Friends don’t let friends have bland food, so I’m here to help you get your spice game up! We all know that one person whose spice cabinet consists of salt and pepper. Well, I’m here to say NO MORE! Whether you’re a beginner in the kitchen, or a wannabe chef like me, these spices are the staple of many dishes you will attempt to prepare. It’s time that you learn the 12 spices that every cook needs to have in their pantry.
I mean, does it get any more basic than salt and pepper? Pepper is literally one of the most used ingredients in any recipe. Get a pepper mill, buy some whole peppercorns and grind those suckers into your dish. You’d be surprised at how much flavor this adds.
There is nothing wrong with a little bit of heat in your food. I use it in a variety of dishes. If you ever roast any vegetables, try adding a sprinkle of cayenne for an added kick.
If you’re a fan of Taco Tuesday, like me, then you MUST have chili powder in your spice cabinet. A lot of Mexican dishes require chili powder, so it’s important to keep this on deck.
Cinnamon is a super versatile spice, because you can use it in both sweet and savory dishes. I use it a lot in baked goods, but also in my chili. I’m pretty sure that I go through about 3-4 bottles of cinnamon a year.
You’d be surprised how many recipes call for cumin. I used to think I could get away with not using it, but it adds such a depth of flavor that you will want to keep it handy. I’ve noticed that a lot of southwestern dishes call for cumin.
If you’re someone who never has fresh garlic on hand, this is a great substitute. I’m willing to bet that 9/10 recipes call for garlic, so don’t skip out on buying this spice.
Like, garlic, most people don’t keep fresh ginger on hand. It also has a short shelf life, so having ground ginger in your pantry is a great backup. You will find ginger in a lot of Asian recipes. So if that is a cuisine that you like to experiment with, definitely keep this spice in your pantry.
Like garlic powder, this is a great spice to have for when you don’t have an actual onion on hand.
So here’s the thing. A lot of people will tell you to buy dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme. But ME? I just like to keep Italian seasoning because it has all of the herbs in one location. I know, it sounds super lazy, but it’s very cost efficient.
Red Pepper Flakes
This is my favorite, most underrated spice. I use red pepper flakes in just about every dish. Why? Because we like heat in the Davis household. My favorite way to use it is in vegetables. I add it to my roasted cauliflower and my kale. It’s not the type of spice that will make your nose run, but it just adds a nice punch to the back of your throat.
Now you’re probably wondering why I’m adding salt to this list. It’s because kosher salt is much different than your table salt. It’s much more coarse, and while it adds a ton of flavor to whatever you are cooking, it’s actually great to finish dishes with.
This is my favorite baking spice. I use vanilla in just about anything that requires me to bake. Cakes, cookies, pies, you name it. What I love most about it is that you don’t have to use a lot. A little bit goes a long way. If you really want your food to taste good, splurge and get a Madagascar vanilla. More pricey, but worth it. Trust me!
Having the right spices in your pantry can make the world of difference in any recipe that you decide to experiment with. Try to have fun by mixing spices to create your own blends. You don’t always have to strictly follow a recipe when it comes to the amount of spice your meal should have. Everyone has a different palate. My suggestion is to taste as you cook. Learn how the spice is impacting the flavor or your dish so that you can know if you’d like more or less.
It’s important to also check the expiration dates of your spices. A huge mistake that people make is thinking that their spices last forever. NOT! They also have a shelf life that should be adhered to. Once your spice has passed it’s expiration date, it’s no longer potent and really serves no purpose in your dish.