Spice mixes are a great way to give the gift of better taste to your favorite people. Not to mention that — like superfoods — many herbs have nutritional powers that warm, calm, cool, excite and balance our bodies. You don’t need fancy or expensive spice mixes to reap the benefits of these amazing foods (and their flavors) because homemade spice mixes are easy to make and can take on any personality or flavor you like.
WHOLE OR POWDERED SPICES
Stock your pantry with whole spices where available (i.e., cloves, star anise, peppercorns, coriander seed, etc.), then grind them as you need. Powdered spices lose their essence more quickly, which means less flavor in your spice mix. While these are easiest to find at a store specializing in spices, a well-stocked grocery store may also have a nice selection. However, some spices — ginger, onion powder, turmeric and cocoa powder — are easiest to use and work with in powdered form.
Use a dedicated coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind your whole spices. To make the mixes below, simply combine the whole spices and pulverize them, then mix with the powdered spices in the recipe. Each formula yields about 1/4 cup of spice mix, so you can scale up or down depending on your needs.
SIX DIY SPICE RECIPES
The six spices below are templates for each of the six flavors we taste. Pack them into small jars and give them to someone who embodies each of the flavors — or who you know will appreciate a little extra sprinkle of sweet, salty, bitter, bright and tartness — this season.
Sprinkle into hot chocolate, pumpkin soup or winter oatmeal.
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon powder
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Two big pinches of saffron
Pairs particularly well with poultry, vegetables, eggs and more.
- 2 teaspoons celery seeds or leaves
- 6 teaspoons garlic powder
- 6 teaspoons onion powder
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
Delicious sprinkled over a grain bowl, hummus or roasted vegetables.
- 4 teaspoons pink peppercorn
- 4 teaspoons sumac
- 6 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
Pairs well with noodle soups or a big steaming pot of black beans.
- 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons ginger powder
- 2 teaspoons white peppercorn
- 2 teaspoons anise seeds
Fantastic on top of oatmeal, sprinkled on almond butter toast or roasted squash.
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 4 teaspoons ginger
Sprinkle over chicken soup or roasted vegetables; use to flavor meats or in dressings.
- 4 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 4 teaspoons onion powder
- 4 teaspoons dill seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
Once you get the hang of grinding and combining these spice blends, you can start to play with different combinations and personalize them. Adding salt to any of these mixes is a nice touch and makes them even more versatile. As they are, these mixes are perfect for sprinkling on vegetables, meat dishes, adding to salads or grain bowls, over soup or really anywhere you want to add a little kick.