Salt is a mineral; the edible rock. It is a controversial topic to some, to others an afterthought, but it is for certain a major part of eating healthier. Some foods that we eat regularly are packed full of salt without us even knowing it! Frozen food is an especially wicked culprit for adding unnecessary sodium. You cannot comb the aisles in the grocery store without seeing at least a dozen or so processed foods proclaiming, "less sodium!" and those are just the ones you've noticed. Manufacturers have used salt so freely and in such a huge amount that it is now normally assumed that foods will have a high salt content and it is considered strange to have less sodium. This is unlikely to change any time soon. Salt is an excellent preservative, which means that food can keep longer. This is a desirable quality in canned foods.
It is easy to forget about salt almost entirely until you must cut it from your diet, or you choose to look for it. Doctors across the United States tell their patients to avoid salt and look for alternatives, especially when their heart health is in danger. We here at Spices, Inc. are of the camp that believes that food can be just as delicious, if not more so, without all that extra sodium added to a meal. Embracing a better, healthier version of yourself can come easily with the subtraction of salt from your diet and the addition of other flavorful spices.
What Spices Have a Salty Taste?
If you are worried about missing out on the flavor of salt, you should think about what you crave when you want salty food. Is it really the salt or is it the other rich flavors that the salt helps bring out? Salt functions in a way that it helps amplify the flavors of food, and you want this without the added sodium in your diet, right?
Unfortunately, there is nothing that tastes identical to salt without being actual salt. However, there are flavors that can act as salt in some ways. Citrus flavors are excellent for this, especially lemon. There have been studies done where people were given either salted food or food with lemon juice added, and they almost all decided that the dish colored with the lemon juice was much more flavorful than the salted dish. This is because the bite in lemon juice is similar chemically to the bite in salt, although it is not identical. This substitute can only really work conditionally though. You wouldn't put lemon juice on popcorn, but you could put it on chicken the same way you would use salt, of course. What about that popcorn though? Or other foods where lemon juice is not ideal? You want these things to taste delicious, but you want to avoid using extra salt. Well, that's where salt free seasoning blends come in.
Our Favorite Salt-Free Seasonings
The best way to start cutting sodium from your diet is to eat fresh foods. These foods can taste amazing without adding salt to them, because they haven't been processed and they are at their peak when fresh. When carefully seasoned with other herbs and spices, any food can become incomparably delicious. Below is a list of 25 salt free seasonings that we are sure you will enjoy, and which will be helpful in giving you a deep flavor that you have become accustomed to associating with salt.
- Manzanillo Mexican Seasoning - Our Manzanillo Mexican seasoning can be used on tacos, enchiladas, burritos and quesadillas, but that's not all. This seasoning is a favorite for us because it can be added to any dish that needs a little spicy flavor, but not burn your face off fire. The flavor profile of our Manzanillo Mexican Seasoning is earthy with a complex chile base that is savory and spicy. You'll also pick up a slight garlicky undertone with hints of onion.
- Pennsylvania Pepper - This pepper blend is the perfect blend to replace salt in the shaker on your kitchen table. It is hand blended with black pepper, onion, garlic, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and celery seed, so it is full of flavor. This is truly an all-purpose seasoning that can be used any time you would reach for the salt. It will give your meal a lot of flavor dimension without loading up the sodium levels as well.
- Flippin' the Bird - When eating healthier, most people tend to incorporate more chicken into their weekly meal routine. If you want to be extra healthy and make sure that chicken is as low on salt as possible, then this seasoning is perfect for you. Flippin' the Bird is our most popular salt free seasoning specifically made to spice up your plain old chicken recipes. It is tame when it comes to heat and has an herby flavor profile with sweet and citusy undertones.
- Habanero Mango Chicken Rub - If you're looking for some decent heat to spice up your chicken, this is one rub to try. This has a nice hot upfront heat that fades fairly quickly, so it won't overwhelm your mouth for too long. You'll pick up a bit of tartness (not sweetness) from the dried mango and then this is rounded out by earthy and citrusy notes. Because of the heat in the rub, a little goes a long way. Always start with about ½ the amount you think you'll need and gradually add more, because our seasonings are very flavorful!
