Hongs Kitchen, Eros City Square Mall, Sector 49, GURGAON, Gurugram | Top 10 commonly used Chinese Herbs & Spices

The Top 10 Herbs & Spices Most Frequently Used to Flavour Chinese Food

Chinese cuisine is renowned for incorporating a wide range of herbs and spices. Chinese herbs and spices, renowned for their many health advantages, are essential to traditional Chinese medicine. Popular herbs like ginger, garlic, scallions, star anise, cinnamon, and Sichuan peppercorns are frequently used in Chinese cooking because of their therapeutic properties, in addition to their ability to improve the flavour, aroma, and texture of food.

Chinese cooking uses a lot of Chinese herbs and spices from China to give food its unique flavours and aromas. Due to the country's long history of herbal medicine, these items are also valued for their medicinal properties and health benefits. These ingredients serve a purpose in multiple recipes, notably soups, stews, stir-fries, and marinades. They are essential to many Chinese culinary techniques. As part of its extensive culinary heritage, Chinese cuisine uses herbs and spices widely. Now let's look at them more closely.

Spices and Herbs most frequently used to flavour Chinese Food

Chinese cooking employs a variety of herbs and spices, each of which comes with a unique flavour and health advantages. Here's a list of a few of the most popular Spices used in Chinese cooking, along with information on their application in Chinese cooking:

  • Sichuan peppercorns: These tiny, reddish-brown berries are prized for their ability to numb your tongue and mouth. These are frequently included in hot pot recipes and stir-fries that feature spicy Sichuan food.

  • Five-spice powder: Cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns are generally included in this spice mixture, known as Chinese five-spice powder. It is employed to flavour meat dishes and stir-fries.

  • Star anise: Used frequently in soups, stews, and braised foods, this spice has a liquorice-like flavour. In addition, it can be used to prepare a tea that helps with digestion and has antimicrobial characteristics.

  • Cinnamon: Chinese cinnamon can be used in both sweet and savoury foods to add a warm, spicy flavour; it is frequently employed in braised foods, stews, and marinades.

  • Chilli powder: Chilli powder is used to spice up the food and provide heat. Chinese chilli powder is manufactured from ground-dried chilli peppers. It is frequently used in Sichuan food, including spicy stir-fries and noodle soups.

  • Cumin: Cumin is a spice frequently used in Muslim Cumin Chinese cooking. It offers a warm, earthy flavour and is frequently used in stews, noodle soups, and lamb meals.

  • