Grinding Spices at Home for Fresh Flavor

Grinding your own spices at home is one of the best ways to get the most flavor out of them, helping you get a high potency and concentration of flavor. Dry toasting spices brings out the spice’s flavor profile and intensity even more. Grinding spices at home instead of purchasing pre-ground spices may also extend their shelf life since they typically  retain the flavor better when stored whole. Grinding your spices at home will give you more room for creativity since you can make your own customized freshly ground spice blends. 

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to grind spices or how to toast spices, this simple guide will teach you how to toast and grind spices by hand, with an electric spice grinder and other methods, so you can experience vibrant, fresh flavors in all of your favorite recipes.

Vegetables and herbs on a cutting board and in a food processor Vegetables and herbs on a cutting board and in a food processor

How to Grind Spices

You can grind your own spices using an electric spice grinder, blender, food processor or coffee grinder. There are also several manual methods for grinding spices by hand. These methods include using a mortar and pestle, rasp grater and even a rolling pin. When choosing your method, consider the materials you have on hand, the type and size of spices you’re working with, the amount of spices you need ground and your desired consistency.


Herbs and spices on wooden table Herbs and spices on wooden table

Step 1: Toast Spices 

Toasting spices will accentuate the flavor profile, creating a fuller depth of flavor, as well as help bring out the natural aromas of the essential oils in the spices. Toast your spices just before using to better savor the heightened concentration of flavors, especially when making seasoned rice.

  • Place first spice in a dry cast iron skillet or stainless steel pan

    • Toast spices separately to avoid burning—different spices require different amounts of time to toast

    • Spread spices thinly and evenly over the surface of the pan, avoiding clumps

  • Heat pan over low to medium heat

    • Avoid high temperatures to prevent burning

    • Be sure the pan is completely dry

  • Use spatula or wooden spoon to gently stir spices to avoid burning and allow for even heating

  • Spices are done toasting once you can smell them or notice a slight darkening/color change

  • Leave spices toasting for only a few minutes

  • If you see smoking, this is a sign the spices are burning

  • Remove from heat and let cool completely

    • Transfer toasted spices immediately to a glass dish or bowl

  • Repeat with additional spices

Step 2: Grind Spices 

When grinding spices, you can use small countertop appliances from KitchenAid brand like an electric grinder, blender, food processor or food chopper. Spices can also be ground manually.

Spices with mortar and pestle Spices with mortar and pestle

If grinding manually, the most common way is with a mortar and pestle.

  • Add your amount of spices to mortar, filling only 1/3 full of spices for best results

  • Hold the pestle with your dominant hand and the mortar with your opposite hand

  • “Pound and swirl” the spices with firm pressure as you press spices against the bottom and sides of the mortar

  • Continue this pounding and crushing motion until the spices are ground to your desired texture

This method of crushing spices manually can be achieved similarly using a rolling pin or meat tenderizer mallet if you don’t have a mortar and pestle.

KitchenAid® coffee and spice grinder KitchenAid® coffee and spice grinder
  • Clean spice grinder and dry well

  • Fill the spice grinder with desired spices being careful not to overfill past the max 2-ounce amount

  • Put on the solid spice grinder lid

  • Place the spice grinder bowl into the grinder base and twist clockwise into place

  • Place the top cover of the grinder over the solid spice grinder lid and press down on the top cover to run the grinder

  • Process for 10–30 seconds, depending on the spice and desired results

  • After grinding, remove the top cover and solid spice grinder lid

  • Place the shaker lid and dispense your freshly ground spices

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Red KitchenAid® food processor Red KitchenAid® food processor
  • Add desired amount of spices

  • If your appliance has a “grind” setting, use this option, if not, a medium speed setting works well

  • Using the appropriate setting, process the spices in increments of about 15 to 30 seconds depending on the size of spice and desired consistency

    • Avoid using “pulse” settings for more efficient, uniform grinding

  • Open the lid, stir the spices and check consistency

    • If necessary, repeat the process until you achieve the desired results

    • Keep in mind this method may take longer since it’s a larger appliance with a larger blade than a small grinder

  • Place ground spices into an airtight container or use immediately

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Step 3: Use or Store Your Fresh Ground Spices

Freshly ground spices are best stored immediately after grinding in an airtight glass container that is ideally opaque or dark in color to protect the spices from sunlight. Label your spices or spice blends for easy identification. Dating each container is also helpful so you know when spices are past their prime. 

Keep fresh ground spices stored in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight and other sources of heat like a stovetop, like the pantry or a cabinet. Spices can be stored in the freezer, but this should only be used for long-term storage and not for spices that are used on a regular basis. 

When you’re ready to use your ground spices, open your container and use a dry spoon to measure out the amount you need. If you store spices in a shaker, avoid shaking the jar over a hot pan, as moisture can seep into the container and cause clumping. If stored properly, most spices will stay fresh anywhere from one to four years. Unsure of their freshness? Take some of the ground spice in the palm of your hand and rub them around or crush a bit between two fingers. You should be able to easily detect the aroma of the spice. If the smell or taste of the spice is weak, it may be time to toss the batch.

Person using KitchenAid® food processor Person using KitchenAid® food processor

Is Grinding Your Own Spices Better? 

Grinding fresh spices results in a more robust flavor in your dish. Although it takes a little more time than the pre-ground options, this flavor boost is completely worth the effort.

As soon as whole spices are ground, they come into contact with light and air, which can cause them to start to degrade. They begin to lose their natural oils, which are a major source of flavor. However, if you have certain spices that you use frequently, you should grind a small amount ahead of time and store them in airtight containers. For freshest results, try to only grind as much as you’ll use in two weeks to avoid loss of flavor.

Is Grinding Spices Worth It?

Grinding whole spices yourself can transform your dishes with flavors and aromas you haven’t experienced. 

While pre-ground spices may only maintain their flavor and potency for about six months, whole spices can maintain their potency for years. Grinding them fresh in an electric grinder, mortar and pestle, or spice mill allows them to keep their maximum flavor exactly when you want it for your latest culinary creation.

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Countertop appliances by KitchenAid brand can help you transform spices to elevate your culinary creations. Find the right KitchenAid® countertop appliance to help you get the most from your ingredients.

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