Top 10 Dry Spices and Condiments for delicious Chinese food

Chinese dry spices and condiments
Chinese spices – Chinese dry spices and condiments

Chinese Dry Spices and Condiments

Chinese dry spices and condiments are definitely a category of their own, and we tried to make just a small dent in the vast amount of spices and herbs used in Chinese cuisine by listing some of the ones we use most often in our kitchen.

In the same history of the use of spices in European and American countries, there were ancient records in the ancient Roman era. Cinnamon, garlic, onion, clove, frankincense, and fragrance-free spices are also found in the Bible.

Dry Spices and Condiments – Salt

Whether it is Chinese cuisine or cooking in other countries in the world, salt is a must, less salt, and food is tasteless. What can we say about this? Salt is the foundation of all cooking. Oftentimes, Chinese food is blamed for having too high a salt content, but we’ve found that this is really only the case in restaurants as opposed to home cooking.

Restaurants want to make their food tasty, so you can’t really blame them. We like to use coarse sea salt or Kosher salt, but whatever you use, just remember that saltiness levels can vary greatly among kinds, so it’s essential to taste often while cooking!

Chinese condiments Salt

Depending on the type and area of the dishes you cook, you can use soy sauce or other seasonings as the main source of salty taste. For example, Shanghai cuisine uses a lot of soy sauce, so the salt used in these recipes is less than that in Sichuan and northern China, and the other is salt (more salt, less soy sauce). The beauty of cooking at home is that you can choose to balance the amount of salt used and enhance your dishes in other ways.

Dry Spices and Condiments – Organic Sugar

There are many types of sugar, but in cooking, we generally use organic sugar. Organic sugar is an essential ingredient in our daily diet. It has all kinds of magical effects, such as refreshing, removing phlegm, increasing appetite, etc. As in all foods, sugar balances salty in Chinese cooking. Taste and sourness are especially important for many famous and well-loved stir-fries.

Dry Spices and Condiments – Rock Sugar

Rock Sugar can help the taste of the dish to be fresh, but the cooking paste is very bad, there will be harmful substances, but there will be many carcinogenic factors. It is recommended that sugar be discolored and start cooking. Rock sugar is traditional Chinese medicine in China. Most of the time, it adds sweetness, and a small amount of rock sugar also has the effect of increasing the umami taste of the dishes.

Rock sugar is used in many of the recipes we will introduce later. It is a key ingredient in many Chinese dishes, such as rock sugar pig hand, rock sugar Sydney white fungus soup, and Chinese braised steak.

Dry Spices and Condiments – Brown Slab Sugar Cane Sugar

Rock sugar also comes in these brown sugar pieces and is call bing pian tang (冰片糖) or literally rock sugar slices. They are both called rock sugar in Chinese because they come in a largely solid form but other than that, I have no explanation.

SOUTH WORD BRAND Brown Candy are brown sugar slabs made of brown sugar particles. The sugar particles are packed together to form a sweet block that is typically used in desserts or medicines.

Dry Spices and Condiments – Caster Sugar

Caster sugar has a consistency that falls somewhere between granulated and powdered sugar. It’s difficult to find, but if you have a food processor or a good blender, you can actually make it yourself. Just place granulated sugar in the processor or blender and whizz it until it gets to a superfine but not powdered state.

I bought this sugar for making french macaroons. While I haven’t had the best of luck with the macaroons themselves, the sugar is a pleasure to work with. I will continue to try the macaroons and I will use the sugar for all of my baking.

Dry Spices and Condiments – Ajinomoto Ajipanda bottle- MSG

I purchased this because I thought it had a cute panda on it. It is merely a glass shaker with a plastic lid, the cute panda face is plastic shrink wrap over the entire item and you have to tear it off to open the lid. If I had known that I would not have purchased it, it is absurdly expensive for 70 grams of MSG, the entire appeal as I thought it was a cute shaker, but it is clear glass only.

When added, the feel of the MSG accentuates flavors making them pop more making it a great flavor enhancer. The other benefit is that because the flavors are more noticeable, you’ll need to use less salt.

