Five-spice powder packs some serious aromatic punch; it's all you need to season the chicken breasts here. You can sub broccoli florets or chopped kale for the green beans.

Photo: Kelsey Hansen

The ultimate guide for adding major flavor to your menu.

Arielle Weg
October 20, 2017

If you look at the spice aisle at the supermarket, you'll discover a world of flavor: There's an array of dried herbs from countries like Italy, India, China, and Mexico packaged in bottles for you to take to your kitchen and experiment.

The trick is not to spend all of your money on fancy, prepackaged spice blends. Most of your favorite seasonings can be made right in the comfort of your own home, and it's way more useful to buy each individual spice. Plus, you can eliminate salt or change the ratios to your liking. Try these DIY versions the next time you need some new flavor. 

Pumpkin Pie Spice 

It's hard to find a fall dessert without this spice blend. For recipes that call for pumpkin pie spice, mix 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon ground allspice, 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger, 1/4 tablespoon nutmeg, and if you want a warmer flavor you can add 1/2 teaspoon of cloves.

Adjust flavors to your taste and add to recipes like our Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte and Maple Pumpkin Pie With a Message

Chile Powder 

Instead of buying containers to dump on your chili, taco meat, burgers, and grilled salmon make your own spicy powder at home. Stem and seed your favorite dried chilies, toast with cumin seeds, and blend together for the perfect, flavorful mix. Use this recipe in our Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas and Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges

Taco Seasoning

This Mexican-style seasoning is for more than just tacos. Chile powder adds a nice kick, while paprika, cumin, garlic, and red pepper give a punch of flavor. Season proteins with the mixture or use in recipes like our Tex-Mex Rice Bowl and Enchilada Casserole

Jerk Seasoning 

There's a definite kick from cayenne and crushed red pepper in this 13-spice blend. Sprinkle it over your favorite grilled protein or try it on our Jerk-Rubbed Catfish With Spicy Cilantro Slaw and Caribbean Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Italian Seasoning 

Combine your favorite Italian spices like oregano, basil, parsley, and sage for the perfect pizza topping and marinara sauce enhancer. We love it in pasta dishes, like our Ground Beef and Pasta Casserole.

Curry Powder

Every blend of curry powder is a little bit different. This version fuses flavors like coriander, cumin, mustard seed, cloves, and turmeric for a delicate, slightly bitter blend. This recipe calls for fenugreek seed, an ingredient you can typically find at specialty markets.

Try it in more traditional curries like our Curried Lentil-and-Vegetable Stew or add it as a flavor undertone to dishes like Maple-Bacon Baked Beans

Chinese Five Spice

The five spices you'll need for this blend are cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. Typically you can blend all ingredients in equal parts, and then adjust to your liking.

Try it to spice proteins like our Five-Spice Flank Steak or add a little to jazz up cocktails like our Spiced Whisky Sour

Cajun Seasoning

Sprinkle this mixture onto rice, seafood, and meat dishes for the perfect peppery bite. Try it in our One-Pan Jambalaya or Cajun Red Beans and Rice.  

Creole Seasoning 

This spice mix of garlic, basil, parsley, onion, paprika is awesome on seafood, especially shrimp dishes. Try this combo in our Creole Shrimp and Creamed Corn and Charred Shrimp and Okra Bowl

Za'atar

It can be really difficult to find this traditionally Middle Eastern fusion of flavor. Combine salt, sumac, sesame, and thyme for a delicious, homemade version. It's super delicious sprinkled over hummus and yogurt, baked onto pita bread, or used as a protein spice rub.

Try it on our Radish Carpaccio or Za'atar-Roasted Carrots With Labne

Dukkah 

This super versatile spice is both nutty and savory from the combination of hazelnuts, cumin, thyme, and coriander. Mix it into rice dishes, add it to oil for a veggie dip or dressing, or sprinkle it over vegetables before you roast.

Garam Masala 

Add this North Indian spice blend to your soups, stews, and breads for a pungent bite. The flavors are similar to curry powder, but typically bring a warmer undertone from cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It's especially delicious in recipes like our Sweet Potato-and-Red Lentil Curry and Indian-Spiced Pea Fritters

Everything Bagel Seasoning

Imagine all of your favorite bagel toppings in one place. That's exactly what this fusion of sesame seeds, garlic, onion, and poppy seeds brings to your dishes. Sprinkle it over homemade bagels, rolls, rice, and even add it to smoked salmon dishes. 

Chai

Though this blend of spices can vary in flavor, most have strong notes of warm ginger, cardamom,and cinnamon. This version adds a bit of allspice, nutmeg, and cloves for the perfect cup.