The best off-the-product recipes
January 9, 2021 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Give me your favorite off-the-box recipes - the kind you find on the side of a package of flour, oatmeal, sugar, etc. Recipes that you tried on a lark but which really surprised you because they were so good. Does not *have* to be off of a product, but that is the general idea.

I am asking because sometimes these recipes produce great results, but you would never find them in a cookbook. They're just there to give you ideas on how to use flour, or whatever. Seeking baking recipes in particular, but any recipes are welcome.
posted by Crystal Fox to Food & Drink (48 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think I've ever used the ones specifically on the packaging, but as I've gotten into baking, I've been using King Arthur flour, and I've also really come to trust the recipes on their site to be reliable and no fuss.
posted by solotoro at 6:21 PM on January 9, 2021 [10 favorites]

Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. They make a ton but do vanish quickly! Also good old Toll House cookies are pretty darn good too.
posted by chocotaco at 6:29 PM on January 9, 2021 [17 favorites]

Scotcharoos. Fucking incredible! The only advice I have is have all your ingredients ready to go, pre-measured, since the timing of the perfect temperature/melting point is so tight.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:37 PM on January 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

The cornbread recipe from the side of the Indian Head cornmeal bag is my go-to.
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:38 PM on January 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

When I was married, I made chocolate chip cookies (okay so the real division of labor was I made cookie dough when I got home from work in the morning and then stuck the cookie dough in the fridge and when Mrs. Moofoo got home in the evening she would bake them) straight off the bag o chips, Tollhouse of course, for Mrs. M to take to musical practice, and she said the kids raved about them and begged for more.
So that recipe is at least a pretty good choc chip cookie baseline.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:39 PM on January 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

The jiffy corn pudding is great; the Smitten Kitchen version even better!!!
posted by ChuraChura at 6:43 PM on January 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme jars has a fudge recipe on the back my family LOVES. Bear in mind it’s extremely sweet, I imagine if you add the nuts like my family doesn’t that balances it a bit.
posted by lepus at 6:44 PM on January 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Seconding the Quaker Oatmeal Raisin cookies. They are great.
posted by Dolley at 6:46 PM on January 9, 2021

A few years ago, I bought some coconut flakes, unsweetened, to put in banana bread, and the bag of coconut had a recipe on it for making vegan imitation bacon bits. I never tried it, but I find the idea interesting.
Might have been Bob’s Red Mill brand. I’m not at home to check, but I’ll report back when I find out.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:47 PM on January 9, 2021

Couple more!

World's Easiest Fudge, from Carnation: use a can of sweetened condensed milk and 1 package (approx. 16 oz) of bittersweet chocolate chips. Melt and stir them together until smooth. Pour in a pan lined with parchment and cut into squares when solidified. It tastes like you made real fudge but you really went to hardly any work at all!

Chex Mix-- use the recipe off the box, but double the amount of sauce and double the amount of extra add-ins. So if they ask for 3 cups of assorted crunchy things that aren't Chex, use 6 cups of assorted things. Cap'n Crunch is surprisingly good as one of your add-ins. There's really no need to buy bagged Chex Mix, it's too stale and sour tasting compared to the real thing hot out of the oven.

Lipton Soup Onion Dip (also known as California Dip.) Mix a packet of dry onion soup mix with 16 oz. of sour cream or plain yogurt, your choice. Better if it sits overnight. Such a lovely hot-weather treat with vegetables and chips.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:50 PM on January 9, 2021 [11 favorites]

Oh yeah, I am semi-embarrassed to say it but yes, the Lipton Onion Soup dip recipe on the box is amazeballs. Mix it up, let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour or two, then go to town with Lays chips.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:55 PM on January 9, 2021 [13 favorites]

Mac and cheese off the box of Mueller’s elbows. My mom always insisted that you need to make the roux carefully (I don’t remember her ever using corn starch; I feel like that and the mustard powder have been added) and to grate your own cheese. And to grate more than the recipe calls for in order to have a nice golden cheese topping of deliciousness.

ETA I believe she used flour instead of the corn starch, hence the roux. I make mine with flour too.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 6:56 PM on January 9, 2021

Ok ok apparently this is my fault for trusting the Google. Here’s the recipe I remember:
the REAL mac and cheese
posted by sara is disenchanted at 7:09 PM on January 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Indian Head cornmeal cornbread recipe - I love the "sweeter" variation they include for muffins.

