These are my top five dried spices. Combine them creatively and dramatically change the flavor of a dish. All dried herbs and spices pack some nutrients into a small package and have been known for all sorts of health benefits. But the thing I love most about them is dried spices make food taste really really yummy!
This is the best list to start out with when you’re building your pantry. You may be tempted to buy a new spice every time you try a new recipe. I’ve been there! And I’ve ended up with lots of things that I use only once a year, or only once ever!
Don’t forget, Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper are staples. No kitchen should be without salt and pepper. So these are 5 more dried spices to keep on hand.
My Top 5 Dried Spices
Oregano makes pizza pizza. It’s probably most well-known for its role in Italian-American cuisine. However, oregano is also used around the world from Latin America, to the Mediterranean, to the Philippines.
Beware, a little bit goes a long way. Oregano is a strong herb and will take over the flavor of whatever you add it to if you’re not careful. If you decide to experiment with it, start slow and add a little at a time. Balance, my friend.
Garlic Powder or Granulated Garlic
Garlic powder or granulated garlic has a way of perking up anything it’s sprinkled atop. Think pizza (of course!), avocado toast, salad, fresh tomatoes, and garlic bread. There are too many applications to list. Hence, why it is on my list of must haves!
The difference between the powder and the granulated versions, is the size of the garlic specks. Powder is ground fine whereas granulated garlic is a big bigger. I’m sure chefs would disagree, but I think they’re basically the same.
While Chili powder technically is a blend of the other 4 dried spices above, plus chili pepper, it still makes my list. There are some things I don’t want to fuss with and having this blend on hand quickly perks up any taco Tuesday or winter bowl of chili. Grocery stores have chili powder readily available. When used in a recipe, chili powder is typically needed by the tablespoonful which uses it up quite quickly.
Making your own chili powder blend is simple as well. Plus you get the added bonus of adjusting the level of heat.
Cumin is surprisingly versatile and one of the most consumed spices on the planet. It is an ingredient in chili powder, as you just read. Cumin is also found in Mediterranean, Mexican, and Indian cooking as part of curry powder.
You can buy cumin ground, or for a fresher taste buy cumin seeds and grind them yourself when you need it. Then pamper yourself with a the smell of fresh ground cumin. You’ll be quite pleased 🙂
You may ask why this made my top five list. Well, it’s relatively new to the list. Smoked paprika is a wonderfully simple way to add a bit of smoky flavoring without grilling or, well… smoking something. It’s great for adding a little mystery to roasted potatoes (fries!), barbecue sauce, beans, stews, or dips. Even more, it adds a nice deep red coloring to your food.
Here are just a few possibilities to get your creative wheels spinning...
tsp = teaspoon | Tbsp = tablespoon
I will confess, I don’t have a spice rack. Instead, my spices occupy nearly half a cabinet. They sit neatly on two lazy Susans. My favorites are right up front, but most of the dried spices and herbs I have are those I bought some time ago for a specific recipe. It is tough to part with them. I hold on to the hope I’ll use them some day. At least they only take up half a cabinet 🙂