- Jamaican Jerk Seasoning - Our Jamaican Jerk seasoning is perfect for chicken, pork, fish and seafood, especially when barbecuing. This seasoning is convenient enough to use daily but is packed with enough flair to be used at any special backyard barbecue celebration. To make your own jerk marinade, mix 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 large orange), 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (about 1 small lime) and 1/2 cup of our Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. This is enough for 3-4 lbs of chicken.
- Blackened Seasoning - If its meat, it can be blackened. There's just something about this seasoning that can make even the cloudiest day seem a little brighter. Blackening produces a black, peppery crust, which seals in all the flavor and juices, making it a great choice for the grill. Originally, Chef Paul Prudhome of K-Paul's in New Orleans created and perfected the blackening process for use with a fish recipe. Today blackening seasoning is used to treat all kinds of food, including shrimp, steak, chicken, pork and even vegetables. It is wonderful, rich, and makes you forget all about that salt you thought you needed to have flavorful food.
- Italian Seasoning - This seasoning is our best selling blend of herbs. This fragrant seasoning blend makes it simple to create the signature flavors of Italy right in your home kitchen. Jazz up your recipes with an ideal balance of complex herbal notes. Our Italian Seasoning is also incredibly versatile as you can add it to vinegar & oil for a quick salad dressing. Any tomato-based dish, from lasagna to spaghetti to pizza, will benefit from the flavors of this herb blend. Our Italian Seasoning is hand blended from rosemary, basil, oregano, sage and marjoram.
- Maharajah Curry Powder - A curry refers to a gravy or sauce based dish of meat and rice. The meat may be anything from chicken to lamb to shrimp and the curry is the spicy (but not necessarily hot) sauce that marries the meat and rice together. Our premier Maharajah Style Curry Powder is earthy, slightly floral, sweet and spicy with citrusy notes. It considered a milder, not especially hot curry powder and is ideal for adding magnificent color and unmatched flavor to seafood and chicken curries.
- Chinese Five Spice - There are many who believe that this mixture was originally created to become the perfect spice blend. It incorporates the five base flavors of Chinese cooking; sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory. Five Spice really shines with fatty meats such as duck, goose or pork. We also like to use it as a rub for chicken and seafood or in red recipes, which is also known as flavor potting. Flavor potting refers to a technique of stewing foods, but especially fatty cuts of meat, in a spicy, flavorful sauce for a very long time. The cook time is about 4 to 5 hours, ususally. This slow cooking method allows the sauce to seep into the meat, tenderizing it and infusing it with great flavor.
- Cajun Seasoning - As a rule of thumb, Cajun dishes are one-pot creations like gumbos, dirty rice, jambalaya, fried catfish and a spicy smoked sausage called Andouille. You can use Cajun Seasoning on almost any meat or seafood dish, you don't have to limit yourself to one-pot meals. This seasoning blend was inspired by the Cajun people who took whatever they could get their hands on in terms of food and transformed it into the hearty, delicious dishes this cuisine has become so well-known for.
- Garlic Herb Seasoning - Garlic Herb seasoning is a very versatile addition to any spice collection. It can be used practically anywhere, but a few of our favorite applications include seasoning breadsticks, focaccia, mushroom stuffing or stir fries. Top salads with this seasoning or mix it with olive oil to create a wet rub for chicken. The flavor profile of our Garlic and Herb seasoning is a delightful balance of pepper and garlic with a crunchy and nutty undertones provided by the toasted sesame seed.
- Sweet Chili Powder - Many people wonder if chili powder has salt in it. Well we can't speak for anyone else, but ours doesn't and it's still full of flavor! Our Sweet Chili Powder is perfect for the chili lover who wants something different from the usual. It possesses a light touch of sweetness while also carrying a very subtle heat from the New Mexico and Ancho Chiles in the mix. Our Sweet Chili Powder is hand blended from freshly ground Ancho and New Mexico Chiles, coriander, cumin, domestic paprika, oregano, garlic, sugar and cinnamon.
