Secret Ingredient Recipes

Bacon Alfredo Pasta Casserole
Bacon Alfredo Pasta Casserole. Linda Larsen

Every cook has her secrets. Some people don't believe in giving out recipes for their treasured dishes. I am not one of them. If I discover something in the kitchen, I will be the first to pass out the secret. 

These recipes use "secret" ingredients to add flavor, to make the texture of the dish perfect, or to add richness and aroma. None of the ingredients in these recipes are unusual or hard to find. They just aren't something you would think to include in these dishes.

Remember that you can change recipes (except for baking recipes, which follow precise rules) to suit your tastes and what you have on hand. Who knows - you may discover a secret ingredient that makes a recipe spectacular! And stay tuned - this list will grow.

Secret Ingredient Recipes

  • Fettuccine Carbonnaise
    This wonderful recipe was the result of a missed shopping trip. I wanted to make Spaghetti Carbonara and didn't have the ingredients. Mayonnaise came to the rescue, and now I make this luscious dish often.
  • Grape and Bacon Salad
    Well, the secret to this recipe is in the title! So many unusual recipes use bacon these days, but I have never seen it added to a fruit salad. The salty crispness of bacon is perfect with the sweet and tart grapes and creamy dressing. Yum.
  • My Mother's Potato Salad
    The secret ingredient in the best potato salad ever is Miracle Whip. Don't sneer - it truly adds great flavor and texture. The recipe just isn't as good without it.
  • Fastest Cheesecake
    The secret ingredient in this recipe is sweetened condensed milk. It adds all the sugar the cheesecake needs, but eliminates potential graininess. The result is the creamiest cheesecake ever, and one of the easiest to make.
  • Bacon Alfredo Pasta Casserole
    This wonderful recipe uses cream cheese as the secret ingredient in the white sauce. That cheese adds a richness and tang you can't get from any other ingredient. This recipe is perfect for entertaining in the winter.
  • Curried Chicken Salad
    This is one of my all time favorite recipes, and for good reason. The secret ingredient is chutney stirred into the dressing. It adds a flavor you can't get with any other ingredient.
  • My Special Pizza
    I tried for years to come up with a pizza sauce recipe that had the spice and tang of my favorite pizza delivery shop. I didn't want a lot of heat, so jalapenos were out. More tomato products made the sauce too sweet. I finally hit on mustard, and stand by it. This is a fabulous pizza.
  • The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
    This fabulous cookie recipe receives raves from everyone who tries them. The secret ingredients are ground oatmeal and ground white chocolate. They add flavor, chewiness, and creaminess to the cookie that is just out of this world.
  • Mexican Pizza
    The secret to this recipe is refried beans in the pizza sauce. I hit on the right combination the first time I tried making this recipe, and it's a winner. And the other secret ingredient is cornmeal in the crust; it adds great crunch and flavor.
  • Rich Spaghetti and Meatballs
    The secret ingredient in this super easy five ingredient recipe is pesto! It adds a fabulous flavor that you can't quite define.
  • Four Bean Chili
    You can, of course, add all kinds of beans to chili. But the bean that makes the most difference in flavor and texture is refried beans. Their thick and smooth texture and rich flavor elevate this chili to a feast.
  • Raspberry Turkey Mint Salad
    Of course, you would think that this salad uses fresh mint, and it does. But the real secret ingredient is mint extract. It really works to add wonderful flavor to this delicious dish; really!
  • Zebra Popcorn
    Did you know that the secret ingredient in homemade caramel corn is baking soda? It reacts with the acid in brown sugar to create carbon dioxide, which makes the syrup foam up. The foamy mixture evenly coats the popcorn and makes the finished product light and crisp. The two kinds of chocolate are just a bonus!
  • Make Ahead Scrambled Eggs
    The secret ingredient in this wonderful recipe is sour cream. It adds body and flavor to the eggs, and helps stop them from separating when they are chilled and reheated.
  • Amy's Potatoes
    It's difficult to get good French fries without frying them. This recipe, which uses flour, Parmesan cheese, and lots of butter, makes fabulous fries in the oven. They are perfect to serve when you are grilling a steak.
  • Crockpot Sauerbraten
    Well, this ingredient is only "secret" to those who have never made this recipe. Gingersnap cookies are crumbled into the gravy in this wonderful German dish to add flavor and to thicken the sauce.