Herb & Spice Guide

More will be added as time allows…

NameDescriptionFormUsesSubstitute
AllspiceSpice: reddish brown berry; pungent blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloveswhole seeds
ground
Desserts, relishes, preserves, tomatoes, sweet yellow vegetables, soups, meats and baked goods.cinnamon
cloves
nutmeg
AniseAromatic Seed: small, grayish brown, oval shaped, licorice flavorwhole seeds
ground
Cookies, cakes, fruit dishes, coleslaw, cottage cheese, salad dressings, spicy meat mixtures, rye bread and apple pie. Gives licorice flavor and aroma to foods.fennel
Basil (sweet)Herb: bright green leaves when fresh; brownish olive when dried; sweetly pungentfresh
dried
crushed leaves
Brings out the best in soups, marinades, salad dressings and cheese dishes. Its special affinity for tomatoes makes it indispensable in pizza, pasta sauces and other Italian dishes. Also used to flavor herb butters.marjoram
oregano
Bay Leaf
(laurel)
Herb: long, green leaves; woody, menthol flavor (bitter if used too freely)dried whole leavesTomato sauces, soups, stews and gravies. Remove leaves before serving.mint
CapersSpice: small, olive greenish pods; sharp, pungent briny flavorpacked in salt or vinegarBeef gravies, canapés, fish, salads, sauces, tomato and eggplant dishes, and fatty/oily fish (ex: salmon).pickled green peppers
CarawayAromatic seed: small, brown, crescent-shaped seed, slight licorice tastewhole, dried seedCommon German. Baked goods, pickles, cheeses, coleslaw, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, green beans, sausage and cucumber salads.anise
CardamomSpice: small, dark-colored pods; gingery-lemon, aromatic flavorwhole seeds
ground
Sweet and aromatic, cardamom is used to flavor cakes, cookies, pastries, breads, curries, custards and punches.coriander
ginger
Cayenne
(capsicum)
Spice: plump, sweet, scarlet fruit of tropical capsicum plant; very piquantgroundCommon in Tex-Mex dishes and sauces, meats, eggs, stews and curries. (On a heat scale of 1 to 10 for chili peppers, cayenne rates an 8).chili pepper
paprika
Celery SeedAromatic seed: small, light brown seeds; celery taste. Fresh root is Celeriac.whole seeds
ground
A low-sodium flavor enhancer. Used in potato salad, coleslaw, egg and tuna salads, lentils and breads. Works wonders in gravies.tarragon
ChervilHerb: delicate, feathery leaves; light licorice, parsley tastedried whole or ground leavesLight flavor is good in sauces, cream soups, dressings and egg salads. Add chervil after cooking is completed; its delicate flavor is destroyed by cooking.tarragon
ChiveHerb: long, green tubular leaves; delicate onion flavorfresh
minced
dried
frozen
Plays well with eggs, cream sauces, fish, chicken, beef, lamb and vegetable dishes. Also “fresh cheeses” Ex: cottage cheese, goat cheese, or dips made with cream cheese, sour cream or yogurt.scallions
CilantroHerb: short stemmed with thin, round, slightly fringed leaves; pungent and peppery smell and tastefreshPopular in Mexican cuisine. Imparts a mild, flavor. AKA: parsley in Chinese cuisine, also referred to as Coriander Leaf (anywhere outside N. America).Italian parsley
CinnamonSpice: reddish brown, rolled up quill-like sticks; sweet, mildly hotsticks
ground
Baking. Often used in combination with cloves, nutmeg and allspice for breads, cakes, cookies and other desserts. Excellent with apples, it is essential with apple crisps and pies.ginger
CloveSpice: dried, unopened buds of a tropical evergreen; strong, sweet and pungentwhole dry buds
ground
Gingerbread, cookies and other baked goods. Also in curries, chili and tomato sauces, beets, squash, stewed fruits, applesauce and sweet spiced syrups.cinnamon
ginger
