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Top 15 Herbs & Spices in a WFPB Kitchen

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!

photo collage for top spices

Best spices to keep on hand

I want to share the top 15 spices and flavorings I use on a regular basis 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.

2.  Garlic Powder is a must! It gives dishes a slight garlic flavor without the texture, so disperses well in liquids like salad dressings and sauces.

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.  Peppercorn Mélange is a colorful blend of whole black, white, green, and pink peppercorns. I love to add it to tofu scramble, hash browns, baked potatoes, and many other dishes.

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.  Tarragon has a unique flavor that easily dominates other flavors if used too heavily. It pairs well with artichokes, carrots, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, salads, and spinach. I add it to many dishes, including my homemade veggie broth.

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.  Steak Seasoning is one I bet you weren’t thinking you’d hear on a plant-based blog.

It is made from ground black pepper, paprika, kosher salt, granulated garlic, dill seed, coriander seed, and red pepper flakes. I purchase it already blended at my local grocery store and add it to tomato sandwiches, baked potatoes, hash browns, steamed veggies, rice, and almost any dish to give that extra punch of flavor.

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.

 14. Pure Vanilla is more accurately called a flavoring than a spice, but I wanted to make sure to include it in this list. My favorite brand is McCormick’s because it comes in large bottles, saves me money, and the flavor is excellent.

I use this in many desserts like Chocolate Mousse, Pumpkin Walnut Raisin Cookies,  and Chocolate Banana Smoothies.

15. Sauces that I consider necessities are: Bragg’s Amino Acids, soy sauce, tamari, and Worcestershire sauce.

BONUS: When making soups, stews, casseroles, and veggie dishes, this easy-to-make Homemade Vegetable Boullion is a great option.

Other terrific spices include…

  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Curry
  • 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.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

These are great little clips that attach to your cabinet door to hold those spices.

spice clips on cabinet door

*Originally published April 2015.

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Daphne

Thursday 16th of September 2021

Great advice, as always Terri! A couple of additions that have worked for me:

1. Buy organic and in bulk if you possibly can. For any I use regularly, I buy in 4-16 ounces (or more for salt, garlic, onion, paprikas, nooch). High quality spices = high quality taste. It wasn't until I went plant-based that I realized how significantly spice quality influences the oucome.

2. Learn to make your own spice blends. There are loads of online recipes and are almost always more flavorful (and devoid of additives and fillers). Taco, Veg Broth, Garam Masala, Italian, Cajun, Tofu Scramble, etc. You control the ingredients and can adjust it to your liking (e.g., hotter, milder, lower in salt, exclude cilantro, etc.).

3. Spice early and often in the cooking process! Layer the flavors.

Kathleen

Tuesday 17th of January 2017

Thanks for sharing, Terri! I, too, would add a good curry powder to the list. I love the depth of flavor without the heat, in such dishes as tofu scrambles and especially in Morrocan-style veggie stew, one of my family's staple dishes.

Scott Trimble

Tuesday 2nd of August 2016

Two additional suggestions - and maybe you already use these but just didn't consider them part of the "Top 15," but I think they are worth mentioning:

Himalayan salt (aka black salt or pink salt) - has a sulfur kick which helps especially in flavoring tofu scrambles to taste a bit more like eggs, helps with some cheesy flavors too.

Tony Chachere's Cajun Spice - essentially a mix of cayenne, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. I usually just use it as an after-cooking addition for a spicy kick to whatever I'm eating, as I have to make things milder for my wife and daughter than I like to eat them, but I also find that it can "fix" just about anything that doesn't turn out the way I wanted it to.

EatPlant-Based.com

Tuesday 2nd of August 2016

Scott, those are terrific suggestions! I do use both Himalayan salad (in my No-Egg Salad sandwiches) and Tony Chachere's Cajun Spice (a main ingredient in my sister's Barley Veggie Soup). Just like you, I like to spice up many dishes, but my husband is not a fan of hot stuff. I might need to update my list and add these suggestions as a note at the bottom. :)

EatPlant-Based.com

Monday 1st of August 2016

Here it is for cutting and pasting into a document to print:

In my plant-based, whole foods kitchen I do a lot of cooking. Having plenty of spices on-hand is important in helping create master pieces! At this moment, there are no less than 50+ different spices adorning my spice clips and shelves. Some, I use only occasionally; others, I use constantly.I want to share the top 15 spices and flavorings I use on a regular basis 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.

2. Garlic Powder is a must! It gives dishes a slight garlic flavor without the texture, so disperses well in liquids like salad dressings and sauces. .

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. Peppercorn Mélange is a colorful blend of whole black, white, green, and pink peppercorns. I love to add it to tofu scramble, hash browns, baked potatoes, and many other dishes.

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 tofu scramble, it gives the appearance of the yellow coloring of eggs.

7. Tarragon has a unique flavor that easily dominates other flavors, if used too heavily. It pairs well with artichokes, carrots, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, salads, and spinach. I add it to many dishes, including my homemade veggie broth.

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 and Brand New Vegan’s oven fried potatoes.

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. Steak Seasoning is one I bet you weren’t thinking you’d hear on a plant-based blog. It is made from grinding black pepper, paprika, kosher salt, granulated garlic, dill seed, coriander seed, and red pepper flakes. I purchase it already blended at my local grocery store, and add it to tomato sandwiches, baked potatoes, hash browns, steamed veggies, rice, and almost any dish to give that extra punch of flavor.

12. Bay Leaf is one of my favorites for homemade veggie broth, soups, stews, and a crock pot full of beans.

13. Nutritional Yeast is a seasoning I wouldn’t want to be without! It adds a nutty, cheesy flavor to pastas, sauces, dips, baked potatoes, and many other dishes. My favorite brand is Kal, and I use it so much that I buy in bulk to save money.

14. Pure Vanilla is more accurately called a flavoring than a spice, but I wanted to make sure to include it in this list. My favorite brand is McCormick’s because it comes in large bottles, saves me money, and the flavor is excellent. I use this in many desserts like Chocolate Mousse, Pumpkin Walnut Raisin Cookies, and Chocolate Banana Smoothies.

15. Sauces that I consider necessities are: Bragg’s Amino Acids, soy sauce, tamari, and Worcestershire sauce. 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. It doesn’t have to be expensive and say VEGAN on it. My experience has been that some of the no-name, cheaper brands are anchovy-free.

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.

Grace Davis

Thursday 26th of July 2018

thank u so much for posting i am new to plant base foods and had no idea about spices

Judy

Thursday 3rd of March 2016

Great information! I have most of them but some of the uses are helpful.