The 15 Best Spices To Have on Hand That Brighten Any Meal for 2024

Composition of Spoonfuls with Various Spices

Spices are crucial building blocks in your cooking. Adding the right combination of the best spices can make a meal go from good to great.

Want to add more flavor to your dishes? We compiled a list of the 15 best spices for you to venture into. 

This isn’t just a list of common spices. We selected the most relevant ones that allow you to cook a variety of dishes from different cultures around the world. It’s time to show off your culinary prowess!

Your Go-To List of the 15 Best Spices To Have on Hand

Ready to discover our list of must-have spices for your pantry?

The next time you order meal delivery or go grocery shopping, make sure to put these spices at the top of your list. 

We’re going to answer anything you might wonder about the spices. Keep reading to discover their benefits and how to use them in a recipe.

1. Sea salt

Sea salt is on the list of common spices everyone will find in a kitchen. It’s much better for you than table salt and tends to be more expensive than its alternative. Many people still prefer its flavor and health benefits.

You can season vegetables with it before roasting them. You could also sprinkle some over steamed broccoli. It can be used wherever you would normally use table salt. Just be careful not to overdo it with this stuff. It packs more punch than regular table-grade sodium chloride!

One of the major benefits of sea salt is to keep you hydrated. This type of salt is rich in nutrients. This will satisfy your thirst and hold onto your fluids for a longer period of time.

Believe it or not, there are many different types of salt for culinary purposes. You just have to want to learn more about them.

2. Black pepper

Black peppercorns are the most commonly used peppercorns. Their grains are harvested before fully ripening. This contributes to their distinct flavor and dark color. To make ground black pepper, simply grind the dried peppercorns.

This kind of pepper has a bite to it. It’s one of the essential spices for steaks. You can also use it for other red meats and more robust fish dishes.

Black pepper boasts antioxidants and potential health-enhancing properties. It mitigates inflammation, aids in blood sugar regulation, and promotes cognitive well-being.

3. Paprika

Paprika can range from mild to hot, but most brands available in the United States are of the mild variety. The primary flavor of paprika is ripe red bell pepper with a bright, slightly fruity taste. 

In its raw state, it contains zero heat and is only mildly flavored, but when it’s roasted, it becomes sweeter and more robust. This is definitely one of the best spices to have on hand.

Paprika contains a wealth of nutrients such as vitamin A, capsaicin, and carotenoid antioxidants. 

These components also have anti-inflammatory effects, and they may improve your cholesterol, eye health, and blood sugar levels.

4. Cinnamon

Cinnamon’s sweet and warm flavor makes it a popular ingredient in both sweet concoctions, such as apple pie and cinnamon rolls, and savory dishes like curry. Although it complements both, it stands out as one of the best spices for sweets on the list. Cinnamon’s culinary uses are endless! 

Aside from adding flavor to your food, cinnamon also has many health benefits. This is one of the essential spices to use if you care about your health. If you regularly consume cinnamon, you’ll see significant benefits in your body, such as a reduction of blood lipids, blood pressure levels, and blood sugar.

5. Cumin

Cumin is a spice that’s used in many cuisines, including Mexican, South Asian, and North African. It has an earthy flavor that adds depth to just about any dish. Use cumin to make curry powder by combining it with other spices like coriander, turmeric, and black pepper. It’s also great in marinades or spice rubs for meat or vegetables. You can even add cumin to chili and hummus for extra flavor.

The health advantages of cumin include its ability to enhance digestion and reduce the risk of food-borne infections. Some lesser-known benefits include facilitating weight loss and positively impacting blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

6. Garlic powder

Garlic powder is a must have spice in your kitchen. It enhances the flavor of sauces, soups, stews, marinades, and more. A little garlic powder goes a long way in bringing out the bold flavor of your favorite dishes. It’s delicious in homemade salad dressings, too!

You can also use it to season roasted vegetables, rice, or grains. For a unique twist, add some garlic powder to your popcorn! 

Garlic is well-known for its heart health properties, as it reduces atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque in the arteries).

7. Bay leaf

Bay leaf is typically dried and used as a spice in cooking. Fresh bay leaves are mild, only developing their full flavor several weeks after picking and drying. It’s easy to fully experience the flavor explosion that bay leaves have to offer. Simply add one or two dried leaves to your soup, curry, or stew during the cooking process, and watch the magic happen. 

Bay leaves are a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, manganese, and calcium. All of these help your immune system, aid your digestive system, and reduce type 2 diabetes risk factors!

8. Turmeric

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice found in the ginger family. It’s best known as an ingredient in Indian food, but it also exists in Middle Eastern, American, Jamaican, Ethiopian, and Moroccan cooking. Typically, turmeric is ground into a fine powder the consistency of paprika or cayenne pepper.