CorianderAromatic seed: dried, ripe berries of cilantro plant; almost round with straight and wavy ridges; bright flavor of citrus and sagewhole seeds
ground
Baked goods, dairy desserts, puddings, meats, curries, relishes, beverages and candies. The whole seeds are used in sweet pickles, punch and to flavor coffee.cardamom
ginger
CuminAromatic seed: long thin seed, yellow brown in color, dry earthy tastewhole seeds
ground
Smokey, earthy. Used in chili powders, curries, stews, meats, tofu and vegetable dishes.turmeric
DillHerb: small tan seeds or feathery light leaves (weed), tangy taste resembling carawaywhole seeds
ground
dried leaves
Used with avocado. Potato and carrot salads, sauerkraut, breads, soups, salad dressings, and egg, potato, cabbage and meat dishes. Tofu and tempeh dishes, rice dishes, fish and cottage cheese based dishes..caraway
FennelHerb: narrow-shaped, chartreuse seeds or fresh, short, celery-like bulb and stalks; licorice flavorwhole seeds
ground fresh stalks
Light licorice in flavor. Common in Italian cuisine. Essential for pizza and spaghetti sauce, and Italian sausage. Good with fish and seafood sauces. It is also used in soups, stews and sweet potatoes.anise
EpazoteHerb: bright green spear leaves when fresh. dark green when driedleaves
stalks
Deep, earthy, aromatic flavor
One of the most used herbs in Mexican cuisine. Used in tamales, salsas, black beans, enchiladas, and mole.
Mexican Oregano
FenugreekAromatic seed: smooth, red brown, unevenly shaped seeds, flavor reminiscent of burnt sugar and maplewhole seeds
ground
Good added to curries, spice mixtures, chutney, puddings, candies and baked goods. Also used for flavoring imitation maple syrup.anise
caraway
fennel
GingerSpice: gnarl shaped, light brown root; sweet, piquant, pepperywhole roots
cracked roots
ground
crystallized
Traditionally used in gingerbread and ginger snaps. Mix with soy sauce and scallions or crushed garlic for an excellent dipping sauce for egg rolls or vegetables.cardamom
coriander
Guajillo ChileSpice: dark red, dried shriveled. Mild warmthwhole chili, seedsDried form of mirasol chili, the second-most commonly used dried chili in Mexican cuisine after poblanos (ancho).Dried Ancho
Juniper BerrySpice: small round black dried pods with round seeds. Intensely spicy with a slight touch of pineberry, seedsCommon Bavarian. Used with game meat, to reduce the gaminess and add a tartness. Used in marinades and sauces or as dry rub.Crushing releases oils and enhance flavor.
MaceSpice: lacy, fibrous covering around the nutmeg shell; flavor of nutmeg but milderdried blades
ground
Used for pickling, for flavoring baked goods and in stews.nutmeg
MarjoramHerb: gray green leaves; musky, slight oregano bouquetdried whole leaves
ground
A member of the mint family that enhances vegetables, meats, soups, sauces, salads and some cheeses. Referred to as a “more refined Oregano”basil
oregano
thyme
MintHerb: dark emerald leaves, cool, menthol flavorwhole
crushed and ground leaves
fresh
oil
extract
Bean and fish soups, candies, chilled fruits, cold beverages, desserts, hot teas, jellies, lamb, peas.bay leaf
MustardSpice: tiny, white, yellow, or brown seeds; spicy, mellow, nuttywhole seeds
ground
Common emulsifier for vinaigrettes. Also used as a pickling spice. In addition: sauces, dips, eggs, cheese dishes, tofu and salad dressings. Yellow mustard is milder than brown.prepared mustard
NutmegSpice: very hard, brown, ovular seed pods; spicy, mellow, nuttywhole seeds
ground
Popular for flavoring cookies, pies, and other baked goods, especially in combination with other sweet spices like cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Plays well with “fresh” cheese dishes.mace
OreganoHerb: grayish green leaves; strong, aromatic, slightly mentholdried whole leaves
ground
