Starter Spice Rack Suggestions?

A friend's daughter is getting married next month and is setting up her pantry spice rack. I have so many spices in my collection (lots should be thrown out, I'm sure). Could you list some of the basics she should purchase? Thank you.



April 2, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

I guess that depends on what kind of food she likes to cook. Here is a list of spices and what they are used for. You can use this info to narrow down your choices :)


Cinnamon Sticks - Can be used whole or ground. Go for the real true thing here.

Ginger Powder - Great for baking and Asian and Indian savory dishes.

Pumpkin Pie Spice - Great in fruit pies and tarts.

Whole Nutmeg - Grate into cheese or cream sauces for something special.

Cream of Tartar - Great for meringues and whipping egg whites.

Pure Vanilla Extract - None of that imitation stuff.

Pure Almond Extract and/or other flavorings if desired.


Bay Leaves - For flavoring stocks, sauces, and stews. Remove before serving.

Cayenne - For a nice spicy kick, add a pinch of cayenne.

Chili Powder - This is actually a blend of sweet chili pepper, cumin, garlic, oregano, and red pepper. Obviously used to make chili, but also great in burgers.

Chives- Fresh is best, but the dried still adds great color and flavor to eggs, soups, and salads.

Crushed Red Pepper - They're in every pizzeria, so besides pizza, they can add a little heat to spaghetti, soups, sauces, marinades, and meats.

Cumin - Cumin is a key ingredient in chili powder and central to the cuisine of almost every culture, including Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and African.

Dill Weed - Very popular in Eastern European cooking, it's often used in a sauce for fish or potatoes. Good with yogurt or sour cream as a vegetable dip.

Garlic Powder - Great for getting garlic flavor without the actual cloves.

Greek Oregano - A pungent but sweet herb that pairs well with tomatoes, sauces, stews, veggies, cheese, and red meat.

Hungarian Sweet Paprika - More than just a garnish, this paprika has a sweet peppery flavor that's great on eggs, potato and pasta salads, baked fish, or chicken.

Mustard Powder - Often used in potato salads, meatloaf, and dressings. Can also be used to make your own mustard.

Parsley - No kitchen should be without this do-it-all herb. It has great a mild, sweet herby flavor and beautiful green color.

Rosemary - One of my favorites. Great on lamb, chicken, potatoes, stews, sauces, veggies, and on fresh breads.

Rubbed Sage - Only need small quantities to get full flavor. Great with chicken, turkey, stuffing, or pork chops.

Thyme - This lemony herb is a great complement to rosemary. Used in hearty roasted or baked dishes or with vegetables.

Sea Salt - This fine salt is often used as a finishing salt

Kosher Salt - My favorite, and most chefs, everyday salt. It has a larger grain than table salt and no additives.

Tellicherry Peppercorns - According to the Spice House, "Tellicherry whole black peppercorns are left on the vine longer so they develop a deep, rich flavor. Considered the finest pepper in the world, these extra-large berries come from the Malabar coast of India. Black peppercorns are picked from the vine just before they ripen and turn red. As they dry, the berries turn black. This particularly large, more mature, berry has a full, robust flavor described as almost fruity."

Garlic Salt - Great on bread, eggs, popcorn, chicken, veggies, pretty much anything.

Celery Salt - Essential to my grandma's stuffing, and great coleslaw, deviled eggs, chicken, potato, or pasta salad.

Whole White Peppercorns - White peppercorns are actually black pepper that's been soaked in water until the black outer shell is easily removed. Great for when you want to add pepper, but not the black color.

Lawry's Seasoning Salt - This was always a staple in my parents' home. Great on grilled meats, in burgers, or on potatoes.

Cardamom, ground - This unique fresh and sweet herb is often used in Indian cooking as well as in Scandinavian breads and cookies.

Chipotle Chili Pepper, ground - A chipotle is a jalapeno that's been smoked. Here it's also dried and ground. Essential to Southwestern cuisine.

Coriander seed, ground - Sweet and citrusy, coriander is essential to Indian cooking and great with lamb, sausage, roast pork, or breads.

Half-sharp Paprika - This is Hungarian sweet paprika with a nice kick. Medium-level chili heat.

Mexican Oregano - This herb can really stand up to the bold flavors of Mexican and Latin dishes. Add to dishes as you would parsley.

Onion Powder - Ground dehydrated onions, great with ground meats.

Saffron - The most expensive spice in the world, saffron is actually the stamens of crocuses. The intensive labor process is what makes it so costly. However, a little goes a long way. Use a scant few threads to flavor chicken and seafood dishes, soups, cakes, and bouillabaisse.

Smoked Paprika - In this paprika, the chilies are smoked over several weeks before being ground into a powder. The blend can be either sweet or spicy.

Sweet Ancho Chile Pepper, ground - This is the base of chili powder, that all-American spice blend we use to make chili. Great for any recipe you want to have a sweet chile flavor.

Turmeric - This spice is often used for its brilliant orange-red hue. Its great in curry or mixed with oil and red pepper and poured over cauliflower before roasting.

Wasabi Powder - Real wasabi is extremely expensive, so the powder can be used as a substitute. I think the wasabi pastes are probably a better investment because it takes a lot of wasabi powder to get that strong wasabi flavor.

Adobo Seasoning - This is a mild, rural-style Mexican spice mixture. Great for giving pretty much anything south-of-the-border flavor.

Cajun Seasoning - A spicy blend made from red and black pepper, paprika, cayenne, onion, and garlic powders.

Chinese Five-Spice Blend - A blend of sweet, spicy, hot and sour flavors. Very versatile. Makes for a great stir fry marinade.

Curry Powder - Curry is a blend of spices that includes cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red pepper. There are a wide variety of blends available. I keep one Maharajah-style (with saffron) blend and one simple sweet curry blend on hand.

Garam Masala - This is a northern Indian Pujabi style of seasoning that differs from curry in that it doesn't contain cumin.

Herbs de Provence - a traditional blend of herbs from the south of France. Great with veggie dishes, casseroles, baked beef, lamb, fish, or roast pork.

Italian Seasoning - A mix of oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary. Great in anything Italian.

Taco Seasoning - Great for seasoning ground beef, steak, or chicken for tacos.

Allspice Berries - The main flavor in Jamaican jerk mixes.

Caraway Seeds - Often used in rye bread and in European cuisine.

Coriander Seed - Used in many Latin American dishes, it has a lemony top note. Also used in sauces, corned beef, and pickling spices.

Cumin Seed - Grind right before using for freshest quality.

Fennel Seeds - An aromatic, anise-flavored spice often used in Indian cooking.

Poppy Seeds - To maintain that great nutty flavor, refrigerate.

Sesame Seeds - Toast to bring out the oils before adding to your favorite dish.

Star Anise - Used mainly in oriental cooking for an all-purpose seasoning.

Yellow Mustard Seeds - Used in pickling, sausage making, and boiling vegetables like cabbage.

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January 12, 20160 found this helpful

I do think that the basics of baking spices -- cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and allspice are very important.. Then the basics of cooking spices are also important: dill weed, curry, mustard, pepper, paprika, seasoning salt, italian spices - basil, rosemary, oregano, chili powder make a good all round selection for a new bride.

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