Your seasoning cabinet is probably your greatest weapon when it comes stepping into the kitchen. Salt and pepper alone should be your best friends. If they're not just look at how far Salt Bae has gotten in life with just one of them. There are worlds of possibilities hiding behind those wooden doors, each spice holding it down for an entire meal, country, and sometimes continent. There's a reason why men trekked across the globe in ancient times looking for bright spices to trade before the creation of money.
It's for that reason we felt the need to go through and highlight the many spices sitting in your very pantry, some of which get tons of attention, and some of which could use some more. Each dish highlights the main flavors of a particular spice giving it time to shine with its perfect protein pairing and veggies. Some can even speak on their own with some sweet desserts. Either way, we're hoping to spark some creativity for the next time you open up your spice cabinet or walk down the seasoning aisle at the supermarket. Never underestimate the power of seasoned food and try not to forget the jars in the back.
20 You Say Paprika I Say Paprikash
People love giving Spain all the credit for good paprika. Don't get us wrong, they have some great paprika both sweet and smoky. But, Hungary's traditional Chicken Paprikash (paprika for those who haven't caught on) give the spice the spotlight it truly deserves. It's also incredibly easy to make. Just take a look at this recipe by Marc at No Recipes. It is so simple at its core - browned pan-fried chicken, caramelized onions, and peppers with a heaping of bright red paprika. Once you get that going you build your roux by adding chicken stock and sour cream until the chicken is literally falling off the bone. Traditionally, people from Hungary eat this with egg noodles, but for first timers making it at home serving it over rice can work just the same.
19 Black Peppercorn Chicken
What would we do without black pepper? Imagine all the sad flavorless meals we'd have to endure. Sitting in the front row of our seasoning cabinet, black pepper gets used almost every day, but when was the last time it was the actual star of the dish and not a back up singer. In this Black Pepper dish by Chef De Home black peppercorns are what give the chicken its heat and spice. If you can use whole peppercorns freshly ground coarse. If not an extra shake of black pepper will do the trick. With fresh scallions, celery, and onion, it has that perfect sharp bite.
18 White Bean Chili & Turkey
Chili powder is an absolute must-have in your kitchen. Cold rainy days when you just need a bowl of soup to cuddle up to it's always there for you. It's also a great topper to popcorn or even roasted veggies that can handle a little more smokiness. We switched it up in this recipe and gave you a twist on a classic that includes white cannellini beans and ground turkey. Start off with the given two tablespoons of your favorite chili powder and see if you that reaches your desired heat level. As always cool down with a scoop of sour cream and of course, avocados.
17 Cumin Crusted Cod
Cumin and black pepper are the two most used spices in the world. Save that for trivia night. Cumin pairs so well with so many different kinds of cuisine you can really have fun experimenting with it. It goes especially well with fish, especially cod fish. Real Simple has a great recipe featuring the spice that coats the flaky fish with salt and pepper creating a crispy crust once pan fried. If you find yourself liking this dish you can go a step further and trying blackening BBQ fish dishes with aromatic spice blends featuring cumin and coriander. Like any other dish, balance it out with some sliced avocado on top.
16 Clove Grilled Peaches
Most can recognize it from its use in chai or honey glazed hams during the holidays. The clove spice is one of the most powerful and intense seasonings hanging out in your pantry. Just opening the lid for a whiff can be so satisfying and stir up cooking creativity. It's so strong in flavor we paired it with something sweet and crisp. The Cooking Channel brings together butter, honey, and brown sugar against warm grilled peaches. The clove is placed in the center of each half topped with mint and cinnamon to let the the brightness unfold. Add a dollop of whipped cream and you're good to go.
15 Coconut Beef Curry
If you're like us, curry is one of the most exciting spices in the seasoning cabinet. There is so much you can do with this powerful blend from the East spanning from curried chick peas to butternut squash soup. We buckled down and went with our favorites - beef, curry, and coconut. This one from Epicurious recommends an India-style curry, but truly any curry powder will work. Use a brand you trust whether it's inspired by flavors of Thailand, Vietnam, India, or void of origin.
