7 Spices That Every Cook Needs

Alex Guarnaschelli opens her spice drawer and shares her essentials.

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The Essentials

Recently 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.

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.

Get the Recipe: Eggplant Parmigiana

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."

Get the Recipe: Stuffed Poblano Peppers

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.

Get the Recipe: My Mother's Chicken with Barbeque Sauce

Hot Paprika

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

Get the Recipe: Caramelized Onion Dip with Hot Paprika

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.

Get the Recipe: Asparagus Spears with Sesame

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."

Get the Recipe: Spatchcocked Roasted Chicken with Mustard Vinaigrette

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.

Get the Recipe: Baked Apples with Rum and Cinnamon