My favorite spices and herbs

Hey dudes! I get variations of this question fairly often. I covered the subject in much more depth in the “Pantry” chapter in my Learn To Cook book, but here’s a video about the spices and herbs I use most often in my kitchen.

What are your favorite spices and herbs? How do you use them? Leave me a comment below!


  1. Bkhuna on October 19, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Shichimi, aka Japanese 7 spice powder. Great on grilled chicken or pork and wonderful in noodle soups.

    • Hilah on October 19, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      I’ll have to try that, Bkhuna! Thank you.

  2. Nance on October 19, 2013 at 11:03 am

    As you say area’s where you grow up do effect the herbs and spices you like. I’m a hotaholic the hotter the better but if I could only take one spice with me to a desert island it would be cardamom. Grew up in Minnesota and of Swedish heritage and to me cardamom bread with pearl sugar on top is my most favorite thing in the whole world. I should love other things of my culture but swedish food is so bland to me I need my ghost or scorpion chiles on a daily basis. But in my sweet dreams i’m dreaming of cardamom toast…

    • Hilah on October 19, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      That cardamom bread sounds wonderful, Nance! I always think of cardamom as an Indian spice. Very interesting that it is a regular in Swedish cooking.
      And I’m totally with you, girl, on the hot peppers!

  3. Jewel on October 19, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I love all the spices you have with some additions: I was given a gift of rice seasoning from the Philippines. It has some garam masala in it with pumpkin seeds and a chili that heats the back of your throat up nicely. I also use a lot of tarragon and mustard when making sauces and especially chicken gravy. Herbes de Provence is another herb mix I love when roasting all kinds of meats. Italian herb blends are lovely, especially when making my own red sauces. Celery leaves and celery flakes. Saffron, which is oddly a very common spice in Pennsylvania Dutch cooking! I live in Lancaster County PA.
    Another great thing I love to cook with is a peppercorn medley. It smells just like Christmas when you grind it up.
    I cook a lot of Cuban and Puertorican food, and I cannot live without Goya! Recaito, sofrito and adobo are indispensable for cooking dishes like Pernil.
    I love Middle Eastern seasonings, too. So I have mint, oregano and lots of anise, fennel, etc.
    And don’t forget caraway seeds. They make sauerkraut less stankful, and the family more thankful.
    There’s more, but I think I’ve pretty much covered it.

    • Hilah on October 21, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Thanks, Jewel!
      I’d love to know what that rice seasoning is called. The way you describe it, it reminds me of dukkah.
      Tarragon is one I use occasionally, for very specific things like my beef stew. I love fresh tarragon in salads, but it’s existence here in Texas has eluded me. Too hot, I guess.
      I’d love to know some more uses for caraway. I love it in sauerkraut and rye bread, and I really just like it on its own. I wonder about a caraway roasted chicken?

  4. FoodJunkie on October 21, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I grew up in central Canada (Ontario) with a bland traditional English diet. Thankfully I have moved beyond that. Favourite spices include cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, basil, rosemary, ginger, pepper, assorted chili powders and of course garlic, salt and pepper. While not really a spice toasted sesame oil shows up fairly often too.

  5. Daniel on October 23, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Fresno, Ca. I absolutely love rosemary! Try putting it on some thick cut pork chops and fry them in a skillet. Sautée some yellow onion and apple slices and serve it on top! That’s how my family has always made pork chops, ever since I can remember. Also, I love dill on top of barbecued salmon! Yum!

    • Hilah on October 23, 2013 at 9:14 am

      Oh my lord, that sounds divine, Daniel! Yum yum yum! Thanks.

  6. harold on October 23, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Favorite spices of mine besides the always need to have around of S/P, I like Red Pepper, Cumin, Italian Seasoning, Rosemary, Thyme, some kind of Chili Pepper. I carry with me for when I eat out, a Mrs Dash Southwest Chipotle pepper blend. It is not as hot as it sounds like it should be, but adds a nice dimension to taters and eggs.

    To make my own seasonings, I always use onion and garlic powder. I have only come up with 1 seasoning so far. I call it hash brown seasoning. It has Rosemary, Thyme, Onion and garlic powder and Red Pepper too. Oh yea, just a bit of salt maybe.

    I am only 1200 miles from you, straight up the I-35 in Minnesota. Forgot to mention, I also make a Chipotle Pepper blend, smoke drying Jalapenos, Serranos and Habaneros. Have not made any in a few years, maybe it is time I make another batch.

    • Hilah on October 24, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      That chili pepper blend sounds great, Harold! Super spicy, I am sure. That is a good idea to carry some Mrs Dash with you, especially if someone is on a low-salt diet. I carry around a tiny bottle of Tabasco whenever we travel to a place not known for spicy food. 🙂

      • harold on October 25, 2013 at 5:40 pm

        I am on a watch my sodium diet. I am supposed to keep it down to the regular daily amount of 2300 mg. Very tough to do. A Brat has 800 mg, plus the bun and any condiments you add. Have 2 brats and for sodium, you are done for the day !!! Even though I eat considerably less then I did 15 years ago, I still need a bit more food then 2 brats or similar amounts of food a day. I was given permission to have a glass of V8 for a vegetable serving, but geez, that is 250 mg of sodium to. And that is the LOW sodium version !!!

        My Chipotle Pepper Blend has been sampled by others in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. Never a complaint. And quite potent. My recommendation for a quart of salsa is 1 tsp of this Chipotle Pepper Blend.

        I have been carrying around a Mrs Dash Seasoning for about 4 years now and use as needed, whether at a restaurant or as a guest at a friends and family gathering. Got some strange looks when I first started, but now it is accepted, I will bring my own seasoning and others may use it if desired…

        It is nice to know I am not the only one who carries around their own seasoning !!!!

