15 Cult Spices Every Kitchen Should Have Stocked


1. Bay Leaves


Bay leaves are typically added to anything you're going to cook low and slow (low temperature, long time). They tend to provide an earthy, aromatic undertone that can really give your stews and soups an extra herbal note.

2. Black Peppercorns


Whole peppercorns last much longer than ground pepper (1 year compared to 3-4 months) and provide a much more robust peppery punch. When cracking whole pepper in a mill/grinder, oils in the peppercorns are released to intensify the flavor--you can't get that with ground.

3. Cayenne Pepper


A small dash of this goes a long way to add a spicy kick to your dish! Mix a pinch in a greek yogurt dressing, add a smidgen to your green smoothie, or sprinkle a little while scrambling your eggs for a unique, tasty treat.

4. Paprika


Smoky and slightly spicy, paprika can be used in a huge variety of ways: in BBQ sauce, dry rubs, garnish (think deviled eggs), potato salad, salsa..the list is endless!

5. Crushed Red Pepper


Red pepper can be used in just about any dish for a subtle kick of heat. When using them in sauces, or anything that will simmer for a while, be cautious! The heat these little guys pack can increase as the cooking time progresses. Red pepper can be added directly into warm olive oil, into your favorite red pasta sauce, or even with your roasted veggies.

6. Chili Powder


Chili powder is actually a blend of spices often found in Latin-American cooking: ancho chile powder, paprika, cumin, and Mexican oregano. Chili powder can be used in traditional tacos or a big pot a chili, but can also add nice warmth to a dry rub for chicken. You can even make your own taco seasoning at home as an alternative to pre-packaged store-bought options.

Recipe here

7. Rosemary


Rosemary adds a nice earthy, pine-y kick and loves to be roasted with chicken, pork, and potatoes. The flavor is pretty intense, so you don't need to use a lot.

8. Cinnamon


Not only is cinnamon a common spice for sweet snacks (think Snickerdoodles), but can add a nice warm spice to braises and stews. Try it in chili!

9. Thyme


Another earthy spice to add to your soups, stews, meat, and vegetables. It can have a nice lemon, mint, caraway, or orange flavor profile, depending on which variety you use.

10. Cumin


Warm with nutty and peppery notes, cumin is delicious in Mexican, Indian, and Moroccan dishes. Try it with roasted vegetables and with beans, lentils, or a rice dish.

11. Ginger


Spicy and aromatic, ginger can be used not only in baking, but also with soy sauce and Sriracha as a marinade for chicken.

12. Basil


Basil is the herb of Italy and goes well in most pasta sauces or on pizza. When cooking, wait until the end to add or you'll loose all its delicate flavor and aroma.

13. Kosher Salt


While not chemically different from table salt or sea salt (NaCl, sodium chloride), kosher salt is larger and coarser, making it easier to feel and more accurately judge seasoning.

14. Oregano


Oregano is classically associated with pizza, but can be used in Mexican cooking (check out that taco seasoning recipe above under chili powder), Mediterranean, or on fish and salads.

15. Garlic Powder


How many times have you been in the middle of cooking, only to realize you don't have enough garlic, or what you do have is a little past its prime? Keep a jar of this on hand an never have garlic-less pasta sauce.

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Bay Leaves

Black Peppercorns

Cayenne Pepper


Crushed Red Pepper

Chili Powder







Kosher Salt


Garlic Powder