13 Spices & Seasonings You Should Always Have in Your Pantry

Banish Bland, Boring Food for Good with These 12 Pantry Staples
Filed Under > Dressing & Sauces

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It’s no secret that I love spicing and seasoning just about anything, (just look at the majority of my recipes if you need proof).  While I personally have probably 50 plus spices in my pantry, I believe there are 13 basic ones you should start your collection with, and always have on hand when cooking.  

Unfortunately, many people skimp on spices (they can definitely add up, after all) and many people forget that spices expire and need replacing. For ground spices, you’ll want to replace them every 3-4 years, and dried, leafy herbs need to be replaced anywhere between 1-3 years. The spices should still have an aromatic, bold smell with vibrant color…and if they don’t, it’s probably time to switch them out. And just like high quality food, high quality spices will be the difference you can truly taste. But good news is that they’re all incredibly versatile, so you’ll be able to apply the spices to countless dishes when cooking. 

And along with investing in high quality spices I really believe you should invest in a good game-changing salt & pepper grinder.  Once you get past the sticker shock of purchasing it (mine cost $100), you’ll enjoy freshly ground seasoning on everything with a difference you can definitely taste.  Truly, MKR

No. 1…Cayenne.  You’ll use this colorful, ground chili pepper for heat in a ton of spicy dishes; I literally use it on almost everything. 

No. 2…Tellicherry Peppercorn.  Of course pepper is an everyday cooking essential, but once you try freshly ground, fragrant peppercorns at home for yourself, you’ll understand why they’re 1,000 times better than the pre-bought pepper mixture.  

No. 3…”Paris Salt“. This naturally flavored sea salt literally tastes good on everything.  Its coarse texture is made up of high quality French sea salt with dry herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil and dill.  It’s incredibly versatile, and can be ground in a salt grinder for a finer texture if needed as cooking.  My favorite kind is Williams-Sonoma’s Herbs de Provence Sea Salt.

No. 4…Sea Salt.  A fine, classic sea salt will be used time and time again for your basic cooking and baking needs, as well as sprinkled directly on food for that extra punch.  I love sprinkling a few flakes on top of chocolate chip cookies before baking. 

No. 5…Red Pepper Flakes.  You know they say #somelikeithot and we certainly do in the Rye household. I always invest in good red pepper flakes because the spice level and taste is truly superior.

No. 6…Kosher Salt. This will be your everyday table salt, and one you’ll use in most recipes. For example, I use kosher salt when my chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for salt, but as stated above I then top the cookies with sea salt at the end for maximum flavor.  

No. 7…Himalayan Pink Salt. This salt is a healthy, natural salt and packs a lot more flavor than your kosher salt.  I like to use it for pre-cooking flavoring.  A Himalayan salt plate is also a great way to infuse a ton of great flavor in all your grilling endeavors (meats, seafood and vegetables). 

No. 8…Ground Black Pepper. This is not a full peppercorn, but much larger than your ground pepper, and what I use whenever seasoning vegetables and shrimp for the grill (olive oil, salt, and pepper is all I use).  It adds more of a spice than your ground pepper, but doesn’t have that cayenne pepper feel.   

No. 9…Cinnamon. With cinnamon, you can instantly add warmth to any dish. Its obvious use is with baking, but it can also be added to curry dishes and anything with sweet potatoes or butternut squash for a wonderful added dimension of flavor. 

No. 10…Chili Lime Rub. My husband uses this mouth-watering rub on just about everything he grills, especially skirt steak. With a spicy-tangy blend, the rub instantly elevates the flavors of anything we put it on…meat, seafood, veggies, you name it.  This rub made it on my top 10 list of must-haves from Williams-Sonoma last year and it still rings true. When grilling, simply squeeze fresh lime juice with it and add chopped, fresh cilantro. 

No. 11…Cumin. I love adding cumin to any type of chili, taco, or ground beed dish because it gives it warmth and dimension. Recipes will generally pair cumin with paprika and cayenne.

No. 12…Curry/Turmeric. Also known as Indian saffron and yellow root, turmeric is commonly found in curry dishes and gives them its distinctive bright yellow-orange color.  It has a warm aroma and gingery/peppery taste and is said to be extremely beneficial for the mind and warding disease like Alzheimer’s. 

No. 13…Paprika. Like cumin, paprika can be added to any dish to give it a certain warmth. But when you buy cheap paprika, it’s usually tasteless.  I specifically buy Hungarian Smoked Paprika for the prime quality of the smoked flavor. 

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ADDITIONAL CREDITS:

Photography, Rustic White for Waiting on Martha

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