Culinary Arts
2 min read

Top 10 spices you should have in your kitchen

Thomas Bissegger
Written by

When you’re trying to stock a home kitchen, the options available at your local supermarket or specialty store can be overwhelming. One of the areas that is especially well-stocked is the spice department.

There can be hundreds of different spices and spice blends available in many stores. Spices are used by professional chefs and many home cooks--in fact, usage has only continued to grow from 2011 to now, according to a recent survey.

So, how do you decide what you need in your home?

While everyone has different tastes, we have put together a list of ten spices you will certainly want to consider keeping around.

Black Pepper

As the counterpoint to the always-prevalent salt, black pepper is a flavorful spice that tastes good on most savory dishes in small doses. There are certain recipes, such as lemon-pepper pasta or fried chicken that can benefit from a healthier dash.

Garlic Powder

Even if you choose to use fresh garlic on a regular basis, having garlic powder around can be beneficial too. It’s a great way to add some quick garlic flavor to a dish or you can use it to mix into your own spice blends.


Thyme is woodsy, lemony and mild. It is most often used as a flavor for meats and stews, but it can add some zing to vegetables as well.


While Cinnamon is probably best known as an additive to sweet dishes or on your morning toast, this spice can be an excellent addition to certain savory dishes as well. Use it in very small doses in chili, tomato sauces and other products.


Nothing says Italian quite like Oregano does. A little dried oregano will give your tomato sauce a real Italian vibe. It can also be a pungent add in for Greek and Mexican dishes.


Dried Rosemary is a must for French and Mediterranean cooking. It is earthy, woodsy and piney. Rosemary can be an acquired taste for some, but it does give your dishes a one-of-a-kind flavor that helps them stand out from the crowd.

EHL Culinary Arts Workshops and Master Classes   Culinary, Pastry and Oenology Short Courses in French  For Professionals and Amateurs. Learn the secrets of EHL's Top Chefs and  strengthen your competencies in Culinary Arts  Discover

Cayenne Pepper

Another form of pepper, cayenne pepper has a definite kick. This spice is a great way to add heat to any dish. Whether you’re making your famous chili or buffalo wings, cayenne pepper lets you get the heat you desire.


Cumin has a smoky, earthy taste. You’ll find this flavor is great for many ethnic dishes including Indian, African and South American. A gentle touch of cumin can add spice and flavor to unexpected dishes like eggs or grilled meats too.


Nutmeg works well in both sweet and savory dishes. It is a must for bechamel sauces and other cheese dishes. However, you’ll probably use it most often in sweet treats that contain cinnamon as well.


While fairly tame compared to other pepper-based spices, paprika adds warmth and earthiness to a dish. You’ll find that there are many different versions, some with a smokier or “hotter” flavor than others.

While these are the ten “musts” for your spice cabinet, remember--this is only the beginning. Don’t be afraid to slowly expand your spice collection and add more flavors so you can enhance the overall taste and profile of everything you cook.

Plus, keep in mind that many spices offer additional benefits too. As Charlemagne was famed for saying: “Spices {are}  the friend of physicians and pride of cooks.”


Written by

Lecturer Cuisine Practice at EHL Campus Passugg

Got a story to share? Become an EHL Insights contributor

Learn More

Swiss Professional Degree (HF)

Want to learn all about Culinary Arts?

By earning our Swiss Professional Degree you not only have the leading hotel management education, you can also deepen your Culinary Arts knowledge at the same time. Learn more and download the brochure.