I was not prepared for how stoked you’d be on my post a few weeks ago about everything I keep in our pantry! But given how much we’ve all been cooking under quarantine (and how grounding it can feel to cook a really, really good meal), I really shouldn’t have been surprised. So building off of that post, today I am sharing the herbs and spices I always keep on hand to maintain a stocked kitchen. This is a list of pretty much everything in my spice drawer + notes on how I use them!
Keep a Well-Stocked Kitchen With These Essential Herbs and Spices
In terms of the cuisine I cook the most, I would put it in the Mediterranean category since I’m Greek. I’ve also been exploring cooking more Thai, Japanese, and Indian recipes as well. And don’t forget the spices needed for baking! By the way, there is one herb that I refuse to use: parsley. I loathe parsley and never, ever use it. So you won’t see that on this list, just a heads up!
My Must-Have Herbs for Cooking
- Oregano — I grow this and dry it to replenish. And sometimes I use it fresh from the garden.
- Thyme — same as oregano
- Garlic powder — I don’t even have words for how often I use this!
- Onion powder
- Red pepper flakes
- Bay leaves — I feel like the jury is out on whether bay leaves actually do anything, but I grew up watching my mom and grandma use them, so I do. I figure it’s not hurting anything!
- Cayenne powder
Fresh Herbs I Use:
Because of my extensive herb garden, I use a lot of fresh herbs year-round. Here are my favorites to keep on hand growing:
- Kentucky Sweet Mint — really nice for cocktails and tea
- Chives — a must-have for garnishing baked eggs
My Must-Have Spices for Cooking and Baking
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground cardamom
- Whole cardamom — awesome on a freshly made latte
- Ground cloves
- Whole cloves — for when I make baklava or mulled wine
- Ground nutmeg
- Whole nutmeg
- Ground ginger
- Dried lavender
Optional Herbs and Spices
Admittedly, not everyone needs this many options… so this list is actually my ‘would be nice to have’ options. They aren’t totally required, but I love to keep them up my sleeve as needed:
- Sumac — adds a wonderful smokiness, try it in this kale salad recipe
- Ground coriander
- Curry powder — SO good mixed with aioli
- Sesame seeds
- Chipotle powder
- Fennel seeds
Pre-Made Spice Mixes I Love
For the most part, I prefer to make my own spice mixes and combinations, especially when following a recipe. But since we shop at Trader Joe’s mostly, I’ve discovered a few of their mixes that I love SO much. If you shop there, definitely try these:
- Everything Bagel Seasoning — SO good on eggs
- Cilantro Lime Seasoning — this is the only pre-made taco seasoning I use with any consistency. It’s amazing on beans, grilled corn, chicken, beef… everything. And you can use it to rim a cocktail glass.
- Garam Masala
- Chinese five spice
And because I’m sure I’ll be asked, these are similar spice jars to what I use and here’s the label maker I love! I will say, I don’t love the jars because the clasps get stuck on each other. I might switch them one day…
So those are the herbs and spices I always keep on hand in my well-stocked kitchen… plus, salt and pepper! When it comes to salt, I use kosher salt for cooking and then Maldon Sea Salt Flakes as a finishing salt (amazing on salads especially). I like to use a mix of different whole peppercorns and grind it as needed when cooking. Is there anything else you’d add to this list? Leave a comment and let me know!