5 Must-Have Spices for the Holidays

spices for the holidays

We pulled from over 1,600 Blue Ribbon-winning Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes to determine the most used holiday ingredients for home cooks. And these are the 5 spices you need for the holiday season. While you will definitely need your pantry staples, these are the ones to stock up on for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means checking the expiration date on your current items, noting any key seasonings you’re low on, and adding them to your grocery list now to have them on hand. There’s nothing worse than getting ready to bake your Grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe and realizing your nutmeg expired in 2019. Let’s be prepared for the most wonderful time of the year with these 5 must-have spices for the holidays!

5. Sage

Coming in at number 5, sage is a spice synonymous with the holiday season. Many claim Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without sage! Used in all your favorite traditional side dishes (looking at you cornbread dressing) as well on your holiday turkey, sage is a holiday must-have in your pantry.

Cornbread Dressing

“Do not change a thing this dressing is perfect just the way she makes it. 71 yrs old and still making it just like this. You can’t improve perfection.” – Barbara


Easy Turkey With Apples And Glaze

“Super delicious, and WOW moist and juicy. A big hit today, thank you!” – Cathy


Italian Sausage, Mushroom and Chestnut Stuffing

“For me the most distinctive thing about stuffing it the aroma and flavours of the herbs and in particular it is the sage that stands out so I was sure to add a lot of sage along with a bit of thyme. This stuffing is just packed with flavour and it sure did disappear from the table really quickly!” – Kevin


4. Ginger

Number four is ginger – aka the ultimate Christmas spice. From gingerbread to molasses cookies to pumpkin pie, ginger is a key ingredient in so many of our favorite holiday desserts. Here are just a few that you’ll need ginger to make:

Gingerbread Cookies

“This makes a perfect gingerbread cookie. The spicy flavor is there and it bakes up perfectly! I chilled the dough overnight, and I think that helped all the flavors meld. This is one cookie I will be baking every Christmas!” – Dale


Festive Ginger Molasses Cookies

“I made these for a work party and they were fabulous!! This is probably My new favorite Christmas cookie and will go in my goodie bags for the holidays.” – Debbie


Mom’s Special Pumpkin Pie

“You did it before I could!!! You used my mom’s secret ingredient (I’m sure it’s not a secret, but don’t know anyone who ever used it). It’s the BEST pumpkin pie we have ever tasted, which was my mom’s! Everyone loved our pumpkin pie!! No store bought or any other pumpkin pie was ever as good as ours. It’s the molasses!!! That’s it! And to those who think they don’t like it, though, they must try the pie with it in it. Just 2 T, like she said. It’s the BEST!” – Lonna


3. Poultry Seasoning

The number three seasoning you’ll need to have in your pantry this holiday season is poultry seasoning. You’ll be using this for your turkey, stuffing, cornbread dressing, gravy, and leftovers…basically, everything that makes Thanksgiving dinner so special. Here’s a few tried-and-true holiday recipes that use poultry seasoning to make them extra delicious.

Turkey, Roasting Bag Method

“No more dry, overcooked turkey! This method may not produce the photo-perfect brown skin shown on the Butterball commercials, but it will guarantee the juiciest, most flavorful turkey you’ve ever served. With excellent drippings for your gravy and noodles as well.” – Rhonda


My Mom’s Perfect Thanksgiving Stuffing

“My husband and I loved this recipe. True, this is probably a basic recipe all readers moms had used BUT, this one is the best!!” – Cat


Giblet Gravy

“This gravy is perfect for a Thanksgiving feast. Handed down from my grandmother and loved by all.” – Terri


2. Nutmeg

From breakfast to dessert, nutmeg is a key ingredient for your holiday recipes. Nutmeg’s warm, nutty flavor is delicious in both sweet and savory dishes. While most recipes only call for 1 teaspoon or less, people will know if you skip this holiday staple. Even if it is just a sprinkle, it’s the special finishing touch the recipe calls for. Don’t believe us? These recipes prove it!

Old-Fashioned Candied Sweet Potatoes

“This is the way my mother served sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving and Christmas before she discovered the well-known Sweet Potato Souffle recipe. As much as I love the souffle recipe, I still love these potatoes in this wonderful syrup. Hope you enjoy!” – Diane


Christmas Morning French Toast

“This does require an overnight soak in the fridge. I usually only make this once a year for Christmas morning breakfast. It’s a special treat that my kids look forward to. Very rich, extremely decadent!” – Victoria


Great Grandad’s Eggnog

“It wouldn’t be Christmas without my grandfather’s eggnog. This is not for the faint of heart. Its smooth and creamy deliciousness hides a powerful dose of whiskey! You may run into Santa after a few of these!! Cheers! And remember, Don’t drink and drive.” – Susan


Honorable Mention

Before we list our number one holiday spice, here’s our honorable mention list: pumpkin pie spice, cloves, thyme, allspice, parsley and rosemary. Also, while it isn’t considered a spice or seasoning, make sure your good vanilla extract isn’t expired!


1. Cinnamon

We pulled from over 1,600 Blue Ribbon-winning Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes, and with 450 mentions cinnamon was the most popular ingredient for the holidays! From pumpkin pie to cinnamon rolls to honey baked ham, cinnamon is holiday spice needed to make all your favorite traditional recipes. Remember a little cinnamon goes a long way, so follow the directions! This is also the reason you might have a container of cinnamon from 2018 that is past its prime, so be sure to check expiration dates. Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes that need cinnamon to make them extra special!

Honey Baked Ham

“This made my Christmas dinner extra special, and the left-overs are ever better! I’m so glad you posted this recipe, it’ll be my go-to from now on.” – Cindy


Easiest Ever Cinnamon Rolls

“This is my go to recipe…THEY ARE THE BESTEST!” – Alice


Better Than Libby’s Pumpkin Pie! Sshhh! Hehe

“Sorry Libby’s, but mine is better hands down. Everyone flips and asks for my recipe and then makes it their new holiday tradition as well. Yours is good, mine is just a lil’ better. 😉 Hope you all enjoy this as much as we do. More than happy to share! Happy Holidays!” – Kelly


Gingerbread (House Or Men)

“A fantastic addition to your Christmas cookie tray! These gingerbread cookies are soft with a wonderful molasses and spice flavor. They’re slightly sweet with just the perfect amount of holiday spices. While they’re baking, the whole house smells like Christmas. The dough is very easy to work with and the cookies are fun to make.” – Kitchen Crew


Eggnog French Toast

“What an awesome recipe!!! Loved this so much. I was wondering what the orange zest would add to the french toast and I am so glad I put it in there. It was so wonderful and I loved the hint of orange with it. It seemed to compliment the eggnog flavors. Not sure how to say it but Wow, wow, wow!!!! Thanks again for sharing.” – Kimberly


Candied Yams From Scratch (Sweet Potatoes)

“Just wanted to say that I made these for the 25 people I had over for Thanksgiving Dinner last week and they were a total HIT! Everyone loved them so much. There wasn’t much left over for the next day and those were gone right away. Although I love the recipe that has been in our family for years, this is now going to be the one I make going forward.” – Jamey


Ginger Cream Molasses Sandwich Cookies

“These cookies are soooooooo delicious, best after refrigerated overnight. Oh my, Oh my. Will be making these often.” – Jeannette


Classic Apple Pie

“I made this pie last evening! Oh My!!!! Delicious… and this is the first time I ever made an apple pie! I am hooked on this site!” – Annette


Wishing you and your loved ones the happiest of holiday seasons!