Nigerian Spices

image source: dobby’s signature

Nigerian foods have a definitely distinct taste. This can be attributed to common seasonings and spices we use to make our meals. In this part of the continent we indulge in spices and herbs and seasoning, below is a list of spices you will find in a typical Nigerian kitchen. If you won’t find all, due to personal preferences, you will most definitely be missing only one or two!



Onions is a spice that helps to enhance the taste of meat, fish, chicken or soups. It used to cook your porridge, jollof rice or beans. Onions may not work well with some traditional meals like bitterleaf soup or ora soup. But it can be added to peppersoup. Raw onions have been known to lower bad cholesterol levels. It also contains quercetin which plays a prominent role in preventing cancer.


Stock Cubes

Stock cubes are made with carefully selected herbs and spices. They are basically dehydrated stock or bullion that are formed into cubes. From meat to chicken to crayfish and even goat meat, stock cubes are a must find in any Nigerian kitchen.



The essential minerals in salt act as important electrolytes in the body. They help with fluid balance, nerve transmission and muscle function. Some amount of salt is naturally found in most foods. It’s also frequently added to foods in order to improve flavor. A must find in every Nigerian kitchen.


Crayfish Powder

This is made from grinding dried crayfish. Crayfish powder is flavorful and can be used in almost any typical traditional Nigerian dish.



The ginger spice comes from the roots of the plant. Ginger is native to warmer parts of Asia, such as China, Japan, and India, but now is grown in parts of South American and Africa. It is also now grown in the Middle East to use as medicine and with food. This spice may not be a must find, due to personal tastes.

  • It can reduce your risk of diabetes.
  • It’s a natural way to relieve period pain.
  • It’s an anti-inflammatory.
  • It can settle an upset stomach.
  • It can also curb morning sickness.
  • It may help prevent heart disease.
  • It may lower your risk of cancer.



Garlic is a member of the onion family. It is known for its strong pungent flavour which has some medicinal properties due to the essential oils contained. Garlic can be in the bulbs or powdered form. Garlic is a natural anti-hypertensive. And because of the pungent flavor mentioned above, some people can do without it. Garlic is for the strong at heart.



While the curry powder we buy in the market is actually a mix of blended spices, curry leaves are often used to prepare fried or jollof rice as a way of giving the food a unique taste. The leaves contain calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, B, C and E.

Some of the health benefits of curry leaves include:

  • Reduction of blood cholesterol
  • Lowering of blood sugar in diabetic cases
  • Boosting of blood levels in anaemic cases.



Thyme is an interesting spice with diverse applications. This spice has several health benefits. For instance, thyme has been known to protect the heart as well as improve blood circulation. Additionally, thyme has been linked to treating respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and seasonal allergies. But if you have a sensitive stomach, thyme may cause gastro-intestinal discomfort.

There are several ways to use thyme. You can spice your meat with it or you can use it to cook jollof rice. Thyme is the major culprit for making traditional Nigerian fried rice.


Ground pepper

This is basically grounded dried red bell pepper. The origin of Paprika can be traced to Spain and it is usually available in dried and powdery forms. It can be used to give depth to soups and stews. It can also serve as colouring to the stew because of its deep red colour. Paprika contains vitamin A, E, B6, iron and capsaicin. Capsaicin is known for its antihypertensive properties.