Basic (Betch) Must Have Spices To Stock In Your Pantry

The right spices used the right way make meals tasty assssss F!

Whether you’re a rookie cook or a seasoned chef, your pantry won’t be complete without these 5 seasonings to spice things up!


Why Spice


Spices bring all of your other ingredients to life. They enhance flavors, tone down acidity, highlight sweetness, and so much more! Just think of how that dash of pepper added to a plate of pasta transforms it into restaurant-worthy cacio e pepe (Yes, we basic and love cacio e pepe, how can you not?). Or how a pinch of cumin brings out the unexpected from scrambled eggs. Or even how a dash of salt and cayenne can turn fruit into something unexpected.

But where do you start? Stocking your pantry with a variety of rich spices can leave you feeling broke. And if you don’t use them, you’ll end up with expensive garbage as spices lose flavor over time. 

So while there are a ton of spices on the market (Trader Joe’s LOL), there are a few that every kitchen must-have. 


Even Good Spices Can Go Bad

Shelf-life is a thing and it’s the main reason to stock only the spices you’ll use often. Although there may be some variance, as a general rule of thumb ground spices have a shelf life of about six months, whole spices up to a year, while fresh should be used within a week of purchasing.


Basic Spices for Every Pantry

Like anything in cooking, it’s best to start small and build on your collection over time. These five spices are used in meals from around the globe, so they’ll be put to good use no matter what kind of trouble you cook up.


1. Garlic Powder

Even the most loyal fresh garlic lover will admit that there is a time and a place for garlic powder. It draws out the flavor of toast, enhances soups, and is a great seasoning for chicken and beef. The best part – you can have your garlic fresh and powdered too! This spice is a staple in dry rubs and spice blends and is considered a true workhorse in the kitchen.


2. Chili Powder

We get it – you may have been burned by too much chili powder in a stew. But don’t let someone else’s overzealous use of this key spice deter you from making it a staple in your kitchen. Use it with a light hand and you’ll find it enhances the flavor of savory and sweet dishes. Apply it more liberally to bring on the heat. 


3. Cumin

Ground cumin is used liberally in Indian and Latin American cuisine. It’s essential in stews, chili, curries, and great guac! It’s a complex spice with an earthy flavor and exotic fragrance that make it perfect for Mexican meals like tacos or chili and a delicious surprise when added to eggs and rice.


4. Paprika

Don’t mistake this for a mild cayenne. It’s made from a relative in the pepper family but its uses are varied, cooked into the meal and as an enhancement at the end. Smoked paprika is especially delicious as it’s complex and really adds a bold, rich, smoky flavor to literally any dish.


5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a fragrant spice that conjures memories of apple pie, sugared toast, and tasty muffins. But it’s so much more. There are actually several varieties of cinnamon so take some time to get to know the options and don’t be afraid to spice up your favorite latte or other winter beverage with a dash of cinnamon.


The Final 411

Once you master cooking with these five, there’s an endless list of spices you can add to your collection. Cardamom, basil, sage, thyme, curry, the list goes on and on. But you’re a virgin, so start with the basics, then add whatever turns you on!


Have your own favorite spice? Share it in the comments section below!