- Adobo Seasoning - Adobo is a seasoning blend with a south of the border flair and it is generally rubbed or sprinkled on seafood and meat before grilling or frying. This is another seasoning blend people are curious about. If you go to the grocery store to buy it, you will discover that there is quite a bit of salt in the premade adobo seasonings there. Ours is salt free, but still packs a flavorful punch! Adobo is used on chicken and pork, but it can also be sprinkled over fried plantains and is especially delicious on root vegetables. Our adobo is perfect for guacamole, black beans, red beans, tacos or even macaroni and cheese. The flavor profile is a balanced deep earthy complexity with moderate chili heat and hints of fruitiness that will have friends and family asking for your secrets. Tell them it's love and horde this stuff for yourself. Seriously, it's that good.
- Bahamian Chicken - When it comes to perfectly balancing hot and spicy, sweet and tart, tangy and zesty, Bahamian cooks have an intuitive talent for converting a dish from the plain to the remarkable. Even though it is primarily a chicken seasoning, our Bahamian Chicken seasoning was inspired by these cooks and can be used on almost any meat for a kick of heat and a taste of this talent. This blend includes Scotch Bonnet Chiles which are notorious for their heat. The Scotch Bonnet is similar to the better-known Habanero Chile but isn't quite as hot and is a bit sweeter. This chile's flavor profile brings to mind tomatoes with hints of apple and cherry.
- Apple Pie Spice - Apple Pie Spice is one of our signature baking spice blends and it doesn't disappoint. Delicious and rich in spicy cinnamon flavor, the other flavors compliment it nicely to give that "Grandma's house in the fall" scent we have all come to associate with apple pie. The allspice provides a warm, gentle flavor, the nutmeg adds a savory note, the ginger casts hints of lemony pungency and then it's all married together with a sophisticated complexity from the cardamom. If we could use spices as candles, we are certain we would sell out of this blend in mere moments as soon as the leaves start to fall from the trees across the United States. Since we can't, it's just perfect for eating in desserts. We also like it as a topping on oatmeal, in waffle or pancake batter, sprinkled on French toast, added to crumbled toppings on spice cakes, and even in BBQ mops and sauces. Fall all year round, y'all.
- Chili Con Carne - Chili Con Carne is our premium chili powder. It is jam packed with flavor and aroma but it is not particularly hot. This is the classic chili flavor that cooks crave when they think about the perfect bowl of chili. We like to think it's good enough to be included in your chili arsenal, but you can decide for yourself. If chili isn't your thing, you can also use this on vegetables and beans. Our Chili Con Carne is hand blended from Ancho Chiles, New Mexico Chiles, cumin, Mexican oregano, garlic powder, allspice, minced onion, clove and coriander.
- Pollo Asado - Pollo Asado translates to roasted chicken. Asado is considered a cooking technique of open-fire style of cooking meat that uses hardwoods and seasonings for flavor. This cooking style is mimicked nicely on a grill. Pollo Asado seasoning is great by itself, but even better when turned into a marinade to really bring out the complex flavors. To marinate 3 lbs of chicken use 1/2 cup of lime (or 2 fresh limes), lemon (2 fresh lemons) and orange (1 medium to large orange) fresh squeezed juice, 1/4 cup of vinegar (apple cider vinegar is more common in Mexican cuisine), and 1/4 cup of the seasoning.
- Citrus Seasoning - Our Citrus Seasoning is typically used for fish, but is also excellent on chicken. What we like best about Citrus Seasoning is the wonderful combination of herbs with the "ultimate fish seasoning" fennel and then the added citrus twist of lemon and orange zest. Our Citrus Seasoning is hand blended from thyme, Mediterranean oregano, basil, rosemary, sage, orange zest, lemon zest and fennel. It will brighten up any meal and delight you if you are looking for a scope of flavors wide enough you on track with this low or no salt diet.
