We just toasted up some whole spices for the fresh avocado salsa verde in our Avocado Chicken Taquitos and since we’re kind of obsessed, we were inspired to teach you How to Toast Your Spices. Toasting spices develops their flavor, bringing out an added dimension and upping their potency. Learning How to Toast Your Spices can make almost any recipe even tastier, so let’s get to it.
how to toast your spices
We pretty much always choose to toast our spices whole and in the oven for the same reason you would toast nuts in the oven (read more in Why You’re Not Toasting Your Nuts Correctly)—it makes them very evenly toasted throughout and avoids hotspots. Also, it’s easy. Which we love.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Lay some spices out on a tray. Consider what you’re toasting and how MUCH you want to toast them to decide if you want to keep them on the same tray or separate them out.
Spices don’t need to be toasted for long (not even close to how long you need to toast nuts). Whole spices usually only take about five minutes max to toast. You’ll know they’re toasted because they’ll smell AMAZING—very aromatic and they’ll also look toasted. If they look burned (whoops), they are. But keep an eye on them and you’ll nail it.
why whole spices?
We use whole spices for a few reasons. They last longer than ground spices (up to two or three years!) because once you grind spices, you’re exposing more surface area to the environment and they’ll quickly lose their potency and loveliness. Think coffee beans: if you grind them fresh in the morning, the flavor is way more powerful and delicious than when you pre-grind them.
If you don’t have whole spices, but you do have ground, that’s okay too! You’ll approach toasting a little differently. For ground spices, get a sauté pan hot and quickly toss them for not long at all. About 30 seconds will do the trick! In this case, you can use your pan dry. There’s no need for any oil or cooking fat like ghee.
So that’s it! Toasting spices is easy peasy and adds a ton of flavor to whatever you’re using them in. Try making the fresh avocado salsa verde for our Avocado Chicken Taquitos using The Best Grain Free Tortillas. To learn more about both recipes, read up on What is Cassava? and Ghee vs. Butter: Which is better? too.