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Seven spice mixes you need to know

Introducing pre-made spice mixes into your cooking is a great way to experiment with authentic flavours from around the globe. A small amount goes a long way – it’s worth stocking up on some classics so they’re ready whenever your dish needs an extra kick. Be inspired to try something new with our favourite recipes that make the most of these versatile spice mixes.

  1. Piri piri

    This popular Portuguese seasoning is really versatile and guaranteed to add a kick to your favourite dishes. With paprika, garlic and a whole load of chilli, it’s great for flavouring meat, like these pork kebabs and chicken liver wraps, and also adds fiery flavour to fish, such as barbecued salmon.

    Piri piri
  2. Mixed spice

    Popular in festive cooking, mixed spice is a combination of cinnamon, coriander seeds, nutmeg, cloves, pimento and ginger. It’s aromatic, mild and warming, and tastes great in bakes like banana loaf, Christmas biscuits and festive cheesecakes but also adds flavour to savoury dishes too, like this vegetable pilaf.

    Mixed spice
  3. Garam masala

    Add warmth to curries and dhals with this classic Indian spice mixture, made with coriander, cumin, fennel, ginger, dill, cloves and celery. It’s great for cooking into meat dishes, like this lamb curry or slow-cooked chicken, or to spice up eggs as in this Indian-inspired omelette. For any Indian cooking, garam masala is a must-have.

    Garam masala
  4. Chinese five-spice

    Chinese five-spice is a great way to easily add a variety of flavour profiles to your meals, and, unsurprisingly, consists of five spices; star anise, cinnamon, fennel, cloves and peppercorns. Widely used in Chinese cooking to liven up meat, fish and vegetable dishes, it’s ideal for adding to a stir-fry or veggie side.

    Chinese five-spice
  5. Harissa

    This deeply fragrant, hot Tunisian chilli paste includes roasted red peppers along with ground caraway, cumin and coriander seeds. Its name means ‘to pound’, and is available as a dry seasoning or paste. It’s extremely versatile – use it in a marinade for roasted veg such as broccoli and cauliflower, or for meat, as in these chicken thighs with spiced rice. It even works well in dressings, like the one drizzled over this roasted pepper and butter bean salad

  6. Ras el hanout

    The name of this North African spice blend means ‘top of the shelf’, as it was traditionally made from the best spices merchants had on offer. Ras el hanout is commonly made with more than 20 spices, including cumin, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, and rose petals for a lightly floral, aromatic seasoning. Great mixed with minced lamb in these fragrant meatballs with homemade hummus and couscous, in a punchy marinade for braised chicken thighs, or roast with cauliflower for a vegetable tagine with warming flavours.

    Ras el hanout
  7. Za’atar

    Originating from the Middle East, this herbal blend works in a range of dishes and instantly adds a spicy kick. The key ingredient to this herbal Levantine spice mix is sumac: a small berry with a sharp lemony tang. It’s usually mixed with sesame seeds, oregano, thyme and salt. Add to dishes using citrus fruits to really enhance its flavour. Try it as a rub for these veggie aubergine steaks, or blitz into a houmous.