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List of Essential Herbs and Spices to Make Vegan Meal Planning a Breeze

by | February 1, 2019

Herbs and spices are intrinsic to cooking. There are so many aromatic and complex spices around to add flavor to your cooking. If you’re thinking of vegan meal planning, it’s a good idea to stock up on spices to keep in your pantry.


With vegan meal planning, many dishes are only as good as the seasonings you use. There is a long list of herbs and spices to add flavor and depth to your cooking. How do you know what to buy? How to store them? Spices can be expensive, so it’s a good idea to buy the right size for your usage. Some spices you’ll use every day and some only once in a while. Spices have about a six-month shelf life before they lose their flavor and potency. As it’s generally cheaper to buy things in bulk, if there’s a spice you’ll use every day, you can buy a large quantity at a local health food store or online. Other less frequently used spices can be purchased in tiny amounts so that you’re not wasting money.

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Here’s a list of essential herbs and spices that you’ll want to keep stocked. It will make vegan meal planning that much easier to know you don’t have to keep buying stuff week after week for your pantry!

Black peppercorns

Whole peppercorns can be ground in a mill. Pre-ground pepper loses its flavor much more quickly.

Cayenne pepper

This stuff is great for adding a little heat to a dish. A pinch or two does the job nicely.

Chili powder

A mix of cayenne, dried peppers, cocoa, garlic, and onion. Chili powder gives complex levels of heat and depth of flavor.


This one is an all-rounder, you can use it for both sweet and savory.


A little goes a long way for this sweet, warm, and aromatic spice.


Cumin has a slightly nutty flavor. Toasting before adding it to a dish will enhance its flavor.

Curry powder

One of my favorites for adding a lot of flavor and heat. Another aromatic blend of spices, usually coriander, turmeric, cumin, and fenugreek.

Garlic powder

Finely ground, dehydrated garlic. Makes a great substitution for fresh garlic in a lot of recipes. This is a staple every kitchen needs.

Ground ginger

Ground ginger has a warm, spicy flavor. Great for cookies, spice rubs, and marinades. Fresh ginger has a stronger, sharper flavor but ground ginger lasts a lot longer.

Kosher salt

Kosher is probably the most versatile of all the salt kinds. It has a neutral flavor.

Dried oregano

Oregano has an herbaceous, citrusy flavor. It’s excellent in Mexican and Italian dishes.

Smoked paprika

It has a subtle wood-fired flavor. Great for a chili.

Dried rosemary

Rosemary is woodsy, peppery, and extremely aromatic.

Dried thyme

This very fragrant herb works well with vegetables.

Vanilla extract

Vanilla is a staple in any kitchen, especially if you plan on doing any baking.

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are great for soup or a stew; when left to simmer in a pot its woodsy flavor is beautifully enhanced.


Turmeric is a native spice to Southeast India and boasts a warm peppery flavor. It is a great budget-friendly substitute for saffron and is also great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.


Anise, also known as star anise, has a strong black licorice flavor. Anise can be used for both savory and sweet dishes.


This spice is nutty and warm in flavor and very common in Indian cuisine. It can be used ground or freshly grated.


Paprika is made up of dried fruits from the chili pepper family. This spice adds a little heat to any dish.

All Spice

A combination of flavors from cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, this spice is a great addition to several savory dishes.


My personal favorite. While I prefer fresh basil, it’s great to keep some dried basil on hand, especially for Italian dishes. Great for sauces.

Caraway Seeds

Caraway has a sharp aroma. It has a nutty, bittersweet flavor with hints of anise and citrus. It can be used in rye and brown bread, crackers, soups, and stews.


This seed is sweet and aromatic with citrus notes.

There are many, many more herbs and spices that you can stock in your pantry for easy vegan meal planning. These are just my basic, go-to’s that I find myself reaching for.

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Julie Nealon

Associate Editor, New York USA | Contactable via [email protected]



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