Popular Spices And Herbs Used For Cooking

Looking to add flavor to your dishes? Here’s a list of some of the most popular spices and herbs used in cooking.

At first glance this topic seems impossible since spices and herbs are a rather personal choice. The list of what you should keep on hand in your kitchen depends greatly on what you like to cook. This list I am providing include the most popular and frequently used herbs and spices.

For a list of what most cooks use most often, I have included salt, black pepper- ground and whole, cayenne pepper, garlic salt and garlic powder, onion flakes and onion salt could be added, but I prefer to use fresh onion. I would add parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, sesame seed, poppy seed,caraway seed, dill seed, and dill weed, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves- ground and whole. I also like to keep bay leaf around.

1/ Salt- usually I use Iodized salt, but I also use sea salt for some things. That is becoming more popular and is used in many more modern recipes. It is healthier and some think it brings out the flavor of food better than regular salt.

2/ Pepper- Black ground pepper is essential to add flavor to most foods. I love peppercorns when I want extra flavor and the feeling of freshness.

3/ Garlic salt and garlic powder are staples in most kitchens. You use either or both in lots of recipes, especially Italian food. Whenever, possible, I prefer fresh garlic, but sometimes its use is impractical due to time or availability. Garlic in all forms can be used for making garlic bread. I again, use it freely with Italian foods and many beef recipes.

4/ Many people use onion flakes or salt on a regular basis, but I do not. It is more convenient, but I really prefer the fresh onion taste. I only use flakes or salt if a recipe calls for it and fresh would not be as good. I have made a habit of trying all new recipes exactly as written the first time. I only adjust them to my taste after I have tasted them the way they are prepared according to the recipe.

5/ Parsley is also better fresh, but in small amounts the dried version is fine. This herb is useful in all kinds of soups, stews, and salads. I use it blended with rosemary, thyme, and sage in stuffing also. This herb has lots of uses.

6/ Rosemary is wonderful on chicken. It is such a heavenly smell when it is cooking. I have discovered how tasty it is on pork as well. It does wonderful things for many foods and should be added to poultry dressing or stuffing.

7/ As a Italian, I cook with basil and oregano all the time. Italian cooking usually calls for it. I put it in my tossed salads and sprinkle it on sliced tomatoes. It goes in my meatloaf and hamburger patties as well, actually most beef dishes. You cannot make a good tomato sauce without it.

8/ I use thyme less frequently and also tarragon, but they are good basics to keep on hand.

9/ When making homemade bread or rolls, I love to add sesame, caraway seed, or poppy seed.

10/ Dill weed and dill seed can be used successfully with fish dishes especially salmon. I like this on green beans also. These herbs are an ingredient used for pickling foods.

11/ We all probably use cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves in pumpkin pies and breads and cookies. You may also add mace to that list for some recipes. Cinnamon is great sprinkled on applesauce or even pineapple. You need if you wish to make cinnamon toast. I put a pinch in my tomato sauce for spaghetti.

Be careful, how much you use of these spices or you will ruin your food rather than accent it. They can be overpowering. Whole cloves are nice to stud a baking ham and also make great pomanders out of whole oranges.

12/ All lovers of spicy foods should keep cayenne pepper around. Many dishes call for a tiny bit just to zip things up. I do not make as many spicy foods as some folks so use less of it, but do have it on hand just the same.

13/ Bay leaf is another must for spaghetti sauce, many stews, and soups. Remember to remove it just before serving the dish.

These are just the very basics. You may find you need other spices and herbs not mentioned here more often such as curry. I buy some only when needed. It is important to use only fresh herbs and spices, so discard when they get older since they loose their potency.