Essential Herbs and Spices

Essential Herbs and Spices will make a big difference. When working in a plant-based kitchen, you’re probably told multiple times over that you’re missing out. There is nothing that will replicate the amazing flavors and dishes that are made from meat, right? Well, if you eat nothing but a cooked chicken, no garnish, no sauce, no gravy, it’s going to stay pretty bland.

The actual savior behind quality dishes are spices and herbs. If you know how to maneuver around them for day-to-day meal plans, then running a plant-based kitchen will never deprive you of the best tastes in the world.

With a little background knowledge and some example herbs and spices to get you started, you’ll be well on your way to making restaurant-quality dishes at home on a plant-based lifestyle.

Try this delicious Tofu Scramble Recipe. You get to discover and taste, a few of the spices discussed.

Whole Spices vs Powdered Spices

First, there is the debate as to whether whole spices are the way to go or powdered spices. Powdered spices are store-bought and preserved in order to retain their flavoring and aroma. They aren’t the same as fresh spices but they are quite convenient for people routinely short on time when cooking.

Whole spices maintain their original flavor for much longer than store-bought powders. They can be stored safely and used whenever needed. Another great benefit is that you can grind them yourself.

When spices have been freshly ground, they have a strong, powerful taste, aroma, and color. Their impact on your dishes is deliberate and well-received. It will be hard to miss their presence when they are freshly ground. A word to the wise though, it is best to use them either as soon as possible or within a month as ground spices don’t last as long as whole spices.

It’s better to use ground or powdered spices in your dishes since they are easier to interpret into cooking. Whole spices aren’t as easy and can even become clunky and take away from your meals.

Fresh Herbs vs Dried Herbs

Right after spices, there are herbs. You can either get dried herbs or fresh herbs for your dishes depending on the recipe you’re following and the ingredients you plan on using.

Fresh herbs obviously sound nicer. Many people grow their own petite plants at home so they have fresh, scented herbs whenever they need them. Otherwise, you can also purchase fresh herbs from the market for all your meals.

Dried herbs aren’t always preferred, but they do have a strong taste to them which many people enjoy very much. Their flavor, aroma, and essence are easily detectable in every meal and make quite the impression.

Dried herbs are stronger than fresh herbs, so it’s better to always have more fresh herbs than you do dried. The ratio is one tablespoon of fresh herbs for every teaspoon of dried herbs. This balances out their taste, aroma, and impact on your food.

Organic vs non-Organic

The debate here is relatively one-sided. Non-organic options have pesticides and are susceptible to irradiation as they are exposed to different preservatives.

On the other hand, organic herbs and spices are rich in natural flavor and can be used immediately or ground and kept for later. You can buy these in bulk and have a month’s worth of delicious fresh herbs and colorful spices for your kitchen.

Discover the most common plant-based myths.

Spices your Kitchen Needs

  1. Chili powder is a generic one and is great for adding smoky flavoring to hot dishes. It is a combination of dried chilies and numerous other subtle spices for its empowering taste. This is not the same as chile powder which is only ground, dried chilies and nothing else.
  2. Cumin is another one of those spices which is essentially a dried seed from the parsley family. It is a highly used spice in Middle eastern, Indian, and Latin American cuisine. It has a unique taste which helps it stand out in dishes.
  3. Turmeric, also known as the Golden Spice, has a bitter taste and is found in most curries. It is used both for coloring and flavoring.
  4. Paprika is a spice made by grinding red peppers into a powder. It adds a sweet, spicy, and sometimes even a smoked taste to dishes depending on how you cook and use it.
  5. Saffron is sweet to the taste and tends to have a nuanced, earthy flavor. Saffron is harvested from the stigmas of the saffron crocus flower and has an unbeatable and unique taste to it. If you end up with something that is bitter or plastic in taste, you are looking at a cheap replica for price reduction purposes.
  6. Imagine adding that pleasant onion taste and aroma without any of the crying. This is what onion powder can promise you. It also mixes into sauces and dishes more efficiently than chopped onions, making it ideal for people who have a hard time eating whole chunks.
  7. Another powder to consider is garlic powder. Once again, it is more convenient than whole garlic cloves, although you will have a hard time replicating the effect of fresh garlic. If you don’t want the garlic to be too overpowering in your meal, then garlic powder is the perfect choice.
  8. Sesame seeds are simple addition but they make a huge difference. These tiny seeds add texture and are great for garnishing. They also contribute a nutty flavor within every bite.
  9. Garam masala is a combination of many different spices rolled into one delicacy. It is a very popular Indian spice which is used generously in sauces, salads, curries, and more. It’s a combination of coriander, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, dried chilies, peppercorn and more.

Herbs Galore

Now it’s time to take a look at some herbs which you could introduce into your kitchen for better results.

  1. Oregano is an herb used in Italian cuisine that can be quite versatile. It is more common to find oregano being used in its dried form than fresh since its natural flavoring is quite bitter and pungent.
  2. Rosemary can have quite the kick to it. It has a strong, wooden, tangy scent to it and its flavor is impossible to miss no matter how you use it. For subtler dishes, this isn’t the right herb to use. But as a centerpiece, it’s perfect.
  3. There is a wide variety of basil leaves and all are widely used. This delicately fragrant leaf is famously used in Italian dishes with the occasional appearance in Asian dishes due to its brother Thai Basil.
  4. Parsley is close to coriander, but not the same. It is one of the most commonly used herbs in cooking given its mildness. Both the scent and taste are not as overpowering as rosemary or mint and it can be used widely as it partners with many versatile dishes phenomenally.
  5. Though they are identified with different names in different places, they are actually the same herb. Coriander or cilantro, is a member of the parsley family and is also referred to as Chinese or Mexican parsley. The fragrance of this herb is prominent and a great touch for many dishes. The leaves and stem are perishable and can therefore be cooked in dishes.
  6. Mint comes with a lemony-peppery kick and leaves you with a cooling aftertaste many breath mints take advantage of. It is quite powerful in its flavor and is usually used in smaller quantities.


Everyone can have outstanding food, no matter what kitchen type you’re running. Whether it’s with meat, vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based, there will always be room for savory flavors and delectable tastes. With the right know-how of spices and herbs, your kitchen will bloom with the best dishes and healthy food.

To get more inspiration for adding a flavorful dose of herbs and spices to your cooking check out my plant-based recipes.

Stay Healthy,