Dry Spices and Condiments – White Pepper

My grandfather taught me to process pepper. Black pepper and white pepper are a kind of plant, the difference is mainly when the time is taken off and not peeled. Black pepper tastes stronger, suitable for beef, internal organs (such as pork belly), cooking time is not suitable; white pepper tastes milder, suitable for mutton, grilled fish, hot and sour soup. In fact, the taste difference between the two is not big, sometimes the color of the dish is the main consideration, and now the restaurant prefers to use black pepper.

White peppercorns are a little harder to find, but any well-stocked Asian grocery store will have it or you can buy on Amazon in a pinch!

Dry Spices and Condiments – Red SiChuan Peppercorn

Red Sichuan Peppercorn is native to Hanyuan, Wenchuan, and Maoxian in Sichuan, China. It is known for its slight numbness. The Red Sichuan Peppercorn is not pepper but the fruit from the peppercorn tree knot. There are three kinds of usage of Red Sichuan Peppercorn. 1. Directly throw the whole piece into the dish, 2. Grind it into powder and throw it into the dish. 3. Make peppercorn oil.

 Red Peppercorn tree
Dry Spices and Condiments Red Peppercorn tree

Many Sichuanese home Red Sichuan Peppercorn is a must. The dried Red Sichuan Peppercorn in Sichuan also called as Chuan Peppercorn(川椒,chuān jiāo), can be used as medicine. Red Sichuan Peppercorn is also widely used in Sichuan cuisine, and it is needed for the removal of meat dishes and the taste of soups. When we talked about the spicy taste of Sichuan cuisine, we had to mention the hemp of Sichuan cuisine. Ma and spicy can be said to be the indispensable main force in the skeleton of Sichuan cuisine, such as Mapo tofu, which everyone is familiar with.

Red SiChuan Peppercorn
Dry Spices and Condiments Red Sichuan Peppercorn

Dry Spices and Condiments – Green SiChuan Peppercorn

There is no essential difference between the green peppercorn and the red peppercorn in Sichuan. They are the fruits of the peppercorn tree, but there are differences in color. The green peppercorn is gray-green, the color of the red peppercorn is brown-red or purple-red, and the red peppercorn is more than The green peppercorn tastes more numbing.

Green Peppercorn tree
Green Peppercorn tree

Green Peppercorn and red Peppercorn are the most used spices in Sichuan cuisine and are also essential in dishes. A few peppercorns, spicy and delicious, suddenly add a lot of color to a dish; for example, you can buy it on Amazon to make the cuisine of green Sichuan peppercorn fish.

you can use green Sichuan peppercorn to cooking peppercorn fish.

Dry Spices and Condiments – Peppercorn Powder

peppercorn powder as you see on the label below is great to have in your pantry if you like spicy Sichuan food. Also, for those of you who don’t like biting into whole Sichuan peppercorns (I know some of you do!) or if you need a dash of ground Sichuan peppercorns, buying Sichuan peppercorn powder is a great solution.

In fact, the more I use this brand of ground Sichuan peppercorn, the more I  like it. It’s super convenient and you never have to worry about that biting into that numbing peppercorn.

Peppercorn Powder
how to use condiments Peppercorn Powder

Chinese spices – Dried Red Chili Pepper

Dried red chili pepper is a pepper product formed by the process of natural drying and artificial dehydration of red pepper. It is characterized by low water content and is suitable for long-term preservation. However, dried peppers with unsealed packaging or high water content are prone to mildew, and many foods and recipes in china will be adding a little dried red chili pepper to make it more delicious when cooking.

Dried Red Chili peppers come in a vast number of varieties–too many for us to keep up with. In general, the smaller the chili, the hotter they are. A lot of Chinese dishes call for either long hot green peppers or small red chilis, both of which can be found in any grocery store. Hunan and Sichuan cuisine also make use of the dried red chili pepper, which can be found in most Asian groceries.

Dry Spices and Condiments – Chili Powder

Chili Powder has versatile use, a Perfect condiment for pizza, pasta, sauces, dip, kebab, soup, dishes, BBQ, homemade hotpot, and more. Its special flavor can help improve appetite, an essential seasoning in your cooking recipe. this hot chili seasoning contains capsaicin which can help to stimulate the body to create heat and keep yourself warm. Also great in promoting fat burning and speeding up metabolism.

