10 Spices & Herbs Every Kitchen Must Have

Spices and herbs give meals bright colors, savory tastes, and sensational aromas. Without them many meals as we know it would taste completely different like tabbouleh, which contains parsley. Send your taste buds wild by experimenting with spices and herbs other than salt and pepper. Here’s a reference guide that every cook must have to keep a well-stocked spice cabinet.


1. Mint

Spearmint and peppermint add warm, sweet, fresh flavors to every meal and leave a cool aftertaste. Mint leaves, fresh and dried, are used in drinks, like mojitos and teas, jellies, curries, chutneys, salsas, guacamole, candies and ice creams. This leaf also aids digestion by breaking down fats.


2. Thyme

This widely used culinary herb has a distinctive, slightly pungent smell that adds warm, woody flavors to meat, poultry and vegetables. Thyme is most commonly used in pasta sauces, casseroles, stuffings, hearty beans, omelets and soups like clam chowder and gumbo.


3. Parsley

This mild, savory flavored herb is familiar to all. It’s the most consumed fresh herb in the U.S. Parsley leaves are a tasty addition to any salad and tomato dish, scrambled eggs, soups, mashed and boiled potatoes, vegetable dishes and stews. It blends well with other herbs and can accompany grilled beef and chicken in a garlic and parsley marinade, called chimichurri.


4. Cilantro

This slightly citrusy herb comes from the same plant as coriander seeds. Hints of pepper, sage and lemon compliment the flavors in chilies, salsa, guacamole, traditional Indian curries, stir-fry, and seasoned rice dishes. Cilantro leaves spoil quickly and lose its aroma when dried or frozen.


5. Basil

Adding this sweet, warm herb to your tomato sauce at the last minute will prevent destroying its flavor. Basil and tomatoes are a natural combination. Basil is the key ingredient in pesto, a green oil-and-herb sauce. It’s the perfect herb for dishes like pizzas, caprese salads, sweet peppers, wine and garlic sauces, salad dressings and shellfish.


6. Oregano

This lemony herb can be more flavorful dried than fresh. It’s warm and slightly bitter taste is no stranger to Italian-American cuisine. Sprinkle oregano over tomato-based sauces, pizzas, stews, grilled fish, kebabs, grilled cheese sandwiches, casseroles and salad dressings for a peppery zing.


7. Paprika

In Hungary, many national dishes like goulash soup and paprikash call for this spice. Paprika, made from grinding dried spicy red pepper into powder, is most commonly used to season cheeses, chilies, gravies, marinades, and barbequed meat and seafood. It also makes a nice garnish sprinkled over deviled eggs and potato salad.


8. Garlic Powder

This spice offers a sweet flavor that is not as harsh as freshly peeled and minced garlic. Garlic powder is a great addition to homemade popcorn, mixes for dry rubs, meatloaf, roasted vegetables and hamburger patties.


9. Turmeric

This bright yellow-powder is a staple ingredient used in traditional Indian curry powder and mustard, the famous American condiment. Turmeric, member of the ginger family, has a pleasantly bitter flavor that is also used in pickling, stir-fried vegetables, rice and pilaf dishes, lentil dishes, relishes and chutneys.


10. Cinnamon

Ground cinnamon is possibly the most common baking spice. This warm, sweet brown spice is used in cakes, cookies, buns, pies, and desserts, especially those made with apples and pears. Cinnamon adds flavor to oatmeal, yogurt, milk, French toast, eggnog, ham, pork, sweet potatoes, plantain, pancakes and hot drinks.

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