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33 Different Types of Spices for Your Kitchen

Cooking is great, but it can be hard to know what spices you should use for each dish. 

Most people just pick the same few go-to spices and never try anything else. This leads to boring recipes that are always the same.

We’ve put together a list of all the different types of spices out there so that you can experiment with new flavors. You’ll never run out of ideas again.

Allspice

Allspice is a type of fruit that is native to the Caribbean. It is the only spice that tastes like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves all at once. It’s used in many different types of cooking because it adds depth to dishes. Allspice can be found in savory dishes, meats, curries, pickles, and much more.

Allspice, which comes from a tree called Pimenta dioic is an evergreen that belongs to the myrtle family. It’s believed this spice was first discovered in Jamaica by Christopher Columbus and he brought it back during his voyage for Spain as they had started using these herbs than on their tables at home.

Anise

Anise has been used since the times of ancient Greece and Rome to flavor countless dishes. In many European countries, Anise is used for cakes, cookies, syrups, and liquors. In some Asian cultures, it is ground with other ingredients to make a sweet-salty paste called Nian Gao that is served at Chinese New Year.

In Iran, a spice mixture called Zereshk is made from ground Anise seeds and saffron. It is added to rice dishes such as polo or shirin polow.

Black Cumin

Black cumin (also known as black seed) is often confused with black pepper because of their similar appearance and taste profile. The only difference between these two spices is their origin. Black cumin is native to the Middle East, India, and Pakistan where it still grows wild today.

Black cumin is used in such dishes as Black Pepper Crab and Black Cumin Sesame Cookies.

Black Pepper

Black pepper comes from a vine in South Asia.

In the middle ages, people thought that black cumin was a cure for all diseases. It’s even said that when many Europeans brought black cumin back home with them after a visit to the Middle East, they would grind it into a powder and then refuse any food that didn’t have this spice on it just because they thought it made everything taste better.

Black pepper is used in all kinds of different dishes, including but not limited to sauces, curries, desserts, and marinades.

Caraway Seed

Caraway seed has been used since ancient times in European countries such as Germany and France to add flavor to baked goods such as rye breads and sauerkraut.

This spice has also been used to flavor stews, cheeses, and braised meats.

Cardamom

Cardamom is a strong spice that is used in the Middle East and Asia. It comes from a plant that originated in South India and Sri Lanka, but now grows all over Southeast Asia. Cardamom has an intense flavor and aroma, which means it’s best to use small quantities at first until you’ve acquired more of a taste for it.

The pods contain small brown seeds that are ground into powder form or left whole depending on the recipe they’re used in. Ground cardamom is often added to sweets such as cakes and cookies while whole cardamom seeds are found in curries and stews.

Carom

Carom (also known as Ajwain or Bishop’s weed) is an annual herb related to parsley. It has a very strong flavor that is much more intense than thyme, caraway, oregano, and other herbs. Carom seeds are often added to Indian cuisine in dishes such as lentil stew and rice pilafs.

Cassia Bark

Cassia bark refers to the dried inner bark of a tree found in Southeast Asia called Cinnamomum cassia. Cassia cinnamon is similar in appearance and taste profile to true cinnamon but it can be distinguished because it contains higher levels of “cassamic” acid – the component that gives cinnamon its flavor. Some people use cassia bark as a cheaper alternative to true cinnamon.

Cayenne

Cayenne pepper gets its name from the capital of French Guiana, Cayenne. It is made from a type of chile that ripens to bright red and eventually dries out.

It’s best known for being very spicy. it usually comes in powder form and is used as a spice in dishes such as chili, eggs, salsa, and curry among others.

Celery Seed

This seed has been cultivated since ancient times by Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for use as a medicinal herb because it was believed to have antiseptic powers. Today celery seed is used as a flavoring agent in dishes such soups and pickles.

Celery seed has been used since ancient times in European countries such as Germany and France to add flavor to baked goods such as rye breads and sauerkraut. This spice has also been used to flavor stews, cheeses, and braised meats.

