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10 Must-Have Spices

May 26, 2014 | Meal Planning | 0 comments

Must Have Spices

These ten must have spices will make your meals both healthier and more flavorful. Read more to see which ones you're missing!

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Whether you’re a pro in the kitchen or just starting out, having a well-stocked spice cabinet is essential. Here are our top go-to dried spices that every kitchen should have.

Must Have Spices

Cumin Powder: This aromatic spice is used in a wide range of dishes and is commonly found in Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines. It has a very warm and earthy flavor. Cumin is an excellent addition to beans, grains, and marinades. It’s also a key ingredient in chili powder and curries.

Use it here: Southwest Vegetarian Buddha Bowls

Turmeric: A fundamental ingredient for Indian and Southeast Asian cooking, turmeric has a bitter flavor and a bright yellow color. It can be sprinkled over vegetables and pastas or added to curries, rice and chicken dishes to add a distinct flavor. Plus, it has lots of health benefits, and research suggests it could be particularly beneficial for cancer prevention!

Use it here: Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken

Beef Kebobs w/ Zucchini & Tomatoes
Beef Kebobs w/ Zucchini, Tomatoes & Turmeric

Cayenne Pepper: Known for both its ability to spice up any dish as well as its many potential health benefits, cayenne pepper can enhance the flavor of low-salt or low-fat dishes. It can also be used as a substitute for whole chili peppers in chili, barbecue sauce, or other spicy dishes.

Use it here: Sweet and Savory Rosemary Pecans

Paprika and Smoked Paprika: In addition to being one of the most common spices, paprika can be found in several different varieties. Spanish smoked paprika is typically fairly spicy while Hungarian paprika has a much sweeter flavor. The plain paprika that is often found in grocery stores is usually neither sweet nor spicy. Though it has traditionally been used in deviled eggs and potato salads, paprika can be used in many savory foods, like meat, stew, fish, soup, vegetables, and rice. Check out our recipe for Smoky Paprika Roasted Cauliflower!

Use it here: Smoky Spaghetti Squash Boats with Bison

Smoky Paprika Roasted Chicken w/ Trio of Roasted Carrots, Parsnips & Fennel
Smoky Paprika Roasted Chicken w/ Roasted Carrots, Parsnips & Fennel

Cinnamon: While we traditionally think of cinnamon as a delicious addition to sweets, cinnamon can be a great addition to just about anything! Along with its sweet and warm flavor, cinnamon boasts many health benefits and a long history of medicinal use. Ideas for how to use this tasty spice can be found here.

Use it here: Chai Spiced Zucchini Muffins

Nutmeg: This is another spice that we often use in baking, but it can also be used in many savory dishes, like meats, curries and stir-fries, to bring out a delectable contrast. It also adds a touch of spice when sprinkled over coffee, tea, cocoa, smoothies, eggnog, or ice cream.

Use it here: Low Carb Snickerdoodle Bars

Ginger: Renowned for its medicinal and nutritional qualities, ginger is a popular ingredient in many desserts and baked goods. This fragrant spice is a key component of treats such as gingerbread and ginger snaps and it is often added to coffee and tea as well. Note: dried ginger and fresh ginger are quite different- we do not recommend using interchangeably!

Use it here: Paleo Peach Cobbler

Ancho Chili Powder: Made up of ground ancho peppers, Ancho Chili Powder has a rich flavor and is mildly spicy. It is used for Mexican cooking and can be used the same way as you would use salt or pepper. It can be drizzled on top of pastas, vegetables, soups, chicken, and potatoes. While chipotle chili powder is nice, we prefer ancho as it's not quite so spicy (it's way too easy to go overboard with chipotle powder!).

Use it here: 3 Bean Kale & Ancho Chili

Chili Powder: This spice blend is composed primarily of ground dried chiles, oregano, cumin, garlic, and salt. It is often used in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes but can also be used to add a spicy kick to other dishes, such as grilled meats. Make sure to read the ingredient list and avoid blends with added sugar, msg or other unnecessary fillers.

Use it here: Black Bean Chili Mac

Pumpkin Pie Spice: A blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice, pumpkin pie spice is an easy way to add a warm flavor reminiscent of pumpkin pie to both savory and sweet dishes. It can be mixed into coffee, muffins, popcorn, or even pancake batter for a tasty tang. It can also be incorporated into pasta dishes like pumpkin ravioli or used to flavor sweet vegetables, such as sweet potatoes.

Use it here: Pumpkin Mousse

If you want to stock up on some of these, make sure to check out the spice options at Thrive Market (<< affiliate link). I love buying spices and other pantry stapes there. They're always high quality, a good deal and they show up at my doorstep!

This page contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Prep Dish!

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