The Spice is Right: List of Common Spices

In our experience, consistently positive guest reviews are the best way to increase vacation rental bookings and command higher nightly rents. One sure-fire way to elicit 5-star ratings time and again is to really nail a few small details, like stocking a full list of common spices in the kitchen.

Whether you stock this or that spice may seem trivial, but the fact is that some percentage of your short term rental guests are avoiding hotels for the express purpose of being able to cook at home. Delighting these vacation rental guests with an awesome line up of common spices and herbs will absolutely pay off with higher ratings and reviews. Fortunately, the most common spices are available in matched sets online and can be purchased at only modest cost.

In this spicy post tailored for American short term rental kitchens, we break down a full list of common spices (and herbs) you’ll want to stock as a minimum baseline. We also explore additional options if you want to offer a more premium selection of up the top 50 spices. You’ll learn how often you should replace certain spices for freshness and what quantities to buy based on shelf life and frequency of use. Finally, we make clear recommendations on where to buy online at the best prices.

List of Common Spices in American Cuisine

While any two chefs may never agree on which spices are most commonly used across the United States, there is a rough consensus around the following list of the top 15 spices and herbs:

  • Black pepper
  • Allspice
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic powder
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Chili powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cayenne
  • Vanilla
  • Bay Leaves
  • Paprika

This would be a solid basic line up of spices and herbs to stock in your vacation rental kitchen, but alas no one seems to offer precisely this list as a matched set of spices. You can get fairly close with this Simply Organic Starter Set from Amazon, but you’d still need to add the black pepper, rosemary, allspice, bay leaves, vanilla, and paprika separately.

If you’re expecting higher short term rental occupancy and lots of use in the kitchen, you may want to start with this larger Simply Organic Set with 24 spices and herbs total instead. This will cover everything from our list of most common spices, except for the black pepper, allspice, and vanilla, which you’ll want to pick up separately. It also includes the red pepper flakes mentioned below.

Common Next Level Spices to Stock

Once you have the basic spices and herbs covered, you may want to take things up a notch and provide a few more options to satisfy your more ambitious guests. Here’s the list of next level spices we recommend adding to your short term rental kitchen:

Very few guests will fault your selection of spices if it includes everything on both of these lists! Note that some of these link to 3-packs on Amazon because they are much cheaper per ounce than purchasing the single jar.

Do Spices & Herbs Expire?

The question of how much of each spice (and herb) to buy and when is a bit tricky. You’ll often save quite a bit of money by buying in bulk, but then you’ll run the risk of having to throw some out when they inevitably lose their flavor over time. Here are some quick guidelines on how long you can keep the same jars in the rotation:

  • Whole spices: 4 years
  • Ground spices: 2 years
  • Dried herbs: 1-2 years

You’ll eventually get a feel for which spices and herbs are being used more heavily than others. You can then explore replacing the most popular ones by buying in bulk and simply refilling your existing jars.

Where to Buy Bulk Spices Online

If you have a local spice shop in your area, it’s probably your best option for buying fresh spices in bulk. It may be a bit more expensive than online, but the sensory experience of shopping for spices and herbs in person is hard to beat. If not, there are quite a few options for buying bulk spices online. Most sellers ship fairly quickly in vacuum sealed bags that keep everything fresh in transit.

Here are our favorite direct to consumer bulk spice sellers:

  • Savory Spice Shop – Stocks 500+ spices and herbs at various quantities with nearly all available pre-packaged in jars or bulk bags. Order $45+ for free shipping.
  • Spices for Less – Stocks full range of spices, herbs, exotic salts, and dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Monthly specials for 10% off. Order $25+ for free shipping.
  • Starwest Botanicals – Stocks large selection of spices, herbs, teas, oils, and body care products. Many also available certified organic. Order $75+ for free shipping.

Save Money with Bulk DIY Spices

If you’re intent on stocking your kitchen with flavorful spices and herbs at minimal cost, you can go the full DIY route. It takes a bit more time and effort up front, but you’ll save plenty of money over the long run.

First, purchase a DIY kit of empty jars and labels to get started. Then fill them with spices and herbs purchased in bulk bags from one of the online shops mentioned above.

Once everything arrives, set up shop in your kitchen and use the included funnel to get everything jarred. Be sure to rinse the funnel each time you switch spices or herbs to avoid cross contamination. Then seal up the bags and keep the excesses in reserve for future refills!

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