- Za'atar (Israeli) - Za'atar is an underrated spice blend. Its versatility and flavor profile bring out the best that your food has to offer, and yet so few people even know of its magnificence. Za'atar is most frequently used as a table condiment, dusted on food on its own, or stirred into some olive oil as a dip for soft, plush flatbreads. Na'an is an excellent companion for this blend. It can also be used to create a delicious crust on chicken or other meat on the grill. In Lebanon, za'atar is most often associated with breakfast, a cue well worth taking. Try sprinkling some on eggs, oatmeal, or yogurt. Your life will change. Salt is painfully boring compared to Za'atar.
- Poultry Seasoning - We've already talked about chicken as a frequent food choice for people who are trying to eat healthier. This is a great way to get stuck in a rut. Making the same food repeatedly will eventually bore your brain, making it hard to enjoy eating healthy. Our poultry seasoning is a great way to try something a little different and get back into truly loving your food choices. It is also commonly referred to as Chicken Seasoning or Stuffing Seasoning and it is very popular around Thanksgiving, which is clearly for the birds. This seasoning has an herby flavor profile and is great for individuals who want flavor, but nothing too strong, spicy or hot. Our Poultry Seasoning is hand blended from thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram and oregano.
- Pizza Seasoning - If you choose to make your pizza by hand, this seasoning blend will boost the flavor exponentially. If you decide to make a pizza from the freezer, this seasoning will take that nearly cardboard flavor and make it palatable, but are you sure you want to risk that frozen food salt? You'll find this blend contains the perfect ingredients to spice up every pizza just like it was from your favorite Italian joint down the road- from the thin crust plain cheese to the deep dish "give me everything you got!" pie without all that extra salt. You can also use this to make pizza bread or as an additional seasoning on garlic bread.
- Herbs de Provence - Also known as Provencal herbs, Herbes de Provence and simply Herbs Provence, Herbs de Provence is a traditional blend of common, aromatic herbs that flourish in the hills of France's Provence region. Some of the more common herbs in this blend are basil, bay leave, chervil, dill, fennel, lavender, marjoram, mint, orange zest, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon and thyme. We like using Herbs de Provence when roasting beef or pork tenderloins and Cornish hens. It is also spectacular when used with cheese, tomatoes, larger pieces of oven roasted potatoes or in gravies, pizza sauce, salads, sauces, soups and stews.
- Spicy Thai Seasoning - Thai cuisine is based around five essential flavors: salty, sour, spicy, bitter and sweet. Between three and five of these will in some shape or form, be found in most Thai dishes. Our Spicy Thai Seasoning is perfect for adding delicious Thai flavor to grains, meat, seafood and vegetable-based dishes. We like to use our Spicy Thai Seasoning when we're looking for something extra, with just a little more kick than usual, especially in stir fries and as a dry rub for some delicious Thai Chicken Wings. Ain't no thing like a Thai Chicken Wing, after all.
- Napa Valley Pepper - Napa Valley Pepper is our #2 pepper blend after Pennsylvania Pepper. The citrus combination of these culinary favorites compliments many fresh and cooked dishes whether at the stove, on the grill or on the table. You can use Napa Valley Pepper as a rub or sprinkle on fish, meat, chicken, seafood or tofu before broiling or grilling. It can be added to greens or side salads like chicken, potato, pasta. It's also excellent with tofu and can be used to make herb butter.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice - When the holiday season is upon you and you're looking to create that perfect, traditional pumpkin pie then this is the seasoning blend that you want to have at your finger tips! Sweets may be where this spice has been pigeonholed, but it can work in savory foods as well. Put it on pork tenderloins or pork chops and pair it with a bit of garlic, olive oil and a drizzle or two of maple syrup. Use it in place of just plain cinnamon on French Toast, in creamed spinach, and on couscous. We also like to sprinkle it over winter squash, sweet potatoes or carrots and roast, use it to spice up whipped cream, or mix it into some yogurt or ice cream base, sprinkle over coffee grounds before brewing for a DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte, stir into waffle or pancake batter and use it to season popcorn - it's quite a versatile spice blend, with zero salt in sight.
These seasoning blends are a great way to begin your salt-free journey. You want to be able to enjoy a lot of levels of flavor in your food, and these blends provide those levels. After you've become familiar with these, you can even start to build your own flavors with single spices. Salt free doesn't have to mean flavorless!