14 Cayenne Caliente Truffles
If you haven't had spicy chocolate, you don't know what you're missing! Cayenne goes so well with dark or milk chocolate (and just about anything else) that rolling the pair up into one little bite is honestly a no brainer. Baker Rianne and creator of Art of Dessert shows off how easy it is to make the batter, freeze the filling, then dip and roll them into a sweet and spicy amuse-bouche. Once you're done you can have up to 4 dozen truffles. That's almost 50 little bite sized packages of cayenne heaven! That's if you can keep up with the heat.
13 Cinnamon Monkey Bread
There's three reasons to make pizza. The first is pizza. The second reason is cold breakfast pizza and the third is monkey bread. Store bought ready made pizza dough is the best base for monkey bread. If you have that, some cinnamon, and a muffin tray, you've got just about everything. This recipe from The Kitchn throws in just about everything including dried fruit and ginger, but we're here for all that cinnamon and lemon glaze layered on top. The more cinnamon the better, we say. Made right and you won't even have to try to get them to tear apart covered in sweet sticky goo.
12 All Spice Like They Do In Jamaica
All spice is a great way to sail into Jamaican cuisine. If you don't have a Jamaican seasoning blend on hand, you could consider making your own with allspice as the base. Let's face it, you'll have just about everything it calls for once you gather your herbs for some of the best grilled chicken hailing from the islands. African Bites's Jamaican Jerk Chicken is the best blend of heat, sweet, spice, and pure happiness. The marinade calls for both five-spice and ground all spice making for a beautiful marinade. Once you see how all spice takes your jerk chicken to the next level you'll want to mix it up with other spices for an everyday blend.
11 Sage Fried Chicken
The one and only fried chicken. A classic that you absolutely cannot screw up unless you fail to cook the chicken all the way or burn to a crisp. Fried chicken is so good as a principle that you can come up with a million and one batters or seasonings just to experiment with flavor. In this version Food and Wine keeps the batter simple and added the all mighty spice sage into the seasonings to get everyone in the holiday spirit. It has the perfect amount of warmth and exoticism you expect from the spice on a cold day. If this one doesn't come out right, it's a user error.
10 Lemon Rosemary Chicken
If you've been searching for ways to upgrade your roasted chicken, this is it. Chef Katya's citrus herb roast chicken recipe at Little Broke makes us want to eat baked chicken for a week straight. With a blend of citrus fruits and fragrant rosemary your chicken won't be so basic. You don't even have to baste or broil it, either. It calls for a blend of fresh minced rosemary, lemon juice, and lemon zest. With such a simple and straightforward dish, use your intuition and decide if you want to throw in a small handful of dried rosemary with sea salt or even trade some lemons out for a few oranges. Rosemary and chicken is such a great pairing it's hard to screw it up.
9 Golden Turmeric Milk
Turmeric may be one of the trendiest spices of 2018. With its health benefits coming to light in the Western world, people are going nuts over this stuff and for good reason. Heathline lists it as a antioxidant, cancer preventative, and mood enhancer. Golden milk is a drink that centuries old, but like many other things are making its way across the internet. This bedtime drink is the perfect way to get all those great properties out of turmeric and it happens to taste great. Have it right before bed and you'll wake up feeling better than the day before.
8 Oregano Chicken Salad
As much as Italy likes to boast about its oregano (it does make for a great addition to tomato sauces), oregano actually can trace itself back to Greece. In fact, it literally means, "joy of mountain" in Greece. Hence why it seems to go so perfect with lighter brinier tastes like olives, lemons, and even feta. This recipe by Taste pairs it why yogurt, mustard, and chick peas in their take on a Mediterranean chicken salad. The chicken is first crusted in lemon, salt, and lemon zest, then thinly sliced before being tossed with cucumbers, mixed greens and spring onion.
