Flavor Your Summer Meals With Spice Seeds

Summer is a perfect time to discover a little ingredient that adds big flavor to a variety of foods: the seed spice. Spice seeds are a symbol of rebirth and rejuvenation and pair excellently with fresh summer vegetables and fruits. They offer endless possibilities for adding color, texture and flavor to numerous dishes. While many people are accustomed to cooking with ground spices, they may not be as familiar with how to use whole seeds. McCormick®, the flavor expert, shares the inside scoop on these tiny treasures.

Seeds come from the dried, ripe fruit of plants, usually grown in temperate climates. Chefs have long prized spice seeds for their fresh flavor and aroma, which are released right at the moment the seed is ground or crushed. When stored in a cool, dry place away from heat and moisture, seeds last about three to four years.

Here’s another seed secret: toasting seeds before adding to a recipe intensifies their taste and provides another dimension of flavor. Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite seeds, along with a quick guide to toasting:

Three Steps to Toasted Seeds

  1. Place a dry skillet over medium heat
  2. Once pan is hot, pour in desired amount of seeds
  3. Using a spatula, stir the seeds in the pan until they become fragrant, approximately 1-2 minutes




Pairs Well With Foods Like:


Licorice-like, with piney undertones

Anise Seed

Pale brown, crescent shaped

Beets, carrots, fish, shellfish, melon, oranges, pork


Nutty, slightly sweet and somewhat sharp

Caraway Seed

Dark brown, crescent shaped; approximately ¼-inch long

New potatoes, pork, salmon


Slightly sweet, citrus-like

Coriander Seed

Light tan to medium brown; spherical and ribbed

Carrots, chicken, fish, ham, pork, lamb, peas, shrimp


Pungent, earthy, slightly bitter and warming

Cumin Seed

Pale to medium brown; similar in appearance to caraway

Asparagus, carrots, chicken, grains, green beans, fish, lamb, peas, pork, potatoes, spinach


Sweet flavor, with notes of anise and aroma similar to caraway; green and minty

Dill Seed

Pale brown with fine lighter colored ribs; oval

Beets, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish/shellfish, lamb, potatoes, salmon, scallops, veal


Sweet and aromatic; aroma is minty with a green, anise freshness

Fennell Seed

Yellowish-green; approximately ¼-inch long

Eggs, fish, green beans, pork, veal


Sharp, pungent flavor and aroma

Mustard Seed

Golden, round

Beef, beets, chicken, crab, eggs, fish, green beans, lamb, pork, salmon, vinaigrettes


Sweet aroma and nutty flavor

Poppy Seed

Possibly the tiniest of the seeds; round and blue-gray in color

Baked goods, citrus, salads and salad dressings, stir-fries


Nutty, sweet aroma with a milk-like, buttery taste

Sesame Seed

Flat and tear-shaped

Asparagus, chicken, fish/shellfish, lamb, mushrooms, orange

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