, such as this gorgeous kale and anchovy pasta.

  2. Preserved lemon

    A classic North African ingredient, preserved lemon adds a delicate, citrus undertone to salads and tagines, and can be made easily with our simple preserving guide. It also pairs well with fish and salty cheeses such as halloumi and feta – this Middle Eastern-style baked feta makes a quick and wonderfully fragrant dinner. For a twist on your favourite tipple: try a preserved lemon martini.

    Preserved lemon
  3. Tikka paste

    Tikka paste is not just essential for whipping up a quick tikka masala – it adds a deep, spicy tomato flavour to plenty of other dishes, too. Try stirring it into a soup, adding some to grilled cheese, or making these street food-inspired tikka fish kebabs. For an easy midweek meal, try these keema lamb sliders

    Tikka paste
  4. Cornichons and gherkins

    Beyond burgers, these pickles are perfect for adding a tart, savoury crunch to sandwiches, as their acidity counters rich meats, pâtés, cheeses and cured meats. Also popular in Scandinavian cooking, try in a classic Danish open sandwich where they balance the hearty rye bread base and earthy beetroot topping. They also make a delicious crudité, alongside dishes such as this Camembert fondue, and chopped up, add the sour bite you find in a classic tartare sauce.

    Cornichons and gherkins
  5. Olives

    Although great as an easy snack, a jar of olives could be the secret ingredient to your next dinner. Black olives are great for adding buttery depth to pasta dishes; try in this easy five ingredient linguine (all store cupboard ingredients too!) or a classic puttanesca. Green olives add more of a salty, tangy kick, the perfect match for this zingy lemon and cod bake, or if you're in a party mood, in a cheeky gin and tonic

  6. Harissa paste

    A hot, fragrant paste made with roasted red peppers, chilli and spices, harissa is popular in Middle Eastern and North African cookery, where it’s traditionally used as a condiment. However, it also makes a great marinade for a meat, fish and veg, such as in this harissa-roasted root veg recipe, or to add a bit of spicy heat to a hearty vegan bake.

    Harissa paste
  7. Tahini

    Traditionally added to houmous, tahini is a strong-flavoured paste made from ground roasted sesame seeds. For a hint of nuttiness in your baking, add a spoonful to cookies, flapjacks, or these sweet vegan doughnuts. In savoury dishes it makes a lovely creamy dressing or tangy yogurt, ready to drizzle over a chicken traybake or spoon over jacket potatoes.

  8. Miso

    Not just for soups, miso brings a deep, savoury (umami) flavour to dishes, similar to mushrooms and soy sauce. Made from fermented soy beans, this staple Japanese ingredient can be stirred into a classic Bolognese or used to glaze fish as a seasoning. It's also a fantastic way of extra meaty savouriness to vegetarian and vegan dishes – you won't even miss the bacon in this vegan carbonara. For a dessert with a twist, try the salty-sweet combination in these miso and nectarine lollies.

  9. Soy sauce

    A staple ingredient in Asian cooking, soy sauce has a deep, super-savoury flavour that makes it a vital addition to stir-fries and teriyaki dishes. It’s also delicious splashed into gravy or used to season vegetables, like this roasted broccoli and rice salad. And for something a little different, try stirring it into a caramel sauce for a rich, alternative to salted caramel.

    Soy sauce