The 12 Essential Spices You Need in the Cupboard

The 12 Essential Spices You Need in the Cupboard

You’ve done it! Signed the lease on your first apartment, or put the down payment on your first home.  You’ve set up your first place and are ready to kill this adulting thing. Yet when it comes to the filling the kitchen cupboard you’re not sure where to begin.

What staples do you need? Maybe you’ve cooked at your parent’s home plenty of times, but typically those kitchens come already well stocked.  Friends, I have been there. Standing in front of the spice rack at Meijer (that’s a Michigan grocer) after moving into my first apartment, overwhelmed by the shear number of choices, not to mention trying to add up the cost to buy a teeny bottle of each,  and wondering if allspice really was a mixture of “all the spices.”

Well, never fear, I have a solution.

I have compiled a list of my top dozen go-to spices.  The 12 essential spices that appear (not all at once typically) in almost all of my dishes, and can be combined to make just about any dish taste great.

12 Essential Spices

Here they are in no specific order:

 12 Essential Spices to Keep in Your Cupboard

  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Oregano (technically and herb but, oh well)
  • Basil (see the herb note above)
  • Paprika
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Allspice

What’s great about these 12 spices and that you can combine them in different ratios and mixes to make almost any style dish.  Want something with a southwest flare? Try mixing the chili, onion, and garlic powders with paprika, salt, and pepper.  Craving italian flavors try basil, garlic, onion, oregano, salt and pepper.  Want to spice up your morning cup of joe without the added calories of creamer? Add a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to the grounds.

I am not kidding guys, I use some combination of the above 12 essential spices in almost every recipe I cook or create!

Another great thing about these spices are that they all compliment and build off each other beautifully, making them the perfect starting point for experimenting with flavors.  (And I know you are currently judging whether or not cinnamon can keep pace with chili powder, three words: Mexican hot chocolate.)

In case you’re curious on what the 12 essential spices are made of or where they come from (because I did later learn that allspice is not all the spices), I did research for you….. Basil and Oregano are the dried leaves of each respective plant, chopped into fine pieces.  Cinnamon is the rolled interior bark of the cinnamon tree.  Cumin is the result of dried and ground seeds; similarly allspice is the ground unripe fruit of a tree that grows in Central America. Paprika is actually just a dried out and finely ground sweet bell pepper. And Chili Powder is actually a mixture of spices typically containing ancho chili powder, cumin, paprika, and mexican oregano.

So don’t waste time wondering where to start, grab these 12 essential spices, and get cooking!

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