Stock up on Spices

Imagine that you’re getting ready to cook some chicken for dinner. You’re not sure how you want to season it, so you go to the cupboard and make the horrible discovery that your spice rack is empty! Now what? Having no spices in the house is a nightmare for all home cooks, and in my case, reality! My roommates and I don’t cook a lot, but we have been more and more and right now we have three spices in our cupboard: salt, pepper and nutmeg. It’s not that we don’t like spice; it’s just that none of us know what we should have on hand. So I decided that I would look into what kind of spices you should have readily available and created this list. Now the next time I go to the store I’ll know what kind of spices to stock up on! I hope this list helps you as much as it has helped me.

  •   Bay Leaves: Add leaves to soups, stews and marinades; remove before serving. They have a woodsy taste.
  •   Cayenne Pepper: It’s made from a small, spicy red pepper. It is frequently used in Cajun and Indian recipes. Use it to add a little kick to boring dishes.
  •   Chili Powder: This is a blend of dried chilies, cumin, coriander, and oregano. It’s perfect if you want to give your dishes a Southwestern taste.
  •   Cinnamon: How else would you be able to make cinnamon toast? It’s great for baking and you can use it to add an earthiness to stews, chilies, and curries.
  •   Ground Cloves: This spice is rich and sweet. It is a staple for holiday baking, be careful though, a little goes a long way.
  •   Ground Ginger: Good for baking, it has a more intense flavor than fresh ginger.
  •   Dried Oregano: Did you know that oregano is part of the mint family? I didn’t! If you like cooking South American, Cajun or Mediterranean dishes be sure to use this spice.
  •   Paprika: This spice can be used to season meat, seafood, and vegetables. Because of its pretty red color it also makes a great garnish!
  •   Crushed Red Pepper: Use this spice to spruce up pasta dishes and try it on pizza slices. It adds just the right amount of spice.
  •   Sesame Seeds: Although sesame seeds aren’t necessarily a spice, they can be used to add flavor to your dishes. Because they have a sweet, nutty flavor they can complement both savory and sweet dishes. Be sure to store them in the freezer, they have a high oil content so they can become rancid fast.
  •   Vanilla Extract: I wouldn’t consider this a spice, but more of a necessity for anyone who wants to bake! It is great for many dishes.
  •   Dried Thyme: Thyme has a very distinctive smell and taste! It is pretty versatile but goes well with chicken and vegetables.
  •   Basil: You should have both fresh and dried basil on hand. They have very different tastes. This spice is popular in Mediterranean cooking and it’s a great addition to salads.
  •   Coriander: This is a great spice if you feel like eating Asian! It is very versatile but works best in Asian dishes. Coriander is one of the most fragrant herbs on the planet!
  •   Mint: Mint can be used for many things, it’s especially popular when used with lamb, but it can also be used to make a great tea and as a garnish for many dishes.
  •   Black Peppercorns: There is just something so rewarding about grinding your own pepper. If you buy whole peppercorns you can grind them, or add them as they are to different dishes. They are slightly pungent but taste great!
  •   Garlic and Onion Powder: These two spices can be used to add a little flavor to side dishes and main dishes alike.
  •   Seasoned/Seasoning Salt: Growing up this was always present in my home. We used it to flavor burger, chicken, and even scrambled eggs.
  •   Salt: This is a given, but I thought I should include it anyway. You can use it in baking and cooking.
  •   Pepper: If you have a salt shaker you probably have a pepper shaker. Salt and pepper go together like two peas in a pod!

What spices do you have in your kitchen that you cannot live without? Share them below!


    Whitney Saupan
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2013
    Email the author!

blog comments powered by Disqus