10 Must-Have Spices for Seriously Awesome Grilled Flavor
Whether you’re working with top sirloin steak or slices of creamy eggplant, you want to bring the best flavor, visual appeal and healthy mindset to your grilled creations. Fire and smoke can only do so much, but a little bit of spice goes a long way.
So what kind of spice should you use when you’re grilling? There are endless options to choose from — you’ll want to pick something that comes to life on an open flame. To make your choice a little easier, Simply Organic rounded up our top 10 grilling spices to help you wow your guests (and yourself!) at your next BBQ.
Why use dried spices for grilling?
Dried spices, herbs and seasoning blends bring concentrated flavor to fresh grilling items. Because they’re dried, the flavor-carrying fats and juices in meats and veggies render into the spices, releasing complex flavors and aromas in the direct heat and smoke of the grill.
(In other words: fat + smoke + dried spice = awesome.)
Dried spices also work well in seasoning rubs, brines, marinades and sauces, giving you room to experiment. Mix and match these basic, but essential grilling spices to discover new ways to shake up your BBQ game:
Simply Organic Simply Organic Black Pepper, Medium Grind 2.31 oz. SKU: 18523$7.89
Simply Organic Simply Organic Onion Powder 3.00 oz. SKU: 18608$6.79
Simply Organic Simply Organic Cumin Seed, Ground 2.31 oz. SKU: 18514$6.79
Simply Organic Simply Organic Garlic Powder 3.64 oz. SKU: 18516$8.99
Simply Organic Simply Organic Smoked Paprika 2.72 oz. SKU: 19517$8.99
Simply Organic Simply Organic Oregano 0.75 oz. SKU: 18521$5.89
Simply Organic Simply Organic Crushed Red Pepper 1.59 oz. SKU: 18603$5.89
Simply Organic Simply Organic Rosemary Leaf, Whole 1.23 oz. SKU: 18610$5.39
Simply Organic Simply Organic Turmeric Root, Ground 2.38 oz. SKU: 18525$5.89
Simply Organic Simply Organic Thyme Leaf 0.78 oz. SKU: 18613$5.89
1. Black Pepper
The resinous flavor and piercing heat of black pepper make it THE essential spice to pair with the smoky and charred flavors that only come with grilling. Use high quality pre-ground pepper for convenience or pulverize whole peppercorns for a crack of fresh flavor. Respect your steak — without black pepper it’s just a piece of meat!
Sweet onion is the perfect spice pairing for grilled everything. It lends a deep flavor and satisfying sweetness when its sugars caramelize in the juices and heat of the grill. Use powdered onion, granulized onion or flaked onion on all grilled proteins, meats and veggies.
3. Ground Cumin
Think of cumin seed as a heat-free version of black pepper. Earthy and super savory, cumin brings a gravy-like, almost meaty richness that mingles spectacularly with the smoky, charred flavors of grilling.
4. Garlic Powder
Garlic enhances meats and proteins wonderfully. It also makes veggies more intense and tasty. When grilling with garlic, reconstitute dried garlic powder in your basting liquid and brush onto your food. Pro tip: repeat this step before, during and after grilling.
5. Smoked Paprika
A sweet pepper with a warm, but not-too-hot spiciness. Use smoked paprika to season quick-grilling items that don’t have a lot of time to pick up flavor from the flames. This includes shellfish, delicate fish, chicken strips and skirt steaks, as well as tender veggies like asparagus, whole scallions and summer squash.
Filled with savory, peppery volatile oils, oregano cuts through the richness of grilled meats and proteins while infusing grilled vegetables with complex flavor and depth. Its flavor is unrivaled when paired with roasted and charred tomatoes, ripe bell peppers and eggplant.
7. Crushed Red Pepper
Adding texture and fruity heat, chili flakes are a must for pre-grilling brines, marinades and finishing sauces. Try basting skewers of beef, chicken, shrimp and broccoli with a marinade of oil, garlic and chili flakes.
The savory-herbal notes of rosemary penetrate thick-cut grilled meats, adding deep, herbaceous flavors that’ll leave you drooling for more. Use whole rosemary leaves in grilling brines and marinades and apply to classic steaks, lamb kebabs or Mediterranean-inspired chicken.
Can you grill with turmeric? You betcha! Its earthy, spicy nuances make for an excellent choice to bust out at the grill — and a colorful one to boot. Pair powdered turmeric with cumin, garlic and chili flakes in marinades. Or create a buttery sauce for crispy skinned grilled chicken, shrimp or cauliflower steaks.
A classic seasoning — and for good reason: thyme combines bold, savory flavor with delicate, almost flowery nuances. Enchantingly aromatic, thyme works well as a grilling season for substantial cuts of beef and whole spatchcocked poultry. Thyme’s delicate flavor also enhances flash-fired, quick-cooking shrimp, fish and lamb chops.
Adding spices to your grilling routine not only lets you perfect your method — it gives you an opportunity to become a backyard chef. Want to get started? Keep these 10 spices on hand and you’ll never run out of new combinations to try. Fire up that grill!
Our Favorite Grilling Recipes
Homemade Montreal-Style Seasoning
Homemade Burger & Steak Seasoning
Homemade Chicken Seasoning
Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Balsamic Blackberry Glazed Grilled Pork Chops
Grilled Fajita Chicken Skewers
Teriyaki Tofu Sliders with Grilled Pineapple and Sriracha Aioli
Garlic Bourbon BBQ-Marinated Grilled Chicken
Ginger Miso Glazed Grilled Salmon