Eight Essential Spices And Must Have Marinades

Dinnertime doesn't have to be difficult. Cooking delicious, healthy meals is simple. Once you realize it's all in the spices.

No need to get frustrated when you're cooking for your family and friends.

Or waste time with complicated recipes, ordering takeout or meal delivery services.

You can cook delicious, healthy meals easily and without a lot of preparation.

Let the spices, herb and seasonings do the work for you.

There are hundreds of spices, seasoning blends and marinades that you can use in your cooking, but to get started you only need a few from each category to create a whole variety of delicious and healthy meals. Here is a quick summary of some of the most important along with examples of how to use them.

Spices and Seasoning Blends:

  • Garlic - One of most essential spices on the planet. It is used in dishes from all over the world and with traditions as varied as Asian, North America, Southern Europe and the Middle East.
  • Onion - Choose the granulated, not the powder. Onion, like garlic, is a great all- around spice that can be used to flavor recipes from all over the world. It is also great to use as a dry rub, along with garlic, to season meats, roasts and poultry.
  • Italian Seasoning - A classic Italian blend is a must for any kitchen. It should contain thyme, oregano, basil, sage and rosemary and no additives. The fresher the mix, the better for your cooking. You will use it in a whole range of recipes from pastas and classic Italian meals to chicken, beef, salads and casseroles.
  • A High Quality Sea Salt and Black Pepper - You really can't have one without the other, but I'm not talking about the cafeteria shakers here, I mean a fine sea salt and always freshly ground black pepper. The perfect finish to any meal.
  • White Pepper  - Less heat and more complex than black pepper and preferred for cooking. It can be a great companion for garlic and onion in meats, soups, stews, roasts and more. It has the added benefit of being colorless, which can gives it another advantage in dishes with a certain aesthetic appeal.
  • Citrus Blend - Another blend, like Italian, that is essential to a kitchen. Citrus blends come in all shapes and sizes. There are classic citrus only seasonings, lemon pepper seasonings or citrus and other herbs. Find the taste you like the most and keep it on hand for fish, shellfish, chicken and vegetable dishes.
  • Cumin - One of my favorite spices. It is a staple of Mexican and Latin American cuisine, but can also be used in a variety of blends like sofrito, garam masala and curry powders. It is extremely versatile and complex and will get a lot of use.
  • A Creole or Blackened Seasoning - The final essential blend, with the proliferation of cooking from the cajun / creole tradition, this will come in hand for a variety of dishes from jambalaya and shrimp creole to use simply as a seasoning for chicken, fish & meat.


Chicken - All of these marinades are measured on 2 pounds or 4 chicken breasts. Unless otherwise noted, marinate for at least a few hours up to a few days. It’s best to mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl first and then marinate the chicken. You can use a gallon baggie, plastic or glass container or vacuum seal to get the best flavor.

Combine 1/4 cup garlic olive oil, 1/4 cup white wine, 5-6 shakes of teriyaki sauce and juice of 1/2 a lemon. Shake well. Add any combination of the following spices based on the flavor you want for your chicken; Lemon Pepper seasoning, Italian seasoning, Creole or Cajun seasoning, fresh rosemary, fresh parsley, fresh dill, granulated garlic, hot sauce, Fajita seasoning or Herbes de Provence seasoning. Let marinate for at least a couple of hours to overnight before cooking.

Seafood - Place in gallon plastic bag or container. We do not suggest vacuum sealing most fish marinades - the flesh is too tender and the flavor can become too intense when vacuum sealed. Exceptions to that rule would be very meaty fish like tuna or shark.

3 T. each of the following ingredients per 1 pound of your favorite fish: Teriyaki Sauce, Soy Sauce, Garlic Olive Oil, White Wine. Unlike chicken, save the fresh lemon for after the fish is cooked, the flesh is too tender to use as a marinade..

Spices you can add to enhance flavor; Blackened seasoning, Lemon Pepper or Lemon Herb seasoning, Herb Grill seasoning, Creole seasoning, Italian seasoning, Fresh rosemary sprigs, fresh dill, fresh basil Leaves, fennel, sage, thyme, marjoram, oregano, celery salt. Let marinate 1-2 hours before cooking.

Beef or Pork - There are so many options for marinating beef and pork. All of these marinades are measured on 2 pounds of meat. These meats can stand up to much more intense marinades and longer marinating times. You can marinate for a few hours up to a few days. Use a gallon baggie, plastic container or vacuum seal to get the best flavor. Here are a few standards to get you started:

  • Rosemary Steak Marinade - 3 T. Rosemary Habanero oil, 1/4 cup red wine, 2 T. Creole spice, 2 T. Grill spice, 2 T. teriyaki sauce, 2 - 5" sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Chuck Roast Marinade - 2 T. teriyaki sauce, 2 T. Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup garlic olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine, 5 shakes of hot sauce, 2 T. grill sauce, 1 T. fresh black pepper, 1 T. creole spice, 3 toes of fresh garlic smashed.
  • Pork Medallions Marinade - 3 T. garlic olive oil, 1/4 cup white wine, 2 T. teriyaki sauce, 2 T. creole spice, 2 T. grill spice, 2 T. Italian seasoning, a few shakes of hot sauce, 2 toes of fresh garlic, 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary.
  • Rack of Ribs Marinade - This is enough marinade for 3 full racks of ribs, about 9 pounds. Decrease as necessary. Mix marinade separately, add to meat in vacuum sealed bag and marinade for 1-3 days. Once you take the ribs out to cook, transfer marinade to pan for cooking. Mixture - 2 Cups red wine, 1/2 can of coke or root beer, 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce, 10 garlic toes - chopped, 1/4 cup creole sauce, 1/4 cup blackened seasoning, 1/4 cup grill spice, 1/8 cup black pepper