Add a Latin flair to your favorite dish with this savory seasoning. Adobo is typically a mixture of turmeric, black pepper, garlic and oregano. It's commonly used to flavor fish, chicken and meat, either as a dry rub or mixed with citrus juice, onions and herbs to create a wet paste. In Latin and Caribbean cuisines, adobo seasoning is an absolute must!
It may sound generic, but allspice is anything but. Also known as Jamaica pepper or pimenta, allspice is a staple in Jamaican cooking, especially for jerk seasoning. It has a complex taste that is reminiscent of a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, which is why early explorers dubbed it "allspice." It pairs well with beef, lamb, carrots, cabbage and sweet potatoes.
Love the taste of sweet licorice? Grab some anise seeds, crush with a mortar and pestle and use the resulting fine powder in baked goods, cakes and sweet breads. Anise is native to the Mediterranean region - in Europe, it's a popular ingredient in desserts and candies, while in India and the Middle East, it's usually added to more savory dishes.
The strong smell of basil usually brings to mind fresh Italian food, but it's also a popular herb in French cooking. With a sweet and subtly spicy flavor, basil is the perfect addition to tomato-based recipes, such as sauces, soups and fresh salads - it's also a popular ingredient in pesto. Crushed, dried basil is available year-round, but the fragrant flavor of fresh basil is hard to beat.
Emperors and heroes wore crowns made from laurel (bay) leaves in ancient Greece, where they were revered as symbols of honor. Today, bay leaves are best known for their culinary powers, offering a slightly bitter taste and pungent aroma. They are typically used in dried form for savory dishes, such as stews, soups and sauces, as well as seasoning for meat and fish.
When it comes to seasoning, it's important not to skip out on the basics. Black pepper, made from a plant known as Piper nigrum, was once so highly regarded, it was traded as currency. Today, you'd be hard-pressed to find a recipe that didn't call for at least a pinch of black pepper. Even this miniscule amount is enough to impart an unmistakable "punch" of spicy flavor.
Spice up a simple fish or chicken recipe with blackened seasoning, a combination of several different spices such as salt, pepper (both black and white), garlic, onion, paprika, cayenne, oregano and thyme. Use blackened seasoning as a rub before grilling or searing - it adds a crisp sweet and smoky flavor to your favorite dish.
Before the prickly Capparis spinosa plant blossoms, the small, unripened flower buds are hand-picked, dried and pickled. The resulting product is known as a caper, a popular ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. You'll find sour-tasting capers in many dressings, sauces and other condiments. They also work well as a garnish for meats and vegetables. Because they're usually packed in brine, be sure to rinse capers before using to remove excess salt.
These pods are commonly referred to as "caraway seeds," but they're actually a type of fruit. Cultivated mainly in Europe, caraway has a sharp flavor that resembles anise. The fruits are commonly used in breads (much like rye), desserts, liquors, curry and casseroles. Go ahead and get carried away – try adding caraway to your coleslaw, lentil soup or savory muffin recipe.
Native to the Middle East, cardamom is found in three different varieties (green, black, Madagascar). Although this spice can be pricy, a little bit goes a long way in curries, rice dishes and even drinks. Cardamom is derived from a ginger-like plant, providing a taste that is described as both spicy and sweet. Look for whole pods and keep them intact until use - they can be split or ground to reveal a strong, fresh flavor.
It looks a bit like chocolate, it tastes a bit like chocolate, but it isn't chocolate at all. It's carob, a pod with a sweet, edible pulp that is dried, ground and often used as a substitute for chocolate. Although it rivals chocolate's sweetness, it can't evenly match the flavor and texture. Even so, carob is popular for those who cannot eat chocolate, as it contains no caffeine or other stimulants. Use carob powder or chips as you would chocolate, but be careful when cooking at high temperatures, as carob burns more easily than chocolate.
Prefer your food to have a kick? Then you'll love cayenne – this slender red pepper carries a fiery taste that can turn up the temperature of any dish. Once ground, the pepper is made into cayenne powder, a popular ingredient used sparingly in hot sauces, meat marinades, dips and more. Along with intense heat, cayenne also provides a source of "capsaicin," a compound that may offer health benefits.
