Exploring the Depth of Flavor at Specialty Spice Outlets

Exploring the Depth of Flavor at Specialty Spice Outlets
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Exploring the World of Spice Outlets

For many home cooks and professional chefs alike, the search for that perfect spice blend or special ingredient often leads them to seek out spice specialty stores and outlets. These spice havens offer a wider selection and more unique variety of herbs, spices, blends, peppers, salts and other flavor boosters than typically found at your average grocery store.

What Defines a Spice Outlet

Spice outlets focus specifically on selling spices, herbs, seasonings, aromatic extracts, and other flavoring agents used in cooking. They carry extensive selections of common spices like peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, paprika and cumin seeds as well as harder-to-find items like sumac, mustard seeds, saffron threads and curry leaf. The defining characteristic of spice outlets is the incredible breadth and depth of their spice inventory.

Navigating the Offerings

Walking into a spice store for the first time can be an overwhelming but exhilarating experience. The aromatic scents mingle in the air beckoning you to explore further. Most outlets categorize offerings by spice type - peppers, salt and peppers, herb and vegetable seasonings, spice blends, and so on. Others organize alphabetically for ease of hunting down a particular variety. Store staff are extremely knowledgeable and can offer guidance if you are seeking a specific spice or exploring potential blends for a recipe. Many stores sell spices in bulk allowing cooks to purchase smaller amounts of what they need.

Specialty and Custom Blends

In addition to the endless jars of single-type spices lining most outlets' shelves, another draw are their signature blends and mixes. These special combinations marry various spices, herbs and ingredients like nuts and dried fruits to create complex layers of flavor. Some blends lean sweet while others bring the heat through pepper mixes. Stores may have vast collections of their own homemade blends or work with customers to create fully customized blends tailored to their personal tastes.

Bringing the Spice Home

Once you've had a chance to peruse and take in the sights, scents and flavors at your local spice outlet, it's time to make those important spice decisions. With so many options on hand, have fun playing with blend compositions or try out some new-to-you varieties to liven up your cooking. Be daring and bring home a few special finds. Your tastebuds will thank you.

Specialty Spice Shops Worth Exploring

While most grocery chains have spice selections that cover basics like oregano, cinnamon and cayenne, they rarely scratch the surface of all the incredible flavor possibilities available in the wider world of spices. For an exponential increase in options and unique specialty offerings, make a visit to one of these noteworthy spice outlets a must on your cooking bucket list.

Penzeys Spices

With nearly 70 retail locations across the United States, Penzeys has earned renown as one of America's premiere spice outlets. They specialize in high quality spices for all needs - basic herbs and peppers as well as creative proprietary spice blends and custom mixing. Penzeys is especially beloved for its extensive variety of salt free blend options.

The Spice House

Founded in Milwaukee but now with outlets across multiple states, The Spice House receives constant praise for its phenomenally fresh spices, knowledge staff and array of signature blends. Must-try mixes include the Chicago Steak Seasoning, Green Goddess and Wild Mushroom & Sage blends.

Savory Spice Shop

With almost 200 locations throughout the country, Savory Spice Shops focus on locally-sourced fresh ingredients combined into unique spice and herb blends. They are especially known for their innovative salt and sugar blends as well as small-batch mixer bar experience allowing customers to develop their own personalized spice mixes.

World Spice Merchants

For those looking to truly transport their tastebuds, Seattle-based World Spice Merchants offers one of the most globally diverse selections around. From Vietnamese cinnamon to Spanish smoked paprika to Egyptian Dukkah, their offerings open up entirely new depths of flavor for adventurous cooks to explore.

Spicing Up Your Next Meal

Home cooks looking to expand their spice horizons should make their local specialty spice outlet their next cooking destination. With their incredible variety and temptation to experiment with new flavors, spice shops can reinvigorate your relationship with cooking. Seek expert guidance in selecting a few new spices or blends that inspire you then get busy infusing them into soups, roasted vegetables, marinades, chilies and more. Those feeling especially daring can try crafting their own signature spice mixes. However you choose to use them, the world of spices offers a lifetime of new tastes to uncover.


What kinds of spices and ingredients can I expect to find at a spice outlet?

Spice outlets offer extensive varieties of common spices like black pepper and cinnamon as well as harder to find seasonings like sumac, curry powders, dried peppers, vanilla beans, saffron and endless custom spice blends. They also sell related flavoring agents like extracts, flower waters and spice pastes.

Do spice shops sell spices in bulk or just pre-packaged jars?

Many spice outlets have sectioned selling spices in bulk allowing you to purchase the exact amounts needed for recipes. This helps when cooking with more expensive spices. But they also stock spices in pre-filled jars for convenience.

Can I create my own custom spice blends at specialty shops?

Absolutely! Many spice outlets offer custom blending services. Just provide guidance on the spice flavors and heat level you wish to achieve and they can create personalized blends to suit your exact tastes.

How do I know spices are fresh when purchasing?

Reputable spice shops sell extremely fresh spices and feature high product turnover because of spice volatility. Give any spice a sniff test - vibrant aroma indicates freshness while dull scents conveys older age.

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