spices in jars spices in jars Spice blends can be used to enhance recipes and invoke an authentic flavor. (Photo: mongione / Shutterstock)

6 spice blends you can make yourself

Looking for some creative ways to use all the spices in your cabinet? Turn them into flavor-enhancing, recipe-boosting spice blends.

Here's a fun spring-cleaning project that will also spark your creativity: Make your own spice blends using all those individual spices in your pantry. Here are six you can easily make at home.

Everything bagel spice

everything bagels with cream cheese and cucumbersEverything bagel spice blend is available in jars at many markets, but for best results, blend at home. (Photo: Elena Veselova/Shutterstock)

Turns out that the people who make bagels don't just throw a bunch of spices onto the dough and toss it all in the oven. There's a specific recipe to achieve that salty-crunchy-garlicky goodness. The folks at the kitchn blog got the proportions just right for a 1/4 cup serving:

  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt

Simply mix the spices together in a bowl or jar. The fun part is deciding what to do with it: you can make bagels from scratch, dress up pre-made plain ones, or sprinkle onto cream cheese-shmeared toast.


Za'atar

za'atar spice blendZa'atar is a Mediterranean spice blend derived from the plant of the same name. (Photo: Viktory Panchenko/Shutterstock)

Za'atar actually has two meanings: it's the name of a plant, and it's also the name of the blend. You may have seen the latter mixed with olive oil on a flatbread, or sprinkled over dips and spreads like tzatziki sauce and hummus, as it's served at many Israeli and Mediterranean restaurants.

You'll find that many za'atar blend recipes don't actually call for the za'atar plant, and for good reason – the wild herb is not easy to find outside of the Mediterranean region. Our Israeli Kitchen's own Miriam Kresh says she likes to grow her own za'atar plants. "Wild za’atar is a protected species in Israel, where I live," she says. "To get it fresh, you have to pick up a young bush from a nursery and grow it yourself, or start plants from seed."

If you don't have the seeds or the wherewithal to grow it yourself, here's a common mixture that yields 5 tablespoons of za'atar:

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Poultry seasoning

spiced chickenSpice up your chicken with a homemade blend. (Photo: Andrey Starostin/Shutterstock)

As with many spice blends, you can pick up a jar of poultry seasoning at the grocery store, but we wouldn't be a true Israeli Kitchen if we didn't advise you to make it yourself instead. This seasoning perfectly hearkens Thanksgiving mornings of years past, when you got to help Grandma baste the turkey and prepare the stuffing, and the scent alone made your stomach growl. Sage and thyme are the primary ingredients in this seasoning, giving the blend an "aromatic, woodsy flavor," according to food blogger Emily Han.

Here's a basic mixture that yields 1/4 cup:

  • 1 tablespoon ground sage
  • 1 tablespoon ground thyme
  • 1 tablespoon ground marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon ground rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon crushed celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Italian seasoning

Olive oil and Italian bread with Italian seasoningsItalian seasoning blends several ingredients you probably already have in your cabinet. (Photo: alisafarov/Shutterstock)

Pass the salt? Nah. Make it Italian night, every night. More robust than oregano but with just the right amount of zest, Italian seasoning comprises the perfect blend for making homemade tomato sauce, or for a delectable, dippable seasoned olive oil served with crusty Italian bread. It's also an excellent pizza topper. There's nary a meal this blend won't enhance.

  • 3 tablespoons each dried basil, oregano and parsley flakes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Taco seasoning

tacos with lettuce, tomato and cheeseA homemade spice blend will give your tacos an optimal flavor boost. (Photo: Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock)

You can buy a taco kit with the pre-made spice packet. But do you really know what's in that thing? You may not, but we do: Salt. Lots and lots of salt. You can buck the trend of tacos-in-a-box by making your own taco seasoning that doesn't pile on unhealthy levels of sodium.

The Food Network's Alton Brown has a blend he calls "Taco Potion #19." His recipe yields 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons, which by our calculation is enough for, let's say, a month's worth of Taco Tuesdays.

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Herbes de Provence

herbs de provenceHerbs de Provence literally means "herbs from Provence," a region in southeast France. (Photo: Katerina Belaya/Shutterstock)

Your homemade Herbes de Provence blend will most likely not actually come from Provence, a region in southeastern France. And neither do most pre-packaged blends you'll find in stores this side of the Atlantic. But the fun part about making your own spice blends is that you can tailor it to whatever variation you see fit. Most Herbes de Provence blends use thyme, savory and rosemary; some varieties also include dried lavender flowers. And they're great in poultry, fish and vegetable stews. Here's kitchen maven Martha Stewart's recipe:

  • 3 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons dried savory
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers (optional)

Pumpkin pie spice

pumpkin pie spiceAdd a dash of this delicious blend to your pumpkin puree, and you're on your way to a perfect pie. (Photo: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock)

When fall rolls around again, you'll want to be ready. What better way to do that than by preparing a spice blend that'll make your pumpkin pie prep super-easy?

But don't stop at pies. Your homemade spice blend is also a fabulous addition to ice cream, yogurt, lattes, smoothies or even a savory roasted fall veggie side dish.

This easy mixture will get you about five servings of pumpkin pie spice:

  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cloves

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