While trying to go green, spend less, save more, and know/control what’s going into my food, I decided that I’m not too cool with all the “stuff” in the spice blends I buy that are unnecessary additives. I also decided to try my hand at making homemade spice blends. 

This had nothing to do with all the super cute choices for spice jars on the market now… Okay truth, it had just a little bit to do with that too (rolling eyes).

I mean really which looks better, the 1st one or the 2nd one?  I LOVE the 2nd (and not just because it is actually a better snap) and THIS is what I am striving for.  More on that in another post.

In my defense, I’ve also started making homemade condiments & sauces. It’s rare these days to find a store bought sauce or condiment in our home – it’s either a huge party & I don’t to make that much or something was on a huge sale.

The great thing about making your own spices is that you can adjust the flavors to your taste AND leave out the additives.

The Cajun Blend is the first one that I experimented with because my hubby is from Louisiana and it seems that he used Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning on EVERYthing.  And OMG, if we ran out by chance he would up the ante with straight cayenne pepper.  WHOA!  So I started playing with the spices we had on hand to try and duplicate the flavor.  

The result…. mostly homemade bought spice blends for me from now on.

Let me tell you up front that I don’t really measure these accurately. I start out with good intentions and then I end up just adding more of the spices that my family and I enjoy until it tastes like I want it to. That said, the measurements below are my best guess at approximately how much I use to fill the containers you see here.

Spice blends
New spice cabinet

Cajun Blend

  • 2 tablespoons salt (I use kosher, but it really doesn’t matter what kind)
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder and/or onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (optional for a hint of smoky flavor)

COMBINE all ingredients in a resealable container and shake it up to combine.

(The last time I made this, I used less salt and more of everything else.)
**Note: You could also add dried herbs (basil, sage, oregano, thyme) or use about 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning; it has all of these ingredients as well.

Dry Smokey Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper

COMBINE all ingredients in a resealable container and shake it up to combine.

Harissa Seasoning

Make double the amount of the dry smokey seasoning above, then add a few extra ingredients to make this harissa seasoning.

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon mint (I use less because my family doesn’t like the flavor as much)
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper

Jerk Seasoning

  • 1/4 cup dried chives
  • 1/4 cup thyme
  • 1/4 cup ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper OR crushed red pepper (OR both)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • allspice & cloves – see note below

Add about 3/4 cup oil to the mixture when you’re to marinate the meat (or veggies). I also add some fresh minced onion; it’s not absolutely necessary but it IS delish.

**Note that most jerk seasonings include allspice and I think some also include cloves. I can’t stand the smell or the taste of either, so I usually leave it out. Some folks also add a little brown sugar; I’ve tried it that way and it’s pretty good – remember that Jerk is supposed to be a spicy flavor with a sweet something going on in the background. If you like it less sweet, leave the brown sugar out; if you like more sweet, add more brown sugar. Again, just adjust it to your taste.

Nik’s Mexican Blend

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 cup cumin
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper OR crushed red pepper (OR both)
  • 1 tablespoon dried cilantro

COMBINE everything in a resealable container and shake it up to combine. I like mine less salty and more “spicy” – meaning I like to taste the actual spices not just salt.

Italian Seasoning

  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Although this recipe calls for grinding the spices, I just mix them all in my container as is – no grinding. Then when I get ready to use it I “crush” it in the palm of my hand to “release” the flavors and oils.

Lemon Pepper

This honestly is probably the easiest of all with literally just 3 ingredients.

  • 2 tablespoons citric acid
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper

COMBINE everything in a resealable container and shake it up to combine. Taste & adjust the flavors as needed.

We mainly only use this for grilled lemon pepper wings so I make it very strong since a lot of the flavor cooks off on the grill. I’ve found that for anything else, I have to dial back the citric acid quite a lot.

Why make homemade spice blends?

Of course you could just buy all of these seasonings but I love being able to customize the flavors to what my family & I love. Another great benefit in making homemade spice blends is being able control the ingredients especially if you have dietary restrictions.

For example, I use salt in most of these recipes because it means I don’t have to add salt otherwise. You can easily leave out the salt in any of these or use less as needed.

The bottom line is to know exactly what you’re eating. You could always test any of these out by mixing only what you need for 1 meal. Once you get to the flavor profile you love, make a full batch. Click here for a few tips on the best place(s) to buy authentic spices at great prices or watch below.

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