Essential Spice List – Stocking Your Spice Rack

Essential Spice List
What to buy for your spice cabinet

Essential Spice List - What to buyAsk Google – What is the essential spice list? Google gives you countless articles. We all know the Internet is an excellent place to discover information. Unfortunately, with a such a wealth of information, discrepancies will arise. We are forced to read dozens of articles, compare the material and compile a “best guess” answer. We decided to do the work for you. Here is what we found.

Tier One: 90% or more of Articles

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Cumin powder
  • Curry powder
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Thyme
Essential Spice List from Amazon McCormick Spice Rack-(16 spices included)

Tier Two: 60% to 90% of Articles

  • Allspice
  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Black peppercorns
  • Chili powder
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Mustard seed
  • Onion powder
  • Rosemary
  • Vanilla extract

Tier Three: 40% to 60% of Articles

  • Cardamom
  • Cream of tartar
  • Dill weed
  • Fennel
  • Kosher or Sea salt
  • Sage
  • Sesame seeds
  • Tarragon

Tier Four: Less than 40% of Articles

  • Aleppo hot pepper
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Celery seeds
  • Chinese Five Spice
  • Coriander Powder
  • Cumin seeds (whole)
  • Fenugreek
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Poppy seeds
  • Saffron
  • Turmeric
Essential Spice List from Amazon Kamenstein 20-Jar Revolving Spice Tower-Made in USA

How we developed the list

We compared the ten most popular spice list articles and focused on articles with more extensive lists of at least 20 spices. We purposely avoided articles with shorter (5 to 12 spices) lists. From there, we built a list of forty-one spices and rated how many lists each spice appeared on. Finally, we scored each article based on commonality. Note: We did not use our spice rack contents as a source in compiling the list.

Can we see your research?

Short answer: YES. It is customary to provide links to the articles. However, many of these sites contain advertisements, popups, and other annoying distractions. A quick visit to the Food Network® website will convince you of that. We thought we would save you the grief. Click here for a link to our Essential Spice List PDF which includes links to the articles. The following websites with their compiled score were used:

Real Simple (153) Spices, Inc (177) Pioneer Woman (154) Bon Appetit (186) MyDomaine (178)
 Veg Kitchen (205) Spice Advice (172) Perfect Pantry (192) AOL (128) Small Homes (188)

Spices omitted from the Essential Spice List

There are many spices that did not make this list. Most of the omitted spices are spice mixtures. For instance, we use “Italian Seasoning” and “Pizza Sprinkle”. Both spices are a mix of Oregano, Garlic, and other spices. Do not fret if some of your spices did not make this list. We, ourselves, have 20 additional spices that do not appear on the full list. The goal was to sort through all the Internet clutter and deliver a concise, essential spice list. (PDF)

How did our Spice Rack score?

Excellent question! We scored 181 which is middle of the pack. Ginger was the only common spice we did not possess. Although, we do have fresh ginger root in the refrigerator. We lacked garlic powder and onion powder from the tier two list. Again, fresh garlic and onion were on hand. However, our spice rack took top honors, scoring nine out of twelve, on the least common portion of the list. We were pleased.

Ten most used spices in our kitchen

  1. Italian Seasoning
    Italian seasoning is a mixed spice meaning it does not appear on the full list at all. However, we use this spice in every Italian recipe. On average, our household cooks three to four Italian dishes per week making this spice mix our number one choice.
  2. Black Peppercorns
    We have three pepper grinders strategically placed in our kitchen for quick access. I have a pepper grinder at work. Freshly ground pepper is more fragrant and tastes better.
  3. Cumin Powder
    In our kitchen, cumin means Mexican food. We also use cumin in stews and chili. Cumin delivers a bold smoky flavor to any recipe. If we see the word “Southwestern” in any recipe, we immediately think cumin powder.
  4. Crushed Red Pepper
    We love spicy food. Anytime we want to “kick up the heat”, we add crushed red peppers. There is not a single dinner recipe that we have not added these tasty little flakes to in the past.
  5. Paprika
    In our opinion, any stew that does not use paprika is not a stew. All our Eastern European recipes include paprika. We also like to use paprika in our dry rub mixes when we are grilling.
  6. Kosher Salt
    Typically, Kosher salt contains no added iodine. We use Mediterranean Sea Salt. We carefully watch our Sodium intake, so a small container lasts a long time.
  7. Mustard Seeds
    Two years ago, we discovered the joys of Indian cuisine. Whole black mustard seeds appear consistently in many Indian recipes. Amazingly, we found inventive ways to use mustard seeds in many dishes. Check out our Baked Dijon Swai fish recipe.
  8. Curry Powder
    With our introduction to Indian food, we began stocking curry powder on a regular basis. We were fortunate enough to receive four mason jars of authentic Indian curry powder mixes. Per Vishwas (name should be a dead giveaway), the spices were hand-crafted by his mother back in India.
  9. Basil
    We use basil with potato recipes. We often pay more attention to our potato dishes than the main entrée. Basil works well in fish, chicken, and soup recipes too.
  10. Ginger, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder
    None of these spices are in our spice rack. The flavor delivered by fresh ginger, garlic, and onion is far superior to the spice rack version. We chose to list them here because we use these ingredients in so many of our recipes. We encourage you to use “fresh”, but if you cannot then add these spices to your spice cabinet.

Essential Spice List | Healthy Urban Cooking
Enjoy Stocking Your Spice Rack – Photo by Bob Loescher © 2016

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