Spice Rack Essentials

Rose Truesdale

Herbs and spices over black stone background. Top view with copy space


What do you need in your seasoning arsenal? Read on, spice-happy friend.


Bay leaves
These aromatic, deep green leaves are sold whole and dried. Add them to stocks and stews to impart a woodsy flavor, and remove before serving.


Black peppercorns
Grind or crack whole black peppercorns for their unmistakable bite. The bout of sneezing will be totally worth it.


Cayenne pepper
A richer spice than, say, chili powder; this ground red pepper is a mainstay in Cajun and Indian cusine (and The Master Cleanse, but we advise you to stay clear of that last one.)


Chili powder
A brighter spice than, say, cayenne pepper; chili powder is made from a blend of chilies, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Use it in Southwestern fare.


Ground cinnamon
Beyond snickerdoodles and pumpkin pie, this anti-inflammatory super spice adds subtle sweetness to curry and stew.


Ground cloves
Speaking of pumpkin pie, this fragrant seasoning packs an earthy punch. Just a pinch will do.


Cream of tartar
Also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, cream of tartar is a byproduct of winemaking #science. Use it to stabilize whipped cream and meringues.


Ground cumin
Nutty and slightly peppery, this ground seed is especially delicious in Middle Eastern and Latin fare.


Curry powder
A blend of spices, including coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and chili peppers, this seasoning does pretty much what its name implies. Some varieties have more heat, so sample before you buy.


Ground ginger
More pungent than fresh ginger, this dried root has a bright heat unlike any other. Use in baking and Asian-inspired fare.


Kosher salt
This coarse salt, sans iodine, is ideal for home cooking. Adding a literal pinch of salt with your fingers, versus shaking who even knows how many crystals out of your salt shaker, makes for easier seasoning control.


Whole nutmeg
Grate this fragrant, warming spice into baked goods, hot beverages and cheese dishes.


Aromatic, warm, and a little bitter, this herb is a member of the mint family. Pair it with dried basil and olive oil for Italian dishes, and keep some on hand as a pizza topping at all times because pizza.


Usually attributed to Hungarian cuisine, the culinary use of paprika actually originated in Mexico. Smoky, and sweet, paprika makes for rich and flavorful stews (goulash, anyone?). Its flavor deepens even further when heated gently in oil.


Crushed red pepper
This flaked red chili rounds out the pizza brigade. Use it for extra pizazz just about anywhere.


Piney and slightly astringent, rosemary is perfect in Mediterranean dishes and savory bread.


A vital component of za’atar and herbes de provence, dried thyme flowers are master collaborators, graciously sharing the spotlight with stronger flavors, and lending a delicate warmth to meat, poultry and veggies.


Vanilla extract
A solution of vanilla bean pods in alcohol, vanilla serves as a flavor potentiator, enhancing our ability to taste other foods (e.g. chocolate).