Most pre-made spice mixes mean paying a premium for your favorite celebrity chef’s face to grace the bottle. They cost far more than if you bought and mixed the same individual spices yourself. But there are a few exceptions to the rule.
We’ve all been tempted by them; the pre-made BBQ rubs, the all-purpose celebrity-endorsed chicken toppings, and the ever-popular taco seasoning. They’re all readily available in your local market’s spice aisle, but pre-made spice mixes can be marked up by upwards of 97 percent. That does a lot to explain the number of celebrity chefs and social media influencers who come out with a new spice mix each year!
Still, not all pre-mixed spices are a rip-off. With some well-known mixes, it’s easier and more economical to buy them pre-made than to try and replicate them yourself. These spice mixes typically contain hard to find ingredients and are readily available under a white-label or store brand. And which mixes are those? We’re glad you asked. Here are a few we had in mind:
Curry Powders: Yes, you can make your own unique and signature curry powder blend. But the ingredients you have to source can be tricky to find individually wrapped in U.S. markets, and there are a lot of them. Pre-mixed curry powder is often inexpensive and available as a store-brand. So, unless you enjoy doing it, you’re better off buying it pre-made.
McCormick Curry Powder, 1 lb
At less than a dollar an ounce, it's tough to go wrong with a 1 pound container.
Old Bay Seasoning: Old Bay is a classic choice for seafood dishes and fried foods, especially in the New England area. It has a lot going on in terms of flavor and ingredients, and they’re not just giving the recipe away. When a recipe calls for it, it’s best to use it specifically, rather than attempting to replicate it at home.
OLD BAY Seasoning, 24 oz - One 24 Ounce Container of Old Bay All-Purpose Seasoning with Unique Blend of 18 Spices and Herbs for Seafood, Poultry, Salads, and Meat
There's no substitute for Old Bay.
Chili Powders: Sure, you can make chili powder, but it’s typically easier to buy this one pre-blended. Unless you have easy access to dried ancho chilies and Mexican oregano, stick to whichever store-brand you prefer.
Spice Appeal New Mexican Chili Ground, 16 Ounce
From stews to chili, an Anaheim chili powder is great for all kinds of dishes.
Not all spice mixes are created equal. With some, you’re paying for the portrait on the package. Others, like the ones above, can save you a substantial amount of time and effort when it comes to sourcing and measuring ingredients.
The real trick with ground spices of any kind, though, is to use them before they lose their pungency. So whether you pay the premium for ready-made or create your own economical blends, cooking often with your favorite stocked spices is one thing we can all agree on.