In my plant-based, whole foods kitchen I do a lot of cooking. Having plenty of spices on hand is important in helping to create masterpieces! At this moment, there are no less than 50+ different spices adorning my spice clips and shelves. Some, I use only occasionally and others, I use constantly. Take a look at my Top 15 List of Spices!
I’ve written more about spices for T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies.
Best spices to keep on hand
I want to share the top 15 spices and flavorings I use regularly to create amazingly flavorful and healthy dishes. They are listed in no particular order. Here we go!
1. Italian Seasoning is a mixture of oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, and garlic. I buy it already blended, and it can be purchased at most local grocery stores. It’s used in pasta dishes, lasagna, tomato sauce, spaghetti, and many other dishes.
3. Onion Powder is another necessity. It can’t replace fresh onions, but it definitely has a prominent place in the kitchen to add flavors to all kinds of dishes and sauces. The long shelf life is another plus if you don’t use fresh onions often enough to merit keeping them on hand.
4. Paprika (and Smoked Paprika) is made from dried fruits of the chili pepper family. My Creamy Vegan Cheese Sauce is one of many recipes where its flavor is irreplaceable. Smoked paprika is one of my absolute favorites!
5. Basil with its sweet and aromatic profile, is a herb celebrated for its fresh and vibrant taste. It’s a perfect companion in dishes like pasta sauces, pesto, and various Mediterranean and Thai cuisines.
6. Turmeric is from the ginger family and has its origins in India. Its color is orange-yellow, and dishes that it’s used in will take on the coloring. When used in a tofu scramble, it gives the appearance of the yellow coloring of eggs.
7. Black Salt stands out as a distinctive element in vegan recipes, cherished for its unique eggy flavor. Just a dash of black salt has the power to elevate tofu scrambles and vegan omelets, infusing an authentic and savory taste reminiscent of classic egg-based dishes.
8. Cayenne Pepper is my favorite go-to for adding a little kick to my family’s favorite recipes. It’s another one that goes into sauces, dips, and so much more. It also has many health benefits.
9. Chili Powder is the dried, pulverized fruit of the chili pepper. This is a very important spice added to my Three Bean Bulgur Chili
10. Cumin is native from the east Mediterranean to India. It adds an earthy warm feeling to many soups and stews. It also has many medicinal purposes.
11. Poultry Seasoning, despite its name, brings a burst of savory and aromatic notes to vegan dishes. Its blend of herbs and spices, such as sage, thyme, and rosemary, adds depth and warmth to plant-based stews, roasted vegetables, and stuffing, creating a deliciously seasoned profile without any animal products.
12. Bay Leaf is one of my favorites for homemade veggie broth, soups, stews, and a crockpot full of beans.
13. Nutritional Yeast is a seasoning I wouldn’t want to be without! It adds a nutty, cheesy flavor to pasta, sauces, dips, baked potatoes, and many other dishes. There’s a whole list of Nutritional Yeast Recipes to use this one in.
14. Pure Vanilla is more accurately called a flavoring than a spice, but I wanted to make sure to include it in this list for use in dessert recipes like Vanilla Nice Cream, Date Caramel, and many others.
15. Sauces that I consider necessities are: amino acids, soy sauce, tamari, and Worcestershire sauce.
BONUS: Tajin is a Mexican-inspired seasoning that offers a tangy and mildly spicy kick, with a delightful combination of saltiness and a bright citrusy taste. Its subtle chili flavor makes it a versatile seasoning that complements both sweet and savory dishes. We often add it to corn on the cob, popcorn, and even baked potatoes.
When making soups, stews, casseroles, and veggie dishes, this easy-to-make Homemade Vegetable Boullion is a great option. Also, try this Homemade Vegan Parmesan and Savory Spice Blend Seasoning from Dr. Michael Greger, M.D.
Other terrific spices include…
- Black or pink salt
- Ground mustard
- And SO many more
These all add a distinct and robust flavor to many recipes. When purchasing Worcestershire sauce, make sure to read the label and choose one without anchovies.
Creating new, healthy recipes with all my spices is like science and art brought together. Science, because of nutrition—using the power of foods to promote healing within the body. And art, because of beauty and uniqueness—capturing the visual appeal.
Not to mention, it has to taste amazing. Having a full spice rack helps me do that!
NOTE: I also use coarse sea salt with iodine in most of my dishes. The excess sodium that most Americans consume comes from processed foods, not a salt shaker. When switching to a plant-based, whole foods way of life, sodium is not usually an issue in my experience.
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These are great little clips that attach to your cabinet door to hold those spices.
*Originally published April 2015.
About Terri Edwards
Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy. I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…