Indispensable in Italian cooking. It has a special affinity for basil, and the two often appear together in vegetable, cheese, tomato and pasta dishes. Good in soups and stews.basil
marjoram
thyme
Paprika
(mild capsicum)
Spice: scarlet pods, mild, slightly piquantgroundStore carefully, away from heat or light, to preserve its color and freshness. Smoked or Sweet: common in Spanish Cuisine. Hungarian: goulash. Eggs, sauces, cheese, tomato and pasta.cayenne pepper
ParsleyHerb: curly small or flat green leaves; herbal, sweet flavorflakes
dried leaves
fresh
Popular as a garnish, it is also used to flavor soups, vegetables, sauces, dressings and potato dishes.basil
Pasilla ChiliSpice: Dried form of the chilaca. Dark, wrinkled skin. Mild to hot, rich-flavored chile.whole chili, seedsCommon in slow-cooked Mexican dishes.Guajillo
PepperSpice: round, shriveled berries; hot, biting, pungent taste. Black, white, pink and green available.whole, dried
ground
Provides a peppery flavor and “layers” if all used together. Often a “finishing spice”cayenne or red pepper
RosemaryHerb: grey green, curved pine needle leaves; sweet, bittersweet tastewhole dried leaves
ground
Use in soups and stews and with fish or poultry dishes.sage
SaffronSpice: delicate, orange yellow filaments; floral, pleasantly bitterwhole stigmata
ground
Often “steeped” in warm water and added to rice, fish, poultry, breads and cakes.none, but turmeric will fake the color.
SageHerb: silver tipped, grey green leaves; strong, astringent, slightly bitter flavorwhole leaves
ground
Excellent with pork, sausage and poultry, and often found in stuffings, omelets, chowder and cheese dishes.rosemary
savory
SanshoSpice: Very small dried round greenish berry pods. Citrusy flavor with numbing effectberriesCommon Japanese and Korean. Related to the Sichuan, Used on eel dishes like unagi and part of shichimi. Not an actual peppercorn.Sichuan
SavoryHerb: dried, brownish green leaves, aromatic, piquantwhole leaves
ground
Commonly found in bread stuffings and dressings. Good cooked with beans and peas.Sage
SichuanSpice: Very small dried round greenish-brown berry pods. Citrusy flavor with numbing effectberriesUsed whole or finely ground. Part of five-spice powder. Commonly used with chili pepper. Not an actual peppercorn.Sansho
TarragonHerb: long, thin, green leaves,; sweet, slight licorice tastewhole dried leaves
ground
A natural complement to fish and chicken and often in vinegars and salad dressings. Plays well with sun-dried tomatoes.chervil
ThymeHerb: grey-green, curly leaves, warm, pungent slight lemony flavorwhole dried leaves
ground
Highly aromatic herb used to flavor soups, stews, sauces, cheese, stuffings, salad dressings and vegetables. Often hangs out with Rosemarybasil
marjoram
oregano
TurmericSpice: yellow orange root; similar to ginger root in shape; musky, slightly bittergroundCurry powders and Indian cooking. Good in salad dressings, eggs and rice dishes.cumin
Vanilla beanAromatic seed capsule: very dark, long, slender seed pods; sweet, pleasant perfume flavorwhole beans
pure extract
Sweet foods such as cakes, cookies, custards, eggnog, frostings, ice cream, milk, pastries, puddings, rice, smoothies, sweet sauces. 

Herb & Spice Blends These are a few of the herb and spice blends that are considered classics and are handy to keep available in your kitchen. When purchasing a commercial blend make sure it does not contain MSG or excessive amounts of salt.

Spice BlendDescription
Apple Pie SpiceA fragrant blend of cinnamon, fenugreek, lemon peel, ginger, cloves and nutmeg (or variations), perfect for any apple or fruit dish. Use it in your favorite apple pie recipe, or add 1/2 to 1 tsp. to custards, cookies, cobblers and fruit crisps or oatmeal.
