7 Supermarket Spices That Every Cook Needs on Hand

Alex Guarnaschelli opens her spice drawer and shares her essentials. Plus, she reveals a weird tip for keeping cream of tartar fresh.

Host Alex Guarnaschelli, as seen on Supermarket Stakeout, Season 1.

Photo by: Michael Moriatis

Michael Moriatis

This week on Instagram, Alex opened up her immaculate spice drawer for the world to see. Take a peek inside to see what she thinks are the essentials for beginner cooks, including a couple of underrated superstars and a few of her high-end treats. Be sure to watch her new series, Supermarket Stakeout, premiering Tuesday at 10|9c.

Ground Mustard

Alex thinks that ground mustard is a very underrated spice. In addition to using ground mustard in a dry rub or barbecue sauce, Alex uses it in simple vinaigrettes. “Mustard has a natural thickening property, it can give body to a vinaigrette,” she says. “You can even add water to ground mustard and make … mustard.”

Red Pepper Flakes

“I love the classic pizzeria red pepper flakes,” admits Alex. “Whether you just sprinkle it on top of your tomatoes or add to your tomato sauce.”

Dry Oregano

“The is the only herb I really like dried,” says Alex. She uses it in meatballs, meatloaf, salad dressing and on top of fish.

Garlic Powder

“Let’s not act like we’re too fancy to use it,” says Alex. When Alex was a kid, her father used garlic powder to make his own special dressing which consisted of one tablespoon of garlic powder, one tablespoon of vinegar and two tablespoons of olive oil.

Sesame Seeds

Alex considers these another underrated spice-drawer essential. She toasts them in a little bit of butter to add a nutty note to a dish.

Hot Paprika

For a touch of tingly heat, Alex uses a dash of hot paprika.

Ground Cinnamon

Every spice rack needs this tried-and-true classic. Alex keeps it on hand for lots of baking applications. But for cinnamon ice cream, she’s packing extra-long cinnamon sticks.

Fun tip: Wrap cream of tartar in foil to keep it fresh.

Cream of tartar is used in baking as a stabilizer. Alex wraps the entire bottle in aluminum foil to keep out light. “It’s actually made from the powdered skin of dried grapes, and it loses its power when it’s exposed to light," she explains. "I keep it covered so it doesn’t get light on it... When you buy a bottle of cream of tartar, you’re going to have it for like 10 years.”

Alex hosts the premiere of Supermarket Stakeout Tuesday at 10|9c.

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