Rustic style assorted spices on wooden table

6 Best Spices to Have on Hand

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Spices can turn your meals from just plain good into a flavor explosion every time you take a bite. One of the easiest ways to improve your cooking skills is to simply get more familiar with spices. While there are countless different products you can experiment with, some are essential to have. Here are 6 spices you should always keep around.


Board with ginger and ginger powder on wooden background

Ginger has been used as a spice for thousands of years. In some parts of the world it’s still considered medicine since it offers various health benefits. Ginger can help improve your digestion, strengthen your immune system, relieve nausea and headaches, and lower your cholesterol levels. You can put this spice for everything from soups to desserts, but it’s most commonly used for flavoring baked goods and meat.

Red Pepper Flakes

Chili pepper flakes on wooden spoon

Red pepper flakes are an excellent way to add heat to your meals without having to deal with the hassle of chopping peppers. You can even use them to cut down your sodium intake. Not only does this spice add a lot of flavor, but it’s also very healthy. Apart from helping you regulate your sodium intake, red pepper flakes improve your cardiovascular health, lower blood sugar levels, and make your body more resistant to cold and flu. Keep in mind that crushed red pepper and red pepper flakes are basically the same spice, except the former is ground to a finer consistency.


best spices to have on hand

In case you have a sweet tooth, you absolutely must have cinnamon in your pantry. It can literally improve the taste of any dessert. You can even sprinkle some on top of oatmeal or a fruit salad for a delicious breakfast. Apart from being known for its incredible taste, cinnamon is also beneficial to your health. It is packed with antioxidants, which are compounds tasked with defending your cells from oxidative damage. On top of that, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and can decrease the risk of heart disease.


Cumin seeds on wooden spoon

Cumin is a spice often used in Mediterranean, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican dishes. Not only that, but it represents the primary component of curry powder. It is famous for its peppery and nutty flavor. Ground cumin contains important nutrients like fiber, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and certain vitamins.

Some of the most notable health benefits associated with this spice include improved digestion, weight loss, and better sleep quality. Although you’ll definitely experience certain benefits by adding small amounts of cumin to your meals, if you want to achieve weight loss then you’ll probably need to start taking it in supplement form. But be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before deciding to start taking supplements.

Garlic Powder

Top view of Garlic cloves and Garlic ground in spoon on black board
Fresh Garlic

Garlic powder is a great substitute for fresh garlic. It has that distinct savory and sweet taste that goes perfectly with meat and vegetables. You can either make it yourself from dried garlic cloves or you can get it at your local supermarket. Some of the most important health benefits of this spice include improved blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.

Garlic powder is my go to for everything from fish to veggies to mashed potatoes. Fresh garlic is great too but garlic powder is never far from reach in my kitchen!


Nutmeg rounds out our list of six. It is mostly used to enhance the flavor of certain desserts and drinks. Nevertheless, it’s ideal for creamy and cheesy dishes as well. This spice is particularly notable for the positive effects it has on mental health. Not only does it serve as an antidepressant, but nutmeg can also increase your focus and memory. Other health benefits include pain relief and improved bone health.

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