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Home Cooks Are Sharing The "Fraud Meals" They'd Be Lost Without, And Several Are Pure Genius

"This cookie recipe was handed down from my great aunt Nesele Toulouse..."

We all have that one easy yet impressive-tasting recipe that never fails to impress at a dinner party or potluck. So redditor u/ackshualllly asked, "What’s your fraud dish? The one everyone loves, but it’s so easy you wonder why it’s a big deal?" Here are the dishes people shared.

1. "People love my peach cobbler, but they don't know how easy it is to make. Drain a large can of peaches into a baking dish. Melt 1/2 cup of butter and mix it into a box of white or yellow dry cake mix. This makes a dough. Crumble the cake mix dough over the peaches and bake per the cake box instructions."

Peach cobbler in a bowl with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, with a spoon

2. "Sausage rolls. I use premade puff pastry in sheets, a package of cheap sausage (which I deconstruct), and egg for glazing and fixing. Serve it hot from the oven with some jarred apple sauce, and people swoon over it."

A platter of sausage rolls with a bowl of dipping sauce in the center

3. "Aglio e olio. People ask me to make it when they come over or for me to bring it to potlucks. I watched an old Italian woman make it once on YouTube. I do nothing more to the dish and nothing less. It’s so simple. It's not even really a recipe but rather a 'feel' dish that you mess around with until you’re happy. In my experience, it’s best learned by watching someone else make it, not following a recipe. Stanley Tucci’s video on YouTube is a good place to start."

A bowl of linguine pasta with chopped herbs and visible spices

4. "Mine is a chocolate chip cookie recipe handed down from my great aunt Nesele Toulouse (aka Nestle Toll House)."

Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies cooling on a tray

5. "Whenever I have to feed a big group I make my B.A.L.T.S. pasta salad. It's rotini, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, and spinach tossed in a combination of Greek dressing, white vinegar and oil. It’s always a hit, and it looks and tastes like I did a ton of work!"

Bowl of pasta salad with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and bacon seasoned with pepper

6. "Rosemary focaccia. I use the most foolproof recipe of all time. You can't mess it up. 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp yeast, 1 tsp salt, 1 cup warm water, and rosemary. Combine everything and place it in the fridge overnight. Transfer to a baking dish, let rise for two or three hours, and add oil, season, and dimple. Bake it for 25 minutes at 410°F until golden."

Close-up of freshly prepared focaccia bread dough topped with herbs and oil before baking

7. "My pumpkin spice cake is just a box of white cake mix, a can of pumpkin pie filling, pumpkin pie spice, and icing on top. People absolutely love it and even request it, but it’s so basic that my cat could probably make it."

A freshly baked loaf of bread on a black plate, shown in a close-up side view

8. "I make a pasta salad with orzo, spinach, red onions, feta, olives and equal parts Newman's Own Italian and Oil and Vinegar dressing. Sometimes I add stuff, and sometimes I subtract, but people always go apeshit over it. Anyway, try it yourself at your next picnic or potluck, and people will love you."

A bowl of orzo pasta salad with spinach, tomatoes, onions, chickpeas, olives, and feta cheese

9. "Mine is spinach dip, which I make using the back of the Knorr vegetable soup packet. I use Greek yogurt instead of mayo. It's fine with me if this recipe is remembered as my unique and beloved contribution to family gatherings."

Spinach dip in a white bowl topped with diced tomatoes, served with tortilla chips

10. "The brownies on the back of the Hershey's cocoa powder box. I double the salt and add a teaspoon of espresso powder. They're ready for the oven in five minutes!"

Freshly baked brownies in a pan with a knife, surrounded by scattered nuts and chocolate pieces

11. "Dutch babies. They’re visually dramatic but so easy (hard to mess up, honestly). When I make the sweet version, I spruce it up with homemade whipped cream (also wildly easy), seasonal berries, and a dusting of powdered sugar. They look like something out of a patisserie, but they take no effort or time at all."

