Kitchen & Cooking

Level up your pantry with these gorgeous spices

Diaspora Co., Burlap & Barrel, and Spicewalla changed the way I cook.

These three spices companies helped me level up my kitchen pantry. Credit: Diaspora Co. / Spicewalla Brand

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Picture this: It's Sunday afternoon and you're sitting on your couch planning next week's dinners. You walk over to the fridge and you're greeted by the pungent scent of the block of cheese you abandoned the week prior, half a lemon and some wilted herbs kicking around in your crisper drawer, and a general lack of recipe inspiration. But then, just as you're about to give up on another week of cooking during COVID, your spice rack catches your eye and suddenly you're stuck with inspiration! Excitement! Hunger!

This triumphant scene will be impossible unless you up your spice game ASAP. And lucky for you, we've rounded up three top-notch, sustainability-minded spice companies that are offering the tastiest, most vibrant spices on the market.

Diaspora Co.

Diaspora Co.
Credit: Diaspora Co.

Pragati Turmeric is what Diaspora Co. is best known for, and it's a total recipe game changer.

It's only fitting that I start with the first direct-to-consumer spice company I ever tried: Diaspora Co. Founded by Sana Javeri Kadri in 2016, Diaspora Co.'s mission is as tenacious as its spices: "Building a better spice trade, equitably and deliciously."

These spices are the kind that inspire entire dishes rather than serving as mere ingredients thrown in for added seasoning. Diaspora Co.'s Aranya Pepper has been called "an epiphany" by the Los Angeles Times and I couldn't agree more—I grind this stuff on everything from fried eggs to fresh fruit (that's right, y'all! this stuff tastes wild with citrus!). I find myself craving the deep, floral earthiness of the Pragati Turmeric at least once a week, in which case I'll whip up a batch of this one-pot turmeric coconut rice or a simple bowl of popcorn, covered in butter and heavily sprinkled with this golden spice.

If you're looking for yet another way to consume Diaspora Co. turmeric, check out the sippable collaboration known as It's Haldi, Doodh! We tried this turmeric latte blend, featuring Diaspora Co. Pragati Turmeric, alongside other One Stripe Chai Co. tea latte blends and it was love at first sip.

Diaspora Co. is perfect if you're in the market for high-quality basics for your spice collection, like pepper, turmeric, and chili powder.

Burlap & Barrel

Burlap & Barrel
Credit: Burlap & Barrel

My favorite Burlap & Barrel spice is the beautifully aromatic Royal Cinnamon.

This single-origin, direct-to-consumer spice company was co-founded by so-called "spice sommelier" Ethan Frisch and social entrepreneur Ori Zohar in 2016. Like Diaspora Co., Burlap & Barrel works directly with farmers to ensure the profits go directly to them, instead of sharing with some middle man. This also means the brand's impressive customer list (including Alice Waters' lauded Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkley, California) get access to higher-quality spices. Oh, and we get access to those quality spices, too!

It's tough to pick a favorite Burlap & Barrel spice, but two of my top picks are the best-selling Vietnam-grown Royal Cinnamon and Afghanistan-grown Wild Mountain Cumin. This cinnamon is the real deal—it's complex with notes of honey and citrus. Add it to your favorite French toast recipe or use this rich spice to add depth to a savory, tomato-based sauce. On the other hand, Burlap & Barrel's cumin is the highlight of almost every pan of shakshuka I cook.

Burlap & Barrel is great for folks looking to build on existing pantry basics, plus pick up a few zany wild cards while they're at it—Wild Icelandic Kelp, anyone?

Spicewalla Brand

Spicewalla Brand
Credit: Spicewalla Brand

This Asheville, North Carolina-based spice brand stocks everything from allspice to za'atar.

If you're looking for a spice company that will curate your spice collection for you, look no further than Spicewalla Brand. Spicewalla was founded in 2017 by Meherwan Irani, the chef and owner of one of my favorite Indian restaurants in Atlanta, Georgia, Chai Pani. And since its inception, this direct-to-consumer spice company has built up the widest variety of spices, rubs, herbs, and salts out of all the brands on this list.

This chef-loved brand is known for it's themed spice boxes (like this spicy Valentine's Day set) and curated cookbook collaborations, including this spice collection inspired by Priya Krishna's Indian(-ish), one of my favorites for easy weeknight recipes. My favorite dish is Krishna's Saag Feta, which will be even more delicious next time I make it because I'll use Spicewalla Brand Roasted Coriander Powder, one of three spices included in the set.

Get Spicewalla Brand's Indian-ish Collection + Cookbook for $39

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