Dried spices can be somewhat of an investment, but having a decent variety on hand can be your arsenal for some good made-from-scratch real food cooking. One of the keys to avoiding processed food is flavoring dishes yourself (so you know exactly what’s in them), and it’s kind of hard to do that without spices! So whether you’re looking to beef up your collection or just get started all together, I’m sharing the spices I use the most and why.
Helpful Tool: Plan to Eat
Before we dive into the list I want to make sure you know about a fabulous way to stay on track this summer. Our friends over at Plan to Eat have a super helpful online tool that allows you to compile your recipes (from cookbooks, blogs and other websites) into a weekly or monthly meal plan. It then automatically generates a shopping list for you based on your selections. Whether you are uber organized – or just aspire to be! – this is the perfect planning tool that you can try out for free for the first 30 days.
My Most Used Dried Spices
Paprika is at the top for a reason – we use it all the time and for so many different foods. I add it to spice mixes for making a whole chicken and pulled pork. I put it on deviled eggs. I add it to pimento cheese. The uses for this one go on and on!
This is the dominant spice of the trio that we use to make our homemade granola every single week. It’s also a key ingredient in the oatmeal (both warm and cold) that my older daughter loves so much. And it’s good in some muffins and other baked goods. Let’s just say I might panic if we were completely out of cinnamon!
My husband thinks it’s humorous how much I love cumin. But it’s hard (for me) to imagine Mexican food or dishes such as chili without it. I guess I’m personally a big fan of this one and find all sorts of ways to use it.
- Chili powder
This is another one that’s pretty key in Mexican food and chili. One time we were completely out when I was trying to make chili, and I was like…not gonna happen. We had to borrow some from a neighbor to make it work.
- Red pepper (both crushed and ground)
My husband really likes the flavor of red pepper so I find myself using it more often for that reason. I usually think to grab the black pepper when cooking, but it’s not unusual for him to try a dish and say, “This could use some red pepper!” We use it in my whole chicken and pulled pork recipes, in Mexican food, and on pizza (flakes), to name a few.
- Garlic powder
Garlic powder is great in dips and sauces and is also part of the spice rub in my Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot recipe, which I make often.
- Onion powder
This is another one that’s good in different dips and also necessary for my whole chicken recipe.
I mainly use ginger for granola, and since that’s a weekly staple at our house, this is an important one.
Nutmeg is the last of the three spices we use in granola, but it’s also tasty in other baked goods (like muffins) as well. You don’t need much of this one for it to go a long way!
I don’t use thyme for a lot of different things, but it’s part of my whole chicken spice rub, and again, I make that often.
I mainly use this to make taco seasoning (along with chili powder, cumin, and salt), and even though that’s only one main use, we love Mexican food and make some form of it almost every week (like these Pork Carnitas Tacos).
- Italian seasoning
I think this mix is great on sautéed veggies and also sometimes good mixed in with breadcrumbs. It’s definitely the most used mix that I buy!
If you are building out your spice collection, you can purchase a bundle of the above mentioned spices on Amazon. Just click the button below to add them to your cart (and remove any you don’t need before checkout).
How does my list compare to what you use the most? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! :)