Puffed golden-brown pancake in skillet topped with assorted fresh berries and fruit slices

12. "German potato salad. It's just potatoes, bacon, onion, dill, chives, and store-bought vinaigrette. For some reason, people go nuts for it."

Close-up of a dish with sliced potatoes, herbs, and bacon

13. "Chicken salad. I used to work at a deli that sold a bunch of cold sides like potato salads, pasta salad, etc. We made it ourselves, but it was legitimately just shredded rotisserie chicken, mayo, celery, and salt and pepper. Then there was a 'premium' version with pecans, grapes, and poppy seeds. We made it in huge batches, and our customers went feral for it. I always make the 'premium' version for friends to this day, and it's always a massive hit. My husband, in particular, is obsessed with it. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that he loves it so much, but it doesn't require anything so special as to be worthy of all the praise."

Chicken salad with vegetables on a bed of lettuce

14. "My grandma made the best cole slaw in the world. I loved the stuff. Years after she died, we assembled a family cookbook, and I asked if anybody had her recipe. Sadly, everyone shook their heads. Later, my aunt pulled me aside and told me, 'Your grandma's cole slaw recipe was a bag of pre-shredded cabbage and a jar of Marzetti's original dressing.'"

Close-up of coleslaw with shredded carrots and cabbage dressed in mayonnaise

15. "My rocky road fudge. It's nothing more than a bag of chocolate chips, a can of sweetened condensed milk, 2 cups of mini marshmallows, and a cup of chopped walnuts."

Close-up of a rocky road chocolate bar with marshmallows and nuts on a plate

16. "Zuppa Toscana. It tastes like it has been simmering all day. In reality, I just crisp up some bacon and Italian sausage, throw it in my instant pot with all the other ingredients, and the soup is ready in 20 minutes."


17. "Pulled pork. It tastes like I was working all day, but it’s just pork butt with a bottle of BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, and some Worcestershire sauce left in a crock pot all day."

Shredded meat on a cutting board with tongs pulling it apart

18. "Marcella Hazan's famous tomato sauce with just butter, tomatoes, and an onion (that you don't even have to chop)."

Close-up of a wooden spoon stirring bubbling tomato sauce in a pan

19. "Fig pizza. I used to make my own pizza crust, but I'm too lazy these days, so store-bought pizza crust it is. Spread fig jam on top, followed by some goat cheese and mozzarella. Bake until nearly golden, add a little prosciutto, and bake for two more minutes. Finish it off with arugula and a drizzle of balsamic. It's more assembling than cooking, but it's SO good."

Close-up of a prosciutto and arugula flatbread on a table

20. "My tortellini soup. It's just store-bought dried tortellini, a can of Rotel, a block of frozen spinach, a few cloves of garlic, and generic storebrand chicken broth."

Bowl of chicken noodle soup with vegetables and a spoon

21. "Baked brie wrapped in puff pastry with any fruit preserves on top. People tear it up. It’s my go-to for holiday parties, and I have to make two or three because they go so quickly. But it literally takes five minutes to assemble."

Homemade baked brie with raspberry jam on a wooden serving board

22. "Frozen banana cheesecake. The food processor does all the work, and then you pop it into the freezer. Add some chocolate shavings on top and everyone goes wild. It requires zero skill in the kitchen."

Slice of banana cream pie with fresh banana slices on top, on a white plate

23. "My daughter thinks I have a signature dish that she calls my 'fancy potatoes.' She asked my sister to make them so I explained how to do it. Toss baby potatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them. My sister was like, 'And then...?' And I told her...that's it!"

Close-up of seasoned roasted potatoes

24. "People go bonkers for my apple crisp, but it's just a recipe my mom passed down to me. It's apple slices topped with cake mix, cinnamon sugar, and butter. Bake at 350°F. Done."

A plate of apple cobbler topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, with a spoon on the side

So, what's your best "fraud" dish that seems like it requires a lot of time or skill but is actually wildly simple to make? Tell us in the comments or drop it into this Google Form.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.