Collard Dip
Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez

It isn't extra butter. And no it isn't frying. [Insert eye roll here]. One of the most important reasons Southern food fascinates the rest of the country? Our fearless use of seasoning. From Creole mixtures to BBQ dry rub, our region excels in layering flavor—lest anyone forget we taught the world how to "Bam!"

But if the new year has you cleaning out your spice drawer, scootch over your cayenne pepper and cinnamon and make room for these five if you don't have them already.


A combination of oregano, toasted sesame seeds, thyme, and sumac, this Middle Eastern spice blend is typically found dusted on hummus or mixed with olive oil for dipping pita. With an earthy backdrop brightened by the citrusy sour taste of the sumac, it also pairs great with sauteed farmers market veggies like carrots, radishes, or eggplant.

WATCH: Smoky Black-Eyed Pea Hummus


Instead of sprinkling your deviled eggs with traditional sweet paprika, use this spicier, smoky version from Spain. It goes great in pimento cheese too.


While it might seem like a common spice, not everyone remembers to keep a jar of this versatile wonder around. Toss a tiny bit into pinto beans, chili, or homemade hummus and try seasoning salmon or shrimp with it instead of the usual suspects like chicken and pork.


Keep a shaker of this Mexican-made staple around and you'll be hard pressed to find something that doesn't taste better with it. A combination of dehydrated lime, chile pepper, and salt, it makes regular rice riveting and makes for a savory counterpoint when sprinkled on sweet mango and pineapple slices.


While those who know about filé powder, which comes from ground sassafras leaves, know it for its ability to lend an herbal, almost tea-like taste to gumbo, but it also tastes great in other soups and stews, especially ones packed with greens and other veggies. Just make sure to add it in right before serving. If filé comes to a boil, it starts to get stringy.