6 DIY Spice Combinations to Give Home Cooking a Facelift (Recipes Included)

diy spice combinations photo
Spice it up!

Spices can make all the difference in the world when you're attempting to come up with innovative nightly eats. Eating in is easier on your waistline, the planet, and your wallet.

In my house we go out to eat about once a week, most other meals we eat at home. But no matter how you plan meals in your house, having the right spices on hand is crucial to improving the pleasure quotient of home cooking.


Often times the ingredients you see in recipes are actually prepared spice combinations that are a necessity to getting ethnic cuisine right. It's like making paella without saffron, it's just not the same. Instead of buying spice combinations, consider making them at home from spices that you may already have. These spice combinations keep for about 3 to 4 months and then they start to lose flavor, so use them liberally and enjoy.

1. Garam Masala

2 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp coriander seeds


2 tbsp cardamom seeds

2 tbsp black peppercorns

1 tsp whole cloves

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp grated nutmeg


1. Add all the spices except the cinnamon and nutmeg to a skillet and toast on medium heat for a few minutes, just until fragrant. Do not burn the spices or you'll have to start over.

2. Add all the spices to a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind into powder. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from Ochef.

Garam Masala is an Indian spice combination that's delightful in Emeril's Greens With Aromatic Spices and in Emeril's Grilled Tandoori Chicken.

2. Chinese Five Spice

2 tbsp anise seed

2 tbsp fennel seed


2 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp whole cloves

2 tbsp whole peppercorns


1. Grind the spices together in a spice grinder.

Recipe: All Recipes

Try it in this Chinese Five Spice Tofu Atop Seasonal Vegetables or Emeril's Beer and Five Spice Wings.

3. Curry Powder Mixture

8 tbsp cumin powder

7 tbsp coriander powder


2 tbsp ginger powder

4 tbsp turmeric powder

1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper


1. Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Recipe: Chef Jeenas

Curry is ideal for a host of ethnic dishes, try this Coconut Vegetable Curry or this Vegetarian Curry Pot Pie.

4. Jamaican Jerk Spice Mixture

2 tsp ground thyme

1 tsp dried parsley


1 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tsp fine grain sugar

2 tsp dried chives


1. Mix ingredients together.

Recipe adapted from Food.com.

Enjoy these Jamaican Jerk Turkey Wraps or try these Stuffed Collards with Jamaican Jerk Tempeh. Yum!

5. Herbes de Provence

1 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp chervil


1 tbsp rosemary

1 tbsp summer savory

1 tsp lavender

1 tsp tarragon

1 tsp marjoram

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp mint

2 chopped bay leaves


1. Combine ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Recipe: Epicentre. Put this spice combo to work in this easy Vichyssoise Soup or this Beef Pot Roast.

6. Cajun Spice Mix

1/4 cup of salt

2 tbsp cayenne pepper


2 tbsp paprika

1-1/2 tbsp. onion powder

2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp ground mustard

1/8 tsp ground cloves

Recipe adapted from Recipe Source. Add a Cajun twist to Emeril's Cajun Style Meatloaf or to a Crawfish Etouffee. For those times when you don't have time to make them at home, consider buying high quality prepared spice mixtures. Teeny Tiny Spice Co. of Vermont has a bunch of delicious combinations that are completely organic like British Curry, Citrus Pepper, Chocolate Chili, Ethiopian Berberé, Montréal Seasoning, and Penang Curry.

Good home cooking is about keeping it new and fresh all the time. The folks over at RUVED were nice enough to send me their PROPITA spice combination made with Mango powder, Dried Coriander leaves, Mint, Pomegranate seeds, Fennel, Basil, Cumin, and Rock Salt. It's even supposed to aid digestion. While I haven't noticed too much of a change in my digestion, the spice combination is tasty and requires little thought for those days when you just can't think of anything to cook. I've added it to eggs, roasted cauliflower, and sweet potatoes. Like this? Follow my Twitter feed.