Chili Powder
Dry Spices and Condiments Chili Powder

Chili Powder is crushed but not fully pulverized and is perfect for making chili oil. There is some powder and some crushed pieces, the perfect texture for chili oil and seasoning meats. The powder produces a rich red color and the coarser flakes add a great look and texture. if you buy chili powder Just remember that these Italian-style crushed red pepper flakes should only be used if you can’t find the brands from the Sichuan region of China.

The differences in flavor and color make a huge difference in the quality and flavor of chili oil! Try your best to locate the brand or similar product pictured above in your local Asian store if you’re looking to achieve the most authentic taste and look.

Chili Powder
Dry Spices and Condiments Chili Powder

Dry Spices and Condiments – Korean Chili Powder

Korean chili powder is mostly used to pickle kimchi, so most of it will be finely ground, and most of the Chinese chili powder is used for stir-fry or hot pot, and it will not be particularly fine, and the color will not be very bright. Korean paprika is brighter in color.

Korean red chili powder and flakes do have a different flavor, however–we find that it’s slightly sweeter. If you’re a spicy food lover, you can buy a whole pound of it on amazon and use it for all of your cooking.

Korean Chili Powder
Dry Spices and Condiments Korean Chili Powder

Dry Spices and Condiments – Star Anise

Star anise is widely used in cooking. It is mainly used in cooking, frying, halogen. It is often added to the dishes of beef and rabbit meat to remove odor, add aromatic odor, and adjust taste and enhance appetite.

If you are making stew meats, you can put a little bit of star anise into the pot in advance, and its fragrance can be fully hydrolyzed into the meat to make the meat more mellow.

Star Anise
Dry Spices and Condiments Star Anise

When you cook soup, you can add salt and star anise to the cabbage, and finally, put some sesame oil. The dish is rich in amaranth. In the case of pickled eggs, duck eggs, citron, and parsley, putting in anise is unique.

Dry Spices and Condiments – Five Spice Powder

The basic ingredients of the five-spice powder are white pepper, Chinese cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and fennel seeds. Some recipes include dried turmeric, cardamom, licorice, pepper, dried tangerine peel, etc., to replace the less popular spices in the local area. In the south, cinnamon and orange peel are commonly used instead of cloves and Chinese cinnamon. Different formulations also have different combinations of the proportions of the various spices.

Mandarin Orange Peels

Dried tangerine and citrus peels are widely used spices in Chinese cooking. It is used in dishes like Tangerine beef and Orange chicken but also in soups, stews, and braised dishes like Braised Duck. Look at the picture below and you will see store-bought dried orange peels in the upper left-hand corner which over time have turned into a darker color.

Right next to it is fresh tangerine peel which has been dried for a couple of weeks that still retains its vibrant color. At the bottom of the picture, you can see how we scraped away the pith to dry or to use immediately for Tangerine beef. You can try drying your own or buying it from your local Chinese grocery store.

Top 10 Dry Spices and Condiments for delicious Chinese food 4
Mandarin Orange Peels

Dry Spices and Condiments – Bay Leaves

The bay leaves are the leaves of the laurel tree. They look good in shape and have smooth leaves. In addition to being used for seasoning, they can also be used as food decorations. The fragrant and aromatic aroma of the bay leaves is a kind of seasoning that is more commonly used in western food. The bay leaves themselves are not edible and is cooked in food, mainly to add aroma to the food.

When adding bay leaves to food cooking, pay attention to the dosage. Do not add too many bay leaves. If too many bay leaves are added, the taste of the food itself will be covered by the taste of the bay leaves. Generally, it is cooked. When you have a pot of food, you can satisfy the taste by placing one or two bay leaves.

Bay Leaves
Dry Spices and Condiments Bay Leaves

Dry Spices and Condiments – Allspice Whole Berries

Allspice, despite its name, is actually an individual spice (herb) that is commonly grown in Jamaica and also in Indonesia, These bulk, Whole All Spice berries are commonly known to taste like a variety of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and peppercorn. These berries are packaged fresh right here in the USA and are high quality, potent, and aromatic. Allspice Berries Whole is great in savory foods too! Use with meat, sausages, stews, soups, marinades, and pickles. It can also be used as a Jamaican pimento seasoning.

