How To | Cooking | Food

The Mistakes You're Making With Spices, and What You Should Be Doing

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A pinch of spice or dash of herbs can make an ordinary meal into something much more delicious, but it's not all about flinging random spices into your food. Most of us experiment with spices, but chances are you're making some key mistakes when it comes to how you spice your food.

Want to stop that? Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when cooking with spices.

Wrong Spice at the Wrong Time

Cooking is all about timing, but that doesn't just mean how long you put something in an oven. When you add your spice is as important as how long you leave something on a burner for. For instance, when a recipe calls for garlic are you chopping it up and adding it right in the beginning?

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Uh oh.

Garlic burns quickly, and will lose most of its flavor after just a few minutes at high heat. For more pronounced flavor of garlic add it near the end, or use it raw. Same thing for basil, cooking it will radically change its flavor.

Spices like paprika and rosemary don't change very much as you cook them, but a spice like cumin actually gets more powerful as it cooks - making it a great spice to add in early.

Not Enough, Or Way Too Much

If Andre the Giant added a "pinch" of salt to something, chances are it would taste like the water of the Dead Sea. (That's very salty btw.) Measurements for spices are notoriously relative, so it's really up to your discretion for how much to use.

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Some spices, particularly the hot ones like cayenne, black pepper, chili powder, will need a lower quantity than more mild spices like oregano or paprika.

For best results take taste tests while you're cooking, and go from there. Remember that you can always add more later for some spices, but once you go too big there's no going back.

Using The Wrong Spice


Spices obviously have different flavors, which means some spices are perfect for certain meals, and others would be a disaster. Think you know what spice goes where? Click to the next page to find out.

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