10 DIY Rubs, Seasonings, And Spice Mixes Every Home Cook Needs

10 DIY Rubs, Seasonings, and Spice Mixes Every Home Cook Needs

Wonder why your chicken curry never tastes like the curry at your favorite Indian haunt or your North African lamb tagine is just missing something? It may be your spice blend

When you think of food that metaphorically smacks you in the face with flavor — real Southern barbecue, Moroccan food, French Provence cooking, even the beloved/maligned PSL — all of those foods have a blend of balanced spices behind that intense flavor. If you are going to take the time and effort to lovingly prepare these foods, why settle for stale, packaged spices?

What makes your favorite, intensely-flavored dishes go from good to exceptional are the ingredients, and if you want to take the time, you too can achieve that rich, balanced, unique flavor you desire. The only tools required are a sauté pan and a spice grinder.

Toast your spices until fragrant, and then grind them down into the fine powder for rubbing, tossing, and seasoning your favorite foods and dishes. Then, store your spice blends in an airtight container in a cool, dry location. Your blends will last about one to two years, and any whole spices you have leftover will keep for up to four years properly stored.

For more information, read on for our pick of 10 DIY rubs, seasonings, and spice mixes we think every cook should keep on hand, and how to cook them.


Adobo seasoning is popular in Mexican and Caribbean food. The spice blend generally consists of a blend of garlic powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, and chile powder.

You can adjust ratios to your liking, as with most spice blends they vary in flavor depending on who is making the blend. A good place to start is to combine ¼ cup sweet paprika, 3 tablespoons black pepper, 2 tablespoons onion powder, two tablespoons ground cumin, 1 tablespoon chile powder, and 1 tablespoon garlic powder.

Chinese Five Spice

Chinese Five Spice is the pungent and aromatic base flavor for many popular Chinese dishes. This spice blend can vary by region, but here is our take on a Szechuan-inspired Five Spice blend: 2 teaspoons ground star anise, 2 teaspoons ground fennel, ¾ teaspoons ground Szechuan peppercorns, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon cloves.

Dry Rub

When we say barbecue, we do not mean grilling, but rather the slow, labor-intensive smoking of meat. Barbecue- and barbacoa-styles differ by geographical region, but in the U.S., Kansas City-Style barbecue is marked by its use of dry rub.

There are, of course, variations, but this is one of our favorite blends to keep on hand: ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup paprika, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon chile powder, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Garam Masala

Garam masala means "hot blend of spices," and is commonly used in dishes from southern India to Pakistan. The actual blend varies by region and tastes, with no one blend being labeled more "authentic" than the other. Garam masala is also considered a finishing seasoning to be added at the end of cooking to preserve the flavor integrity of the spices.

Here is our take on a simple garam masala blend to keep on hand for seasoning your curry, rice, and more: 1-inch piece of cinnamon, 2 bay leaves, ¼ cup cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon green cardamom, 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, 2 teaspoons whole cloves, 1 dried red chile, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, and a pinch of mace (toasted and ground).


Harissa is a spicy chile paste that is popularly used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. Depending on the region, harissa will be made with garlic, olive oil, cumin, coriander, caraway, mint, tomatoes, and rose petals.

Here is our blend for a spicy harissa sauce that you can add to marinades, wet rubs, and more: 4 ounces dried chiles (re-constituted in warm water), 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 3 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toast the spices, seed the chiles, and grind into a paste using a food processor.

Herbes de Provence

This blend of spices from the Provence region of France is aromatic and floral. There is no one set blend of spices, but often the blend includes savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and occasionally lavender.

Here is our take on the classic herb blend: 3 tablespoons thyme, 2 tablespoons savory, 1 tablespoon oregano, 3 tablespoons rosemary, 2 tablespoons marjoram, and 1 tablespoon lavender.    

Poultry Spice

Poultry seasoning is exactly what it sounds like: a blend of herbs and pungent spices that enhance the flavor of your favorite fowl. While this is easily found bottled, we find that our own blend is much more vibrant than what you find at the store.

For the homemade poultry spice, blend together: 3 tablespoons thyme, 3 tablespoons rosemary, 3 tablespoons sage, 1 tablespoon marjoram, ½ tablespoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1 teaspoon paprika.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pumpkin pie spice is useful for more than just pumpkin pie. This helpful blend of spices tastes like fall and will come in handy when you are seasoning vegetables, baking cookies, breads, and, of course, pie.

Here is our blend of pumpkin pie spice you should keep on hand: ¼ cup cinnamon, 4 teaspoons nutmeg, 4 teaspoons ginger, and 1 tablespoon allspice.

Ras el Hanout

This spice blend from North Africa is often compared to garam masala, because its many iterations and widespread use throughout North African cookery. Ras el hanout means "head of the shop" in Arabic, or the top-shelf blend of spices.

Here is our interpretation of a spicy, pungent ras el hanout spice blend: 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, ¾ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground coriander seeds, ½ teaspoons cayenne, ¼ teaspoon cloves.


Za'atar is a popular spice blend comes from eastern Mediterranean kitchens and cuisine. It has a citrusy, earthy flavor perfect for sprinkling on fresh cut vegetables, on top of hummus, or seasoning roasted chicken.

Here is our interpretation: 2 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon cumin, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (toasted), 2 teaspoons sumac, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt.