Sure, you can buy seasoning blends at the store, but you’re often getting more of exactly what you don’t want—salt. Plus anti-caking agents, and a questionable level of freshness.
That’s why I love making my own seasoning blends. I reach for them all of the time, knowing exactly what they contain because I’m the one who mixed them in the first place. When you make the blends themselves, there’s the fun of opening jars of spices and reveling in their aromas and colors. Hot tip: when making blends with ground hot peppers, don’t inhale deeply! In fact, wear one of the pandemic masks you have tucked away. It’ll prevent lots of sneezes. Take it from a gal who learned the hard way.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Ever since I switched to this homemade blend, my taco soup, taco salad, and burrito casserole have been on a whole other level of flavor. I’m never switching back. This blend is so easy, too. It’s a fine started blend for DIYers.
If you’ve been grilling burgers as-is, this burger seasoning puts a whole new dimension of burger-dom at your fingertips. It’s now a required tool in my burger arsenal. Try it and the difference between seasoned and unseasoned burgers will wow you.
Homemade Old Bay
Old Bay evokes crab boils and seafood, but it’s also at home in potato salad and fried chicken breading. This homemade blend allows you to use it more liberally and get more of the herbs and spices with less of the salt.
If you’re a steak lover, steak seasoning lets you be lazy and still cut into a slab of lovely, flavorful meat. This particular seasoning is somewhere between Montreal-style and Chicago-style. Coarse salt stands up to well-marbled cuts.
The Best Dry Rub for Steaks
As opposed to steak seasoning, which is largely salt with a few spices, this steak dry rub is intended to be applied liberally. It’ll give you color, an appealing charred crust, and a library of flavors from smoked paprika to oregano to cumin to cayenne. For something unexpected, mix it into meatloaf.
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pumpkin pie spice is a one-stop spice shop for all of your fall baking needs. Besides pumpkin pie, add it to delights like pumpkin spice blondies, pumpkin cream cheese muffins, and pumpkin snickerdoodles.
We’re conditioned to adding spices early on in the cooking process, but garam masala is most often added at the end of a recipe so its warming top notes stay intact. Peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom are fixtures in this blend, but it changes from household to household all throughout South Asia and the Caribbean. Our version is contributor Karishma Pradhan’s go-to.
With a bottle of this rub in your cupboard, Jamaican jerk flavor is ready in a flash for chicken, shrimp, and even tofu. This is a dry rub, stable on a shelf for months, as opposed to the wet jerk seasoning sold in jars, which needs to be refrigerated.
An herb-forward blend that’s often associated with Thanksgiving stuffing, poultry seasoning has potential far beyond its typical repertoire. Add it to sausage gravy or bake up our reader favorite, 1970s-style chicken and rice casserole.
Chicken, shrimp, steak—a quick seasoning and searing makes your favorite Mexican restaurant order a sizzling reality, ready to stuff into warm tortillas for an easy dinner.
Everything Bagel Seasoning
Toasting the onion flakes and dried minced garlic is the key to this best-ever everything bagel seasoning. Make it and you’ll be bagel-izing your favorite dishes left and right.
Used in Latin American and Caribbean cuisines, adobo seasoning add the savory notes of garlic and onion in one simple shake. This additive-free recipe gives more flavor teaspoon per teaspoon than the shakers you’d find at the store.
Add a spoonful of this versatile seasoning and meatballs, sauces, and Italian dressing to instantly get that flavor we associate with good pizzerias and neighborhood Italian eateries. I made mine at the end of the growing season with herb garden excess that I dried using this trick.
Pork Chop Seasoning
Whether you’re firing up the grill or heating your favorite skillet on the burner, this pork chop seasoning is the key to lightening-fast weeknight dinners.
This Egyptian seasoning has been around for ages, but a few years ago there was a trend in Western cooking to use it with all sorts of things, from deviled eggs to brownies. It’s a textured blend with plenty of finely ground toasted nuts, plus sesame seeds and some coriander, cumin, and fennel. Perhaps the best way to enjoy it is the most traditional: with fresh bread and good olive oil for dipping.
Dry Rub for Ribs
A big jar of rib rub makes barbecuing a rack of ribs a simple matter of smearing them with mustard, the best glue for rubs that a rib lover could ask for. This is also great on brisket or pork butt.
Homemade Sazón Seasoning
That brilliant orange color is from annatto seeds (achiote), which you toast and grind with cumin and coriander seeds. Add black pepper plus garlic and onion powder and you’re ready to make numerous favorites from Latin America and the Caribbean (like Puerto Rican asopao de gandules) that just won’t look and taste the same without it.
Middle Eastern dishes come alive with a generous finish of za’atar. It’s bright and tart from ground sumac berries, toasted sesame seeds, and dried za’atar, an oregano-like herb in the thyme family. In fact, if you can’t find that herb, you can sub equal parts dried thyme and dried oregano, with a few pinches of cumin thrown it. I love this over fried eggs on hummus-spread pita.
Fish and Seafood Rub
If you love seafood but always come up short on what to do with it, this jar will be your saving grace. This run plus a simple finish of lemon juice is all you need for winning salmon, shrimp, and more.