6 spice blends to make at home

fc5eb571 a93a 54fe 96bb f9dfddc23557 - 6 spice blends to make at home

Becky Krystal

Almost two shelves in my pantry are devoted entirely to spices. Whole, ground, common, obscure, hailing from all over the world. Mixing and matching is easy, to say the least.

When I come across a recipe that calls for a specific blend, there’s always the temptation to go ahead and buy a premade jar. “It would be faster and easier,” one little voice in my head says. “But you already have the components, and you’ll overpay,” says the other.

Here’s a round-up of spice blends to consider, along with a few recipe ideas.

GARAM MASALA (Makes about 1/4 cup)


  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, preferably from black pods
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (each 7,6cm long), broken into smaller pieces
  • 3 fresh or dried bay leaves


Preheat a small pan over medium-high heat. Add all the spices and the bay leaves, and toast, shaking the pan every few seconds, until the coriander and cumin turn reddish brown, the cloves, peppercorns and cardamom turn ash-black, the cinnamon and bay leaves appear brittle and crinkly, and the mixture is highly fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Immediately transfer the nutty-smelling spices to a place to cool. (The longer they sit in the hot pan, the more likely it is that they will burn, making them bitter and unpalatable.) Once they are cool to the touch, place them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder, and grind until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper. (If you don’t allow the spices to cool, the ground blend will acquire unwanted moisture from the heat, making the final blend slightly “caky.”)

The ground blend will be reddish brown, and the aroma will be sweet and complex, very different from that of the pre-toasted and post-toasted whole spices.

Store in a tightly sealed container, away from excess light, heat and humidity, for up to 2 months.

EVERYTHING SPICE (Makes about 1/4 cup)


  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dehydrated onion flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dehydrated garlic flakes


Stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl and transfer to a jar or other lidded container. It will keep indefinitely in your pantry.

ITALIAN SEASONING (Makes about 1/4 cup)


  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary


Combine the basil, oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary in a medium bowl. Place in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in a dark, dry location for up to 6 months.

CAJUN/CREOLE SEASONING (Makes a scant 1/4 cup)


  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion, or onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, or garlic powder


Combine the salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, oregano, onion, basil, thyme and garlic in a medium bowl.

Place in a small jar, with a tight-fitting lid, and store in a dark, dry location for up to 6 months.

FIVE-SPICE POWDER (Makes about 1/4 cup)


  • 1 cinnamon stick (7,6cm long)
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 4 whole star anise


Toast the cinnamon, fennel seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, cloves and star anise in a small, dry pan over low heat until fragrant. Let cool.

Transfer to a blender or spice grinder, and grind all the spices into a fine powder. Store in a sealed container away from heat or light. Use within 24 months.

RAS EL HANOUT (Makes about 1/4 cup)


  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon white peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 teaspoon green cardamom pods
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick (7,6cm long)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rose petals (optional)


Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Place the coriander, cumin, black and white peppercorns, cloves, turmeric, caraway, anise, fennel, star anise and cardamom on a baking sheet. Roast the spices in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Transfer the roasted spices, about 10 gratings of nutmeg, the cinnamon stick and the dried rose petals, if using, in a spice grinder or food processor. Process until the spices are finely ground. Sift the spice blend through a fine sieve and discard what’s left in the sieve. Store in a closed jar and keep for up to 3 years.

fc5eb571 a93a 54fe 96bb f9dfddc23557 - 6 spice blends to make at home

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