Guide to Spice Mixtures

Just a pinch of one of these aromatic spice mixtures will add depth and complexity to your next meal.

Chili Powder

This mixture is often behind the smoky, spicy flavor in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. With a list of ingredients that includes oregano, cumin, garlic, salt and, of course, red chiles, chili powder should not be confused with powdered red chile peppers (usually called chile powder). You can also make your own and try a blend of red peppers and additions like coriander, paprika or cloves.

Chinese Five Spice

The perfect balance of the five major flavors in Chinese cooking – sweet, sour, bitter, piquant and salty — Chinese Five-Spice Powder is traditionally made of ground cloves, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, and star anise. Black peppercorns can be substituted if Szcechuan are unavailable and you'll often see additions such as ginger, orange peel or cinnamon in the blend.

Curry Powder

Real curry powder is fresh, vibrant and complex, but the long list of spices which can be used in this mixture lose their potency quickly. It's best to either grind whole spices before using or keep the mixture in an air-tight container for no more than a couple months. The spices that you almost always find in this Indian mixture include cumin, coriander, turmeric, pepper and chiles, but the list can go on to include 20 or more ingredients. Mix your own or make sure to taste your curry powder to see what the exact flavor profile is and just how hot it might be before adding.

Garam Masala

Slightly sweet and mild, garam masala adds warm flavors to more delicate Indian dishes. The literal translation for garam masala is "warm spice mixture" and although the recipe varies between the different regions of India, the most common form includes cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, coriander, cumin and fennel. In Indian cooking, garam masala can be added at the end of cooking, or it can be added to a hot pan at the beginning to add subtle flavors to a dish.

Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning is perfect for making your 15-minute tomato sauce taste like you've been working on it all day. A pre-made blend of all the herbs and spices you need for quick Italian cooking, this herb mix contains oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, sage, savory and rosemary. Rub a couple of tablespoons on a roast chicken before putting it in the oven, or sprinkle some into your pizza sauce at the beginning of cooking.

Jerk Seasoning

Jamaica's famous for its "jerk" meats — spicy, grilled pork or chicken that have been rubbed or marinated in this unique blend of seasonings including dried onion, thyme, hot chili peppers and allspice. Other warm spices such as black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and ginger are often added to jerk seasoning, which can be made into a paste or a dried blend. Either way, this mixture gives an instant Caribbean flavor to meats, fish, veggies, soups and more.

Seafood Seasoning

Seafood seasoning is made up of celery salt and a mixture of mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom, cinnamon and paprika. It's got some heat, but the mixture won't overwhelm tender crabmeat or seafood dishes. Keep a container on hand for your next shrimp boil, try a shake in cole slaw, or give your meat, poultry, or fish a good rub before grilling.

Next Up

What to Stock in Your Fridge and Pantry in an Emergency

These are the essentials you should have on hand.

Guide to Spices

Pump up the flavor of any meal with these spices.

How to Grind and Toast Spices and Herbs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these simple steps to grinding and toasting spices and herbs, then watch our how-to video.

How to Use Spices

A guide to selecting, storing and using spices

What to Cook with Black Beans

Whether they're canned or dried, here are the best recipe ideas to get them out of the pantry and onto your plate.

50 Things to Make with Pasta Sauce

Food Network Magazine proves that marinara in your pantry is good for much more than spaghetti.

A Complete Checklist of Pantry, Refrigerator and Freezer Essentials

Having a well-stocked pantry and fridge is like money in the bank. Here are the items to keep on hand in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer so you can prepare flavorful, complete meals at any time.

5 Freezer Items to Toss Today

Make room in your freezer for all your make-ahead meals by doing a quick cleanout. Here are our top five things to toss.

A Beginner's Guide to Canning

If you want to preserve summer's bounty of fruits and vegetables, here's where to start. We've got all the tools, instructions and advice you need.

Your Guide to Utilizing Spring Produce

The next time you're at the grocery store, grab some rhubarb, asparagus and carrots, and craft these springtime recipes from Food Network.

Latest Stories