Bouquet GarniA blend of celery, parsley, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf (or variations). Traditionally tied with cheesecloth and simmered in soups, stews, sauces and broths to impart the flavor of fresh herbs without the texture.
Curry PowderA fine blend of turmeric, paprika, fenugreek, coriander, black pepper, cumin, ginger, celery seed, cloves, caraway and cayenne. Gives the characteristic flavors of Indian cookery to rice, vegetables, meats, sauces, eggs, soups and dips. Not intended to replace an actual Curry Recipe.
Fine HerbsThe delicate onion-like taste of chives and chervil’s hint of anise blend well with the warm, sweet flavors basil, tarragon and marjoram in this special blend. It is exceptional for flavoring soups, sauces and eggs.
Five Spice PowderAKA: Chinese Five-Spice. Slightly sweet, but very pungent and aromatic blend of cinnamon, fennel, cloves, star anise and white pepper. Used for braised or roasted meat, fish, and poultry dishes, included in marinades and rubs. Sometimes used with fruits and desserts as well.
Garam MasalaA spicy blend of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper and coriander for use in soups, salads, seafood and vegetable dishes. Finishing Spice: Use at the end of cooking.
Gumbo FileA combination of sassafras leaf and thyme leaf, Gumbo File is an important ingredient in Cajun cooking. It should be simmered gently and never boiled.
Herbal SeasoningThis special blend of dill weed, kelp powder, nutritional yeast, marjoram, dehydrated garlic, oregano spirulina and red pepper (cayenne) is a tasty and healthful salt substitute. Use it to perk up salads, vegetables, soups, eggs, fish and tofu.
Herbs de ProvenceA blend of thyme, rosemary, winter savory, basil, tarragon, organic lavender flowers.
Italian SeasoningA blend of popular Italian herbs: oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, basil crushed red pepper and sage. Used in tomato sauces, pasta, cheese dishes, pizza and salad dressings.
Mexican SeasoningThis blend of chili peppers, dehydrated garlic, dehydrated onion, paprika, cumin, celery seed, oregano, red pepper and bay leaf is a natural for flavoring enchiladas and tacos. It also spices up cheese dishes, sauces, potatoes and tofu. Often found in Tex-Mex dishes.
Mughai Garam MasalaAn aromatic, mellow, full-flavored blend of black peppercorn, cumin, bay leaf, cardamom, clove, cinnamon. Especially suited to milk, cream, yogurt and fruit dishes. Finishing Spice: Use at the end of cooking.
Poultry SeasoningBlend of sage, thyme, dehydrated onion, marjoram, black pepper, celery seed and red pepper (cayenne) for poultry and stuffings. May also be used to season gravies, sauces, rice, breads and biscuits.
Ras el HanoutArabic phrase meaning “top shelf”. A Moroccan spice blend was created by North African spice dealers who would mix together the best of what they had on offer. It consists of over a dozen spices, in different proportions. Commonly used ingredients include cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric.
Sambhar PowderA traditional Indian spice blend containing coriander, chili peppers, fenugreek, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, red pepper, asafoetida. Used for flavoring lentils (dahl), vegetable and lentil stews as well as stir-fried dishes.
Seafood SeasoningAdds the zing of lemon to a special combination of dill weed, sesame seed, lemon peel, basil, tarragon and celery leaf. Perfect for all types of seafood and seafood sauces. Excellent with chicken also.
Seven SpiceAKA: Shichimi Togarashi. >300yr old Japanese mixture of crushed red japanese chili flakes, ground sansho pepper powder, white and black sesame seeds, nori, dried shiso (aka parilla), dried orange peel, poppy seeds and hemp (optional). Often used as table-seasoning for Rice, Udon and Ramen bowls.

Original Source circa 2000–2003. Whole Foods Market. Numerous additions and edits by Jimi.

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