The Top Spices Every Home Cook Should Have, According To A McCormick Chef - Exclusive

When it comes to simplified home cooking, you've got no better friend than your spice rack. The assortment of sweet, savory, earthy, spicy, and smoky dried herbs and plants are always there for you to add instant flavor to whatever you're making. All it takes is a few teaspoons to elevate any basic recipe — no fancy technique or ingredients required. Some salt, garlic, and lemon pepper can take a grilled chicken breast to the next level; a pinch of chili flakes and dried oregano add an extra punch to pasta; and a simple sheet pan of roasted veggies can take on a whole new twist when tossed with a premade seasoning blend, like McCormick's.

For your spices to work better for you, you've got to have the right ones in your collection. So Mashed turned to the experts, and spoke with McCormick chef, plus master of all things spices, Kevan Vetter, for some inside tips. Vetter shared some of the top herbs and spices every home cook should have in their kitchen in our exclusive interview, and revealed what he's reaching for the most in his spice cabinet to whip up quick, easy, and delicious meals at home.

You can't go wrong with plenty of herbs, says McCormick chef Kevan Vetter

While some may open up their spice cabinet to a rainbow of colorful powders and blends, you really don't need a huge collection of spices to be able to elevate your home cooking. A few of your favorite herbs and spices will go a long way. When in doubt, stock up on dried herbs, says McCormick chef Kevan Vetter. He named "oregano, basil, crushed red pepper...rosemary, thyme" as the top five spices every home cook needs – besides salt and pepper, which you should always have on hand. 

Dried herbs can lend flavor to so many different dishes, from soups and stews, to stir frys, meat rubs, roasted veggies, pasta sauces, salad dressings, the list goes on and on. It's also worth noting that dried herbs can make a great substitute for fresh herbs in many recipes, with the added bonus of a much longer shelf life.

Even McComick chefs love using spice blends at home

Today at the grocery store, along with the whole alphabet of spices, you can also find an increasing number of gourmet crafted premade seasoning blends. Whether you're craving Italian, feeling a Taco Tuesday, cranking up the grill, or just trying to get through a weeknight dinner, spice blends can be a flavor lifesaver that make life so much easier. And even professional chefs, like McCormick chef Kevan Vetter, love to use them at home. "I'd say I've got an equal amount of seasoning blends, as well as herbs and spices," which really provide the best of both worlds, he explained to Mashed. "The blends allow you the convenience and the ease of grabbing something that's ready to go, and then the herbs and spices allow you the creativity to season as you wish, and then add a little bit of this and a little bit of that."

Vetter specifically says he's "a big griller so I've got a lot of our Grill Mates seasonings." In particular, Vetter recommends the "Grill Mates Sweet & Smoky rub. I love that on ribs ... We also do salmon like once a week, and that's our go to for salmon."

Vetter also mentioned that "[McCormick's] got a range of all purpose seasonings that are really nice as well," and there are so many easy things you can do with them. Vetter says you can use something "as simple as [McCormick's Basil, Oregano, Garlic, and Sea Salt blend], a little red pepper, and sprinkling that in some olive oil to go as a bread dip or a veggie dip or something like that."

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