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Basic Spices Every Kitchen Needs

Whether you’re a novice or a master in the kitchen, there are a few basic things that everyone should have and know how to use. Spices are one of those things. Below is a list of the most popular and commonly used spices everyone should have in their pantry.

If you’re a cooking novice, you might be thinking, “Outside of salt and pepper, what else do I need?” If that's the case, then prepare to open the door to a whole new world. For those who like to cook but don’t like to try anything fancy, check this list and see if you have all the spices listed or if there is one you use all the time that has been left off our list. For convenience, the list has been broken into four parts: herbs, sweet, spicy, and other.



Though technically dried herbs, these spices are easy to sprinkle over vegetables or meats and are essential for many Italian dishes.





Bay Leaves (just one leaf adds a ton of flavor to soups and stews)



These spices are typically used to add sweetness and flavor to recipes and are often used when making dessert dishes.

Ground Cinnamon

Ground Nutmeg

Vanilla Extract (pure or artificial)

Ground or Whole Cloves (this is used in a lot of spiced baked goods—or to add that extra flavor to a Thanksgiving ham!)



These spices are often used to add flavor to Mexican, curry, and other spicy dishes. If you want the flavor but can’t hold your spice, try adding these with a light hand.

Ground Cumin

Chili powder

Cayenne powder


Crushed red pepper flakes

Ground ginger

Curry powder

Garlic powder

Onion powder




The following are spices that do not fit perfectly into one of the above categories. However, a few are spices that, while good to keep on hand, are not typically used on a regular basis.

Iodized Salt (i.e. table salt)

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Cavender’s or Mrs. Dash**

Sesame Seeds

Cream of tartar

Ground Coriander

**These are two popular all-purpose seasoning mixes. Great for sprinkling over any dish to give a boost in flavor or used by itself to lightly flavor everything from scrambled eggs to steamed veggies to soup.


Now ya cookin’!

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