HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


What are your go-to spices?

I'm heading to Penzey's this evening and want to stock up on old favorites and perhaps try something new. What dried herbs and spices do you keep in your pantry?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think Summer Savory doesn't get enough respect. I prefer it to sage and thyme - they are similar but I find savory a bit warmer and more complex.

    1. I really love the Adobo spice blend at Penzey's. I use it for everything - black beans, quinoa, chicken, etc. Can't recommend it enough if you like cumin.

      1. i always keep oregano, mexican oregano, chili flakes, mexican chili powder, dried tarragon (for when i can't get fresh), herbs de provence, and nutmeg (not ground) handy for cooking

        1. If you're headed to Penzey's, definitely stock up on the crushed Aleppo pepper. It's a warm, not hot chile, great on everything.

          Other less common staples in my pantry (which are used many times a week):

          Smoked Spanish Paprika
          Ground Chipotle
          Whole Nutmeg
          Cumin (ground and whole... whole is excellent, toasted, in chili)
          Lemon thyme
          Candied ginger

          1 Reply
          1. re: sweetbasil

            Ditto on the smoked Spanish paprika and cumin. I think I use cumin more than anything else but salt and pepper.

          2. Cumin, coriander, nutmeg, allspice, cinammon, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, ground ginger, aleppo pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, smoked paprika, oregano, thyme, annatto, star anise, five spice, Szechuan peppercorns

            1 Reply
            1. re: JungMann

              I second this list exactly and will add herbs de provence.

            2. French Fleur De Sel Sea Salt

              1. I buy all of my spices from Penzey's but I find myself using cumin and garlic powder the most.

                1. White pepper (I find it works better for most dishes as opposed to black pepper), fleur de sel sea salt, ground ginger, and whole nutmeg.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Gigi007

                    Thanks everyone! I picked up some Summer Savory, which is great, and also a little jar of the adobo seasoning, which I'm excited to try! I also grabbed some of my old standards - garlic powder, cinnamon, thyme and pepper corns. I do love me some Penzeys! Thanks again!

                  2. I don't keep many herbs - thyme, oregano and herbes de Provence.

                    Main spices - cumin, coriander, nutmeg, pimenton, cardamon, turmeric, chilli

                    Several spice mixes - like garma masala, ras-el-hanout and so on.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Harters

                      I do not have a Penzey in my area. I want to buy cardamon. What type of spice is it?

                      1. re: classylady

                        I don't know what Penzey's is.

                        Cardamoms are small seed pods. Some recipes call for the use of of the whole pod; others juts the seeds. My Madhur Jaffrey book describes the smell as combining camphor, eucalyptus, orange peel and lemon.

                        I get mine at the supermarket

                        1. re: Harters

                          Penzey's is a spice/herb/flavoring essences merchant that originated on the US west coast, has a big internet presence, and now has stores in various US locations. Their stock is high quality and fresh, but I find it expensive (I buy most of my spices at Indian markets).

                          1. re: buttertart

                            Their catalog indicates they are based in Wisconsin. When I was last in my local store (with a friend from Wisconsin) we got into a discussion with one of the clerks who verified this.

                            1. re: rednails

                              Sorry, I had Seattle on the brain, of course it is WI.

                              1. re: buttertart

                                "No harm, no foul."

                                And for my go-to spice list:

                                garlic powder, oregano, thyme, tarragon, basil, italian seasoning, sage, dill. I just started buying at Penzey's a few months ago when the store opened a few miles from me, so I haven't bought too much out of my usual mix. I did buy some Greek seasoning, but haven't used it yet. Oh and parsley too. I know, fresh is better and I just bought a plant but haven't "harvested" any of it yet.

                                I make my own mix using a recipe I clipped many, many years ago and use that ALOT. It has some things I would never think of using in cooking (i.e. dry mustard) and is salt-free.

                                1. re: rednails

                                  Dry mustard and what else? Pls share, lady!

                    2. I use kosher salt & FG pepper everyday.

                      Love to use fresh: thyme, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, garlic

                      Dried: blends like Montreal Steak seasoning, McCormick's Greek blend, oregano, tarragon, seasoned salt, lemon pepper,

                      For baking: nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice, cinnamon.

                      1. Lately I've been stuck in a rut, but use a lot of garlic powder (don't shame me for not chopping fresh, which I should...), cayenne (great health benefits, I add a little to a lot depending...), cumin, kosher salt, good peppercorns. I have an herb garden so I use get lots of fresh herbs. Whole nutmeg is awesome and keeps forever. Good paprika is great too!

                        1. I use the following almost every day:
                          black pepper, kosher salt, cinnamon, garlic

                          I frequently use the following:
                          basil, nutmeg, and ginger

                          1. The ones I don't seem to go a day without using are: black pepper, sea or Kosher salt, Cayenne, ginger, thyme, Bay, cinnamon and one or two forms of the various curry blends.

                            I also have right now oregano, dried basil, Old Bay, Old Bay with Blackened seasoning, rosemary, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, allspice, chili powder, smoked paprika, chives, dried mint leaves, chipotle powder, turmeric, red Thai chili powder, marjoram, Herbes de Provence, cumin, sage, nutmeg, Garam Masala, coriander seeds, saffron, Grains of Paradise, whole cloves, Baharat, Maharajah, Bouquet Garni, and a dry rub I mixed up that has a coffee base.

                            Thanks for asking. You made me go check in the freezer, where I keep most of them. The spice/herb section needed to be cleaned out *badly* and you've given me the impetus. :-) Hope you're enjoying your new stash from Penzey's.