Five of the best Paleo spice recipes

Five of the best Paleo spice recipes

Learning how to use spices in your Paleo cooking can lift a simple dish to a heavenly delight for the taste buds. Knowing which spices to combine together and how to use them can be confusing, but with a little patience and thought you can create some delicious combinations to add to your meat and fish. You can even use to add some flavour to your vegetable side dishes. Spices not only add flavour but have health and medicinal benefits as well so should be included as part of a balanced Paleo diet.

The majority of households will have the obligatory spice rack full of colour and aromas but the majority will never get used except for a pinch here or there when required in a new recipe. It is not unusual for spices to last months or even years as they get used so infrequently.  As discussed in my article earlier this week, to get the best flavours you should try grinding your own spices and creating some blends from scratch. It is much easier than you may think, the trick is learning how to combine different categories of spices. Take a look at Paleo Cooking with Spices for more information on how to categorise spices and make your own blends.

The first step with making a good spice blend is to find a good spice shop. You are looking to buy pure unadulterated spices with no additives or fillers like you get in the supermarket. Look for specialty spice stores that have large baskets of spices to sell by weight and don’t be afraid to ask questions about new spices you may not have come across before. Alternatively, you can look online where there are many options for spices to be delivered to your door.

Summer is a perfect time of year to get creative with spices as they work beautifully with meat and fish on the barbecue. Today I wanted to get you started by providing 5 of my favourite spice blends for you to try out. Each of them has a distinctive flavour which you will be able to relate to different cuisines around the world. These recipes are a great way to start getting more comfortable with spices and learning how they interact with each other; you will be able to see how a blend is created using the different categories of spices as set out in Paleo Cooking with Spices.

steak with spices

1. Ethiopian Berbere

This spicy blend from Ethiopia combines the fierce, clean heat of bird’s eye chillies with the fragrant flavours of cloves and allspice. A complex blend of several spices, including traditional long pepper, it delivers heat and flavour in a unique taste. Used as a rub for fish and meats, or an unusual stew or curry, it tastes fabulous with fresh mint and coriander.

Use it a teaspoon at a time and build up from there as it packs a punch. Store in an airtight container away from light; although the flavours will meld over time it will not keep very long as it contains toasted spices. Use within two weeks for the utmost quality. Try pan frying pieces of chicken breast and adding the spice halfway through. Serve with plenty of fresh herbs and salad.


2 tsp cumin seed – toasted

2 tsp coriander seed – toasted

1 tsp ajowan – toasted

1 tsp long pepper – toasted

1 tsp fenugreek seed – toasted

1/2 tsp allspice – toasted

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp bird’s eye chillies

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp green cardamom

2. Moroccan Tagine Spice

This fragrant blend will add characteristic flavours to a Moroccan tagine. Use a traditional clay tagine if you have one, but if not then an oven-proof dish is just fine. Lamb shanks are ideal for this type of dish; sear in oil with onions, garlic and vegetables then add a few tablespoons of spice and some tinned tomatoes. Bake for a few hours in slow oven. You can also use the spice as a simple seasoning to add North African flair to most dishes. Store any leftover spice in an airtight container away from the light and use within six weeks.


2 tbsp sweet paprika

2 tsp coriander seed

1 tsp cassia bark

2 Kashmir chillies

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp green cardamom

1/2 tsp ground ginger

3. Barbecue Rub

An all-purpose rub for grilled meat with sweet smoky tones and a little heat from the chipotle. Celery seed works to enhance the savoury flavours whilst thyme and bay bring fresh herbal tones to the party. Store in an airtight container away from light for up to six weeks. Don’t keep this blend just for the barbecue; it makes a great coating for parsnip fries or added to homemade Paleo mayonnaise as a dip.


2 tsp celery seeds

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp nutmeg

1 large chipotle chilli

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cloves

1 tsp thyme

1 bay leaf

4. Mexican Chilli Seasoning

A good Mexican chilli seasoning is made from the holy trinity of chillies; ancho, guajillo and pasilla. Chipotle can be added to add smoky heat whilst cumin and cinnamon bring fragrant spicy, earthy tones. Use to make a classic meat chilli, add to stir fry type dishes or sprinkle on your breakfast eggs for a bit of extra get up and go. Store in an airtight container away from light for up to six weeks. Pre-ground chilli powders of these Mexican chillies are available; grinding can be difficult so feel free to use them as long as they are not adulterated with fillers or additives. If you want a really hot blend, add a teaspoon of Habanero powder too.


1 tsp ancho chilli

1 tsp guajillo chilli

1 tsp pasilla chilli

1 tsp chipotle chilli

1 tsp Mexican oregano

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp coriander seed

5. Chinese Five Spice

Deeply fragrant, this blend can add an Oriental feel to everything it touches; freshly ground it just sings. Mix with salt for a pungent dipping salt for chicken wings or add to crunchy stir fries. Store in an airtight container away from the light for up to six weeks.


3 tsp Sichuan pepper

3 tsp star anise

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp fennel

1/2 tsp cloves

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