8 Smart Ways to Use Store-Bought Spice Blends

8 Smart Ways to Use Store-Bought Spice Blends

It's time to embrace pre-mixed seasoning blends. Here's how.

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Rows of spice jars in store
Photo: Carsten Koall (Getty Images)

Say it with me: There’s no shame in using a store-bought spice blend. In fact, the only shameful thing is being too snobby to embrace pre-made blends. Spice blends catapult any savory meal to the flavor fast track, deepening and rounding out pretty much any dish. Sure, you can make your own blends—but when you’re in a hurry, these pre-made blends are a lifesaver. Take, for example, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, my pseudo-Greek fave. Or The Spice House’s new-ish Black Garlic Ramen Pepper, which is great on all things cruciferous. Both are genuine godsends when you’ve got 15 minutes to whip up a meal.

Not sure what to do with store-bought blends? We’ve got a few ideas.

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Give your roasts some attitude

Give your roasts some attitude

Spice blends were made for roasting, whether you’re working with meat, tofu, or veggies. If you’re going for veggies, just toss them in some olive oil and give ’em a generous sprinkle of seasoning before roasting. If you’re working with steak or chicken, go ahead and rub all sides of the meat and let it rest for a bit. And if you’re feeling positively adventurous, you could always mix the blend with cornstarch, use the mixture to coat some tofu, and pan-fry those suckers right up.

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Make zestier taters

Make zestier taters

Mashed potatoes
Photo: Johannes Ziegler Photo (Shutterstock)

Mashed potatoes are delicious. Seasoned mashed potatoes are a god-tier side dish. Go ahead, dump your spice blend of choice into the finished taters and give ’em a stir. The same goes for other potato dishes, too, including hash browns and fries. You get some flavor! And you get some flavor!

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Go HAM on your eggs

Go HAM on your eggs

Eggs on toast
Photo: Pokdang (Shutterstock)

This is my personal favorite way to use my favorite seasoning blends. Whether you’re basting, frying, or scrambling your eggs, top the finished product with a store-bought blend for a zesty kick. Just don’t add the seasoning until the eggs are finished cooking—you don’t want to scorch that sweet, sweet flavor confetti.

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Spice up your salad greens

Spice up your salad greens

Seasoned Greek salad
Photo: Jacek Chabraszewski (Shutterstock)

A little Mrs. Dash can turn a salad from meh to mesmerizing. Don’t be afraid to get freaky here—try a little powdered ranch or even taco seasoning if you’re feeling wild. And if you don’t already salt and pepper your salad greens, come back when you’re ready to run with the big dogs.

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Make your popcorn extra savory

Make your popcorn extra savory

seasoned popcorn
Photo: Ezume Images (Shutterstock)

Salt is old news, baby! Throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave and dust the finished product with a seasoning blend. This is another area where powdered ranch can really shine, but there are all sorts of other possibilities, too. Since most savory seasonings contain a not insignificant amount of salt, you won’t even have to reach for two different shakers as you prep the perfect bowl.

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Make compound butter

Make compound butter

compound butter
Photo: Anton Zolotukhin (Shutterstock)

Compound butters are insanely easy to make: just mix anything with a lot of flavor into softened unsalted butter. (Ever seen that beautiful herby butter atop your ribeye at a fancy steakhouse? That’s compound butter, and anyone can prep it at home.) Simply add one teaspoon of seasoning to one stick (or eight tablespoons) of butter, blend, and adjust the flavors as you see fit .

The possibilities are truly endless here, but a great place to start is with something intensely flavorful like masala curry or a BBQ spice rub. You can use these butters on baked goods, or on meat, poultry, fish, and veggies. They last in the fridge for up to a week, or can be frozen for several months.

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Smoke some cream cheese

Smoke some cream cheese

Smoked cream cheese
Photo: Dennis Lee

Smoked cream cheese is the next big trend for those with outdoor smoker setups. It’s so easy it almost sounds like a joke: Take an 8-oz. block of cream cheese, cover the outside in a seasoning blend (Everything But the Bagel seasoning and McCormick barbecue spice rub work great), then nestle them in aluminum foil on the smoker at 225 degrees for two to three hours. It’s going to come out looking strange, cracked, and dry—but once you give it a taste on a Ritz cracker, you’ll see what the fuss is about.

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Hack your ice cream—if you dare

Hack your ice cream—if you dare

salted ice cream
Photo: Anastasia Alexander (Shutterstock)

Jeni’s Everything Bagel ice cream made a huge splash last year, and it’s currently back in the Jeni’s lineup. But if you don’t want to trek out to a scoop shop, nothing’s stopping you from throwing a bit of Everything Bagel seasoning into your vanilla ice cream. It’s 2022! Go nuts!

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