7 Essential Spices Every Pantry Needs

Though our kitchen is stocked with dozens of spices from all around the world, we've rounded up our 7 essential spices that we couldn't live without.  We will note that we've excluded Kosher salt and though Tellicherry peppercorns are on the list, you should always have whole peppercorns with a pepper mill.

Buy in small batches: Most experts recommend buying 1 ounces at a time (we at RawSpiceBar created the quarterly spice subscription for this very reason!), since spices lose their potency after a year or two. If your spices stop giving off a distinct aroma, it is time to replace them. Make sure to store in jars for long term use, but ideally, spices should be used within the first few months of purchasing. Buy freshly ground, small batch Indian spices or shop all the freshly ground spices in our shop.

Finally, here's our list of essentials:

Marash Chili Flakes: If I had to keep just one chile on hand, marash chile flakes would be it. After trying it you'll never bother with generic crushed red pepper again. Its flavor is bright and zesty, with a tart fruitiness balanced by an earthy, smoldering aftertaste. I love it most with basic tomato sauces, roasted vegetables, chicken, and nuts. These Turkish marash pepper flakes sit right next to the salt and pepper in in much of Turkey and the Mediterranean. And chefs in some of the world's most famous restaurants use these crushed chili pepper flakes for a fruity, earthy, medium heat. 

Cassia Cinnamon: Vietnamese cinnamon (also known as cassia cinnamon or "Saigon" cinnamon) is the best of the cinnamon bunch- not the stuff typically found on grocery store shelves. Cinnamon can be added to almost every delicious baked good, roasted nuts, yogurt, oatmeal, ice cream, baked fruits, fresh berries, toasted bread with butter… you get the point.  Chicken also pairs very well with cinnamon, but really, the possibilities are endless!

Tellicherry Peppercorns: Tellicherry are named after an Indian city on the Malabar coast, where they hail. These are considered some of the finest peppercorns in the world and are our "go to" peppercorns for everyday freshly ground use. Black peppercorns are a fruit, and their flavor profile is impacted by their terroir (the soil and growing environment). Tellicherry peppercorns are, by definition, larger in size and have a beautifully complex, citrusy aroma. When it comes to the generic pre-ground stuff, this is our favorite black peppercorn, by far, every time.

Ground Ginger: Ginger root has a sharply sweet, warm flavor that’s called for in both sweet and savory recipes around the world. This ginger is ground skin on, for a nuttier, earthier flavor with a sweet, lemony aroma. 

Smoked Paprika: Smoked paprika is our "other" essential chile. Paprika has a smokey, rounded heat that takes extremely well to aromatic vegetables and all sorts of egg preparations. It excels in small amounts as a background flavor in tomato sauce, soups, and marinades.The best way to get maximum flavor from these smoked paprika peppers is to heat in oil before using. We love this in deviled eggs, potato salad, roasted potatoes and meat braises.

Greek Seasoning: Packed with Greek oregano, lemon peel, thyme, freshly ground Tellicherry peppercorns and a very light touch of nutmeg and cinnamon. This light and tangy salt free Greek seasoning works perfectly for a homemade gyro sauce, chicken dry rub, Greek shish kebabs, baked potato fries, lemon and olive oil dressing or in olive oil with grilled veggies.

Ground Chiles Taco Seasoning: This taco seasoning is not your old, flavorless grocery store stuff. Freshly ground to order and made with 100% pure spices- a blend of freshly ground & toasted ancho, guajillo, New Mexico and arbol chiles. Also has the rich, woodsy spices of cumin, coriander and paprika to make any taco party or bowl of chili a superstar. Perfect in posole, stews, soups, and any Mexican inspired bean dishes as well!


Ready to get cooking? Sign up for the quarterly spice subscription & get 6 freshly ground, seasonal spices & blends. Plus, subscribers always save 25% on all spices in our shop. We also think it makes a pretty great gift for your favorite foodies & spice lovers :)

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