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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

    Available as a dry seasoning or paste, harissa is a spicy mix of hot peppers, chilli, cumin, tomato and predominantly smoked paprika. It’s extremely versatile – use it in a marinade for roasted veg such as broccoli and cauliflower, or for meat, as in these lamb tacos. It even works well in dressings, like the one drizzled over this chorizo and mozzarella 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. It’s a unique blend of more than 10 spices, including paprika, chilli, cinnamon and cumin. Try it in a punchy marinade for grilled lamb, or add to a vegetable tagine for warming flavour. Fragrant rose petals make this spice mix extra authentic and add delicious sweetness.

    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. Combining sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, marjoram, oregano and basil, it has citrussy undertones – add to dishes using lemon or orange to really enhance its flavour. Try it as a rub for these veggie aubergine steaks, or blitz into a houmous.