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Which Herb/Spice Do You Use the Most?

It occurred to me last night as I was preparing an Indian potato dish that I go through cumin like it's 1999. We cook a lot of Mexican/Tex-Mex/New Mex and Indian and really do burn through the stuff.

Which herb or spice (outside of the obvious salt, black pepper and garlic) features most prominently in your home cooking?

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  1. Cumin is right up there for me too. I do the same thing -- Indian, Tex-Mex, etc.

    Cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes I may use more though.

    1. I have a huge container of cumin in my kitchen and use it along with salt & pepper in a lot of dishes. Also in the front of the cabinet: basil, oregano, thyme, ancho chile powder, chipotle powder, creole seasoning and adobo...

      1. I am on a smoked paprika kick and can't seem to keep it in the house.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Kater

          Ditto on the smoked paprika. My favorite snack lately is kettle corn with garlic power and smoked paprika.

          1. re: Mestralle

            Mmmm. Your kettle corn sounds great. I have been loving smoked paprika too. Am making an orange salad with olives this weekend and will put smoked paprika in the dressing. And have a hungarian mushroom soup recipe with lots of paprika in it. I use half smoked and half unsmoked for that.

            I've been trying to think of a good way to add smoked paprika to tortilla chips too. I've bought some pricey flavored rice chips and was thinking I could take regular tortilla chips and do my own much cheaper.

        2. i too tend to use up alot of cumin - usually i pair it with nutmeg. i have other pairings that i tend to always use (at least once everytwo weeks):
          basil and tomatoes; ginger, onions and turmeric; lemon grass and galanggal; mint and bean sprouts; grain mustard and horseradish (my favorite marinade for roast loin of pork).

          1 Reply
          1. re: epabella

            TOTALLY forgot about nutmeg. I amend my answer to be nutmeg. I use it probably every other day.

            1. re: ipsedixit


              I figure it's a cinch that salt, pepper and garlic are the three most heavily used herbs/spices.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                Well, if not garlic, then I think it'd be a toss up between allspice and ginger.

              2. Thyme seems to go into everything I cook.

                9 Replies
                1. re: amokscience

                  Thyme is actually my favorite spice, but I really don't use it all that often.

                  1. re: amokscience

                    Another for thyme. Especially with chicken and pork.

                    1. re: amokscience

                      Fresh thyme for me, too. Partly as a result of the thyme martini...


                      1. re: amokscience

                        A fifth for thyme, I love it and I use a lot of Cajun seasoning.

                        1. re: amokscience

                          Yup. Lots of thyme. Also sumac, (real) wasabe powder, oregano, dill weed, spearmint cumin, all kinds of whole dried chiles I process in an electric spice grinder as needed. I do seem to go in spurts... Lately I've been using a goodly amount of coriander (seed). Currently I use it in a dip for fresh fruit by mixing a good dose of it and of prepared horseradish with some sugar in sour cream. Great as a dip with any fresh fruit, but strawberries or orange slices or pears are over the top. My daughter uses it as a dressing for fruit salad.

                          Actually, my spice rack is my play-time chemistry set and I'm a mad scientist! '-)

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            C - did I get his right? Your special secret house dip for fruit consists of sour cream with sugar, coriander, and HORSERADISH? Well, it sounds unique all right.

                            With your say-so, I might actually try it, maybe subbing yogurt or low-fat sour cream.

                            1. re: Sharuf

                              Yup. It's something I invented on-the-spot for a Christmas buffet at my house in 1985. But DO NOT do it with yogurt. Well, at least not before you try it with sour cream first. The yogurt fights with the coriander, or at least I think so. Fortunately, I wrote the proportions down after everyone went home after making more about five times... It is good. Here's the recipe from my files:
                              Dipping Sauce for Fresh Fruit
                              Christmas 1985

                              1 large carton Sour Cream
                              1 Tbsp ground Coriander Seeds
                              1 gently rounded Tbsp prepared Horseradish
                              1 Tbsp Sugar, or to taste

                              Combine ingredients and stir until smooth and well incorporated. Store in refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving. Whole coriander seeds may be used if they are pulverized in a mortar and pestle first. Serve with wedges of firm fruits such as pears, orange segments, Johathan apple, or any cold, fresh, firm fruit.
                              ©Caroline Freisen

                              For the record, I use Kraft Prepared Horseradish. I have no idea whether all prepared horseradishes are created equal. Enjoy!

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                I think your dip would actually be very good with fruit and will try it. Thanks!

                        2. Crushed red pepper runs out quickly in my home!

                          I don't know if we are talking only powders here, but I also use a lot of fresh ginger and fresh basil.

                          1. Most used herb=parsley...have 2 pots growing outside, love it as an added green to salads.
                            Most used spice=cumin. I always try to keep the container front and center in my spice cabinet because I am constantly reaching for it!

                            1. I find I add allepo chile pepper (flakes) a lot. It adds flavor without too much heat.

                              I like a sprinkle of sumac in scrambled eggs.

                              Smoked paprika for most anything deep-fried.

                              1. Coriander as the spice.

                                A toss-up between parsley, mint & thyme for the herb. I'm geneorus with herbs and grow a number near the back door and in amongst the the flowers - 3 sorts of mint, 3 of thyme, sage, bay, rosemary, chives and garlic chives and fennel. I'm only prepared to grow plants that are (a) perennials that (b) I use regularly and (c) look good as part of the decorative scheme.

                                1. Chipotle chile powder -- even when I'm not going for spicy (which I often am), just a bit adds a little smoky something underneath that nearly always seems good to me!

