Whether you're starting from scratch or trying to take stock of what you need, we've compiled a list of all the essential spice cabinet needs—plus, a few specialty splurges at the end.
Time for a Spice Cabinet Makeover!
If you haven’t taken complete inventory of your spice cabinet in the last six months—and be honest, you haven’t—now’s the time. Whole spices stay fresh and potent for about a year; ground spices for six months. Start with the smell test: if their fragrance isn’t strong, or at least prominent, they’re stale and need to be replaced.
You’ll get the best flavor from starting with whole spices that you toast in a pan to boost their aroma and flavor, then grind in a dedicated spice grinder. Still, ground spices are convenient and important to have in your cabinet.
Buy spices in small amounts to reduce waste—you’ll rarely use an entire bottle of spice before it loses its potency. Keep them fresh longer by storing them away from light and heat. Here’s a roster to keep on hand.