They may be tiny in size and stature, but celery seeds pack plenty of flavor and aroma. In addition to a strong celery taste, they also offer an interesting texture for sauces, stews, gravies, eggs and vegetable dishes. If you're fresh out of celery stalks, you can also sub a small amount of celery seed in your recipe to provide the same flavor.
Not to be confused with chile powder, this common seasoning is typically a blend of several different ingredients, including ground chili pepper (usually from cayenne or red peppers), garlic, oregano, cumin and salt. The ideal chili powder has a bold, yet complex and smoky flavor that makes it a perfect addition to a pot of stew, soup or – well, chili of course!
This bulbous herb belongs to the same family as garlic, leeks and onions. Used fresh or freeze dried (to preserve taste), chives provide a mild, sweet flavor similar to that of its kin. Often used as both a garnish and flavor enhancer for eggs, baked potatoes and garlic bread, chives can also act as a colorful substitute for onions in dips, spreads and salads.
Also known as coriander, cilantro is widely used in Caribbean, Asian and Mexican cuisines. This small, leafy green is sometimes confused with flat parsley, and although the two are related, cilantro offers a very different and distinct odor and flavor. Cilantro and coriander are most often used in chutney, curry, salsa, salad and burritos. Essential oil derived from cilantro is said to have cleansing properties.
This aromatic spice was once so highly prized, it was given as a gift to both gods and monarchs. Although there are several types of cinnamon, you're most likely to encounter Cassia, an Indonesian relative of the true spice. With its sharp, slightly bitter flavor, cinnamon is a perfect complement to sweet foods and beverages such as pies, cakes, coffees and teas.
Capture the taste of autumn with the sweet, warm flavor of cloves - a common addition to pumpkin pie, gingerbread and other seasonal treats, as well as savory dishes such as curry and meat. Clove spice comes from the unopened buds of a tree native to Indonesia. Due to the strong taste and odor of cloves, a small bit goes a very long way. In fact, in certain quantities, cloves are said to have a numbing effect on the mouth.
Curries and chili often get their kick from cumin, a bold spice with rich, earthy overtones, popular in Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. Available whole or ground, cumin adds warmth and zest without overpowering. Blend it into meat or veggie dishes, or sprinkle some into hummus for a southwest spin.
Pickle lovers, you’re in luck. Your favorite flavor can be easily added to salads, dressings, dips or any dish with dried dill weed or whole dill seeds. Mainly used for pickling, this classic herb has a sharp, tangy taste sometimes compared to anise or caraway. Dill pairs exceptionally well with seafood and creamy sauces.
Sweet and spicy, fennel seeds are known for their licorice-like flavor and the light crunchy texture they lend to breads, cakes and sausages. In some countries, fennel is chewed after meals to freshen breath and calm the stomach. But you’ll mostly find these small, brown, crescent-shaped seeds in Italian, French and German cuisine.
A little garlic goes a long way, so skip the whole-clove approach and sprinkle on some powder instead. A bulb-cousin of the onion, garlic’s intense flavor and fragrance banish bland from any meat, veggie or pasta dish. Mix the powder into melted butter, spread on a baguette and broil for a toasty, flavorful garlic bread.
A holiday staple, ginger is a gift that gives warmth and spice to cookies, muffins and gingerbreads. Made from the underground stem of the ginger plant, this pale-yellow powder also brings zest to stir-fry dishes, curries, dressings and sauces. In traditional herbal health practices, ginger has a reputation for quashing queasiness. Make a simple soothing tea with a dash of ginger powder in your favorite brew.
Keep a glass (or two!) of water nearby and kick up the heat with ready-made hot sauces featuring jalapeno, cayenne, chipotle and more of the world’s spiciest peppers. Blended into tangy tomato or smoky barbecue bases, these tear jerkers contain a compound called capsaicin, which not only fires up flavor in Mexican, southwestern and Cajun cuisine, but may also be good for your health.
Traditional Italian dishes - rich, tomato gravies, oil-drizzled focaccia, seafood stews-all rely on fresh herbs for the distinct, irresistible flavor that makes them famous worldwide. Capture the authentic taste of Italy in your home cooking with Italian seasoning, which blends together basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, thyme and other popular Italian herbs.
They say it’s what’s inside that counts, but when it comes to lemons, the outer layer has a lot to offer. Besides being packed with pectin, fiber and vitamins, lemon peel adds a tantalizing, tangy flavor to teas and sweets. Forgot to buy fresh lemons? Granulated lemon peel is a handy substitute in recipes, or try sprinkling it on already-made foods for a hint of citrus flavor.
