4 Types of spicy & 15 must-have spices (table)

Types of spicy
There are 4 different spicy seasonings people add their dishes to improve flavor. These are hot, aromatic, herbs, and mild. The spicy hot ones include chili peppers, black pepper, or ginger, which contain capsaicin, piperine, or gingerol.

4 types of spicy

One of the main classifications of spices sorts them into 4 categories based on their flavor profile. Besides the “hot” spicy flavors, there are aromatic, mild, and herbaceous types of spicy. Some of the examples include, but are not limited to:

  1. Hot: various chiles, ginger, hot paprika
  2. Aromatic: nutmeg, dill, fennel, clove
  3. Mild: paprika, lemon powder, various types of sea salts
  4. Herbaceous: basil, thyme, rosemary

How many different types of “hot” spicy are there?

It’s important to note that tasting food is a subjective experience. People may have different perceptions and thresholds for what they consider “spicy hot.” However, these 6 chemical compounds are associated with the spicy or hot sensation in foods:

  1. Capsaicin: This is the compound responsible for the heat in chili peppers (a Scoville scale). It stimulates the pain receptors in your mouth and throat, creating a burning sensation and numbing your taste buds.
  2. Allyl isothiocyanate: This ingredient is present in mustard seeds, radish, horseradish, and wasabi. It’s responsible for the sharp, spicy flavor that can make your sinuses feel like they’re on fire.
  3. Piperine: This is the compound that gives black pepper its spicy flavor. It’s not as intense as capsaicin but can still create a warming sensation in your mouth.
  4. Allicin: This is found in onions and garlic and is responsible for the pungent, spicy flavor. It’s often described as a “bite” or a “sting” and can be intense.
  5. Gingerol: This is the compound that gives ginger its spicy flavor. It’s often used in cooking and can create a warming sensation in your mouth and throat.
  6. Cinnamaldehyde: This is found in cinnamon or star anise and is responsible for the sweet and spicy flavor. It can create a warming sensation in your mouth and is often used in baked goods.
See Also:  8 Spicy chaat masala substitute ideas

What are the most common spices?

Some of the usual spices are:

Black pepper/peppercornsThis versatile spice can be used in many dishes and adds a subtle, spicy kick
GarlicThis pungent ingredient can add depth and flavor to many dishes and is a staple in many cuisines worldwide
PaprikaPaprika is a spice made from ground sweet or hot peppers, and it’s often used in dishes to add color and flavor. It has a slightly sweet and smoky taste that can add depth to soups, stews, and sauces
CinnamonA warm, sweet, and woody flavor often used in baking and desserts
Onion powderSavory and slightly sweet, used to add depth of flavor to soups, stews, and sauces and as a seasoning for roasted meats and vegetables
CuminA nutty and slightly bitter flavor often used in Mexican, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisines
GingerA spicy and slightly sweet flavor often used in Asian and Indian cuisines for both sweet and savory dishes.

Top 15 spices you should have in your kitchen

If you are looking to include more spicy flavors in your meals, check out these 15 spices:

Cardamom Warm, slightly sweet, and spicy, commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine to flavor chai tea, biryanis, curries, and baked goods
Coriander seedsCitrusy, slightly sweet, and floral, used in Mexican, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisine to flavor curries, salsas, and roasted meats
Nutmeg Warm, sweet, and slightly nutty, used in sweet and savory dishes, such as pies, custards, cream sauces, and roasted meats
TurmericEarthy, slightly bitter, and pungent, often used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine to add color and flavor to curries, rice dishes, and stews
AniseSweet, licorice-like flavor, commonly used to flavor baked goods, soups, stews, and drinks like absinthe and ouzo
AllspiceWarm, sweet, and slightly spicy, used in Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and North African cuisine to flavor jerk seasoning, curries, and baked goods
Chili pepperSpicy, used in various cuisines, including Mexican, Indian, and Thai, adds heat and flavor to soups, stews, curries, and sauces
Cayenne pepperA chili pepper that is usually dried and ground into a powder with a hot and spicy flavor and is common in dishes like chili, stews, and sauces
Hot sauceA condiment made from chili peppers, vinegar, and other spices used to add heat and flavor to dishes; you can use it in marinades, dressings, and dips
Jalapeno pepperFresh or pickles pepper commonly used in Mexican cuisine. It has mild to medium heat and a slightly sweet, earthy flavor that works great in salsas, guacamole, and chili
Fenugreek A slightly bitter, nutty flavor that is perfect in Indian, Middle Eastern, and African cuisine and is often used in spice blends, curries, and pickles
Fennel seedsHave a sweet, licorice-like flavor used in Mediterranean cuisine to flavor sausage, soup, and bread, and can also be used in spice blends and teas
LemongrassA lemony flavor and fragrance that perfectly complements soups, curries, and marinades and can also be used in teas and cocktails
CilantroA herb with a fresh, citrusy flavor typically used in Mexican, Thai, and Indian cuisine to flavor salsas, curries, and soups
Curry powderA spice blend that typically includes cumin, coriander, turmeric, and other spices. It has a warm, earthy flavor and is common in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine to flavor curries, rice dishes, and soups


Alexandra is a passionate writer with a deep appreciation for food - not just as nourishment but as an expression of culture, a reflection of history, and a celebration of life. She knows that everything in life requires a little spice - and gets a kick (get it?) every time she achieves the perfect combination of heat and depth.

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