Seasoning: From Herbs and Spices to Oil Infusion

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 2, 2022

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Seasoning is the process of treating the surface of a saucepan, wok, crepe griddle or other cooking vessel with a stick-resistant coating formed from polymerized fat and oil on the surface. Seasoning is desirable on cast-iron cookware and carbon steel cookware, because otherwise they are very sticky to foods and rust-prone. It is generally not desired on other types of cookware either for cosmetic reasons or because the chemical composition of the pan already results in a non-stick surface.

Seasoning also means adding herbs, spices, or other ingredients to food to enhance its flavor (here’s how to season meat). It’s usually added near the end of cooking and can be used to mask unpleasant tastes or bring out the natural flavors of the food.

In this article, I’ll explain what seasoning means and how it can improve the taste of your food.

What is seasoning

Spice Up Your Dish: A Complete Discussion on Seasoning and Flavoring

Seasoning and flavoring are the processes of adding herbs, spices, and other ingredients to food to enhance its flavor. It means to bring out or intensify the natural flavor of the food without changing it. It is a crucial part of the cooking process, and it can make or break a dish. Seasonings are usually added near the end of the cooking period, and they include salt, pepper, and acids such as lemon juice.

How Do Seasonings and Flavorings Improve a Dish?

Seasonings and flavorings can enhance a dish in several ways, including:

  • Adding depth and complexity to the flavor
  • Balancing the flavors of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter
  • Masking any unpleasant tastes or odors
  • Bringing out the natural flavors of the food
  • Adding a seasonal touch to the dish

What are Some Seasonings and Flavorings Found in Different Languages and Cultures?

Seasonings and flavorings vary across different languages and cultures. Here are some examples:

  • English: salt, pepper, garlic, onion, lemon, mustard seed
  • Italian: basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, garlic
  • Mexican: cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, onion
  • Indian: cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic
  • Chinese: ginger, garlic, soy sauce, star anise, Szechuan pepper

What are Some Seasoning and Flavoring Combinations to Try?

Here are some seasoning and flavoring combinations to try in your dishes:

  • Garlic, onion, and thyme for beef
  • Lemon, garlic, and oregano for chicken
  • Cumin, coriander, and chili powder for Mexican dishes
  • Basil, oregano, and rosemary for Italian dishes
  • Ginger, garlic, and soy sauce for Asian dishes

Spice Up Your Dishes: A Guide to Popular Herbs and Spices for Seasoning

Seasoning is an excellent way to improve the taste of your food. Knowing which herbs and spices to use can be a bit tricky, especially for beginners. But with proper learning and careful consideration, you can create dishes that stand out and address your taste buds’ particular needs.

The Benefits of Using Herbs and Spices

Adding herbs and spices to your dishes can significantly help improve the quality of your food. They contain essential ingredients that can address certain health effects and create a more natural and pure taste. Here are some of the benefits of using herbs and spices in your cooking:

  • They can significantly reduce the consumption of fat and save you additional calories.
  • They can help you create a variety of different dishes, each with a special flavor.
  • They can be an excellent way to add a bit of sweetness or a bit of heat to your food.
  • They can be stored for longer periods, and certain forms can be stored for even longer, such as dried herbs and ground spices.
  • They can be combined with other ingredients to create a mix that is perfect for your dish.

Popular Herbs and Spices

Here are some of the most popular herbs and spices that you can use to season your dishes:

  • Bay leaves: These are great for adding a delicate flavor to your dishes. They are best used in soups, stews, and sauces.
  • Black pepper: This is a staple in most kitchens. It is a great way to add a bit of heat to your dishes, and it goes well with almost anything.
  • Cinnamon: This is an excellent choice for sweet dishes. It can be used in baking, cooking, and even in your morning coffee.
  • Onion powder: This is a great way to add a bit of onion flavor to your dishes without having to chop up an onion. It is perfect for soups, stews, and sauces.
  • Red pepper flakes: These are great for adding a bit of heat to your dishes. They are best used in pasta dishes, pizza, and stir-fries.
  • Soy sauce: This is a great way to add a bit of saltiness to your dishes. It is perfect for stir-fries, marinades, and dipping sauces.

