Your Cooking Companion

Posted in Food, Tools & Equipment
November 9, 2018

Things You Should Have in your Kitchen–Part 4: Spices

If you’re just “tuning in”, this is the fourth of a four-part exploration of the essentials you need in your kitchen, when you are about to start cooking for yourself and/or others for the first time.  In Part 1, we talked about the tools you will absolutely need. In the second, we addressed stovetop pans. The third part is all about grocery staples. This final list is about what spices to always have on hand. Because they’re expensive, I’m making two sections: necessities, and the wish list, for things to acquire as you are able to do so. And again, I’m not talking to potential chefs here, just anyone who needs to prepare even the most basic meals.

  • Salt. As you’ll hear in my podcasts, I recommend sea salt. Iodized salt does have an aftertaste, from the iodine. Kosher salt is less salty than regular or sea salt, and you have to measure and use it differently. So…sea salt.
  • Cinnamon
  • Black pepper (ground)
  • Ginger (powder)
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Oregano (leaves or powder)
  • Italian seasoning (aka Italian herbs)
  • Basil
  • Cumin

With just those basic seasonings, you can get by for quite some time.


Here are some other things you might really enjoy having. They’re still pretty important basics, and you are highly likely to need or want them someday.

  • Bay leaves
  • Celery seed
  • Chili Powder
  • Chives (dried)
  • Cloves
  • Curry
  • Mustard Powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Paprika
  • Red pepper flakes (and/or cayenne pepper, which is the ground version)
  • Rosemary (whole or cracked)
  • Sage (rubbed)
  • Thyme (leaves or powder)
  • White pepper—milder, slightly different flavor from black, and invisible in most dishes
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • Vanilla extract (the real thing, if you can afford it)
  • Almond extract

Beyond these, there is a world full of wonderful seasonings that can go from adding an unidentifiable nuance to becoming an explosion on your tongue. I encourage you to explore, often and widely. Once you are ready to experiment with some lovely, complex flavors, read my blog about how to know what tastes good with what, “Cooking by Smell”.

If you are interested in reading the rest of my articles about stocking your kitchen, click the below links.

And I really mean this: Happy cooking!

Check out Part 1: Tools, Part 2: Pans, and Part 3: Groceries

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