Top 5 Spices Every Chef Should Have

Earning culinary certificates may have helped you beef up your cooking skills, but without the right spices in your cabinet, your online culinary school education may seem to fall flat. There are dozens of herbs and spices available in supermarkets that showcase international flavors, but if you’re just starting out, purchasing them all may be both overwhelming and unnecessary. To stock your pantry in the right way, take a look at these 5 spices that every chef should have:

1. Red pepper flakes
Red pepper flakes can add heat to any dish without overpowering other flavors. Also known as crushed red pepper, this spice made a name for itself on tables at Italian restaurants all across the United States. Red pepper flakes are hailed for their versatility, as they can easily be added to salads, vegetables, soups and many other recipes.

2. Cinnamon
Cinnamon has a heart-warming flavor that reminds many people of home. Whether you’re using it in baking, sprinkling it over oatmeal or your morning coffee, or adding a savory kick to your side dishes, cinnamon is a must-have in kitchens everywhere.

3. Garlic powder
Fresh garlic doesn’t have the longest shelf life in the world, so stocking your pantry with garlic powder is a great way to ensure that you are never far from this favorite seasoning. Garlic powder can add a simple, clean taste to bland dishes and marries well with other flavors. However, with this spice, it’s important to be selective with which brand you buy. Off-brand varieties often taste artificial, and can add a chemical element to the flavor of your food.

4. Onion powder
When you’re cooking meats or vegetables, onion powder will become a go-to spice. Even for people who say they don’t like onions, this variety can enrich the depth of a dish without taking over the entire flavor profile.

5. Paprika
Whether you buy standard paprika or a smoked variety is up to you, but having this rich, complex spice in your pantry is a must. Hailing from Hungary originally, paprika has both sweet and earthy notes depending on what it’s mixed with, and therefore will make a versatile addition to a spice collection. For those who love grilling, paprika makes a great addition to a secret spice rub. Try sprinkling it over meat or potatoes before you start cooking to complement their natural flavors.

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