7 Thyme For Pork
Like lemon and rosemary, orange and thyme is an amazing citrus-herb pairing. This apple cider and orange zest glaze is exactly what a slab of boneless pork chop is asking for. The Chunky Chef's recipe calls for a spice rub with either ground thyme from your pantry or fresh minced thyme mixed with olive oil. Once your apple cider orange glaze is ready toss the pork chops on the grill or pan fry them to get that extra crispiness. You can even throw some apples and oranges on the grill for some added juiciness. Sprinkle more ground or fresh thyme to balance it out perfectly.
6 Nutmeg Cake
The traditional nutmeg cake from Armenia may not be as sweet as most sugar filled buttercream cakes, but it certainly has a beautiful fragrance and crunchy top that will have you reaching for more. This recipe from Baking Mad can be eaten warm fresh out the oven or even cold the next day with a cup of black tea. Top it with your choice of nuts. In this case peanuts and pecans, but you can even add your choice of pistachios or almonds. With its warm seasonings its a great snack to have during the holidays.
5 Sea Salt & Nutella Sugar Cookies
Sea salt desserts are gaining more and more popularity with favorites like caramel and sea salt chocolates taking over. With its chunky crystals and melting flakes up against dark sweetness it's hard to resist the sweet and salty pairing. Cookin' Canuck has taken sugar cookies to the next level by filling them with Nutella then upping the salt serving for the dough. Very ambitious and honestly quite genius. To get the filling to stay put chef Dara first freezes the Nutella then wraps the sweet and salty dough around it creating a basket of heaven. To top it off she dips the stuffed dough in a sugary finish. One batch yields up to 24 cookies making everyone happy for the holidays.
4 Bay Leaves Matter
Compared to the fiery cayenne, curry, and cumin they're sitting next to in the cabinet and in life in general, bay leaves don't get half the attention they should. Half of the problem is that when you open the lid, you may not be blown away with any over powering fragrance. That's because the dried bay leaves required being hit with hot liquids in order to release their magic. Once they get going though, intense flavors of peppery mints and earthy pines start flowing. In a classic from the Philippines, this Chicken Adobo recipe calls for a staggering 4 bay leaves (you usually only hear of one or two) along with whole peppercorns in a powerful marinade blended with soy sauce and cider vinegar. If you really want to know the power of a bay leaf, let the marinade sit overnight and simmer in the morning.
3 Coriander Meatballs
Similar to its sister spices curry and cumin, coriander is best ground from its seed state into a powder that can be blended or sprinkled over meats. To get the most out of your coriander seeds, its best to toast then slightly crush them as seen in this recipe by Strawberry Plum that calls for them along with fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. These hearty meatballs are made with lamb, breadcrumbs, minced shallots, and of course coriander. You could honestly probably eat these bad boys by themselves with all the flavor their packing, but once you create the tomato sauce and pour them over couscous you'll be so happy to have completed the steps.
2 Ground Mustard and Bacon Roasted Potatoes
Chefs at Cooking For Keeps say that this roasted potato dish is the perfect balance of tang and fat with its crispy on the outside soft on the inside mustard bacon pairing. The fingerling tots are first roasted in the oven then tossed with juicy bacon. They're then put back in the oven to get happy and crispy before finally being mixed with ground mustard and fresh tarragon. Either ground mustard powder or chunky wet mustard works. A mix of both works well to continue the balance of flavor and texture this dish relies so heavily on.
1 Spicy Ginger Is A Snap
Never forget the warmth spicy ginger can bring in a cookie. These ginger snaps will have you digging in your spice cabinet just to fix that sweet tooth. As a triple-ginger threat, Taste of Home's recipe shows off its snaps with three kinds of ginger. Yes, ginger has many forms and happen to be a great break from overly sweet chocolate chips with its zing and heat from warm spices. With fresh ginger root, ground ginger, and sweet crystallized ginger, it is truly the definition of sugar, spice, and everything nice. These are also great to have on hand for hangovers, headaches, and tummy aches. Ginger is a natural tummy soother making our cookies a great excuse to break diet.