The chocolate cake recipe on the Hershey's cocoa box is supposed to be amazing, but I've never actually made it.
posted by Mchelly at 7:27 PM on January 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

I am asking because sometimes these recipes produce great results, but you would never find them in a cookbook.

Ah... but you would! Best Recipes From the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans, and Jars. I had an earlier edition of this growing up and I cooked from it all the time.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:30 PM on January 9, 2021 [4 favorites]


Also, King Arthur Flour has a great challah recipe IIRC.
posted by Melismata at 7:44 PM on January 9, 2021 [9 favorites]

Seconding Chex Mix. It’s probably one of my top three favorite foods in the world.

The German chocolate cake recipe on the Bakers German chocolate box is a winner.
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 7:48 PM on January 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

These cookies from the corn starch box are great (though not as good as real shortbread).
posted by randomnity at 7:56 PM on January 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think this is the recipe for cranberry lime cilantro salsa I made off a bag a couple years running. Delicious.
posted by clew at 8:18 PM on January 9, 2021

Mister Moofoo, that’s the secret about that recipe, making the dough ahead of time. Something magical happens with the alcohol in the vanilla extract and the sugars, as the dough hangs out it gets better flavor.

I also agree about the Quaker Oats cookie recipe. My friends rave and ask for recipe. Same with Tollhouse recipe. They don’t believe it’s the package recipe.
posted by Jazz Hands at 8:51 PM on January 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

One Bowl Brownies from the Baker’s Chocolate box have ruined me for all other brownies. They’re roughly the same amount of work as a packaged mix but are orders of magnitude better.
posted by corey flood at 9:02 PM on January 9, 2021 [7 favorites]

The only play dough recipe I've ever used is the one on the Cream of Tartar box. It's also the only reason I own cream of tartar.
posted by kjs4 at 11:22 PM on January 9, 2021

May I present to you my grandmother's recipe for "Spanish rice". Note: my grandma is from northern Minnesota and finds the stale black pepper that has lingered in her cabinet since the Reagan administration "spicy". The recipe was the subject of an Ask several years ago, and many answers suggested it was a back of the box recipe. I still don't know the provenance, but it remains my go-to cheap comfort food. I usually leave out the baked potato part.

Spanish Rice

1 lb. hamburger
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 envelope Lipton noodle soup mix
2 c. rice (regular white, not instant)
4-5 c. water, "depending on how juicy you want it" (actual recipe text)

Brown hamburger and onions together. Add soups, rice, and water. Pour into casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve on a baked potato (I swear to God).
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:36 PM on January 9, 2021 [8 favorites]

Seconding King Arthur Flour website (I know this is slightly tangential). Every recipe I've tried has been AMAZING.
posted by bookworm4125 at 3:59 AM on January 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from the bag of Ghiradelli chocolate chips.

Modification: add craisins.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:24 AM on January 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

I seem to recall this chicken barley chili from the Quaker box of barley being quite tasty.
posted by obfuscation at 4:33 AM on January 10, 2021

Tenderflake lard pie crust recipe.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 4:46 AM on January 10, 2021

Chocolate cake from the Hershey's cocoa box-- the one with the boiling water. Seconding oatmeal cookies and German chocolate cake.
posted by 8603 at 4:58 AM on January 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

The recipe for stuffed shells from the box of Barilla jumbo shells makes stuffed shells that are exactly what you want in a stuffed shell. Clunky link because I'm on my phone:
posted by SeedStitch at 5:19 AM on January 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Speaking of oatmeal, many years ago I found a recipe on the back of an oatmeal box for meatloaf. It called for using uncooked oats instead of bread crumbs. I tried it and it worked great; I have been using oats that way ever since.
posted by mareli at 5:30 AM on January 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

nthing the Tollhouse cookies and the Quaker oatmeal cookies.

My go to peanut butter cookie is the recipe from the inside of the Crisco butter flavored shortening package.
posted by kathrynm at 5:34 AM on January 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

• The pancake recipe on boxes of Bisquick.
• Tool House cookies on the bags of Nestlé semi-sweet chips.
• The cornbread recipe on boxes of Quaker Corn Meal.