Proper Storage

To ensure that your herbs and spices last longer, it is essential to store them correctly. Here are some tips for proper storage:

  • Store your herbs and spices in airtight containers to keep them fresh.
  • Keep them in a cool, dark place to prevent them from losing their flavor.
  • Be sure to label your containers correctly so that you know which herb or spice is which.
  • Direct sunlight and heat can significantly affect the quality of your herbs and spices, so be sure to store them in a tight, dark place.

The Art of Infusing Oils

Oil infusion is a process of steeping herbs, spices, or other flavorings in oil to extract their essence. It’s a simple and effective way to add flavor to your cooking, and it’s also a great way to make your own herbal remedies or cosmetic products.

How to Infuse Oils

Here are the steps to infuse oils:

1. Choose your base oil: Olive oil is a popular choice, but you can also use other carrier oils like almond, walnut, or wheat germ oil.

2. Choose your herbs: You can use fresh or dried herbs, but make sure they are free of moisture to prevent mold growth. Some popular herbs for infusion include rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano.

3. Fill a jar with the herbs: Fill a clean, dry jar with your chosen herbs. You can use a single herb or a combination of herbs.

4. Add the oil: Pour the oil over the herbs, making sure they are completely covered. Use a clean spoon to press down the herbs and release any air bubbles.

5. Let it infuse: Keep the jar in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks. Shake the jar every day to help the infusion process.

6. Strain the oil: After two weeks, strain the oil through a cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer to remove the herbs.

7. Store the infused oil: Keep the infused oil in a clean, dry jar or bottle. It can be kept for up to six months.

Benefits of Infused Oils

Infused oils are not only delicious but also healthy. Here are some benefits of using infused oils:

  • Infused oils are free of stabilizers and preservatives that are commonly found in store-bought oils.
  • You can control the sourcing of your herbs and oils, ensuring that they are of high quality and organic.
  • Infused oils can be used for cooking, salad dressings, marinades, and dips.
  • Infused oils can also be used for cosmetic purposes, such as in homemade lotions, balms, and soaps.

Spice Up Your Cookware: The Best Ways to Season Your Cast Iron

When it comes to seasoning your cast iron cookware, the type of oil you use is crucial. Here are some options to consider:

  • Vegetable oil: This is a popular choice because it’s affordable and readily available. However, it can go rancid over time and leave a sticky residue on your cookware.
  • Flaxseed oil: This is a favorite among cast iron enthusiasts because it creates a hard, non-stick surface. However, it requires a lengthy and meticulous process to apply.
  • Grapeseed oil: This oil has a high smoke point, making it ideal for seasoning. It also dries quickly and doesn’t leave a sticky residue.

The Seasoning Process

Now that you’ve chosen your oil, it’s time to start the seasoning process. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  2. Apply a thin layer of oil to your cast iron cookware, making sure to cover every inch.
  3. Place your cookware upside down in the oven and bake for one hour.
  4. Turn off the oven and let the cookware cool completely before removing it.
  5. Repeat this process two to three times, or until your cookware has a smooth, black surface.

Preventing Rust

Seasoning your cast iron not only gives it a non-stick surface, but it also helps prevent rust. Here are some tips to keep your cookware rust-free:

  • Don’t soak your cast iron in water for long periods of time.
  • After washing, dry your cookware thoroughly and apply a thin layer of oil before storing.
  • Use your cast iron regularly to keep the seasoning intact.

So there you have it – the best ways to season your cast iron cookware. With the right oil and a little bit of patience, you can have a non-stick surface that will last for years to come. Happy cooking!


Seasoning can mean many things to many people, but it’s all about enhancing the natural flavor of food. You can do that with herbs and spices, or even salt and pepper. It’s all about finding the right combination for you. 

So, don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own personal flavor.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.