Dry Spices and Condiments – Curry powder

I had tried a couple of other brands of organic taco seasoning mix that I didn’t think were very good, but I used it all up. I searched for other brands to try and saw this. I’m glad I did! I think I found the organic taco seasoning that tastes great and will certainly order it again! My only wish is that they made a Spicy version with more red pepper/cayenne because I like it spicy!

It does have a little kick to it, as it should, but not too much for those that don’t handle really spicy foods well. If there is anyone else out there that has tried other brands of organic taco mix and wasn’t very happy, I certainly recommend you give this a try, you can click here to buy it on Amazon.

Organic Turmeric Powder

Turmeric powder is an essential ingredient in all curry powders and provides most of the yellow golden color and also is a healthy herb. Adding extra turmeric powder enhances the color of a good curry dish and can also be used in place of food coloring when a nice yellow color is desired.


Cumin is an aromatic seed used to flavor sausages, It is a must-have for barbecue foods. It is oily and has a strong aroma. It is mainly used for seasoning and extracting spices. It is also one of the main raw materials for formulating curry powder. By processing the beef and mutton with cumin, it can relieve the greasy and make the meat more delicious and aromatic, increasing the appetite of the person.

Many Chinese dishes require cumin powder. If you are buying cumin seeds, you may need to using the mortar and pestle and grinding freshly toasted cumin seed into a fragrant powder rather than using the pre-ground variety. Generally, you can find whole seeds at the local Indian or Asian grocery store but for convenience, you can just order it on Amazon and have it delivered to your door!

Coriander Seed

The Coriander Seed is used less in Chinese cuisine. Instead, we have them listed here for our pantry when cooking international dishes like Indian lentils.

Fennel Seed

Fennel seeds are also used in Chinese cooking and are also used as a raw material for making five-spice powder! If you go to China to taste Lanzhou Beef Noodle soup, you will smell the fennel seeds. Of course, you are probably most familiar with the taste of fennel seeds in Italian sausages and also in Indian cuisine.

Fennel Seed
Dry Spices and Condiments Fennel Seed

Chinese Cinnamon

Cinnamon, also known as Yugui, Dangui or Cinnamon, is one of the first spices used by humans. There are hundreds of cinnamon trees in the world, and two of them are leading and commercially valuable are Ceylon cinnamon and Chinese cinnamon.

Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamon CASSIA) is more stimulating, the bark is thicker, the color is darker, and the aroma is slightly worse than the former. Cinnamon is aromatic and mild, suitable for sweet and rich dishes. It is especially suitable for cooking lamb, and can also be used to make candied fruits (especially pears), chocolate desserts, cakes, and drinks. Fresh cinnamon powder has a much stronger aroma than cinnamon sticks. If you don’t want to taste too heavy or don’t want to have cinnamon powder in your food, you can use cinnamon sticks to cook and discard.

Chinese Cinnamon
Dry Spices and Condiments Chinese Cinnamon


Cloves have a very strong, pungent, and sweet aroma and are one of the five spices that make up five-spice powder. It can be used the whole or ground up and is widely used in both Asian and Western cooking. 

Dry Spices and Condiments Cloves

Dry Spices and Condiments – Black Cardamom

Black cardamom is an ingredient that you probably think of when cooking Indian dishes, but they also have their place in Chinese and Southeast Asian cooking.

Black Cardamom
Dry Spices and Condiments Black Cardamom

Dry Spices and Condiments – Amomum White Cardamom

Amomum white cardamom, sometimes called Thai cardamom is used throughout China and Southeast Asia for its floral aromatic flavors. It is sometimes ground and used in curry powder but often used in braising liquids. It looks like a small dried chickpea but it is in fact, a soft pod with seeds inside. The white cardamom has a hint of menthol flavor and does wonders for adding a unique flavor to your dishes.

Green Cardamom

Green cardamom is most commonly used in Indian dishes but is also used in some Malaysian and Southeast Asian dishes due to the influence of Indian cuisine in these areas.

