Spices of Life: A Round-Up of Homemade Spice Blends

A year or so spent working for a fine spice merchant left me with a lifelong appreciation for spices and their place in the kitchen. The series I’ve done here on Simple Bites on subjects such as sourcing quality spices, storing spices, and options for grinding whole spices, are a testament to my love of fresh spices.

I’ve been cooking with homemade spice blends for as long as I can remember, flavoring my rice pilaf with a spoonful of garam masala, deepening the flavor of French Toast with pumpkin pie spice, tossing blends onto meats for grilling, just to name a few ways.

Once you have the ingredients on hand, spice blends are quick to mix up, easy to store, and make unique and thoughtful gifts. They lend themselves to creativity in the kitchen, and as long as you are using fresh, whole spices, are pretty hard to mess up.

The advantages of homemade spice blends are many. Here are three as well as a roundup:

1. Customization. There’s always room for a little play in a spice mix. Don’t like cloves? Leave them out of your pumpkin pie spice and add a little extra allspice. Allergic to a specific herb? Creating your own spice blends from scratch allows you the freedom to customize each recipe to suit your health needs.

2. Freshness. There’s no telling how long a mix has been sitting in that jar on store shelves, and it certainly can’t beat the fresh flavor of a homemade spice blend. When you make a blend yourself, be sure to label it clearly with the date. Are the spices ground? Store them in a small airtight container in the freezer to maintain maximum freshness.

3. Savings. There’s no question about it, those cute little spice kits are selling for way more than the value of their contents. And that’s understandable, as someone had to assemble them, but you the home cook can make considerable savings by purchasing whole spices (bulk, even) and mixing up your own culinary concoctions.

Homemade Spice Blends: A Round-up

I’ve collected a respectable amount of recipes to inspire you as you venture into the wonderful world of homemade spice blends. Remember to start small, source the best whole spices that you can, and check out these options for grinding your blends.

Taco seasoning photo by Jamie of My Baking Addiction

North American Cooking

You’re probably familiar with many of these names, and perhaps incorporate them in your family dinners fairly frequently. Now, should you choose to do so, you can create them from scratch.

Ethiopian Berbere photo by Cate

International Blends

These spice blends span the globe but don’t even come close to scratching the surface of the many other mixes that exist in foreign food cultures. Still, they are an excellent start should you wish to expand your repertoire to include more international flavors.

Photo by Kristen

Sweeter Blends

These sweeter spice blends can be used for much more than adding to autumnal pies. Try them sprinkled over homemade granola, added to crock-pot oatmeal, or mixed into your favorite cookie dough, such as these spice snaps.

Have a favorite spice blend? Please share it with us in the comments? Looking for a particular blend? Speak up!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. What a great resource! I have been looking for a good curry blend for a while, will have to try the one listed here!
    Heather’s last post: the power of baking soda – going no ‘poo

  2. Whoa! A one stop shop for spices! Thanks!
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar’s last post: Apple Pie Muffins

  3. Hi Aimée, great topic! I just made a big batch of spice blend for homemade saag paneer last week. It smells amazing and makes cooking that dish on subsequent nights so much easier. Every time I put together a spice blend I think, “I should really do this more often.” I’m going to use you as my muse and start actually doing it!
    Carolyn’s last post: In Conversation with Exceptional Women

    • Thanks for stopping by, Carolyn! I feel the same way every time I toast and grind a spice blend. There’s nothing more rewarding!

  4. Aimee, this is great! What an excellent round up post.
    Adrienne’s last post: Sardine RIllettes

  5. Oh Aimee, I am with you on fresh, homemade spice blends. There is just nothing like them to perk up roasted vegetables, a good piece of meat, or even a sweet dish!

    Thank you so much for including my Apple Pie and Cajun spice mixes. They are two of my very favorites.
    Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch’s last post: you are my sunshine printable {Mingle Monday}

  6. what a fantastic round up! Thanks so much, pinned this so I will never ever lose it again :)
    stacy’s last post: Giant Cookies, Tummy Woes and Rainbows

  7. Kara E. says:

    I’d love to know what specifically is in an Italian herb blend. I’ve come across a surprising number of recipes lately calling for Italian herbs. I’ve ended up adding some oregano, parsley, and thyme, but really don’t know if those are the right herbs…

  8. What a great resource! Bookmarked, for sure. Thanks, Aimee!
    kaela’s last post: Use It or Lose It! Salsa-Braised Turkey Breast with Chile & Citrus Peel

  9. Thank you for this post! I am always looking to make my own sprice blends.

  10. So funny, my blog post today is about the importance of aromatics in cooking. Really great spice blend recipes. Thanks.
    Diane Balch’s last post: The Scent of a Meal: A Simple Guide to Flavorful Cooking

  11. The link for the Lemon Pepper Rub goes to the Creole Seasoning, and the Lemon Pepper Rub is the one I was most interested in. Can you please fix it? Thanks.

  12. For several years, I have been making spice rubs as Christmas gifts. I save spice jars and other small jars throughout the year. Then, I choose several blends to feature each year and make nice labels for each. My friends love the rubs/blends and always asking for more. I have even had them returning to jars so they can get a refill! :) I will definitely be saving this post for future reference! THANKS!

