The Recipe Improvisations Reddit Swears By

When you first learn to cook, you may be inclined to play it safe and follow the recipe exactly as written — unless, of course, you're one of the lucky ones who learn to cook from a "magical grandma" type that just throws a handful of this and a pinch of that in a pot and somehow winds up with a Cordon-bleu-worthy dish every time. Yes, well, don't try this at home, kids. Grandma kitchen magic, like those weird little strawberry candies, are something that you only acquire with age.

Still, as time goes by and you grow more secure in your cooking skills, you'll probably start learning what you like and what you don't and making a few alterations in accordance with your own preferences. One kitchen experimenter started a Reddit thread asking for others' go-to cooking improvisations, with the original poster admitting a penchant for adding feta cheese to everything, as well as for making "planned-overs" that can be turned into a different dish each day. The question sparked a lively discussion, since we've all got our own favorite recipe tweaks.

Some people really, really like cinnamon

Cinnamon is an ingredient that's undeniably popular, particularly in the U.S. where it seems like each and every one of our airports and shopping malls are permeated with the scent of Cinnaboneven if there are no actual Cinnabons on the premises. Despite all this cinnamon overload, there are some cooks who still can't get enough of the stuff, and a few of them chimed in on Reddit to share their love of this near-ubiquitous spice. One admitted that "Any time cinnamon ... is involved, I add extra," while another confessed to "Doubl[ing] the cinnamon in all dessert recipes."

One Redditor did supply a caveat when it came to cinnamon use (or over-use), clarifying that when it came to any type of savory dish (chili being an example), "A little cinnamon goes a long way." However, they did suggest that extra cinnamon works differently in desserts, saying, "Sweet? Cinnamon away."

Others are all about the garlic

On the savory side, there's another seasoning that many feel should be added to absolutely everything that comes out of the oven. Vampires beware, we've got a whole lot of garlic lovers out there. One allium overachiever boasted on Reddit, "Whatever amount of garlic the recipe calls for is multiplied by 3." Another agreed "More garlic = more better," while yet another compared their garlic use to how they made coffee, saying they always added "another scoop for the pot."

On the opposite end of the spectrum was a Redditor whose husband is allergic to the stinking rose. "A huge number of recipes online call for it," they point out, saying that this leaves them "hav[ing] to find ways to eliminate it without sacrificing flavor." They usually use onions (hubs isn't allergic to these), but adds that oregano makes a good substitute as this herb "has a flavor profile that works well in some recipes containing garlic."

Some like their recipes hot

Chiles and hot sauce were favorite additions to many recipes, with one Redditor explaining, "Anything savoury gets chilli added. Not necessarily to make it hot, but at least a little hint of heat." Others were more specific about their peppers of choice, with one saying, "I add Korean chiliflakes to literally everything ... i buy 1 kg bags in my local Asian supermarket" and another who prefers " pasilla peppers ... in any braised meat dish [and] Aleppo pepper ... in any vegetable dish."

A few people combined their love of both garlic and peppers by adding a condiment that combines the two. One Redditor confessed, "I dump chili garlic sauce in so much of what I eat," while another added, "I also use an Asian chili garlic sauce for heat most of the time." A third was a tiny bit more selective, saying they "Always add sambal olek or chili garlic or siracha to Asian recipes and anything tomato based."

Salt is either added or subtracted

Some people are big fans of salt, using it as an add-on or finishing touch like the Redditor who enjoys skillet cookies liberally sprinkled with "huge salt chunks," describing "the burned b**** with that crunch of the salt, or the melty center when you hit the salt there" as making them drool whenever they thought of it. Another advised, "Always sub coarse sea salt for regular salt. Especially in baked items," explaining that, "That little crunch of salt is just delectable."

When it comes to putting salt in things, rather than on things, it may be wiser to cut down the amount used rather than amp it up. One Redditor who submitted a laundry list of recipe tweaks did say they usually only used "about 3/4 of salt requested because I'm probably adding a hot sauce or parm or something," while another said they liked using shiitake mushrooms to supply "free umami" without having to worry about the added salt you'd get from a condiment like soy sauce or fish sauce.