Chili Pepper

A chili is a type of pepper that is extremely spicy and can range in color from green to yellow, orange and even red. Chili peppers originate in Central America and South America. They were first cultivated about 7500 years ago and then spread all over the world shortly after that.

Chili peppers come in various shapes such as long, short, wide, narrow, tapered, lobed (cordate), etc… depending on where they are grown and their purpose. For example, jalapenos are a type of chili pepper meant to be used fresh whereas chilis like habaneros are sweeter and richer in flavor because they’re usually dried before use.

Cinnamon

The bark of this tree has been used for centuries to add flavor and as a medicine. It comes from the inner bark of a tree that grows in Sri Lanka and tropical regions worldwide. Cinnamon is often used as an ingredient in Indian cuisine, but it’s also popular in Arabic, Chinese, Italian, French, and Malaysian cuisines.

Cinnamon sticks are made up of a series of rolled layers which gives them their characteristic shape. These “sticks” can be easily broken apart into smaller pieces to use as needed depending on the recipe they’re being used for.

Some popular dishes that use cinnamon include apple pie, spiced pumpkin bread, Indian desserts (such as kheer), and curries.

Clove

This spice gets its name from the Latin word clavus meaning “nail.” Cloves come from the dried flower buds of an evergreen tree that originated in Indonesia and spread throughout Southeast Asia Arabia, Madagascar, India and other countries.

Cloves are used as a spice to flavor dishes such as apple pie, meat stews and curries, and hot spiced wine.

Coriander Seed

This seed comes from the coriander plant – a herb that is related to parsley and dill. Coriander seeds can be found in two colors: light brown or dark brown (they sometimes look like they’re green).

The seeds have an earthy flavor that adds richness to various dishes such as soups, casseroles, egg salad, fish croquette and many others.

Crushed Red Pepper

Crushed red pepper is a powder made from dried, crushed chili peppers. The color can range from bright red to dark red depending on the kind of chilies used and how they were dried. Crushed red pepper flakes may have a variety of spice levels – some being mild while others being hot.

Crushed red pepper is commonly used in Italian cuisine to flavor meat sauces, tomato sauce, and pizza.

Cumin

Cumin seeds come from a flowering plant that’s part of the carrot family and originates in the Mediterranean region as well as North Africa and the Middle East.

Cumin seeds are often crushed before use to release their full flavor which is then added to various Indian dishes such as curries, marinades, or dal (lentils). In addition to using cumin as a spice you can also chew them after a meal to aid in digestion.

Cumin is used in cuisine such as the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Curry Powder

This is a blend of spices used as a seasoning for Indian cooking. There are many different types of curry powder with each one having a distinctive flavor depending on the combination of spices used to make it.

For example, some common ingredients found in curry powder include turmeric, coriander, cayenne pepper and fenugreek.

Fennel Seed

These seeds come from an aromatic herb that has been cultivated since ancient times. Today they’re often added to dishes such as Italian sausage or baked goods such as bread.

Fennel seed can be green or brownish-yellow in color and have an anise-like flavor that becomes bitter when chewed raw.

Fenugreek

The name fenugreek comes from the Latin word for “Greek hay.” The plant is native to regions in Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Fenugreek seeds are tiny – about 1/8th or less of an inch long.

They have a bitter flavor making them great when cooked but they may result in a bitter aftertaste when consumed raw especially if too many are used.

Galangal Root Powder

This root comes from a plant in the ginger family which is native to Asia. Galangal has a subtle peppery flavor with hints of lemon and orange so it’s often used in Asian cuisine especially Thai dishes. It can be fresh, dried or powdered for use in various recipes.

Garlic

The garlic bulb is actually made up of individual cloves that are grouped together into sections called “cloves.” Each clove grows on top of the previous one which means that when you grow garlic you’re planting individual parts rather than entire bulbs. The cloves are harvested once they turn paper-like and dry out.

