10 Staple Spices for Your Kitchen

Putting together a kitchen for the first time? Cabinet space limited? With shelves and shelves of spices, all at varying costs, the spice aisle at the supermarket can be a bit overwhelming. From sweet to savory, here are 10 staple spices that'll make your meals perfectly seasoned. Salt and pepper are a must, but what other seasonings do we suggest? Read on...

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder is made from dehydrated garlic cloves. It does not have as robust of a flavor as fresh but is great when looking to add a subtle garlic flavor to a dish. Garlic powder also does not burn as easily as fresh minced garlic. Use it for seasoning meat or veggies, in marinades, sauces, dips, and dry rubs.

Crispy Garlic Parmesan Asparagus Pillows

Cheesy Garlic Herb Roasted Potatoes

Onion Powder

Made from dehydrated onions, onion powder adds a subtle onion flavor to a recipe. It's great for pizzas, seasoning meat, adding to dressings, casseroles, and egg dishes.

Cheese Toasties

Pastina Stuffed Tomatoes

Chili Powder

When cooking Mexican recipes, chili powder is a necessary spice. It's made from a blend of spices like ground chilies, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, coriander, and Mexican oregano. Use it to give a Mexican twist on grilled meat, sprinkle on vegetables, or add into chili and stews. It's a must-have for browning taco meat too. Chili powder has a slightly spicy and smoky flavor.

Sloppy Joe Mix

Tonna's Hot Dog Sauce


Paprika is made by grinding sweet pepper pods. You'll see three different types of paprika on shelves and each has a different flavor profile. Paprika, which is the mildest, has a sweet flavor. Hungarian paprika has a more intense flavor and in the United States tends to be sweeter. Spanish paprika can range in flavor intensity but it tends to be a bit spicier and smokier. Since we're saying to only choose one, we'd go with regular paprika because you'll get the most use out of this version. It's great with meat, seafood, and veggies. It's also a necessity on top of deviled eggs. If there's extra space on the shelf, pick up Hungarian paprika too.

Chicken Paprika With Sour Cream

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash Chicken and Dumplings

Cream of Tartar

If baking is something you like to do, then this needs to be on your spice rack. It's a tartaric acid that's a byproduct of residue on wine barrels. Most often, it's used to help stabilize a meringue. It's also good in a pinch if there's no baking powder in the house (for 1 tsp of baking powder, sub 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp cream of tartar). Want veggies to be brighter after steaming? Just sprinkle a little in the water as they steam.


Double Coconut Cream Pie


We love cinnamon on oatmeal, mixed with sugar and put on toast, in baked goods, added to a stew, and more. It can be sprinkled in sweet and savory recipes. There are various types, but what we know most in the United States is made from the bark of the Cinnamomum tree. It is both sweet and savory flavor and brings an earthiness to a recipe.

Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Bourbon Squash Cake

Dried Oregano

Oregano is a must if you like to cook Mediterranean, South American or even Cajun dishes. It's great in a chicken marinade, added to burger meat, and used in sauces. Oregano is actually a member of the mint family, but it has a peppery, slightly bitter, earthy taste. When it's dried the flavor actually intensifies, so a little goes a long way.

Street Tacos

Greek Pico de Gallo

Bay Leaves

Add whole bay leaves to soups, stews, and marinades to give the recipe a woodsy flavor. Alone bay leaves don't have a ton of flavor, but they enhance other flavors in the recipe. They come from the leaf of a laurel tree. Most often they are thrown into the recipe while it simmers for their flavors to be released and then removed before eating.

Homemade Shrimp Gumbo From Scratch

Mexican Citrus Roasted Pork

Ground Cumin

Cumin is crucial for a lot of Mexican dishes and also used in Middle Eastern, African, and Indian cuisine. It's made from grinding the seeds of a cumin plant. It's both bitter and sweet, with a warm earthy flavor. It's used in curries, meat dishes, soups, and sauces.


Bulgur Salad With Lemon Cumin Dressing

Dried Thyme

With a woodsy and floral flavor, thyme pairs well with meat (like chicken, lamb, steaks), soups and stews. It's a popular spice in Mediterranean, Creole, Central American and Latin cuisine. This is a potent spice so use sparingly.

Butternut Squash and Shallots

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Rose Selvar - Jun 21, 2019
How about a little nutmeg?
Pat Nugent - Jun 20, 2019
If you lived by any bodies of water, you may want to have some Old Bay and/or Crab Boil on hand.
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