Like many spices, it’s sold in the spice aisle of your local grocery store. Definitely make sure turmeric is on your list of essential spices.

Keep in mind that turmeric will improve your health in many different ways. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and even anti-cancer properties! Using this spice in your dishes will also protect your cognitive functions while aging.

9. Ginger

The culinary uses of ginger are as varied as the regions it comes from. You can buy ginger fresh or powdered. Its flavor is intense, with numerous health benefits, making it one of the best spices for the kitchen. 

To highlight its flavor even further, you can preserve ginger. With a sweet and slightly spicy taste, it’s excellent for serving as a palate cleanser alongside dishes—like sushi! 

Ginger is wonderful when you’re feeling under the weather, with properties that calm upset stomachs (ginger tea works wonders). It also contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds like shogaols, gingerols, and paradols. You can expect many positive effects on your body when you start using this spice! 

10. Oregano

This aromatic herb is a staple in Italian dishes, but you can usually find oregano on the list of common spices from any country around the world. It goes well with other herbs like thyme, basil, parsley, and garlic!

Some recommend using this herb in tomato-based dishes like marinara sauce or pizza, as the flavor will be more pronounced. It’s definitely one of the best spices to have on hand.

Oregano even has properties outside of cooking! It contains potent antioxidant elements, such as thymol and carvacrol. Historically, oregano has been used in traditional medicinal practices for alleviating indigestion, coughs, diarrhea, and other conditions.

11. Dill

Dill weed is the perfect, unobtrusive spice that adds flavor to fish and potatoes. Dried dill weed isn’t nearly as flavorful as fresh but can be purchased in the spice section of most grocery stores. Dill seeds are also sometimes sold in supermarkets, which add an earthy kick to potato salads or bean dishes.

In general, dill is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. It’s also packed with flavonoids, which reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

12. Red chili flakes

A staple at every pizza place, red chili flakes are made from dried, crushed hot red pepper pods and offer a kick to any dish. They’re called “red pepper flakes” or simply “pepper flakes,” but most people know them as chili flakes. They can be used as a condiment or added to spice blends.

When in doubt about how much to add to your meal before you eat it, simply taste-test it first. If you like more heat, then add more! Keep in mind that understanding the different types of spicy can be helpful for managing the heat levels in your meals.

When it comes to health benefits, red chili flakes have substances that can lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as reduce platelet aggregation. Moreover, they enhance the body’s capability to dissolve fibrin, which plays a crucial role in the formation of blood clots.

13. Sumac

Sumac is a lemony-tart spice that comes from the sumac shrub. It’s popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. If you’re looking for the best spices out there, you can bet blindfolded on sumac because it’s one of the most unique spices to have in your pantry.

This spice goes well with fish, chicken, or lamb dishes. You can also use Sumac to add a bright note to grain or bean dishes such as tabbouleh, bulgur salad, hummus, or falafel. Plus, it’s a key ingredient in the spice blend za’atar.

Sumac is characterized by its red berries that can be used as herbal remedies and for culinary purposes. Some potential health benefits include blood sugar regulation and muscle pain relief.

14. Nutmeg

Originating from Indonesia, you can use the whole nutmeg seed or grind it after being dried. It’s a spice capable of elevating the flavor of any dish because it has a taste that blends sweet, bitter, and spicy notes. 

It’s a versatile spice for both sweet and savory dishes, allowing you to explore the flavors it provides. Due to its spiciness, it pairs well with ingredients like cinnamon and ginger, imparting a cozy flavor to desserts like pumpkin pie and eggnog.

Adding nutmeg to your must have spices will also benefit your health because it has myristicin, which is an antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial.

15. Rosemary

If you’re looking for a spice with a strong fragrance, rosemary will perfume your entire kitchen. When roasted or cooked, its flavor intensifies, making it an excellent spice for hearty vegetables, proteins, and baked goods.

The combination of garlic and rosemary creates an aromatic bomb that will make you feel like you can cook like a chef at home. But be careful, its flavor and aroma are intense, so start with small amounts and adjust as needed.

Regarding this spice’s benefits, you might observe a little boost in your mental health. Rosemary tea, for example, can help reduce anxiety and depression. 

Use These Spices To Kick Up the Flavor

Spices are great to have around because they’re a simple and affordable way to add flavor to your dishes. A stock of different types of spices is the foundation of a pantry ready to explore new flavors.

Now that you have the list of the best spices to have on hand, you’re ready to prepare a variety of tasty and incredible meals. These essential spices offer endless possibilities, whether adding warmth to macaroni and cheese or depth of flavor to morning oatmeal.

If you’re looking for a simple way to enjoy healthy and delicious food, try Gobble’s plans that offer ready-made meals—with customizable protein options for every diet—delivered weekly to your door!

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