Essential Spices for Your Cupboard

Spice up your life with our key spices

Cupboards are the foundations to any good kitchen. Get these right and there’ll be no kitchen nightmares for you!

In the first part of our cupboard essentials lists, we’ll be taking stock of spices.

Spices are more than just adding a bit of heat to our dishes. They bring excitement, flavour and can transport us around the world – Mexican Mondays anyone?

With so many spices to choose from, where do you even begin?

Spice up your life with these cupboard essentials:  


Smoked paprika

Smoked paprika – the more complex and flavoursome cousin of traditional paprika.

If you can’t handle heat, don’t shy away – smoked paprika is rich, deep in flavour, and, as the name suggests, has smoky undertones. It’s versatility means you can use it in a whole host of dishes.

How to use smoked paprika

For classic Spanish dishes, toss paprika into a paella or mix with chorizo. Alternatively, wow your BBQ guests by mixing it with honey for a spectacular marinade. It’s hard to go wrong with smoked paprika.



Nothing says Christmas quite like nutmeg. From mulled wine to the Christmas pudding, nutmeg is the spice of the holiday season. To get the full flavour, go for the whole nutmeg.

How to use nutmeg

Get into the festive spirit by grating some nutmeg into homemade mulled wine or cider or take some inspiration from the states and mix it into a pumpkin pie.


Ground cumin

It’s hardly surprising that ground cumin has become a signature feature in dishes all around the world. This aromatic yet mellow spice can work in most recipes and will take the flavour to a whole new level.

How to use ground cumin

Be sparing with your ground cumin, you don’t want to overwhelm your dish. The earthy flavour makes it a staple in Indian cooking, especially curries. And it is a must-have for a banging burrito recipe.


Garlic powder

Let’s be honest, garlic bread is one of the greatest inventions. But cutting garlic can be a faff and the smell lingers on your fingers for days. The beauty of garlic powder, made from finely ground, dehydrated garlic, is that it cuts out the need to chop fresh garlic, and it has a much longer shelf life.

How to use garlic powder

Garlic powder can be used in the same way as fresh garlic, but it’s slightly more subtle flavour and powder form open it up to even more possibilities. As well as using it to create garlic bread (because why wouldn’t you), you can also add it to salad dressings and soups for some extra flavour.



Cinnamon is great in both sweet and savoury dishes. This spice has a warm, comforting and bittersweet flavour. Made from the bark of several species of tree, cinnamon sticks naturally get their shape when it is dried. Opt for ground cinnamon to make the flavour last longer.

How to use cinnamon

Sprinkle some cinnamon on top of your morning porridge to satisfy your sweet tooth or add it to a stew to bring some earthiness to your dinner.


Chili powder

You can’t talk about spices without mentioning chili powder. But what most people might not know is that chili powder is actually a spice mix itself, generally made up of dried chilies, cumin, coriander, garlic and onion. Ranging from mild to hot, there’s a chili powder out there for everyone.

How to use chili powder

When you think chili powder, one dish immediately springs to mind – a warming bowl of homemade chilli. Throw some over sweet potato wedges to give them a bit of a kick.


Black pepper

One other spice we feel needs a special mention, as it can so often get overlooked, is black pepper. It is one of the most common seasoning ingredients and, along with its partner salt, it helps enhance the flavour of any dish. For the best taste, go for whole black peppercorns and treat yourself to a peppermill. It’s time to get grinding.


Now you’ve got your cupboards stocked, head over to our random recipe finder to put your spices to good use.