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There's a reason that nearly every recipe, including desserts, uses at least a small amount of it. Our Artisan Salts bring out the natural flavors of anything you cook. If you're ever told that you'll be deserted on an island and can only take one thing with you, make sure it's salt. May we be so bold as to suggest a salt blend like Chili Lime Salt or Jalapeno Salt? You may not find chicken on the island, but we can guarantee that whatever you do find will be appetizing.
2. Black Pepper
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Like salt, black pepper is one of those staple spices that no kitchen should be without. Even if you had no other spices in your cabinet (the horror!), black pepper would still save the day. Its mild heat comes from the oils in the whole peppercorns, which are released when the peppercorns are ground. Keeping them whole until you're ready to use them is the best way to ensure you get great flavor each time. If you need a dinner guest who can make your family smile, our Tuxedo Peppercorns are always available to liven up your grilled chicken dinner. They even come dressed for the occasion.
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You've probably noticed basil in most of your favorite Italian and Greek dishes, even if you couldn't necessarily identify it. The slightly floral herb is easy to grow on even the tiniest kitchen windowsill and is surprisingly potent for being such a small herb. It's used mostly as a backdrop for other flavors, but basil can be the star of the show, too. Whip up a batch of pesto (or make it easy on yourself with our Presto Pesto), mix it in your favorite chicken pasta dish, and watch the food disappear.
4. Chili Powder
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If you've ever had Mexican food, you may recognize that familiar spicy-but-smoky smell coming from your food. You can thank good ol' chili powder for that. It's made from peppers (commonly cayenne) that have been dried and pulverized to a fine powder. Since the seeds aren't included when the peppers are ground, the pepper's naturally smoky flavor is maintained without adding much heat. It's perfect for those who can't tolerate the spiciness that plain cayenne powder offers. The chili peppers used in our Southwest Seasoning and Chipotle Powder are just perfect for a chicken chili or to kick up chicken tacos.
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Like garlic, ginger isn't a spice or herb either: it's actually a root vegetable. It's probably best known for being a mainstay in Chinese and Indian cuisine. Without ginger's spicy zing, curry would be flat and Asian marinades would be without its key flavor. Since ginger is so pungent and spicy, it's best to use it along with other spices when cooking your chicken (hello, Asian Flare) to take away some of the sharp "bite" it tends to leave behind.
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While garlic is neither an herb nor a spice, we dare you to find a chef anywhere that doesn't keep it as a staple in his or her spice repertoire. It's got a pungent, almost spicy taste and is great on chicken no matter if you marinate, saute, or season with it. Studies have even shown a link between increased garlic consumption and decreased blood pressure. Though we can't confirm that fact, we can confirm that garlic is definitely a noticeable (and welcome) addition to any chicken dish. Our recommendation? Try our Blistering Garlic Heat on your next chicken burgers. It adds a dose of garlic flavor along with a spicy kick you'll love, thanks to the addition of habanero and cayenne peppers.
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Without a doubt, cumin is the heavy hitter of Indian and Mexican cuisine alike. It's essential for curries and masalas and delivers a smoky, meaty taste that is unmistakable for any other spice in your cabinet. In fact, it's often mistaken for cinnamon based on its medium-brown color -- until someone gets a nose full of cumin's earthy scent. It typically comes in two forms: whole and ground. Whole Cumin is great for when you need a strong punch of flavor and Ground Cumin is best used when you are making sauces and dry rubs. Either way, get ready to add some serious flavor to your Indian and Mexican chicken dishes.
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If you think cinnamon is a sweet spice, think again. It got that reputation because it's often mixed with sugar and used in desserts, but cinnamon is actually a savory spice and will impart a warmth to any of your recipes. While there's no culinary law preventing you from using it alone, we think it's best when added to a savory blend of spices (like our Chinese 5 Spice blend). Try it the next time you bake chicken legs and you'll see just how "unsweet" cinnamon can be!
9. Bay Leaves
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It's easy to assume that certain ingredients in a recipe are optional because you really don't taste them in the final product. What's the harm, right? As it turns out, certain herbs (like bay leaves) actually contribute more to your food than you realize. While the flavor doesn't deliver a prominent flavor like rosemary or sage would give you, what it offers is a layer of flavor that can't be achieved otherwise. It's also one of the only herbs that taste better when it's used in its dried form. Dried Bay Leaves also have natural medicinal properties, making them a great addition to chicken soup when you're sick. You may just get over that cold faster than you think.
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Cayenne gives your food a flavor it can't get from any other spice in your arsenal. (Interestingly, it's also a metabolism booster; what better way to burn off all that rich, delicious food?) The long, thin red peppers are best known for being the main ingredient in hot sauce but it can be surprisingly mild when added to mayonnaise or salad dressings. You can, of course, use them in their whole form or you can get them as a powder that's easy to add to pastas, soups, and casseroles. Our favorite way to use it is for poaching chicken. Add a couple of teaspoons of Crab & Shrimp Boil to your poaching liquid and your chicken will come out singing!
