Seasonings should be a staple in your kitchen at all times. They are crucial for making your food taste a million times better, and you should have a variety of them on hand all the time.
They are the building blocks of every pantry.
They’re also a way to make any dish taste that much better in a matter of seconds, and they’re able to completely transform a dish, and its flavor.
So, I’m writing this post to let you know which spices seasonings you should always have in your pantry, and how to use them to drastically improve all of your dishes.
What Are The Best Seasonings To Cook With
Okay, this one is obviously clear even without mentioning it, but I wanted to put it on this list, so I can give you some tips about using salt in your dishes.
One of the most crucial parts of making your food taste amazing is salting every layer. That means that you shouldn’t only salt the end product, once all of the ingredients are already in it. No. You should salt every layer.
When you add the first ingredient to your pan, salt it. When you add the next ingredient to that, salt it. And keep doing that.
Obviously, since you’ll be adding salt to every layer, don’t over do it, put a small amount.
But salting every layer allows every part of the dish to be tasty.
Let’s take pasta for example.
If you don’t salt the cooking water for pasta, and you only salt the sauce, the pasta itself will be bland, and even though the sauce covers it, the flavor won’t reach its full potential.
However, if you salt the cooking water (which basically salts the pasta itself), you’ll really be able to taste the difference.
Also, when building the sauce (if it has multiple ingredients), salt each ingredient. If you don’t salt the zucchini when you’re grilling it (for example), and just add it to a sauce that you did salt, it still won’t taste amazing.
You should take care of each part of your dish when you’re building it.
Black pepper is another one of the obvious ones, but it needs to be mentioned as well.
It can really help enhance the dish, any dish that you’re adding it to. However, be careful with it. If the main flavor of the dish isn’t pepper (like in a pepper sauce), be careful how much you put in, since it can easily overpower the dish, when you overdo it.
Also, a pro tip: freshly ground black pepper tastes waaay better than buying pre-ground pepper, and the size is better for a lot of dishes (since the pre-ground one is basically powder, and freshly ground is usually a bit bigger).
So, it would be great to ground it yourself onto every dish, especially when you’re doing that at the very end right before eating.
When you’re just cooking and mixing it into the dish, for some dishes the pre-ground kind can work as well (although freshly ground is better for that as well, in most cases), but for done dishes that you’re adding pepper to before eating, freshly ground is the way to do.
Garlic powder is definitely a seasoning you should have in your spice cabinet or in your pantry. We all know that garlic tastes amazing, and fresh garlic is the best.
However, many times, you don’t want the garlic flavor to overpower the dish, and you only want the subtle garlic taste. For that, garlic powder is amazing.
It’s easier to use, and quicker, as well. So, for some dishes where you only want the subtle flavor, use garlic powder, and when you want the real garlic flavor, and I mean the full flavor, use real garlic.
Also, garlic powder has a different taste than regular garlic, so it adds a different note to the dish, which makes it interesting to use. In many dishes you can even use both the powder and the fresh version.
Just like garlic powder, this one is definitely important.
Onion powder adds an amazing oniony flavor to your dishes, and you can add as little or as much as you want. It tastes great with vegetables, sauces, meat, sandwiches, and basically everything else.
Red Pepper Flakes
If you like spicy food, this one will be your best friend. It adds the perfect spicy flavor, and can make any dish better!
Even if you’re not a huge fan of spicy food, or you can’t handle it, I recommend getting red pepper flakes. You can add just a bit to them, and it will really help build the flavor, without making the dish too spicy. If you add just a bit, it definitely won’t be too spicy to eat.
And if you DO love spicy food, add as much as you like! The flavor itself won’t overpower the dish, it will add a nice note, and the spiciness will be tailored to your liking, since you can add as little or as much as you want.
If you want to make a spice mix that you can use in different dishes, adding at least a little bit of red pepper flakes will really make it that much better!
Dried herbs are suuuper important, and they’re definitely a must. You need them in your spice cabinet, in your spice blends, spice mixes, and overall in your house.
There are a lot of them, and they can all be used in many different dishes. They add an insanely good flavor to your meals, and take them to a whole different dimension. Don’t miss out on adding herbs to your dishes, you’ll really regret it!
Let’s cover some of the ones you definitely need:
Oregano (use it in all kinds of different things – on pizza, in Mediterranean dishes, Italian dishes, pastas, roast veggies, etc.)
Basil (great for Italian dishes)
Thyme (great for soups, meats, veggies)
Rosemary (amazing for potatoes and sweet potatoes)
Parsley (a staple for all kinds of dishes and cuisines)
Mint (great for baked goods of all kinds)
Bay leaves (use it for soups, stews, sauces, etc.)
Cumin is a very delicious seasoning, and it adds such a unique flavor to your dishes. It’s very common in middle eastern dishes, so if you make any, definitely use it. This one should definitely be on your spice rack.
However, you can use it in all kinds of dishes and cuisines – the flavor works with a ton of different foods. It’s great for veggies and sauces, AND it’s one of the main spices in falafel.
Turmeric has a slightly bitter taste, but it works well in a lot of dishes. It’s not only delicious, but very healthy. It helps reduce swelling, and helps with all kinds of things.
It’s great in sauces, stews, and soups.
Curry powder is an insanely popular seasoning, and an insanely tasty one.
The flavor is so unique that you can always figure out when it’s present in a dish. You can use it to make chicken curry, tofu curry, or improve basically any dish with it.
As I mentioned, the flavor is very distinguishable, so just be aware that in most cases, it will be the flavor that takes over. But, who could have a problem with that, when it’s that delicious?
Smoked paprika is another staple that should definitely be on your spice rack. It goes well on everything, from meat to veggies. It’s great on potatoes, sweet potatoes, basically everything.
Here are a few other seeds, spices, and seasonings that need to be mentioned:
Paprika (any kind, not just smoked paprika – amazing if you want to make homemade cajun seasoning)
Coriander seeds (if you want to make homemade garam masala)
Chili powder (both chili powder and red pepper flakes are amazing if you want to add some heat)
Cinnamon (great for baked goods, homemade Chinese five-spice and homemade garam masala, etc.)