I love my food full flavoured, interesting and well seasoned, so that means I need a large repository of dried herbs and spices to satisfy my spice-craving tastebuds. My spice “rack” is actually a very large and very deep kitchen drawer full of every imaginable aromatic seed, powder or dried leaf.
Some people collect ornaments, I collect spices so apart from them being really delicious, I regularly decant a few bags into my spice grinder and come up with Homemade Spice Mixes. If like me, you want your food to be implausibly tasty and you love to use up bags of spices bought in a moment of fancy, then read on! I’ll add my latest creations as I come up with them to this post so bookmark this page for future reference.
An essential for Christmas cakes, Christmas puddings, Welshcakes and Simnel Cake to name but a few, Mixed Spice is fragrant, sweet and warming. As with any of these homemade spice mixes, it makes a great present in a pretty little glass jar as a stocking filler.
A festive little blend essential for Christmas baking.
Makes a generous 5 tbsp worth (I frequently double this recipe too).
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp heaped of allspice berries
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground mace
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 4-5 whole black peppercorns (optional)
Using a coffee grinder, grind the nutmeg, cloves, coriander and allspice berries to a fine powder. Add the black peppercorns if using at this stage too.
Whisk in the ready-ground spices and sift through a tea strainer or some sieve to get rid of any large shards which escaped grinding.
Store in a small glass jar in a cool dark place.
Pumpkin Pie Spice
This is the all-American version of the very British Mixed Spice. If you like one but have never tried the other, I hope I can persuade you to give this a try. I love it in my Spiced Carrot Muffins and actually, I use a lot of it in place of Mixed Spice as I prefer the perfume of this blend.
The addition of cardamom is not traditional but I really love it - do give it a try!
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 4 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp allspice berries
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg (about half a whole one grated)
- 1/2 tsp seeds from green cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves
Whisk together all the ground spices.
Grate the nutmeg or throw it in a coffee/spice grinder along with the rest of the whole spices and blitz to a fine powder.
Sift all the spices together to remove any small shards of whole spice which have escaped the grinder and store in an airtight glass jar.
This savoury little mix is just fabulous. Whether you sprinkle it on your chicken as it roasts, rub it into pork shoulder before turning it into pulled pork or even on top of homemade Italian herbs & cheese subway rolls, it is delicious. There’s no need to buy jars of this when homemade Italian Seasoning is so much better.
Wonderful rubbed into chicken or pork before roasting, or added to casseroles or stews for extra flavour.
Makes approximately 6 generous tablespoons worth.
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 4 whole dried red chillies
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried thyme
Lightly toast the fennel seeds, peppercorns, cumin, coriander, red chillies and bay leaves in a dry frying pan until fragrant. Allow to cool fully before grinding with a coffee grinder/spice mill.
Whisk in the oregano, rosemary and thyme then store in an airtight glass jar.
Make this as hot or as smoky as you like, by varying the type of chilli powder you use. It is fabulous in mixed bean chilli and my Cajun Rice that you can use for burritos; my Chicken Burritos use some Cajun seasoning too. Or mix some with a little oil and stir into homemade hummus for a spicy kit.
Hot and spicy, fabulous in all of your Mexican cooking adventures!
- 2 tbsp chilli powder*
- 1.5 tsp dried thyme
- 1.5 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
Simply whisk together and store in an airtight glass jar.
*= use whichever chilli powder you prefer and do vary the amount to how hot you like it. Chipotle chilli powder is really fabulous here as the smoky flavour really does something special to this little spice mix.
Now, I am betting that most of us haven’t come across this spice blend before but it is fabulous. Garam masala is like the Mixed Spice of India but biryani masala is used, naturally, in biryanis but I also like adding some to basmati rice to serve with curries and also in my Chickpea & Butternut Curry itself. The spices are less common to those accustomised to British-Asian curries but please give it a go!
For use in biryanis, rice or even in place of garam masala if you're feeling adventurous!
Makes about 8 tbsp worth.
- 1/2 a whole cinnamon stick
- 8 whole cloaks of mace
- 5 bay leaves*
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds (or black cumin if you have it)
- 4 whole star anise
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves
- 3-4 green cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 whole nutmegs
Toast all the spices in a dry frying pan and when cool, blitz to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or spice mill. You will likely have to do this in batches.
Whisk well and sift together to remove any small shards which escaped the grinding blades. Store in an airtight glass jar.
*= get Indian bay leaves if you can - they are leaves from the cassia tree which is very closely related to the cinnamon we get in the UK. They are really beautifully perfumed.
Are you a fan of Ranch salad dressing? Ranch seasoning is an essential ingredient in that creamy blend of buttermilk and mayonnaise but it’s also a requirement in Buffalo style dishes. My Buffalo Chicken and Buffalo Cauliflower Pasta Bake wouldn’t be the same without it!
Essential in Ranch dressing and Buffalo style dishes but equally delicious sprinkled onto chicken or potatoes before roasting.
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 2 tsp dried dill
- 2 tsp dried chives
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
Blitz all the ingredients together in a coffee grinder or spice mill until you have a fine powder. Store in an airtight glass jar.
These recipes aren’t exactly spice mixes but if you love what you’ve read so far, I think you’ll love these too!
The secret blend of KFC spices is now not so secret!
All-Purpose Curry Paste is a great base to all manner of homemade curries.
Salt Beef is brisket brined in a fragrant spice bath and cooked until fork tender.
Look no further for the recipe for Nando’s marinade and sauce!
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