All the rich, earthy aromas of Spain come together in this Spanish seasoning blend of herbs and spices that’s perfect for giving meats, fish and rice that robust, punchy Mediterranean style.
What do you think of when you think about Spain and Spanish food? For me it has to do with the baking sun on parched earth in summer, the scent of hardy Mediterranean herbs and an earthy spice palette that reminds you that the history of Iberia has one foot in North Africa.
- Paella seasoning, for perfect Valencian rice
- Use this Spanish seasoning in Spanish chicken and rice
- Greek seasoning lends a taste of the Eastern Mediterranean
This grab and go seasoning mix is one that I like to make up when I’m in the mood for sunshine meals. It’s easy to make and keeps for ages in the back of a dark cupboard or drawer, avoiding the need to fiddle with lots of spices every time you cook.
The flavour has that earthy, dry, even slightly bitter note characteristic of Spain, with a faint touch of chili. This Spanish spice blend is perfect with chicken or with rice dishes but you can add it to fish or pork too. The traditional combination of bittersweet saffron and earthy turmeric lends all your dishes a rich golden hue.
With a touch of cumin and coriander, this Spanish seasoning is not so far removed from North African spice blends, earthy, aromatic and delicious.
Why make Spanish seasoning?
- It is fuss free – just mix and store in a jar.
- Convenient – no more searching through the spice drawer every time you cook.
- Adjust to taste – add a touch more or less of ingredients to suit your taste
- Cheaper than buying a ready-made blend.
Turmeric – poor man’s saffron
A little saffron goes a long way but it is extremely expensive. In Spanish cooking, turmeric is often combined with the much cheaper turmeric, but this shouldn’t be considered cheating!
Turmeric is seen as enhancing the saffron flavour and it brings an earthy bitterness of its own. Together, they give you the golden yellow of paella and the rich or umber and burnt sienna shades of those fabulous Spanish stews.
Spanish seasoning ingredients
- Saffron – The tiny red stigma of the saffron crocus are expensive to produce and therefore usually sold in small quantities. Fortunately, you only ever need a little.
I use powdered saffron. If your saffron comes in strands, you will need to crush or crumble it.
- Turmeric – For extra colour and a slight, balancing bitterness. It’s also extremely good for you!
- Chilli flake (red pepper flake) – crushed, dried flesh of mild chillis (and none of the seeds). It has a lot of flavour but is not hot. Find it in a Middle Eastern grocery if the supermarket doesn’t have it.
- Garlic powder – rich and aromatic – I generally prefer a coarser powder rather than a fine ground one.
- Smoked paprika – rich, sweet and smoky
- Dried oregano – aromatic and delicious
- Cayenne pepper – hot hot hot, so a little goes a long way
- Ground black pepper – a little heat
- Dried thyme – fragrant and heady
- Ground cumin – bittersweet and warming
- Ground coriander – peppery and pungent
How to make easy Spanish seasoning – step by step
Before you start, read my step-by-step instructions, with photos, hints and tips so you can make this Spanish spice mix perfectly every time.
Scroll down for the recipe card with quantities and more tips at the bottom of the page.
Step One – Gather all your ingredients. Choose a storage jar that hold all the seasoning.
If you don’t have powdered saffron, crush the saffron threads gently using a pestle in a mortar or large bowl. This helps to release the flavor and colour of the saffron and will allow it to mix fully with the other ingredients. Alternatively, you can crumble the saffron with your fingers.
Now simply add all the other ingredients.
Step Two – Give everything a good mix with a spoon or whisk, making sure all the ingredients are well distributed.
Helen’s Pro Tip
It’s far better to mix in a bowl, rather than putting everything in a jar and shaking. This can take ages and if the jar is nearly full, your spices may not be well combined.
Step Three – Transfer your Spanish herbs and spices to a clean, dry jar. Use a jam funnel if you have one, as this avoids spills.
Seal the jar tightly and store in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, the blend can last for several months, although for the best flavour, use it within 2–3 months.
How to use
Add a pinch of your Spanish seasoning to rice dishes and stews for a robust, earthy flavour.
For a delicious marinade, mix a tablespoon or two with olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and apply to meat, seafood, or vegetables before grilling or roasting.
Helen’s Pro Tip
Give your seasoning mix a good shake before using, as the contents can settle.
You can vary the balance of the spices to taste and make your Spanish spices your way, adding a little more less according to what you like. Traditional Spanish cuisine is not chilli hot, but you can use a little more cayenne if you are a chilli fiend.
Store your Spanish seasoning in a cool dark cupboard.
Your ‘best before’ date is the shortest date out of all the herbs and spices you used, though I find you get the best flavour by using it within a couple of months.
Your seasoning will not go bad, however. The flavours fade a little with time, so if you have kept it longer, you may just need to add a little more when you cook.
Buying and storing spices
Spices are at their best when freshly ground and they should be stored somewhere cool, dark and dry.
I find small jars from the supermarket rather pricey and large bags go stale before I can use them, so modest sized packets from the corner shop or ‘world foods’ aisle of the supermarket work best.
Resealable bags are not reliable so use a strong clip around the neck.
I separate my bags into savoury spices, herbs and sweet spices, to avoid them becoming tainted.
I use 1 to 2 tablespoons for a rice dish. With stews, start gently, as you can add more as you go.
This Spanish style seasoning is just spices and some dried herbs. There are no artificial colourings such as you might find in some commercial versions. It’s suitable for vegans and as long as you check your spice brand, gluten free too.
Dry herb and spice blends like this should not go off if correctly stored, and can last for years. The flavours will fade over time, so if you keep it for more than a few months, you may need to start adding more to your dishes.
More Spanish style recipes
Slow cooker Spanish pork – a robust, full flavoured dish.
Chicken chorizo pasta – punchy and satisfying
Easy gazpacho – just what you need when the temperature is rising
Rosca de Reyes – show off your Spanish style with this traditional Epiphany cake
- ¼ tsp saffron
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (double it if want a lot of heat)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder or fine granules
- 2 tsp chilli flake (see notes on ingredients)
- If the saffron is not powdered, crush it gently with a pestle and mortar or with your fingers. Place in a mixing bowl with plenty of space.¼ tsp saffron
- Add all the remaining ingredients to the saffron. Mix thoroughly.1 tbsp turmeric, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground black pepper, ½ tsp garlic powder or fine granules, 2 tsp chilli flake
- Transfer your Spanish spice mix to a clean, dry storage jar. You can use a funnel to do this to avoid any mess. Fasten the lid tightly and keep in a cool, dark place.