Ginger Powder

This is delicious and super fresh – I just added a level teaspoon to a large (500 ml) cup of Irish Breakfast Tea, and am truly feeling invigorated – Had been drinking tea with turmeric, but when I read recently about the health benefits of ginger, I was reminded how much I like ginger tea. For bedtime or kids, skip the black tea, and add the ginger powder to hot water – milk, and sugar to taste. This is much less work – and cheaper – than slicing fresh ginger and boiling it. The flavor of dried ginger products is always going to be different from fresh ginger, but this definitely has a complex flavor profile and a nice peppery ‘bite’ to it.

Organic Premium Gan Cao

Gan Cao is a very common ingredient used in Chinese herbal medicine but it is also used to flavor broths and braised dishes. Most people are not familiar with the uses of this aromatic ingredient and have never used it before but we hope that this package helps you identify this ingredient in Chinese grocery stores.

Organic Premium Gan Cao
Dry Spices and Condiments Organic Premium Gan Cao

White sesame and black sesame

White sesame and black sesame have the same shape, but the appearance is black and white. In many eyes, they are the same kind of ingredients in the eyes of most people. The difference is that they are expressed in color. The appearance of white sesame is mostly milky white or light yellow. Black sesame seeds, the color of the appearance is dark purple close to black, they are all derived from plants, fat and hemp are the seeds of plant fat, but they are two different varieties of the sesame family.

Sesame seeds are an essential pantry item for Chinese cooking. Sometimes used for sweet treats and sometimes for accent or garnish, they add a great nutty flavor and crunch. We use sesame seeds liberally in our kitchen.

Steamed Meat Powder Seasoning Package

The steamed meat powder(粉蒸肉) dish is widely spread in China in the south of China (such as Sichuan, Chongqing, Hunan, Jiangxi, Hubei, Zhejiang, etc.). When cooking this dish, first fry the meat (usually use pork) and apply it. Seasoned steamed meat, then steamed in a Chinese Steamer. Click here to buy Sichuan Steamed meat powder seasoning package from Amazon.

Chinese Spice Braising Packet(卤料包,鹵料包,lǔ liào bāo)

Chinese braised dish (卤菜, 滷菜, lǔ cài ) has a long history, a wide variety, and different flavors. They have been constantly surpassing and developing in their unique forms. They have great influence in Cantonese, Hunan, Anhui and Sichuan cuisines, regardless of the urban area. Look at the restaurant, the street alleys can be seen everywhere.

Cooking the Chinese braised dish (卤菜, 滷菜, lǔ cài ) will use a Chinese Spice Braising Packet (卤料包, 鹵料包, lú liào bāo ). Lu generally refers to a spice flavored brine used for braising although one of the direct translations I have seen is bittern, which is a bitter-tasting solution extract. That said, I think we’ll go with the translation, bringing or braising packet.

Chinese spice braising packets contain a variety of spices but usually Chinese cinnamon, cardamom pod, Sichuan peppercorn, star anise pod, cloves, dried tangerine peel, bay leaves, whole white peppercorn, dried licorice slices, nutmeg, and fennel seeds, you can buy Chinese spice braising packet on Amazon.

5 thoughts on “Top 10 Dry Spices and Condiments for delicious Chinese food”

  1. Hi

    There are lots of spices out there and you often wonder which one to buy for your favourite Chinese Dishes. I have a cupboard full of spices and I use them for my Chinese, Indian, Italian and Ukrainian dishes.  I try not to use much sugar as I am trying to cut back on the carbohydrates. I tend to use a lot of  Chilli and pepper-both black and white and Cinnamon, which goes great with apple dishes. It would be interesting to see some of the dishes where these spices are used.

    Do the Chinese use much caraway seeds, paprika or nutmeg?  



  2. I didn’t like Chinese food at first but lately I have started to eat it quite frequently. I have never cooked it myself. I have always gone to Chinese restaurants but after reading your article I thought: why not giving it a try? There is a pretty big Asian food supermarket close to where I live so I guess it wouldn’t be difficult for me to find the ingredients. Plus you can also learn only today. 

  3. Wow, there’s just so many stuff here honestly. To be frank, I didn’t think that there was alsugar made out of sugarcane. Its really good to learn everything here and I feel like I need ti try to get some of this spice. Its not everything that I make use of generally. Those cinnamon do have some good health benefits too. Thanks for putting this upll get some of this beauties.


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