All really good, and all nearly foolproof.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:23 AM on January 10, 2021

Ranch dressing made from the Good Seasons Ranch Seasoning packet is delicious and completely different from the Ranch Dressing you buy pre-bottled. Super easy, way less sweet and much more tangy.
posted by victoriab at 6:38 AM on January 10, 2021

I've found a number of recipes that I use regularly on manufacturer's websites. In general, recipes that come from manufacturers are pretty simple, with few ingredients.

Spaghetti With Vegetables (Barilla)

The recipes on the yeast manufacturer's sites are uniformly good.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:40 AM on January 10, 2021

The Hershey's Chocolate Cake and its accompanying icing have been my favorite birthday cake most of my life. They used to have one on the side of the can of Hershey's syrup that was even better, but they no longer make that product (the stuff in the squeeze bottle is not the same).
posted by hydropsyche at 6:48 AM on January 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie on the can of pumpkin.
posted by evilmomlady at 7:57 AM on January 10, 2021 [13 favorites]

I stumbled across this on the internet not a package but it is excellent. I tweaked it and make a lot more of the tomato topping and we love it. It’s one of the first things we make when grilling season starts every spring.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 7:58 AM on January 10, 2021

Slightly tangential, but Swanson put out a cookbook oh...maybe ten years ago?...called "Homemade Soups Made Simple." I've made soup for years out of that book and there are many great recipes.
posted by Preserver at 8:36 AM on January 10, 2021

Key Lime Pie from the Nellie & Joe bottle of key lime juice. It’s so easy, pretty good.
posted by vunder at 8:49 AM on January 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe is my go-to, except now it’s the version they call “new fashioned” (also printed on the can) where instead of sugar and evaporated milk you simply use a can of sweetened condensed milk. It’s delicious.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 10:53 AM on January 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

I make this bean soup all the time. I use smoked sausage in mine.

The classic green bean casserole recipe came off the French's crispy fried onion box.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:53 PM on January 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Impossible Beef And Broccoli

We had to guess what "1/2 Each Yellow Onion" meant (we decided to chop exactly one onion), but other than that this recipe was easy and really really good.
posted by Jonathan Harford at 3:19 PM on January 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Key Lime Pie from the Nellie & Joe bottle of key lime juice. It’s so easy, pretty good.

Oh, hells yes! I can’t believe I forgot that one.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:49 PM on January 10, 2021

I haven't made them in years, but I have a flattened Ghirardelli's White Chips bag tucked in a cookbook for the White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Bars/Cookies recipe. The recipe on this page is the closest I can find in a quick search.

While searching I found this blog called Cooking on the Side that seems to be dedicated to exactly this kind of recipe. The linked recipe is slightly different from the one on my decade-plus-old Ghirardelli bag, though. I may have to do a taste test...
posted by doift at 4:08 PM on January 10, 2021

Here's that vegan fake bacon bits recipe. I checked when I got home, and it is, in fact, Bob's Red Mill brand coconut.


3 Cups unsweetened coconut flakes
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 325°F, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Whisk wet ingredients together in a bowl, then stir in the coconut.
Let stand 10 min. to, as Andrew Rea would say, "let everybody get to know each other."
Spread on prepared baking sheet, bake at 325°F for 15-20 min or until deeply toasted, stirring every 3-5 min.
Store in an airtight container. You can recrisp them by warming them in a low oven for 5 min.


Like I said, I haven't tried it. I'm sort of curious to see how bacon-like the result is, but not so curious that I'm going to buy a bottle of Liquid Smoke that I'll probably never use again.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:04 PM on January 10, 2021

A recipe for cheesy buns from Bob's tapioca flour box. Munching on them now. Quick, easy, delicious. I added some veggies.
posted by redlines at 7:58 AM on January 11, 2021

I forget if it's on the golden syrup can, or the sugar packet, but the dead simple recipe for "Easy Caramel Fudge" from Bundaberg Sugar is the best damn fudge I ever ate. I do not add the pistachios.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:22 PM on January 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I just made the stovetop hot chocolate recipe from the back of the label of the Hershey's powdered cocoa box. I used one less cup of milk because I didn't have enough room in my small sauce pan, but WOW it was amazing.

Recommend "off label use" - mixing in some peppermint Schnapps :)
posted by mostly vowels at 5:22 PM on February 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

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