Garlic is good for your health (it contains antioxidants) and the stronger it tastes the more health benefits it provides.

Garlic is commonly used in dishes such as spaghetti sauce, soup, salad dressing and pizza – just to name a few.

Ginger

Ginger is a root with an almost wood-like appearance that has tan skin and flesh beneath. Ginger has been used as medicine since ancient times, even Hippocrates prescribed ginger for various ailments including upset stomachs.

The spice can be consumed in many different forms such as ginger extracts or candies which are available in most supermarkets today.

Common dishes where ginger is used include stir-fry, salads and buns that have been stuffed with the root.

Mace

This spice comes from the seed of the nutmeg fruit where it’s encased within the lacy membrane of the seed (which is why you need to grate nutmegs to release this flavor).

Mace imparts a warm, sweet yet spicy flavor which gives foods like custards, cakes, puddings and curries their signature taste.

Mustard Seeds

This seed comes from a plant in the cabbage family. It’s actually possible to harvest multiple seeds at once because new ones will often grow on top of the old one.

They’re crunchy, pungent and can be used whole or ground into powder. The different colors of mustard seeds come from the different ways they’re dried such as by roasting them over an open flame or leaving them out in the sun.

Mustard seeds are commonly used in dishes such as pickles, curries, chutneys and marinades. They’re also used to make condiments like mustard (both the yellow kind you put on hotdogs as well as the brown kind you eat with pretzels) or horseradish sauce.

Nutmeg

The nutmeg is a seed that grows inside a fruit similar to an apricot which darkens as it ripens. The seed is surrounded by a lacy membrane known as mace and must be grated before using so that its full flavor can be released.

Nutmeg has a spicy, warm flavor that tastes great in both sweet and savory dishes, including eggnog or in holiday baked goods.

Onion Powder

This is a seasoning that comes from ground dehydrated onion flakes. You can rehydrate the powder by mixing it with a small amount of water before adding to recipes.

Onion powder imparts a warm, sweet yet spicy flavor that tastes great in both sweet and savory dishes.

Some popular dishes where you might use onion powder include soups, stews, pasta sauces and casseroles. The most common way to prepare onion powder is by grinding it with salt or other spices such as garlic or pepper for more flavor.

Paprika

This spice comes from grinding dried red peppers and makes a good substitute for chili powder in hot dishes. There are two varieties – sweet paprika which has a slightly sweet taste and hot paprika which is more spicy.

Paprika can be used in everyday cooking or may be rubbed on meats prior to grilling them for added flavor.

Poppy Seeds

These tiny black seeds come from an annual type of flowering plant related to the opium poppy. The seeds are soaked in water before being ground to release their oil which makes them taste fresh and nutty.

Poppy seeds are often used as a crunchy coating sprinkled on top of baked goods or added to buns for flavor.

Pumpkin Spice

The pumpkin spice blend comes from a combination of different spices which are usually cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice.

It’s perfect for the fall when pumpkins are in season but can be served year-round to add warmth to recipes.

Saffron

This spice is the world’s most expensive seasoning. It comes from the saffron crocus flower where it can be found within its red stigmas (the thread-like part that connects the petals).

Saffron has a sweet, delicate aroma that may have certain medicinal properties too. Use just a few strands at a time so you don’t overwhelm food with an overly powerful scent.

Sumac

This tangy, many flavored spice comes from dried berries of the sumac shrub which are typically ground into powder before being used. It has a slightly sour flavor so it’s usually served with meats or vegetables that can soak up its zestiness.

Sumac can be used in place of lemon juice to add a little extra tartness to various dishes.

Turmeric

This bright yellow spice comes from the root of an Indian plant and is often used as a coloring agent. Ground turmeric loses its flavor quickly, so only buy it in small quantities unless you plan on processing your own within a few weeks. Its flavor is earthy and peppery with hints of ginger, cloves, and pepper.

So there you have it – all sorts of spices to choose from depending on what kind of recipes you’re making.