How many times have you opened your cupboard to be greeted with a disappointing lack of seasonings? Or bitten into morsel of lunch with all the wrong flavor pairings? A few simple spices can take your flavor game from zero to a hundred when used effectively. While whole spices keep their flavor longer (and can be roasted to enhance your dishes even more), ground spices tend to be more readily available and also quicker to incorporate into easy meals. This list provides an overview of 10 basic spices to keep in your pantry at all times, with tips on how to use them to maximize the flavor of any meal you make.

1. Cayenne Pepper

Rebecca Salter

Cayenne pepper is a ground spice made from dried red chili peppers that adds a dash of heat to any dish. It's able to lift a dish without overpowering the palate and will satisfy even the most spice-sensitive diners. Cayenne pepper is a luxurious topping for your avocado toast, and also works well in soups, like in this comforting autumn squash soup recipe. Surprisingly, cayenne also tastes good in hot chocolate.

2. Ginger

Rebecca Salter

Made from ground, dehydrated ginger, this spice is fine-textured and versatile, pairing well with both sweet and savory ingredients. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is frequently used in cold-curing dishes, such as this egg-drop soup. Also commonly used in stir-fries, ginger works well with umami flavors, such as soy sauce and miso. This miso and ginger chicken recipe shows how one of the most popular spices can work as a delicious marinade, especially in Asian and Indian-inspired recipes.

3. Turmeric

Rebecca Salter

Distinguished by its vibrant yellow hue, turmeric is a pungent, bitter, and easily-detectable spice. Also known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, the spice has been heralded as a natural aid for arthritis. Turmeric has a long history of culinary usage, being native to the Indian subcontinent, yet it's also become trendy as a result of a boom in turmeric-based lattes, and so-called 'golden milk.' Yet, while turmeric can be used in the place of ginger, especially in soups, did you know it also works wonders in an autumn-inspired pancake dish?

4. Paprika

Rebecca Salter

Paprika is frequently available in supermarkets in its basic or smoked form—the latter providing a more flavorful spiciness while the former predominantly adds color. Paprika is noted for its bright red hue, and it tends to leave a thicker residue than most spices. Paprika is particularly good in spice blends and pairs well with other spices (such as allspice) to create a delicious rub for chicken. Try this Hungarian Chicken Paprikash recipe for a hearty meal, or try adding it to your sweet potatoes for a sweet and smoky flavor combo.

5. Coriander

Rebecca Salter

Also known as cilantro, coriander is a fragrant green plant whose seeds and leaves are used for seasoning (especially in South Asian and Mexican cooking). Coriander is frequently described as having a lemony flavor, though others describe it as soapy and unpleasant. Nonetheless, coriander remains popular in many dishes and dips. Due to its citrus flavor, coriander works well in salads, such as this lime and quinoa combination. It can also add a hint of zest to basic guacamole and foods with more 'muted' flavors. Try a spin on traditional salsa with this coriander-infused watermelon version.

6. Allspice

Rebecca Salter

Allspice is derived from the pimento tree's dried berries, and, as its name suggests, is a particularly versatile spice, working well in mixes and guaranteeing a deep flavor. Allspice can take the place of salt and pepper in almost any dish, as it enhances savory flavors. However, it can also work well in sweeter spice mixes for both savory and sweet dishes, such as in these roasted nuts and this pumpkin gnocchi.

7. Garlic powder

Rebecca Salter

If you're out of fresh garlic or simply want a quicker alternative to crushing cloves, garlic powder is your best bet. Garlic powder is white in color and finely ground and is made from dehydrated garlic cloves. It substitutes its fresher companion and saves you money with its extended shelf life. Garlic powder can be used in place of fresh garlic, as well as onions or shallots if you're in a hurry. A little goes a long way, as it retains all of garlic's natural pungency.

This powder is an instant flavor enhancer for any meat-based dish, such as this skillet garlic butter steak, and also puts a savory twist on traditional snacks, like in this garlic and herb popcorn mix.

8. Star Anise

Rebecca Salter

My personal favorite on this list, star anise has a unique flavor reminiscent of licorice and works well in desserts. It gets its name from its attractive star shape and is available in both whole and ground form (though you'll frequently find whole star anise more widely available). Star anise is highly fragrant and is commonly used in combination with similarly sweet spices, such as in traditional chai and many of its variants.

While it makes an appearance in savory dishes (especially in Chinese cooking and as a counterpart to soy) it's increasingly being added to desserts to enrich their flavor and boost their aroma. Nadiya Hussain's chocolate fondant with star anise is one example of this, and shows how the familiar chai taste can transform more unconventional dishes. Star anise is almost always ground using a pestle and mortar, which brings out its aroma and helps its flavor to pervade any dish.

9. Nutmeg

Rebecca Salter

Although nutmeg generally conjures images of Christmas, it's actually a common household spice used throughout Europe in potato- and soup-based dishes. It adds depth and warmth as well as a hint of sweetness to savory recipes. While nutmeg isn't as 'spicy' as ginger or cayenne, it's fairly pungent and should be used sparingly. While it's not without mention in the realm of sweet treats, such as in these walnut and nutmeg cookies, it's commonly used as a flavor-enhancer in rich sauces and pasta or cheese-based dishes. Try adding it to your next grilled cheese to see how the spice plays up your favorite cheddar.

10. Cinnamon

Rebecca Salter

No list of basic spices is complete without one of the most chameleonic and well-loved spices. Cinnamon is aromatic and, like others on this list, comes with a range of health benefits. This chestnut-colored spice is frequently used as a staple in breakfast seasonings and is often incorporated into cereals, on French toast, and in pancakes. This cinnamon and apple muffin recipe combines the sweetness of cinnamon with the tartness of apple to create a perfectly balanced (and satisfying) breakfast. While cinnamon is not unheard of in savory dishes, it usually acts as an sweetener, such as in this traditional banana bread.

Whether you're feeling experimental or apprehensive, these spices are some of the most commonly used and work well in almost any dish. So the next time you want to revitalize your meals, remember these 10 basic spices that'll leave a lasting impact on your future cooking adventures. And, hopefully, they'll inspire you to get creative and even discover your next favorite spice combo.