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The fragrant (but oh-so-potent) spice is synonymous with all things Fall. From pumpkin pies to cookies, nutmeg gets quite a workout around the holidays. It may get more of a workout after you find out that it can be used year-round in your other recipes as well. The brain-shaped spice comes from a tree native to the Pacific Islands, Australia, and Southeast Asia and is rarely used in its whole form. Instead, it's often grated, bottled and sold as a fine powder. Nutmeg is equally at home in desserts as well as savory sauces. The next time you're making Chicken Alfredo, reach for the Nutmeg. Just a sprinkle in your sauce will give it a richer taste.
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Oregano may be the most widely used spice in Italian cuisine. The dried leaves resemble a crushed pile of raked leaves, but with a much better taste if we do say so ourselves. It's common in pizza, pastas, and lasagnas. Oregano's warm, aromatic taste really does pair well with just about every veggie and Italian chicken dish you may consider cooking. Know that pizza Mom made that she wouldn't give you the recipe for? It's because she didn't want you to know that she cheated and used our Pizza Blend to make it taste so great. But you didn't hear that from us.
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Rosemary may be the most unmistakable of all the herbs you can grow. Not only do its stalks look like a pine tree's needles, but its smell is easily identifiable. Whether fresh or dried, rosemary is a great choice to season chicken with. Its woodsy, earthy taste balances out the game-like taste that chicken can sometimes have. For every day meals and holidays alike, we like to use Rosemary Splendor in just about everything. It's a great addition to stuffing and an elegant way to make an eggs rise above other bland breakfast counterparts.
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If cayenne and chili powder are too much spice for you, paprika is standing by to save the day. It's still made from peppers, but it's made from the much milder and sweeter bell pepper. It's often viewed as mostly a spice used to decorate deviled eggs and potato salad but if used just right, it can make it out of your spice cabinet more than just a couple of times a year. Its bright red color and mild flavor make it perfect to add color and a hint of flavor to most dishes. We think Mexican cuisine makes the best use of this often-forgotten spice. Liberally sprinkling some Fajita Spice on chicken next time you make fajitas will give you just enough paprika to make your taste buds sing.
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Thyme goes so well with poultry that we'd be crazy not to want more. This earthy herb comes in whole form (leaves and sprigs) and a ground version. The ground version is great for flavoring meatloaf and stuffing, and the whole form is reserved mostly for bundling and using to make a stock with. We go crazy for our thyme-inclusive Savory Turkey Blend and Perfect Poultry Blend. We're convinced thyme is the reason the turkey is the iconic Thanksgiving food.
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Sage won't jump out at you when you cook with it, but don't let that fool you. It's the dark horse of the herb family and you might be surprised to know that it crosses the savory-sweet line quite frequently (it even makes an appearance in your favorite breakfast sausage as one of the main flavorings.) Its long, dusty green-colored leaves are great for garnishing with when fresh and give you great flavor when dried. We're sure you'll love sage so much that we put it in two of our best blends: Chicken Delight and Game Bird Blend.
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Move over, boring! Marjoram has come to save the day (and the food.) The slightly sweet taste of wild oregano (as marjoram is sometimes called) makes it the perfect herb to use in dishes that balance the sweet with the savory. Think of Marjoram next time you're in the mood to give your eggs, veggies, and cheese dishes a makeover.
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Dill is a bushy herb with a mild flavor that works best in sauces and soups. Most people don't associate dill with any particular cuisine but we assure you that no matter what you're cooking, dill can add a zip of flavor. Next time you're making chicken salad sandwiches, add a little Dynamic Dill Dip Mix to the mayo to make it extraordinary.
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Reminiscent of licorice, fennel shows up quite a lot in Italian foods. The seeds can be used whole (as is the case with Italian Sausage), or ground to give its distinct flavor to creamier foods. Throw some Fennel Fusion in your next batch of chicken sausage and you may wonder where this little beauty has been all of your life.
20. Onion Powder
Deciphering this spice is as easy as reading its name. Onions give some of their best flavor when they're broken down, so it's no surprise that this spice is so aromatic. It's perfect for seasoning chicken and beef and is great when added to dry rubs. Our favorite dry rub is our BBQ Rub. It's great on chicken but equally good on fish, too. Try adding it to sour cream for a zingy kick!
21. Herbes de Provence
This herb mix has a very interesting history: it started as name for a mix of herbs traditionally used in the Provence region of France and quickly went from a regional tradition to a commercialized herb blend. It usually contains marjoram, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and savory and is great on potatoes, garlic bread, and seafood. Our Savory Salt Blend even adds a hint of salt to the herb mix to give your food an extra dash of love.
These herbs and spices will definitely add flavor and zest to your next meal, but the one thing they won't add is pesticides or chemicals; all of our handcrafted spices are all-natural and gluten-free. We know you'll love them as much as the good folks in our home state of Idaho do. Check out our full line of products here.