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Which Herb/Spice Do You Use the Most?

Perilagu Khan Apr 19, 2010 07:03 AM

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?

  1. l
    LauraGrace Apr 19, 2010 07:11 AM

    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. Cherylptw Apr 19, 2010 07:12 AM

      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. k
        Kater Apr 19, 2010 07:15 AM

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

        2 Replies
        1. re: Kater
          Mestralle Apr 20, 2010 12:23 PM

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

          1. re: Mestralle
            karykat Apr 22, 2010 08:21 PM

            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. epabella Apr 19, 2010 07:52 AM

          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
            LauraGrace Apr 19, 2010 09:20 AM

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

          2. ipsedixit Apr 19, 2010 08:00 AM

            Does garlic count?

            3 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit
              Perilagu Khan Apr 19, 2010 09:21 AM


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

              1. re: Perilagu Khan
                ipsedixit Apr 19, 2010 04:26 PM

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

              2. re: ipsedixit
                larry ziegler Apr 19, 2010 12:53 PM


              3. amokscience Apr 19, 2010 08:41 AM

                Thyme seems to go into everything I cook.

                9 Replies
                1. re: amokscience
                  Perilagu Khan Apr 19, 2010 09:23 AM

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

                  1. re: amokscience
                    OCEllen Apr 19, 2010 12:14 PM

                    Another for thyme. Especially with chicken and pork.

                    1. re: amokscience
                      Indirect Heat Apr 19, 2010 04:28 PM

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


                      1. re: amokscience
                        BeefeaterRocks Apr 20, 2010 10:29 AM

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

                        1. re: amokscience
                          Caroline1 Apr 23, 2010 09:55 PM

                          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
                            Sharuf Apr 24, 2010 02:18 AM

                            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
                              Caroline1 Apr 24, 2010 10:25 AM

                              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
                                bushwickgirl Apr 24, 2010 11:07 AM

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

                                1. re: bushwickgirl
                                  Caroline1 Apr 24, 2010 11:40 AM

                                  You're welcome! :-)

                        2. eviemichael Apr 19, 2010 08:54 AM

                          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. v
                            Val Apr 19, 2010 09:27 AM

                            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. b
                              bizkat Apr 19, 2010 12:49 PM

                              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. h
                                Harters Apr 19, 2010 02:21 PM

                                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. mebby Apr 19, 2010 03:31 PM

                                  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. bushwickgirl Apr 20, 2010 05:22 AM

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

                                    1. YAYME Apr 20, 2010 06:42 AM

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

                                      1. b
                                        BigE Apr 20, 2010 07:49 AM

                                        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. krisrishere Apr 20, 2010 07:58 AM

                                          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. Perilagu Khan Apr 20, 2010 08:10 AM

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

                                            1. hannaone Apr 20, 2010 08:31 AM

                                              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
                                                grubn Apr 20, 2010 10:12 AM

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

                                              2. greygarious Apr 20, 2010 10:24 AM

                                                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. RealMenJulienne Apr 20, 2010 10:32 AM

                                                  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. g
                                                    gfr1111 Apr 22, 2010 11:22 AM

                                                    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
                                                      Perilagu Khan Apr 22, 2010 12:17 PM

                                                      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. Phurstluv Apr 23, 2010 09:00 AM

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

                                                      1. AndrewK512 Apr 23, 2010 11:08 PM

                                                        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. s
                                                          Sharuf Apr 24, 2010 02:21 AM

                                                          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. rabaja Apr 24, 2010 10:34 AM

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

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: rabaja
                                                              Caroline1 Apr 24, 2010 11:44 AM

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

                                                              But hey, ain't nothing wrong with that.

                                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                                rabaja Apr 28, 2010 12:27 PM

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

                                                            2. shaogo Apr 28, 2010 12:33 PM

                                                              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. tazia Apr 28, 2010 03:41 PM

                                                                -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. junquegrrl Apr 28, 2010 04:30 PM

                                                                  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. h
                                                                    hankstramm Apr 28, 2010 08:54 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                      Sharuf Apr 29, 2010 02:39 AM

                                                                      Marjoram is wonderful on mushrooms.

                                                                      1. re: hankstramm
                                                                        Caroline1 Apr 30, 2010 05:05 PM

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

                                                                      2. Chemicalkinetics Apr 28, 2010 09:11 PM

                                                                        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. s
                                                                          shaebones Apr 29, 2010 02:57 AM


                                                                          1. lrostron Apr 29, 2010 09:41 AM

                                                                            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. j
                                                                              jcattles Apr 29, 2010 10:09 AM

                                                                              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. h
                                                                                Helenem55 Apr 30, 2010 12:10 AM

                                                                                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
                                                                                  hankstramm May 5, 2010 08:37 PM

                                                                                  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
                                                                                    runwestierun May 5, 2010 08:51 PM

                                                                                    +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.

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