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When it comes to seasoning, most of us reach straight for the salt and pepper, but there are so many other possibilities at our fingertips for perfectly seasoned meat.

Knowing how to use spices can greatly enhance and even change the flavour of all your meat dishes.  When adding herbs and spices, it is best to leave out the salt until the meat has been permeated with flavour.  Adding salt too early will seal up the pores of the meat and prevent the flavour of the herbs and spices to fully flavour it.

We’ve compiled a list of our favourite spices that go perfectly with different meats:


Beef is a hearty, red meat that marries well with equally rich flavourings.

The following flavours compliment beef:

  • Bay leaves
  • Garlic
  • Pepper
Rib-Eye Steak - Rib Eye - Beef


Pork is classified as a red meat as it is derived from livestock but has a mild flavour and is lighter in colour when cooked.

The following flavours compliment pork:

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Sage
  • Oregano
Breaded Pork Cutlets - Pork


Chicken has a more delicate flavour than the other meats mentioned here, less distinctive but just as delicious.

The following flavours compliment chicken:

  • Ginger
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
Chicken Cutlets

Basic tips

Use good spices. Spice experts, and many home cooks, will tell you that you get the best flavor by grinding whole spices yourself. But I’m a realist, and I realize you’re probably like me and have a bunch of ground spices in jars. If you have the whole ones, great. (Toast them in a dry skillet first over low heat for extra flavor.) If you don’t have whole spices, don’t worry. As long as your jars are not too old (a year is a good cutoff) and still smell strong — the volatile oils in spices gradually dissipate over time, especially once ground — you’re fine. Plus, a blend means even if one spice is slightly waning in flavor, it can be propped up by the others.

Pick a point of emphasis. The first thing you want to ask yourself is what you want the blend to taste like. What do you want the primary flavor to be? Spicy? Smoky? That can help you direct you to one initial spice that you can build the rest of your blend around. Or pick a particular type of cuisine that might drive your choice of spices, whether it’s an Indian masala or American barbecue.

Mix your flavors. Bernard likes to break the flavor options into a few main categories: sweet, spicy, salty and bitter. Try to hit on at least a few of those groups to achieve balance. Bernard does have some words of warning, though. “Don’t make it too spicy because the last thing you want to do is numb your mouth,” she says. Other spices can quickly overwhelm, including ginger and garlic. Salt can also wash everything else out. Bernard cautions to be especially careful with smoked salt. She prefers to keep blends in a savory direction, so don’t get carried away with sugar, either. Add just enough to round out the flavor.

Remember, when it comes to seasoning the key is to taste, add spices, taste again, and do it until your taste buds are completely satisfied.

What are your favourites?

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