                                  1. Thyme, basil, ancho, cumin. (Not all in the same dish.)

                                    1. Let's see I use Garlic a lot.. An awful, awful lot and basil, And dill I love dill!

                                      1. Ancho or other chili powder for my spice.

                                        The herb changes depending on the season. When I can't grow anything myself, cilantro is the biggest. During the summer, it would be chives, rosemary, and anything else I am growing.

                                        I'm planning my herb garden right now, actually. :)

                                        1. I go through chili powder (Penzeys Medium), cumin, hot paprika and oregano like it's going out of style. Nutmeg and red pepper flakes are also popular in my kitchen.

                                          1. Lots of chileheads checking in. Didn't know there were so many on this site.

                                            1. Ground dried red chili peppers (not the powder/spice combos)
                                              toasted sesame (seed, oil, or crushed)
                                              fresh chopped garlic chives and/or green onion

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: hannaone

                                                This sounds like my household! I'm with you on the Gochukaru (& gochujang), sesame, garlic and green onion!

                                              2. Summer savory, which I prefer to both thyme and sage. Bay leaf.
                                                Curry powder and garam masala yes, but cumin or chili on their own, never. I like Old Bay seasoning quite a bit - put it in egg salad today, split pea soup last weekend.

                                                1. It has to be sage for me. It was a real revelation when I discovered that so many of the "traditional" American heartland foods I love (roast chicken, breakfast sausage, Thanksgiving stuffing, etc.) take their primary flavor from sage. Now every time I sear chicken or pork it will be sure to have at least a little sage in it.

                                                  Careful with overusing it though; if you use to much, whatever you're cooking ends up tasting like tea.

                                                  1. Undoubtedly basil. I am surprised that I am almost alone in this choice, since it is a staple of Italian cooking and is a common spice in a lot of non-Italian dishes, as well. I love its slightly licorice-like flavor.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: gfr1111

                                                      I use a fair amount of basil, but my experience is that it easily overwhelms a dish and should thus be used sparingly. Pesto might qualify as an exception. ;)

                                                    2. Thyme. I can't seem to get enough of it and it goes on or in about everything I make!!

                                                      1. For herbs, probably fresh thyme, as it goes so well with so many things; I use lots of bay leaves too. For spices it's probably nutmeg or cumin. I love the combination of nutmeg with dairy based components, especially ricotta, and cumin is just so versatile with many different cuisines.

                                                        1. There's oregano running wild in front of my place, and a good productive rosemary bush. Down the street there's a big ole bay tree. Being a forager by nature, these end up often in my cooking.

                                                          1. Arbol chile. Seems I put it in everything.
                                                            That, and thyme and Bay.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: rabaja

                                                              I'm not positive, but I THINK that's called, "Bobby Flay Syndrome." '-)

                                                              But hey, ain't nothing wrong with that.

                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                Really? I like to think of it as Goin-ism or maybe Rogers-ism, but then that's just me...;)

                                                            2. Black Pepper
                                                              Dried Mustard Powder ("Colman's")
                                                              Curry Powder (yellow)

                                                              But the single *flavor* I use most often isn't a spice at all; it's butter.

                                                              1. -Vietnamese cinnamon in large quantities. I'm a sucker for cinnamon sugar toast and that uses it up in a hurry.
                                                                -Ancho chile powder. Love the smoky taste and it gives a lot of vegetarian recipes significant depth.
                                                                -Fresh basil if I have a plant around. I actually find excuses to cook with it because I love it so much.
                                                                -Garlic of course. I barely even think of it, given how much I use it.
                                                                -Sage in the winter. Goes with so many beautiful, hearty dishes.

                                                                1. In the summer, I use citrus zest like it's going out of style. That's not really an herb or spice, but that's my answer anyway :-)

                                                                  1. Most underused herb in the US--Marjoram. Try it sometime instead of or with thyme and oregano.

                                                                    It's awesome with chicken.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: hankstramm

                                                                      Marjoram is wonderful on mushrooms.

                                                                      1. re: hankstramm

                                                                        oh, I dunno. I suspect lavendar is the most underused spice/herb in American cooking. Try some with brussel sprouts in the steamer.

                                                                      2. Outside of salt, garlic, black pepper, I use white pepper and ginger. I also use turmeric quiet a bit for India foods. If I have to pick one, I am guessing ginger.

                                                                          1. For my kitchen, it's a toss up between a dried Italian herb mixture from an online source and dill, either fresh or dry. Those two and a big ole bag of ground mild New Mexican chile from my sister in Santa Fe, can't beat it!

                                                                            1. Spices: Cumin, Garlic Powder, Curry Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, Poultry Seasoning, Lemon Pepper, Seasoning Salt

                                                                              Fresh herbs: Cilantro, thyme, bay, sage. I prefer fresh herbs to dried ground herbs, but do have a small container of the basics for back-up.

                                                                              1. Accent (msg). it has been given a bad rep, there is NOTHING wrong with it, nor scientific evidence to show otherwise. It TRULY WAKES UP THE FLAVOR of all foods, enhancing them.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Helenem55

                                                                                  I have no problem with MSG or does anyone that I've ever dined with, outside of hypochondriacs and the types with kids with 12 different food allergies. Nonetheless, I don't use it, but I appreciate it in Pho, which most places use it in...

                                                                                  1. re: Helenem55

                                                                                    +1. It's not the thing I use the most, but I use way more of it than I would admit to you if you casually asked me for a recipe.