5 Essential Spice Blends You Should Master

Jul 27, 2018 | Recipes

In Western cooking, spice blends are generally just a way to add flavour to food without putting too much effort. We typically don’t have spice blends specific to our regional foods or dishes. There are exceptions to this rule, such as Chili Powder to Texmex and Cajun Seasoning in Cajun and Creole cooking. In other regions of the world, however, spice blends are essential to achieving signature flavours. Two great examples of this advanced use of spice blends are Garam Masala in Indian cooking and Five Spice in Chinese cuisine.

Buying spice blends can be expensive, and you are never really sure of what you’re getting. That’s why I recommend, whenever possible, making your own spice blends. It is not a complicated process, and you have total control over the ingredients. If you were to make Five Spice but wanted a little more anise flavour, you would add one or two extra star anise to the recipe.

The five recipes I’m about to give you are, to me, the five most essential spice blends. You can store them all in airtight containers for up to a month, but they are better when made fresh. The flavour of these will blow store-bought spice blends out of the water.

Garam Masala

The first recipe is for Garam Masala, which is an Indian spice blend. Garam Masala can be used on its own or with other spices. You will find it in a lot of different Indian recipes, including butter chicken. Curry powder, as we know, it doesn’t exist in Indian cooking. It is a Western invention. Garam Masala is the closest thing there is to an actual Indian curry powder.

Garam Masala

Garam Masala is what curry powder should be. It is a much more flavourful and authentic spice blend then the yellow curry powder we are all used to.
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Spice Blend
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Curry, Curry Powder, Garam Masala


  • 10 Cardamom Pods
  • 3 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick broken into pieces
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves


  • Put the cardamon, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns in a hot dry pan and toast for 4-5 minutes or until they become very arromatic
  • Remove the spices from the pan and cool for a few minutes then put them in a spice grinder with the other ingredinets and grind to a powder.
  • Store in an airtight container.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Chinese 5 Spice

The second recipe we are going to look at is my favourite. Chinese five-spice is one of those magical combinations. It all just works so well together. This spice blend goes great on chicken, pork, beef, duck, or rabbit. It goes great with orange. It’s great in noodles and sauces. I can’t say enough how much I love this spice blend.

Chinese 5 Spice

Chinese 5 Spice is a warming Chinese spice belnd. It is terrific on duck, pork, chicken or beef.
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Spice Blend
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Chinese 5 Spice, Chinese Food, five spice


  • 4 Star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 tsp Szechwan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cinnamon stick


  • Combine the spices in a spice grinder and grind to a powder.
  • Store in an airtight container.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Barbecue Spice

The next spice blend that we are going to look at is Barbecue Spice. I am actually going to give you two recipes for this. The first, is a very classic Barbecue Spice blend. The second, is my striped down version. Both are good on just about anything.

Classic Barbecue Spice

A simple and classic Barbecue Spice Blend
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Spice Blend
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Barbecue, BBQ, BBQ Spice, Seasoning


  • 3 tsp Paprika
  • 3 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Dried Mustard
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne


  • Combine all the spices and store in an airtight container.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

My Stripped-Down All-Purpose Barbecue Spice

This is my stripped-down, all-purpose barbecue spice blend. It will never do you wrong.
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Spice Blend
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Barbecue, BBQ, spice blend


  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • ½ tsp Cayenne
  • ½ tsp Cumin


  • Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  • Use right away or store in an airtight container for up to a month.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Chili Powder

Chili powder can be confusing. A lot of people think that it is ground chillies, but it isn’t. Ground chillies are called chilli powder. Chili powder, on the other hand, is a spice blend common in South Western US cuisine. I’m not a big fan of chili powder, but it does have it’s place, especially, if you are trying to make homemade “taco seasoning” or something like that.

Chili Powder

Chil powder, is a spice blend common in TexMex food.
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Spice Blend
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chili Powder, Spices, Texmex


  • 2 tbsp Dried Chiles Ground
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves


  • Combine all the spices and store in an airtight container for up to 30 days.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Curry Powder

The final spice blend we are going to look at is often considered Indian but is actually British in origin. That doesn’t change how delicious or useful it is. Curry Spice is excellent to have on hand. It goes well with almost anything. You can even add it to mayonnaise with a touch of lemon and make a kick-ass curry mayo.

curry powder

A simple, all-purpose curry powder recipe
Total Time: 5 minutes
Cuisine: English, Indian
Keyword: Curry, Curry Powder
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp clove
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder


  • Mix all ingredinets.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to three months.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

These five spices blends are to me, the five most essential blends to have in your kitchen. With them, you can make thousands of dishes and recipes. Once you get the hang of making your own spice blends start trying to make your own. You never know what you might come up with.

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