How to use the herbs and spices in your kitchen cupboards

How to use the herbs and spices in your kitchen cupboards

Posted 24th March

With cafes and restaurants closed, many of us are cooking at home far more than usual. If you're not a regular home cook, the prospect of rustling up dinner from scratch every night can be daunting, especially with the added stresses of working from home and caring for children or vulnerable family members.

However, there are some easy tricks you can take to ensure your meals are as delicious as they can be - and one of the most important is seasoning. A pinch of the right herb or a sprinkle of spice can transform a dish from bland to wow, but less experienced cooks are often afraid of adding an ingredient that could spoil or overpower the flavour.

Most of us have plenty of jars of herbs and spices gathering dust in the back of our kitchen cupboards. But what's the best way to use them? Here's a super-speedy guide to 13 of the most common store cupboard seasonings and the right foods to pair them with, courtesy of spice rub and meal kit maker SpiceNTice.

1. Cardamom

This warm, aromatic spice is widely used in Indian cuisine. It’s also great in baked goods when used in combination with spices like clove and cinnamon.

2. Cayenne Pepper 

Made from dried and ground red chili peppers, Cayenne Pepper adds a sweet heat to soups, braises, and spice mixes.

3. Cinnamon

Found in almost every world cuisine, cinnamon serves double duty as spice in both sweet and savoury dishes. It has a very unique flavour and is extremely aromatic. Cinnamon goes well with apples, beef, chocolate, in curries, stews and spicy dishes.

4. Cumin

Smoky and earthy, cumin is used in a lot of Southwestern U.S. and Mexican cuisine, as well as North African, Middle Eastern, and Indian dishes. It can be found ground or as whole seeds, and is great in curries, soups, stews, and spice rubs, or with beans.

5. Fenugreek

Although this herb smells like maple syrup while cooking, it has a rather bitter, burnt sugar flavour. It’s found in a lot of Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, and the ground seeds are often used in curry powder, spice blends, dry rubs and even tea blends. Fresh and dried fenugreek leaves can be used to finish dishes like sauces, curries, vegetable dishes and soups.

6. Garlic Powder

Garlic powder is made from dehydrated garlic cloves and can be used to give dishes a sweeter, softer garlic flavour.

7. Ginger

With a spicy, zesty bite, ginger can be found fresh in root form, or ground and dried. Fresh ginger is great in stir fries and marinades, or grated into cookies and muffins, whilst ground ginger works well in curry powders, spice mixes, and in general baking.

8. Nutmeg

Sweet and pungent, nutmeg is often used in baked goods, but it also adds a warm note to savoury dishes. It’s often used with cheese sauces too.

9. Oregano

Used primarily in Mediterranean, Greek, Italian, Mexican and Cuban cooking, oregano is amazing fresh, but is just as good if you use a good quantity of dried. It’s peppery, aromatic, and earthy and is great with vegetables, in beef stew, in sauces, with meat and fish, and with beans.

10. Paprika

Paprika can be sweet, hot or smoky, but most often adds a sweet note to dishes, as well as a brilliant red colour. You can also get a spicier version which is often labelled ‘hot paprika’. Use it in stews, spice blends, and goulash, or as part of a dry rub for roast potatoes. It’s also a great way to add a kick to burgers. Just sprinkle some on the raw meat or across the top when on the grill.

11. Rosemary

Strong and piney, rosemary is great with eggs, beans, and potatoes, as well as grilled meats. Fresh rosemary is also good for adding to soup and stew, or you can stuff poultry with a few sprigs during cooking. Many people also use it during grilling – when laid in coals it gives a great flavour to meat and vegetables.

12. Saffron

Saffron is the most expensive of spices and has a very subtle but distinct flavour that adds bitterness to food that, when used in dishes with lots of sweet or acidic flavours, balances out perfectly. It is used mostly with fish and rice, and is a key ingredient in paella.

13. Turmeric

Sometimes used more for its yellow colour than its flavour, turmeric has a very mild woodsy flavour. It is used in many curry powders for colour and flavour.

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