7 must-have spices every home chef needs in their pantry

The right spices can really, well, spice up a dish. Like fresh herbs, spices are a quick and easy way to add flavor to food. They’re also a crucial part of any kitchen no matter how experienced the chef is. 

But there are a lot of spices out there. In fact, the options can be a little overwhelming. So here’s a guide to seven essential spices that every home chef needs in their pantry.

1. Cumin

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Cumin is a super popular and versatile spice. It’s commonly used in curries, chilis and taco seasonings. It also makes a great simple spice rub for pork chops or lamb. Cumin is a powerful spice, so a little goes a long way!

2. Turmeric

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This spice-rack staple might be best known for its potential health benefits like easing joint pain and fighting viral infections, but it’s also got a wonderful peppery, gingery flavor that compliments curries perfectly. Add it to a tofu scramble to mimic scrambled eggs, or toss some in a smoothie to brighten up your breakfast!

3. Paprika

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Paprika is a team player that goes well with a lot of different foods. Its smoky and not-too-spicy flavor works well with roasted meats and vegetables, stews and rice dishes like paella. It’s commonly used in mac ‘n’ cheese for an added kick. Paprika also works as a natural dye if you want your dish to be a feast for the mouth and eyes. 

4. Cinnamon

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Calling all bakers! Cinnamon is an absolute must for sweet treats like cinnamon rolls, pies and cookies. But it can also add an earthy note to savory dishes like hashes, chilis and soups. 

5. Garlic powder

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Garlic is one of the pillars of home cooking. Fresh is always ideal when it comes to flavoring, but ground garlic is a great alternative — and it even covers more surface area than fresh crushed garlic. Use it wherever garlic is needed! But use a light hand, as it packs quite a punch. 

6. Red pepper flakes

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This one’s for fans of heat in their food. If you like spice in your meals, having chili flakes on hand is a must. Sprinkle some on chicken wings, add a dash to your favorite pasta sauce recipe, or toss some into hummus for an extra kick. 

7. Black peppercorn

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When it comes to home cooking, pepper is just as important as salt! And whole peppercorns preserve the flavor better. Use it on everything from cacio e pepe to a juicy steak!

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