Cooking with vegan spices is easy if you know-how. Home cooks and chefs all need to have a reliable vegan spice cabinet. That’s because proper seasoning can turn any dish from ho-hum to a culinary masterpiece.
Here, we’ll talk about common vegan seasonings that we think you should already have for their versatility and taste. If you don’t have the vegan spice yet, read a bit about them to find out what you can use them for!
When you like what you see, check out the vegan spice section here at PlantX.
A Little Bit Of Spice-y History
What are vegan spices? Spices are described as the seed, fruit, root, bark, or any other plant product that can be used to color or flavor food. While spices and herbs are almost always used together, they are actually quite different. That’s why our spice list won’t mention herbs like rosemary, thyme, or basil - though they are great culinary ingredients to have!
The earliest trade of spice was in 2000 BC in the Indian subcontinent. That actually reflects the current spice trade we have considering India produces about 75% of spices in the world. Speaking of the spice trade, you can buy your vegan spices in different variations. You can get them fresh or, most commonly, dried. Dried spices can either be whole or pre-ground so you won’t have to.
Vegan spices mixtures are also very popular in everyday kitchens. In fact, you’ll find a couple of them on this list! The convenience of a spice mixture is that you won’t have to measure out different seasonings to get the right taste. They have all been pre-measured for you.
Yes, we know salt is way too common. You probably already have some at home already, too! But are you using the right one? Here, we want to talk about the importance of salt grains.
There are four kinds of everyday, common salt. You have kosher, table, coarse, and sea salt. The most widely used has to be table salt. Table salt, you may have noticed, has a finer grain. The looser, finer grains are what make over-salting way too easy - and you don’t want that!
There's no harm in using table salt, but some cooks prefer a little more control! That’s why you can get kosher, coarse, and sea salt. The three are considered to be flaky salt with different levels of coarseness - which allows chefs and cooks alike to pinch just how much they need and sprinkle it onto dishes more evenly.
Salt isn’t just for vegan seasoning! This vegan spice can be used for brining, curing, and even pickling. With a little research, you can quickly find out which salt best matches your cooking style.
2. Peppercorns or Black Pepper
If we started the list with salt, you bet we’re following it up with a certain vegan spice called pepper. Pepper has a characteristically spicy and warm taste. You read that right. For some folks, pepper is already spicy! That’s nothing to be ashamed of, though.
Freshly ground black pepper on soups and pasta is great. If you can’t be bothered with freshly ground pepper every time, pre-ground and packaged pepper work just as fine.
This vegan seasoning adds a distinct flavor to a wide variety of dishes. Pepper is often used to make rubs as it adds a delicious smoky flavor. It can also be found in spice blends and salad dressings. Labelled as the king of spice, you’re definitely missing out if you don’t have pepper!
3. Garlic Powder
Believe it or not, there are some people who don’t like the taste of garlic. Imagine tomato sauce without that garlicky flavor or a stew without a few cloves of it? It just won’t be the same! But, if you really don't like garlic, maybe this vegan spice is the answer.
Garlic powder allows you to add juuuuuust enough garlic taste without the strong (pungent) flavor and smell that fresh garlic might bring. Add as little or as much as you like.
Garlic powder is also handy for when you don’t have time to chop up some fresh ones or don’t have a bulb at home. Convenience!
4. Vegan Taco Seasoning
The first essential vegan spice blend on the list! Taco Seasoning makes great-tasting vegan tacos (of course!). You can also just use taco seasoning to level up the taste of vegetable dishes.
Pasta, casseroles, salads… taco seasoning is an all-in-one vegan seasoning blend. You can even use the seasoning to make a hearty vegan chilli or soup!
Spicy, savory, and a little bit sweet, taco seasoning is a versatile spice mix that is a packet of instant flavor!
Made from ground-up dried peppers, this vegan seasoning can range from sweet, mild, to spicy. Because this vegan spice uses dried peppers, paprika is known to have a smoky taste. Paprika’s red color is also one of its best features, giving food a light blush when added to it. Think Spanish paella - a perfect example of food seasoned with paprika. It's got the smoky and savory taste and the color, too!
Smoked paprika is great on roasted potatoes or grilled veggies. When deep-frying, add some paprika to your breading or seasoning mix. Stews, marinades, and other sauces could also benefit from a seasoning of paprika.
6. Chili Powder or Flakes
While the two are different, we felt right to categorize them into one section of the list. Chili powder and chili flakes are essential in every vegan spice-loving kitchen. As you can tell, both bring the heat! A dusting of chili powder can add heat to stews, sauces, and veg.
Chili flakes are great for finishing dishes. After your stir-fry, sprinkle some on top. The same goes for pasta or noodles! Chili flakes are also used to make chili oil - a really good condiment for spice lovers!
Bread and loaves could always use some cinnamon. While we’re at the baked goods section, cinnamon can go in pies, cobblers, and cookies. This makes cinnamon a must-have vegan seasoning for every home baker.
Aside from that, cinnamon can also add some sweet and subtle smoky flavor to breakfast foods like cereal and oats. See? Seasoning isn’t limited to savory dishes! Also, a dash of cinnamon on some hot cocoa or coffee? Delish!
8. Curry Powder
While it may not seem like it for a lot of folks, curry powder is actually a blend of vegan spices. Usually, curry powder consists of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder. Because of this, curry powder may have a bitter taste to it. Other ingredients like garlic powder, fennel, clove, black pepper, and other spices could make their way to this spice mix, but that varies depending on who makes the vegan seasoning.
Obviously, curry powder is essential to making curry! Warm and savory, curry is a fantastic meal that beginners and pro cooks alike can make delicious at home. For a different curry treat, try sprinkling some curry powder on popcorn.
Ginger spice (the actual vegan spice, not the member of the Spice Girls) can be used to season veggies and even make tea! Right now, we’re going to focus on other things you can use ginger for outside of just seasoning food. We think that ginger deserves more love!
Making treats? Gingerbread cookies, cakes, and bars are baked treats that feature ginger as the star of the show. How about a helpful drink? Have you tried mixing honey, lemon, and ginger? It’s a great remedy for upset tummies.
10. Nutritional Yeast
Whilst not particularly a spice, we just had to include this little number. Either way, this wonderful vegan spice is used to make cheesy snacks vegan. What do we mean? Nutritional yeast has a cheesy and nutty taste. It also has some creaminess to it as well. That’s why when brands make vegan cheesy chips, the cheese is actually nutritional yeast!
So, yes, you can add a sprinkle of this vegan seasoning to pasta, sauces, and dips. Nutritional yeast makes a delicious popcorn flavor, too! In case you haven't noticed from this list, we loooooove popcorn here.
11. Onion Powder
Soups, stews, casseroles… almost any savory dish can benefit from this vegan seasoning. When making a batter for your deep-fried foods, consider adding some onion powder to give it a little bit of punch. Casseroles and vegetables? Add some onion powder. Day-old take-out tasting a little bland? Add some onion powder. Leftover pizza not really hitting the spot? Add some, you guessed it, onion powder.
While there are no substituting delicious, freshly-chopped onions, this vegan spice can come in clutch. If you want to make a sauce or dip with a smooth consistency, diced onions may ruin the desired texture. Onion powder, however, won’t!
Your 11 Essential Vegan Seasonings
There you have it! 11 vegan spices that are an absolute must-have for any vegan kitchen. You have your sweet, spicy, bitter… you’ve got your basics covered. With a little mixing and blending of vegan spices, you can even get to more complex flavors like umami!