If it were not for the spices I have in my pantry the food I cook would taste only half as good. Because spices are the secret to bring other ingredients to life. With pepper, a bowl of spaghetti and cheese, which you have thrown together in two seconds, suddenly a restaurant worthy Cacio e Pepe; a pinch of ginger makes your scrambled eggs much more delicious; and even a few drops of salt and chilli powder can turn a simple plate of chopped fruit into something that will impress the partygoers.
If you fill your pantry with versatile spices, you have the opportunity to cook all the flavors you want. Of course, there are a lot of spices out there, and it's not always clear which ones you need and which ones you can do without. Instead of buying them all at once, you should first study the basics. This list is generally a good place to start if you are just starting to cook and fill out a spice rack. (If you know that you cook a certain kind of food much more often than others, the spices you need to have on hand may differ slightly.) As you cook more, you can slowly build your arsenal and become more specialized From here out.
The 11 Spices are found in tons of kitchens from around the world, so they will undoubtedly prove useful no matter what you cook. Here, registered dieticians and cooking experts explain why they are an absolute must for every home cook.
. 1 Cinnamon
If you want to add some sweetness (without sugar), cinnamon is the spice you need, Nita Sharda, RD, founder of Carrots and Cake Balanced Nutrition Consulting tells SELF. She likes to sprinkle on her yogurt and overnight oatmeal or even on root vegetables like sweet potatoes and butternut squash. "Cinnamon has a great way to add sweetness to anything added to it," she explains.
. 2 Peppers
"Peppers are another spice that works well with most foods," explains Maxine Yeung, R. D., a trained pastry chef and owner of Wellness Whisk versus SELF. It likes to use it for roasted meat and vegetables, but you can also use it for so many other dishes. I often add to shakshuka (a popular egg and pepper dish in the Middle East and North Africa) or chili, and it's great in a selection of Eastern European dishes like chicken paprikash and goulash. If you ever make tacos or fajitas, paprika is the key to throwing together some homemade taco seasoning .
. 3 Black Pepper
"Every house cook should have black pepper on hand," says Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, opposite SELF. She says it can literally spice things up, whether it's something like a pasta or a salad, or a more surprising dish like a savory yogurt parfait.
. 4 Onion Powder
If you do not have fresh onions in stock, the dehydrated version may be a good alternative, says Gorin. She uses onion powder in tomato sauces, pasta dishes and stir-fries.
. 5 Garlic Powder
Gorin uses garlic powder in the same way as onion powder (and often in tandem) – basically in all dishes that require a small garlic kick.
. 6 Dried herbs
If you do not have a garden, fresh herbs are not always the simplest ingredients. Dried herbs last much longer and they help you to spice things up, even when your ingredients are running out. Gorin keeps dried dill, basil, rosemary, coriander, oregano and parsley for things like pasta (19459004), frittatas (19459033), salads, sandwiches and more.
. 7 Ginger
"If I do not use fresh ginger, then I bet I have ginger powder on hand," says Sharda. She likes the way she gives almost every recipe a kick. You could even put one or two spoons in hot water and call it tea!
. 8 Turmeric
Turmeric is known for its strong color, but it is also worth it for its slightly bitter and spicy taste. Sharda uses it to add a lively touch to steamed milk and rice, and Yeung loves to incorporate it into almost anything, whether it's her morning smoothie or roasted vegetables for dinner.
. 9 Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper flakes are the best way to give your food a spicy kick without changing the overall taste of the food. Incorporate them into the cooking process at an early stage – cook them in a marinara sauce or chili or fry them with vegetables or meat – or use them as a side dish and sprinkle them right on your plate. Gorin likes doing that with some pizza and salads for a bit of heat.
10th Curry powder
This spice contains a lot of flavor as it is not only a spice. It is actually a blend of spices and herbs that has its origins in India. You can buy them in most supermarkets or even make them yourself. It can sometimes consist of up to 20 ingredients, but most versions contain at least coriander, turmeric, cumin and fenugreek. Gorin likes to add it to pumpkin soups and stir-fries, but it also tastes great in stews, salad dressings scrambled eggs and roasted vegetables.
. 11 Nutmeg
As another spice that can add a little sweetness to your food, nutmeg is excellent on fruit, yogurt and oatmeal. Fair Warning: A little goes far with nutmeg. Use a pinch and you'll add warmth and spice to your meal, but just a little too much and you'll overwhelm all the other flavors. Generally try to stay with a teaspoon (or less) at the same time.