6 Amazing Spice Blends That Beat the Bottled Stuff

Put down that long-expired bottle mix and step away from the spice cabinet –– these fresh spice blends will elevate your meals to new, flavorful heights.

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©Â 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved  2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved 2014, Cooking Channel, LLC All Rights Reserved

A Spice Mix Odyssey

It all started with an everything-bagel Thanksgiving stuffing and this Caesar Salad with Pizza Croutons. Our chefs and recipe tasters went wild in the test kitchen, professing their undying love for the tomato-y fairy dust that had managed to elevate an ordinary salad into a pizza, albeit a crunchy, lettuce-based one.


This sparked a conversation: What other foods could we give the space-age treatment to, compacting their complex flavors into powder form? As our experiment revealed, a few smartly combined vegetables, cheeses and seasonings –– toasted, roasted and ground into submission –– can instantly transform any number of foods, from a simple grilled chicken breast to a bucket of popcorn. We developed six unique spice mixes, plus six recipes that utilize them, to demonstrate how these blends can add otherworldly flavors to your cooking.

Pizza Spice Blend

We loved this pizza spice so much, we repurposed it for more spice-tastic recipes. The transcendent sun-dried tomato-Parmesan mixture perfectly captures pizza's complex combination of flavors. Microwave the sun-dried tomatoes briefly to dry them out enough that they can be ground without turning pasty.

Get the Recipe: Pizza Spice Blend

Pizza Dip

If you didn't think pizza could be liquefied, think again. This simple sour cream and mayo dip is transformed with the addition of the pizza spice, which can be prepared in advance and stored for up to a month, meaning a party dip is nearly always at the ready. Serve with an assortment of vegetables, cheeses and crackers, or breadsticks.

Get the Recipe: Pizza Dip

Everything-Bagel Spice Blend

This classic mix of poppy and sesame seeds, dried onion and garlic, and salt works with, well, just about everything. You can add it to soft bread sticks to replicate that authentic bagel flavor, but we'd recommend it in any number of applications: on a baked potato, coating a chicken breast, mixed into a pasta dish –– the options are endless.

Get the Recipe: Everything Bagel Spice Blend

Everything-Bagel Bread Sticks

Transform store-bought pizza dough into pillowy bagel-like bread sticks by brushing the rectangles with butter and sprinkling them with homemade everything-bagel spice mix before baking. Be sure to press the toasted seeds and spices gently into the dough so that they stick (though you'll still need to eat these with a plate or napkin to catch your crumbs).

Get the Recipe: Everything Bagel Bread Sticks

Pastrami Spice Blend

After pastrami beef is brined and dried, it's seasoned with several herbs and spices that (together with smoking) give the meat its unique flavor. This spice blend captures all those notes –– the heat of black pepper, smoke of paprika, sweetness of brown sugar and floral notes found in coriander –– to make any dish taste like pastrami.

Get the Recipe: Pastrami Spice Blend

Pastrami-Spiced Chicken

These uncannily pastrami-like chicken breasts come out juicy with a tongue-tickling peppery crust in just 30 minutes, ready to entice red meat lovers and poultry-only eaters alike. Toasting the spices before grinding them brings out their full flavor. Be sure to let the spices cool before grinding though, or they'll get pasty.

Get the Recipe: Pastrami-Spiced Chicken

Spicy Ranch Spice Blend

Buttermilk powder gives this spice blend its ranch-dressing tang (and makes a great pantry staple, as it's always at the ready for baking and making sauces, unlike the quick-to-spoil liquid stuff). Dried herbs and aromatics round out the savory flavors, while a dash of cayenne brings unexpected heat to the mix.

Get the Recipe: Spicy Ranch Spice Blend

Roasted Cauliflower with Spicy Ranch Sprinkle

If you haven't yet discovered cauliflower's culinary potential, this recipe will likely convert you. The florets are roasted plain until tender and caramelized, then tossed with this earthy, tangy ranchlike powder. (Don't roast the powder, as it'll turn bitter and burnt-tasting in the oven.) 

Get the Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower with Spicy Ranch Sprinkle

Thai Coconut Spice Blend

Like really good Thai dishes, this spice blend is balanced and complex: a little sweet, a little hot and a little citrusy. Toasting the coconut brings out its natural sweetness and dries it out enough that you can grind it without making a paste. Just be careful –– coconut can go from toasted to burnt pretty quickly.

Get the Recipe: Thai Coconut-Spice Blend

Pan-Seared Shrimp with Thai Coconut Spice Blend

To make this recipe, first cook the shrimp naked –– this allows you to see the precise moment they are done (when they turn pink and opaque). Then, dress them with this sweet, zesty Thai spice blend, which is pleasantly thick with slivers of toasted coconut. Serve with lime wedges to enhance the powder's citrusy notes.

Get the Recipe: Pan-Seared Shrimp with Thai-Spice Blend

Apple Streusel Spice Blend

Streusel –– the sweet, crumbly and versatile topping composed of flour, butter and sugar –– is the highlight of many baked goods. When combined with cinnamon and pecans, it evokes the flavor of its common partner, coffee cake, and apple-scented fall desserts. This spice blend uses freeze-dried apples, which, when ground, infuse the mixture with the taste of fresh apples year-round.

Get the Recipe: Apple Streusel Spice Blend

Apple Streusel-Spiced Popcorn

This finger-licking-good popcorn tastes like a cross between salted caramel corn and the sweet apple cereal of our childhood. When preparing the spice blend, be sure to pulse the nuts in short bursts, or the oil they release will make the mix wet, pasty and hard to sprinkle.

Get the Recipe: Apple Streusel-Spiced Popcorn

Playing for Keeps

As you can see, each of these spice blends is incredibly versatile. Sprinkle over a tossed salad with oil and vinegar to eliminate the need for dressing, create your own custom dips or enhance simple roasted vegetables. Make enough to keep on hand for improving recipes at a moment's notice. Store each blend in its own airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

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