  7. benu on October 24, 2013 at 7:36 am

    I love using cumin seeds wherever possible and garnishing my dishes with coriander. They just do wonderful addition in taste.

  8. Denise Leffert on October 24, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    I guess where you grew up would influence your use of spices. For me, I grew up in So. California which I would say has a strong Mexican influence with cumin, chili and cilantro prevalent. However, my early awareness of the kitchen comes from my mother’s background which was Hungarian, so Paprika was always present in most every thing she made that was delicious. Chicken paprikash, goulash, and a delicious sweet and sour style stuffed cabbage. I have ventured farther from my mother’s style of cooking and use lots of different herbs and spices, but my favorite is the use of the many herbs growing in my back yard. With our mild climate, much of the year, I have growing marjoram, oregano, thyme, basil, and all year there is rosemary and sage. I have to admit though, I think a good sweet paprika might just really be my favorite as it brings back my childhood. Never do I make a chicken that doesn’t have either sweet paprika or, my husbands favorite, smoked paprika. I’m so glad to have discovered your website!

    • Hilah on October 25, 2013 at 10:46 am

      Hi Denise!
      I really want to try more Hungarian and E European recipes. They seem so perfect for cold weather. The goulash I grew up with I’m sure, is nothing like the real thing. 🙂
      Smoked paprika is also one of my new favorites. I’m glad it’s become easy to find now.
      Thanks for writing!

  9. Charlie on October 25, 2013 at 8:06 am

    I use turmeric on a regular basis. Lately I was able to find it in fresh root form.
    Quite a difference.

    • Hilah on October 25, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Thanks, Charlie! I have found it fresh only a couple of times. It’s interesting to use!

  10. Hunter on October 26, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I’m from Fresno CA like Daniel is. I’m French but since I live in fresno and there is a large Mexican community, I tend to make a lot of Mexican food. My most used spices are turmeric and chili powder. Turmeric goes so great in many Mexican food dishes. I was talking to a friend who owns a Mexican restaurant here and they said that they put turmeric in their yellow rice to help make it yellow. I use chili powder in almost all Mexican foods. I really like habanero, guajillo and jalapeño chili powders, as you also said, I really like ancho chili powder!

    • Hilah on October 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      Hi Hunter!
      I’ve used turmeric in rice before, but not Mexican rice I don’t think. I will next time. I love incorporating it into as many things as possible!

  11. dad on October 27, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    You can get turmeric root at that Indian market on William Cannon across from the Heb at Brodie and William Canon. It’s in the strip mall on the south side of William Cannon to the west of Brodie. They’ll have boxes of fresh turmeric and all kinds of other good stinky stuff. dad

    • Hilah on October 28, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Thanks, Daddy!

  12. Ryan on October 29, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Hey Hilah! I’ve been wondering what kind of salt do you prefer to use? I’m pretty sure you’ve said so before and I just can’t remember where or when. If you haven’t then I must be goin’ crazy!


    • Hilah on October 30, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Hi Ryan!
      I use a fine sea salt most of the time, it looks like any old salt you find in a salt shaker. I also keep some flaky sea salt on hand for fancy sprinkling purposes. 🙂

  13. Matthew on November 3, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    My boss makes a spiced nuts (cashews, hazelnuts, pecan and walnuts) mix with brown sugar, sea salt, cayenne pepper, butter and fresh chopped rosemary. Toronto ON.

    • Hilah on November 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      Those sound incredible, Matthew!

  14. Dan oDan Kaiser on November 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    I use rosemary in chicken, potatoes, & bread.
    Fennel in all Italian with a tomato base. I reminds me of Patco-patcul- hippie oil.
    I use cumin, & cinnamon, (which is part of some Spanish trinity which I forget the last, sugar maybe) In a chicken, and roasted pobla-pablan- a pepper chili.
    Oh yeah, Kentucky.
    MY cousin/wife loves your vids, glad you do a complete walkthrough, it eliminates the reading.
    Give us a new dish a casul-casaro- a stew that I can take to a family reunion.
    Heh-heh, time for a new wife.
    Thanks for getting your website up and the work you do.
    You remind me of a cat playing with a feather, while listening to a wind chime . Dan

    • Hilah on November 6, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      Ahahah! Wish you could hear me cracking up at your comment here, Dan. 🙂
      Thanks for writing! Love that idea of cumin and cinnamon. I’ll have to look up “spanish trinity” – never heard of that one!

  15. Chili on November 8, 2013 at 12:49 am

    I am with you on the rosemary. Too much of it can kill any dish. I rely on most of the spices you highlighted but I would have to add cayenne. Cajun, French, and even most basic American dishes will benefit. Even a simple aioli or salad dressing is lifted by 1/2 teaspoon. Anyways my 2 cents. Keep up the awesomeness!.

    • Hilah on November 10, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      Hey Chili!
      I had cayenne listed in the video along with some other chili powders I use (ancho and New Mexico chili) but honestly I don’t find myself using all that often. Though I agree it’s nice in many dishes to add some heat without overpowering the other flavors like some other chili powders can.

  16. Gregory Roth on December 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I live in St. Paul, Minnesota. I like smoked paprika and I use it on chicken, fried potatoes and chili. I also in a BBQ spice blend which also has brown sugar, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.

    Also I love cinnamon which I use in pumpkin pie spices. I don’t bake piers but I use pumpkin pie spices in coffee.

    • Hilah on December 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      Yummy! I love adding smoked paprika to all kinds of meat, too. Thanks, Gregory!

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