Making your own seasoning mixes ensures consistency in all your recipes, and most of the time homemade blends will last longer than store-bought varieties.
You won't always save money making your own spice blends (usually it will be a wash), but you'll taste the difference, and you'll have the satisfaction and peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly what went into your spice blend.
Buying Whole Spices and Measurement Conversions
The best way to get your hands on the raw materials for creating your spice blends is by buying whole spices and grinding them up in a coffee grinder or spice grinder. As for the herbs, well, they're merely dried leaves, so you don't need to grind them. You'll simply add them to the mix just as they are.
These days you can find bulk spices in most of the big grocery stores. So you can buy anything from a single clove to a pound of them. Needless to say, that's where you should purchase your ingredients—not the regular spice aisle with all the jars.
Remember, too, that to produce a tablespoon of, say, ground cumin, you'll need less than a tablespoon of whole cumin seeds. Or perhaps another way of looking at it is, a tablespoon of whole cumin seeds will produce about 1 1/4 tablespoons of ground cumin.
Other spices convert differently, but as a general rule, one part whole spice will yield 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 parts ground. Fortunately, slight variations in quantities aren't going to spoil anything.
What You'll Need
- Clean glass jars with tight-fitting lids. The lids are important to keep the seasonings fresh, and glass is important since plastic containers will absorb the smell of the ingredients.
- Coffee grinder (or a spice grinder, which is basically the same thing). Naturally, you'll want to clean it between uses so you don't have cumin residue going into a spice blend that doesn't include cumin (although a little extra cumin never hurt anyone).
- Funnel: Just try getting your spices into the jars without one. Yes, you could try to use a piece of parchment paper, but after spilling spices all over the place a couple of times, you'll want to buy a funnel. Skip that step and use a funnel from the get-go.
- Labels: In addition to the name of the spice blend, you can also write the date you made it. If you notice six months have gone by, you might want to think about making a fresh batch.
Herbs Versus Spices
Most spices are dried seeds, roots or flower buds, or in the case of chiles, dried fruits. And unless the blend calls specifically for whole spices, assume they need to be ground. Thus when you see cumin powder on the list of ingredients, you need to start with whole cumin seed and grind it yourself. Same with things like coriander, fennel and black pepper (technically a dried flower bud, not a seed).
Other ingredients include garlic powder and onion powder, which are garlic and onion respectively, that are dried and then ground into powder. You don't need to grind these, but rather use them straight from the container.
Using Dried Herbs
With certain exceptions (like bay leaf, for instance), bulk dried herbs will already be ground or crumbled up. That's as much to do with gravity as anything else. If you want to dry your own fresh herbs (and if you grow them in your garden) and then spin them in your coffeemaker, that's great. But you don't have to. The return on all that effort isn't worth the quality improvement over store-bought herbs.
01 of 08
You can (and should) adjust the cayenne pepper to taste. Stir in half of the amount below, taste it and then add the rest a little at a time, tasting after each addition before adding more.
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
02 of 08
Use three tablespoons of this taco seasoning per pound of ground beef. The cayenne pepper is optional.
- 1/4 cup instant minced onion
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons crushed dried red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon instant minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
03 of 08
One of the most iconic flavor profiles ever, this seasoning blend has everything you love about an everything bagel—without the bagel. Sprinkle it on scrambled eggs, roast chicken, braised leeks, even a good slice of sourdough with butter.
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried minced onions
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds (toasted or plain)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes (or coarse kosher salt)
04 of 08
No, it's not just for making pumpkin spice lattes, but yes, you can definitely use it for that—you know you're going to.
Other possibilities include using it to season roasted vegetables, swirl it into muffins or pancake batter, or, of course, for making pumpkin pie.
Continue to 5 of 8 below.
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon (ground)
- 1 tablespoon ginger (ground)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg (ground)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon allspice (ground)
05 of 08
There are about a thousand ways you can make curry powder, using a thousand different ingredients. This one is a flavorful Thai version, which is quite mild. You can always add more heat. The ingredient that gives curry powder its characteristic yellow hue is turmeric.
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 3 bay leaves (remove lower stem)
- 3 tablespoons coriander (whole or ground)
- 2 tablespoons cumin seed (whole or ground)
- 2 teaspoons ginger (ground)
- 1 teaspoon white pepper (ground or whole white peppercorns if you can find them)
- 1 to 3 teaspoons chili flakes (or cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you want it)
- 1 clove (whole or a pinch of ground)
06 of 08
This is a classic dry rub that will work equally well on beef, pork or chicken:
- 1/3 cup paprika
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons black pepper
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
07 of 08
This aromatic poultry seasoning can go on a whole chicken before roasting it, or on chicken pieces that are going to be roasted. Use it just like you'd use a dry rub.
08 of 08
Another all-purpose seasoning that will go with anything savory: hamburgers, chicken breasts, grilled vegetables, even soups and broths.