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The Best Herbs and Spices Every Cook Should Have in their Cupboard

We all need to spice things up in our lives from time to time, and there is no better place to start than the kitchen! If you love to prepare meals for yourself and your loved ones, you’ll know that sometimes it’s a little dash of something here or a sprinkle of something there that can really take a dish to the next level.

Having a cupboard or rack stocked full of the best herbs and spices means that you’ll be able to reach for these secret ingredients whenever you choose and can add intense flavours to your cooking with ease.

If you aren’t sure what to include, we’ve made a list of all the staples to get you started. With the best herbs and spices (below), you’ll be able to create a range of different flavours and take a few simple ingredients and turn them into something truly sensational.

The Best Herbs and Spices for Every Kitchen

If you wander down the herbs and spice aisle in your local supermarket, you may quickly become overwhelmed with choices. There are so many herbs and spices available that you may have no idea where to start if you are a novice cook. Lots of dishes call for the same types of herbs and spices, so to start you off, here are our firm favourites and the absolute must-haves to keep stocked in your pantry or kitchen cupboards at all times.

Whole Black Peppercorns

A jar of whole black peppercorns should always be on hand. Almost every dish could do with a twist of pepper to give it a little kick. Whole black peppercorns stay flavoursome for longer, and you can simply fill up your pepper grinder and use when required; this means you’ll also have some on hand for sauces that might need them to be added whole too!

Flaky Sea Salt

Salt is another essential ingredient that you can add to almost any dish. Getting the seasoning right can bring out the flavours of a meal. We like flaked sea salt, kept in easy reach to sprinkle into casseroles and pasta dishes, to season hunks of tender, sizzling meat, and to add to staples such as chunky chips or eggs on toast.

Cumin - Whole and Ground

Cumin has a wonderfully aromatic smell and a spiced, earthy flavour that goes great in many dishes. Add it to curries, chillies, or use it to flavour bread, rice dishes, roasted vegetables, and pickles. Just take it easy when adding. Too much, and you can find the plate becomes easily overpowered. Ground cumin is super convenient, while whole cumin will last longer and can be crushed in a pestle and mortar as needed.

Dried Chilli Flakes

If you like to add some heat to your food, having a jar of dried chilli flakes to hand can be very useful. Crushed flakes are perfect for adding to pasta dishes, sprinkling over a pizza, or adding to Asian fish dishes. You can even mix with flaky salt and sugar to make an excellent rim for a Margherita too!

Bay Leaves

Aromatic Bay leaves are a fantastic store cupboard ingredient to add richness and flavour to sauces such as tomato-based pasta sauces, ragù, and spaghetti bolognese. You can also use them to flavour roast meats too.

Turmeric

Turmeric is another essential spice that is really versatile. Its striking yellow/ orange colour can add vibrancy to your cooking. Just be careful - it will stain fingers and clothes! Turmeric is also thought to have great health benefits as it’s a potent anti-inflammatory. Add it to rice dishes and curries, roast potatoes, or other veg or scrambled eggs.

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder can be excellent to add to lots of dishes and is perfect if you’ve run out of the real thing but need to add some of the flavour to your cooking. Garlic powder has a long shelf life, and a sprinkle to stir fry, sauces and soups can really make all the difference.

Whole Nutmeg

From lasagne to stewed fruits and spiced bread, whole nutmeg is something you’ll be reaching for repeatedly. The aroma and flavour are much more intense and delicious than the ground alternative. From creamy sauces to potato soups, cakes, and ground meat dishes, fresh nutmeg really does come in handy more often than you might think.

Ground Cinnamon

Ground cinnamon is another spice that’s great for adding to sweet puddings and baked goods. However, it can also add a depth of flavour to savoury dishes such as stews, curries and chillies too.

Dried Oregano

Related to marjoram, oregano has a more robust flavour and is used most regularly in Mediterranean dishes. Dried oregano is useful to have on hand if you love Greek dishes and is also excellent for sprinkling on top of a pizza, fresh from the oven.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is another staple for those who like to add some spice and heat to their food. Used often in Mexican and Cajun dishes, Cayenne pepper is perfect for marinades and can also be used to add a little kick to sweet chocolatey puddings too.

Herbs de Provence

Last but not least, we’ve got a little cheat pot for you as Herbs de Provence is a mixture of herbs and spices, typically including a blend of thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf!

Finish & Feast - For When you Want Another Chef to do the Cooking

While we know how rewarding and satisfying it can be to rustle up a fabulous feast for yourself or family and friends, there are times when we’d all rather leave the cooking to someone else. If you want to treat yourself or a loved one to a fine dining experience curated and cooked by professional chefs with a combination of some of the best herbs and spices for the kitchen, browse our seasonal menu and book your meal today.