Spices are such a great way to add flavor without adding calories or fat. There are some spices I can’t live without and I feel like I have gone through various phases of spices, from “all I know is oregano and season salt” to “I’m going to buy every spice I can” to “what do you mean spices expire?” to the middle ground of “here is what I actually like to use.”
That being said, this is what I like to use. You will be different. But I will tell you what I love and why and maybe that will get you thinking about what you love or need in your kitchen.
Here is the basic round up:
Smoked Paprika: Smoked paprika tastes how BBQ smells and how we imagine BBQ to taste. I love it. I actually have two bottles on hand at most times so I don’t run out. It’s the key ingredient in my veggie chili. I combine that with Chili Powder and Steak rub when I’m sautéing the veggies to really get the flavor in there. I also use it whenever I am roasting squash and potatoes. It gives just the hint of smokiness and almost a sweetness. Essentially, if I am using chili powder, I also throw on smoked paprika. They complement each other very well.
Garlic Powder: There was a time when I thought buying garlic powder was a no-no because of my whole food diet. That was very stupid. You can’t always add fresh garlic. Lately I have been making my own ranch seasoning and this is key ingredient. It’s also great for roasted potatoes or twice baked potatoes. It’s an easy way to get that garlic flavor with no work.
Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper adds a subtle heat to foods that enhances flavor. Use it sparingly as a little goes a long way. Where do I use it? Any time I want warmth to hit or just ramp up chili powder: chilis, BBQ chicken or pork, and if I’m cooking for adults, it’s great on potatoes.
Cumin: Cumin tastes like tacos. Kinda. I keep it on hand because it’s used often in recipes and I will use it to enhance my taco seasoning.
Wildtree Absolutely Onion Blend: This is a blend that I am OBSESSED with. You can make a super easy onion dip with it (just add to Greek yogurt). But that’s just where you get started. I love adding it to hamburger patties when making burgers and I love, love, love adding it to my ranch seasoning AND twice baked potatoes.
Wildtree Taco Seasoning: I used to make my own taco seasoning. I also used to make my own tortillas, crackers, jam, and everything else. I’m at a place where I need to be efficient in the kitchen and that means buying spice blends. I love Wildtree because there are no chemicals or unneeded ingredients. I like to punch up the flavor of this with some cumin. Yum! I think it’s super smart to keep a good quality taco seasoning on hand. Just add to ground meat and voila! You have dinner.
Chili Powder: I have already talked a little about chili powder, but one surprising use is with butternut squash or carrots. I’m very anti-sweet anything on squash, so I love throwing chili powder, salt, and smoked paprika on squash. It adds heat and saltiness that really contrast to the sweetness of the squash.
Cinnamon: We go through a lot of cinnamon in our house! In addition to adding it to most baked goods, it is a key ingredient in banana pancakes and French toast.
Parsley: Did you know parsley is a key ingredient in homemade ranch seasoning? I never would have guessed, but it’s key.
Wildtree Rancher Steak Rub: I. Love. This. Seasoning. I use it on everything including my salads! I am a little embarrassed to admit this but I don’t even have black pepper in the house because I just use this mix. It’s garlicky and peppery and has a this great fullness because it also has cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
Salt: After helping with countless cooking classes, I noticed a trend with local chefs. They all spoke of finding a salt you loved and getting use to the feel of it. Once you learn a salt, you don’t have to think as hard about seasoning your food. You get a sense of how much you need by touch and that is why I keep my salt in a container that I can grab the grains of salt with my fingers. I use a Kosher salt because it’s easy to find and therefore, easy to replace when I run out.
Those are my favorite spices, what would you add?
If you are still unsure, think about what you like to make or what you make often. Is there one spice you are always reaching for? What flavors are you attracted to?
I would love to hear about your must-haves in the Comments below!