Spicing It Up

The bond between meat and spices is one of a mutually beneficial, everlasting friendship. A perfectly seasoned meat preparation typically plays the starring role in an unforgettable meal.

However, spices do more than just add tantalising taste to your meat, they are also very effective at destroying the microbes present in your food. So they don’t just make your meat more tasty and palatable, they also make it more hygienic and sanitary.

Garlic, onion, allspice and oregano, for example, have been found to be the best all-around bacteria killers (they kill everything), followed by thyme, cinnamon, tarragon and cumin (any of which kill up to 80 percent of bacteria).

Capsicums, including chillies and other hot peppers, are in the middle of the antimicrobial pack (killing or inhibiting up to 75 percent of bacteria), while pepper of the white or black variety inhibits 25 percent of bacteria, as do ginger, anise seed, celery seed and the juices of lemons and limes.

A Cornell University Research Report says, “Countries with hotter climates used spices more frequently than countries with cooler climates. Indeed, in hot countries nearly every meat-based recipe calls for at least one spice, and most include many spices, especially the potent spices, whereas in cooler countries substantial fractions of dishes are prepared without spices, or with just a few.”

As a result, the estimated fraction of food-spoilage bacteria inhibited by the spices in each recipe is greater in hot than in cold climates.

Moving on to the taste part, achieving a masterful balance of spices is not always as easy as we’d like it to be (or as you see on one of your favourite cooking shows).

We hear from aspiring cooks all the time – from the novice to even those with quite a bit of experience that they just aren’t sure what the best or most complimentary spices are for meat. We know it can be downright challenging to remember which herbs and spices work well with different meats and egg foods.

Maybe you’ve finally dug out that cookbook you bought last year or you’ve been inspired by a great looking recipe you found online in your quest to battle your boring dinner rut. But how often are you knee deep into preparing a meal from one of these great looking recipes and you can’t find a critical spice or herb that the recipe calls for?

This comprehensive list of complementary spices can serve as a handy resource for making a shopping list for your spice cabinet or having on hand to use in a pinch.

You can also experiment with various combinations of the complimentary spices that you enjoy most to enhance the flavour of the meat for which it is recommended.


– Basil, Bay Leaf, Cilantro/Coriander, Cinnamon, Curry Powder, Garlic, Mace, Marjoram, Mint, Onion, Paprika, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Saffron, Savoury, Tarragon, Thyme


– Bay Leaf, Cayenne, Curry Powder, Chives, Dill, Fennel, Lemon Zest, Marjoram, Mint, Dry Mustard Powder, Onion, Paprika, Parsley, Red Pepper, Saffron, Sage, Sesame Seed, Tarragon, Thyme, Turmeric


– Basil, Cinnamon, Cumin, Curry Powder, Garlic, Marjoram, Mint, Onion, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Savoury, Sesame Seed, Thyme

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