If you like oregano, you’ll find its slightly sweeter cousin, marjoram, a pleasant alternative in Italian dishes, dressings, soups and more. Often part of Italian-herb blends, marjoram’s mild flavor can get a little lost in the mix. On its own, this mild, delicate herb adds a hint of richness with minty, citrusy undertones. Heat destroys the flavor, so be sure to add it as an end-step in the cooking process.
First used as a fragrance, mint is an herb with a fresh, clean scent and a slightly sweet, mouth-tingling taste. As a flavoring, mint is cool and refreshing, complementing chocolate candy and desserts while adding depth to savory meat dishes, such as lamb. Try liquid mint flavoring in your cookie and cake batters, frosting, candy concoctions, milkshakes, coffee or tea.
Warm your belly with a mug of hot, spiced cider, made easy with mulling spice - an aromatic blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove and orange peel. Traditionally warmed with apple cider, red wine or beer for a spicy autumn or winter drink, mulling spice can also be simply simmered in water on your stovetop to fill the air with holiday cheer.
Get the same zing and zip a squiggly line of mustard brings to hotdogs with a sprinkle of mustard powder in your potato salads, deviled eggs, marinades and dressings. Known as a potent and pungent spice, mustard has added warmth and tang to foods since ancient times. The powder, made from crushed mustard seeds, is a convenient way to get creative with this popular condiment.
They may be small, but their flavor is bold. Mustard seeds, one of the world’s oldest and most widely used spices, come from plants belonging to the Brassica family, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. They range in flavor from tangy (yellow) to sharp (black), but always add a distinctive bite when added to roasted meats, potato dishes or pickle relishes.
Chopped onions can be chunky, and their flavor often overpowers. When recipes call for this bold, bulbous veggie, sprinkle in some onion powder for a smoother, subtler taste. From tuna salad to meatballs and everything in between, onion powder seasons without stealing the show, for balanced flavor every time.
One small pinch of this pungent dried herb will fill your kitchen with the aroma of an authentic pizza parlor. That’s because oregano, derived from a small shrub cultivated in the Mediterranean, abounds in Italian cuisine. Dried oregano, which is available year-round, can add a depth of flavor to beans, chicken, vegetables, pasta, pizza and potatoes.
There’s no mistaking the rich, orange-red color of this flavorful spice. Paprika is made from dried, ground sweet red peppers, although the exact taste can vary from mild to spicy. This seasoning is unique in that the flavor is released when heated, so be sure to add paprika to your chicken, fish, pasta or potatoes before cooking.
Mentha spicata is a species of mint that was first discovered in North America in the wet soils of the Great Lakes region. It tolerates most climates, including the temperatures of your windowsill. The leaves lose their aromatic quality once the plant flowers, so cut them right as the flowers begin to open. Then, use fresh, dried, even frozen. Mojitos, anyone?
Bon appétit! Tarragon is a popular spice in French cooking. When used in sauces or dressings, tarragon actually accents other herbs, bringing on a more pungent burst of flavor. Use fresh leaves in your best imitation of Julia Child’s Béarnaise sauce. Or, for the not-so-gourmet, try tarragon leaf flakes in your own egg, fish and poultry creations.
Responsible for curry dishes' sunshine color, turmeric was once called the "Indian saffron." It’s as common as salt and pepper in Indian, Persian and Thai kitchens. Turmeric has a ginger-like flavor, can be used in powder or whole root form and, of course, imparts a bright yellow hue to baked goods, dairy products, popcorn and sauces.
Vanilla beans come from the only fruit-bearing orchid, making it a prized possession in any pantry. But don’t be afraid to break out the beans for sweet sensations, like ice cream, cakes and cookies. Though the entire bean is edible, get creative transforming it into a perfume or aromatherapy blend. No matter how you use vanilla beans, the warm, sweet aroma will hug your whole house.
The Japanese horseradish, as wasabi is sometimes called, is not made from horseradish at all. It’s the root of the Wasabia japonica plant. At the sushi bar, you’ll see the grounded root made into a green paste. You can also find wasabi as a powder, which lets you control the kick you’ll get by adding more or less water to make your own sauces, dips or dressings.