  13. This is wonderful!! Thanks for sharing the post on spice blends…

  14. A great post and resource! I have been trying to avoid the expensive blends and buy in bulk, and I love all the ideas you have here!
    Bernice @ The Stressed Mom’s last post: Weekend links

  15. What a great post! Thank you for taking the time to put this together and for sharing all of the links!
    Mary Miller / A Passionate Plate’s last post: Chicken Picadillo with Quick Pickled Carrots and Jalapenos

  16. No more store bought spice packets! I am pinning this now because there are so many great resources here.
    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds’s last post: Does it offend you that I homeschool?

  17. Lovely roundup of spice blends! A great reference!
    Tracy’s last post: Nutella Swirl Coffee Cake

  18. Love that picture at the end of the North American section. Very cool. Would make a great screen saver or notebook cover. Cheers!
    Steve @ HPD’s last post: Accidentally Gluten Free

  19. This is a great resource. I’m pinning so I can refer back to it often.
    Steph’s last post: Mindset for Moms: Chapters 11-15

  20. I love your broad assortment of spice blend links! I’ve made a spice blend for a slightly different reason–a “deer away” spray made from some of our dried hot peppers so that the deer would leave my hostas alone. I’m making your crock pot oatmeal for tomorrow’s breakfast.
    Amy’s last post: in the mail ~ seed+art

  21. Love this post – I am such a huge fan of creating my own spice blends.
    Jamie | My Baking Addiction’s last post: Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

  22. Thanks for sharing this home made recipe, I hope I can perfect it then…
    Nancy’s last post: Oven repairs Melbourne

  23. I make my own seasoned salt and call it “Variety: The Spice of Life.”.I don’t market it, and I seldom make it the exact same way twice, but my friends seem to like it. I gave a jar of it to Guy Fieri when I met him at a book signing. He has never indicated to me that he tried it, however! I use a Magic Bullet blender to grind mine. I did use a coffee grinder, bur if you are making 6 lbs at once, it takes forever. Some friends prefer I leave it whole and they grind it with a salt mill at the table. I even carrynit with me in my purse!

  24. Great blends! I would really love to try all these blends one of these days. Thanks for sharing this.. Good job!
    Cley’s last post: Translate PDF files

  25. superbizmom says:

    Do you grow your own spices and then dry them?

  26. Thank you for this resource of blends! To be honest, I never even considered making homemade blends; i.e. whenever a recipe calls for Old Bay Seasoning I just buy one already blended from the grocery. Who knew that you can mix and match your own?
    Sleeping Mom’s last post: Yo Gabba Who? My toddler lives under a rock

  27. Great timing! My friend just moved nearby a spice store, all super fresh and I can buy really small quantities so nothing gets stale on the shelves.
    Such a great resource list, thanks!
    Emily @ Random Recycling’s last post: DIY Cleaning Recipes ~ Link-up!

  28. Great resource – bookmarked! Thank you!

  29. I love the list you have here. I could probably figure it out myself, but the zesty lemon pepper seems to be a link to the Cajun spice blend.
    Ranee @ Arabian Knits’s last post: Menu Plan: March 4 – March 10

  30. Dhana28 says:

    I really love discovering new recipe of Spice Blends.. Thanks for sharing some links! :) I am very excited to try it out..
    Dhana28′s last post: Satellite TV on PC

  31. Where do you buy your fresh herbs and seasonings? Where is a good place for bulk buying?
    thanks
    Sandi

  32. Hi! I hopped over from Good Life Eats and I am so glad I did! You have a gorgeous site :) I especially love this post, and I am going be bookmarking it as a reference. I think it is just brilliant! Thank you for sharing this :)

    P.S. – I just had to visit when I saw what your name was :) My little girl’s name is Aimee :)
    Marsha @ The Harried Cook’s last post: Triple Dark Chocolate Cookies & a Doubly Special Post!

  33. Oh my gosh, I just stumbled upon heaven! I’ll be playing with spices now all summer :D Thanks for including mine luv xoxo
    Tickled Red’s last post: Strawberries Liqueur Over Cream Custard { She’s Becoming Doughmesstic}

  34. Thanks, this is a great weekend kitchen project.

  35. Gorgeous site, gorgeous post! Thanks for including me in it. This is a fantastic resource, I’ll definitely be sharing it! xo
    Jenny Sansouci’s last post: Eat Like Someone’s Watching

  36. I rarely comment, but felt I should thank you for the effort you undertook to compile this enticing list of flavours. I hope you continue to add more, as you discover.

  37. Great post! I’m going through organizing all of my spices and starting to make my own blends, and this is a perfect list of just what I’ve been wanting to make! Though I should also mention your link for the Food in Jars bbq circuit rub recipe is off, and takes you to the fajita rub recipe. The correct url is here: http://foodinjars.com/2009/12/gift-in-a-jar-handmade-spice-blends/
    Dustin’s last post: Bread and Butter Pickles

  38. Hi,

    I love the spiced wine they offer around Christmas time in Germany – do you have a good spice blend to recreate the flavor at home?

  39. magnoliasouth says:

    Thanks so much for sharing these! I always love homemade spice blends. Not for the same reasons as other do, but I absolutely HATE salt. For whatever reason, every company wants to dump a truck load of salt into their products and I hate it. I literally get a metal taste in my mouth when I eat anything with salt in it. I guess I’m just more sensitive than most.

    I did want to ask a question though. Your link for the “Zippy Lemon Pepper Rub” actually goes to a Creole seasoning recipe. which is a great blend by the way, but do you have another link for the lemon pepper?

    Again, many thanks! :)

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