Cooking with Herbs & Spices

Previously, we described how to grow, store and cook with fresh & dried herbs. In this blog, we will discuss how to cook with different herb & spice combinations. 


Spices, like herbs, are a great way to add flavor to foods without adding salt, sugar or fat. Spices are made from seeds, fruit, bark, buds, or roots of plants. Certain spices do more than add flavor, they can also improve your health. Many spices, such as turmeric, have antioxidant effects & others, like garlic, may help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Unlike herbs, spices are almost always used in their dried form. Here are some common spices & the flavors they can add to a dish.

Baking and sweet spices

  • Allspice 
    • Flavor – earthy, sweet
    • Cooking – use in both savory & sweet dishes
  • Cardamom  
    • Flavor – citrus, sweet
    • Cooking – has a very strong flavor so use a little bit at a time
  • Cinnamon  
    • Flavor – earthy, sweet 
    • Cooking – use in sweet dishes & savory stews or soups
  • Cloves 
    • Flavor – sweet, spicy 
    • Cooking – use in baked goods, smoked meats & sauces
  • Ginger 
    • Flavor – sweet, warm 
    • Cooking – use in baked goods, soups & stews
  • Nutmeg 
    • Flavor- sweet, spicy 
    • Cooking- use baked goods, custards, eggnog or savory vegetable dishes

Spices that add heat

  • Black pepper – peppery, mild heat
  • Cayenne pepper – spicy
  • Chili powder – savory, mild heat
  • Chipotle pepper powder – smoky, spicy
  • Red pepper flakes – spicy

Other spices

  • Cumin 
    • Flavor – smoky, savory
    • Cooking – use in curries, chili seasonings & BBQ seasonings
  • Curry 
    • Flavor – savory, bright
    • Cooking – use in curries, marinades & dry rubs
  • Mustard seed 
    • Flavor – bitter, mild
    • Cooking – use in sauces, soups & dry rubs
  • Paprika 
    • Flavor – smoky, sweet
    • Cooking – use with eggs, rice, sweet potatoes, root vegetables, sauces & roasts
  • Tumeric 
    • Flavor – bitter, peppery
    • Cooking – use in curries, stews & soups

Salt-free spice combinations

Making homemade seasonings is a great way to cut down on sodium in your diet. These salt-free spice combinations pack as much flavor as pre-made versions, but without the added salt. 

Taco seasoning

  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle pepper powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Cajun seasoning:

  • 1/2 tsp chipotle pepper powder
  • 1 tsp oregano 
  • 1 tsp thyme 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp onion powder 
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Zesty Italian Seasoning

  • 2 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

How to modify recipes

  • Identify main recipe flavors
  • Remove or reduce salt by using salt-free, low sodium, or no-salt-added ingredients
  • Add herbs & spices to enhance the flavors!


Add flavor & color to your water by infusing it with herbs, fruit & vegetables! Try some of these combinations to freshen up your hydration.

  • Cilantro Lime
  • Cucumber Rosemary
  • Pineapple Mint
  • Blueberry Thyme
  • Watermelon Basil
  • Strawberry Lemon

Homemade Ranch Dip uses a variety of spices and herbs to get that classic ranch flavor without the added salt.

Plate with Homemade Ranch Dip

Use ONIE’s Cajun Seasoning to help prepare Cajun Cod & Corn Medley – delicious, healthy & ready in 30 minutes!

Cajun Cod & Corn Medley

Just one tablespoon of Zesty Italian Seasoning adds a ton of flavor to our Slow Cooker Parmesan Chicken & Orzo. This recipe is hearty, delicious and only requires 10 minutes of prep! 

Slow Cooker Parmesan Chicken & Orzo

Or how about a warm bowl of Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup? Our Zesty Italian Seasoning adds all the flavor without the extra salt that comes in canned soup! 

Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

Let us know what new herbs and spices you try in your cooking!


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