20 Essential Spices


20 Essential Spices

Essential Spices? Seriously? Oh come on! Do I really need to?

Even if you don’t do a lot of cooking, you can still spend a little bit of money on spices to make it look like you cook all the time.

There are spices and herbs that are considered mandatory for any kitchen, even if you do nothing more than throw things into the microwave or a pot on the stove.

Quick Tips

  • You can add a little bit of dried basil to your can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup to give it a more sophisticated taste.
  • Do you boil any kind of noodles at all? Then you need salt.
  • Garlic Powder and Onion Powder are much easier to deal with than cloves and bulbs.
Essential Spices

The piece de resistance. This is a piece of work all right!

What spices to I need, you may be asking. Well, let me tell you. I have a list of spices/herbs/ingredients I always keep in my kitchen. Welcome to my divadom!

Essential Spices:

  1. Kosher Salt – much more flavorful than Morton’s.
  2. Whole Peppercorn – is much fresher than ground. They come in a disposable grinders.
  3. Garlic Powder – use for everything under the sun, and twice as much if you love garlic like me.
  4. Onion Powder – less tearing up this way, no knives needed.
  5. Parsley – it’s not just a plate decoration anymore, very versatile.
  6. Oregano – for Italian food.
  7. Basil – for Italian food, pair with the oregano.
  8. Dill – for fish dishes.
  9. Tarragon – best with fish, eggs, and tomato dishes.
  10. Paprika – I use mild and the sweet is more to my liking. Mandatory for deviled eggs.
  11. Cumin – for all things Mexican, hombres!
  12. Rosemary – for poultry dishes.
  13. Sage – mandatory for that turkey at Thanksgiving.
  14. Thyme – used in poultry and meat.
  15. Bay Leaf – great for soups and stews; just take it out before you serve the dish.
  16. Celery Seed – for all things dressing.
  17. Vanilla – either the extract or the powder, whichever you feel comfortable using.
  18. Cinnamon – for baking that pumpkin pie.
  19. Nutmeg – baking in general.
  20. Cocoa Powder – for all things chocolate, try different brands and varieties.

My spice rack above obviously has more than this list. But  I cook a lot. The above list is the keys to success.


If you want to go crazy, pick up a few herb blends, such as:

  • Chili powder – need I say more?
  • Bouquet Garni – French used in broths and soups.
  • Chinese Five Spice – Chinese food.
  • Curry Powder – Indian food.
  • Garam Masala – Indian food.
  • Herbes de Provence – French using in rubs.
  • Pumpkin or Apple Pie Spice Mix – For pies obviously.

You can find more about what is in these blends at www.thekitchn.com. Awesome website IMHO.

Let me know if you have a spice that you think I have forgotten. It might be on my rack, but not on the essential spices list.

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