In a strongly flavoured soup/stew, curry, or sauce, or salad, you sometimes add other ingredients (eg mixed vegetables) that do not strongly influence the flavor of the end result, but are chosen for color/looks, nutrition, texture or bulk. The flavor/character of the dish itself gets defined/dominated by the spices, aromatics, broths used. They can be, within limits, replaced to make a variation of the same dish.

Is there a proper term to describe that class of ingredients in a recipe?

"Toppings" seems to be specific to salad and pizza, AND sometimes refers to something that defines the flavor/character a lot.

"bulk ingredients" is ambigous, could also refer to how they were procured.

"main ingredients" seems ambigous too.

"mixins" sounds too informal.

"garnish" appears specific to things added to the mostly-cooked dish.

  • Why do you think there is one term for these 4 entirely unrelated groups of ingredients?
    – Erik
    Jan 25, 2016 at 11:07

2 Answers 2


I am going to go with ... Drumroll please ... Fillers

credit to my girlfriend who helped me figure out the word I was looking for.

Examples like you stated...starchy root veg in beef stews or the rice in black beans and rice.

Though ingredients used to add color I would really call a garnish even if it's not placed on top of the finished product.

  • +1 because ... you certainly understood what I am looking to describe... but "fillers" has this connotation of ingredients chosen more on cost than other virtues... Jan 24, 2016 at 10:47
  • Indeed, and I think that in truth whether that's why we choose them today or not for that reason, that how the original dishes were designed. Like stew for instance was a way to stretch out your meat supply in the winter and very early spring when all you have left is some sketchy potatoes that you wouldn't want to eat by themselves but still taste decent as part of the stew. What do you think?
    – Escoce
    Jan 24, 2016 at 16:25
  • Think Navratan Korma... a good execution is best with carefully chosen 9 "filler" ingredients... Jan 24, 2016 at 19:07
  • Well sure in that case we can also consider things like rice pudding and bread pudding, etc where rice or bread is the main ingredient. But even then the rice and bread still just provide structure for the tasty and sweet cooked milk to stick to.
    – Escoce
    Jan 24, 2016 at 19:46

I don't know of a specific formal term, but I'd use 'bulk' as both the noun and the verb ("bulk out the stew it out with potatoes", "the meatballs are bulked out with breadcrumbs")

A quick Google for 'Bulk Out' reveals several dictionaries defining it exactly in this sense.

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