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Simple Spice Blends to Make at Home

September 28, 2020

Adding spices and seasonings to your favorite dishes is one of the easiest ways to customize recipes while giving your dishes a healthy boost. Making spice blends at home is not only cheaper than buying premixed versions in the store, but it also means you can tweak blends to suit your palate and have mixes that are free from preservatives, anti-caking agents, and the usual slew of unpronounceable mystery ingredients.

With these spice blends on hand, you can whip up a host of delicious recipes or even simply add a kick of flavor to your old standbys. One pro tip before you start: invest in a dedicated spice grinder. It makes blending spices infinitely easier and beats out the rather laborious process of using a mortar and pestle. Finally, be sure to store your spices in an air-tight container. They'll last about six months or so, after which, they'll start to lose some of their fragrance.

5-Spice Blend

Amazing in a stir-fry, perfect for jazzing up a dry rub (on its own or as part of a blend) or your favorite marinades, 5-spice is an essential for your spice cupboard. Its warm, sweet-peppery taste is fantastic. Sichuan peppercorns have a numbing effect on the palate, which emphasizes chili heat if you add peppers to a dish.

  • 2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 7 star anise
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fennel
  • 1 tsp whole Cloves

Lightly toast the spices in a pan to increase their aromas and flavors, about 1-2 minutes. Then pop the spices in your grinder and grind until you get a fine powder.

Creole Spice

If you love a bit of heat to your dishes, Creole seasoning needs to be a staple in your spice cupboard. Use it in classic Creole dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, or a crab boil. You can also add it to pretty much anything; it's great over meats, chicken, and fish as a dry seasoning, and works equally well in soups and stews, or sprinkled over fries. Wonderfully versatile, it's a personal favorite.

  • 1 to 3 tbsp cayenne pepper (depending on how much spice you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp white pepper
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorn
  • 5 tbsp paprika
  • 3 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme

Pour spices into a grinder, and grind until you get a fine powder.

Garam Masala

Garam masala is an incredibly aromatic Indian spice blend that's a must for curries. It's gorgeous in soups, lentil dishes, or dashed over anything from fish to meat to chicken. A little earthy, a touch spice, with a delightfully fragrant profile, garam masala adds so much depth to recipes. There are many variations of garam masala. You can tweak the recipe below to suit your taste.

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp green cardamom seeds
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg

Add the spices to a grinder and blitz well.

Baking (aka Pumpkin) Spice

Use this in your favorite autumn/winter baking recipes. Pumpkin pie is the obvious one, but this blend is brilliant in everything from pancakes to muffins, brioche dough or granola, dashed into your morning cup of coffee or sprinkled over roasted nuts.

  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground allspice

Add spices to a bowl and mix well. Alternatively, you can use a grinder to blend.

Italian Seasoning

Delicious on everything from pizzas and pasta to marinades, and stews, Italian herb seasoning is perfect for adding a little Mediterranean sunshine to your dishes.

  • 3 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried sage

Mix spices in a bowl.

Lemon Pepper Seasoning

Brilliant on fish, even better on wings, lemon pepper is a simple way to add a pop of brightness to your meals. You'll need some dried lemon peel for this one, but it's easy to do (and a great way to make sure you use the whole fruit).

  • ½ cup dried lemon peel
  • 3 tbsp ground black peppercorn
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp onion granules
  • 1 tbsp salt

Heat your oven to 200°F. Peel the lemons, removing the rind and leaving behind the white pith. Scrape off any remaining pith to avoid undesirable bitterness. Place the peels on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and bake for about 25 minutes. Rotated as needed.

Put all the ingredients into a grinder, then grind until well mixed.

Happy cooking!

Written by Camille Berry for Knockaround.

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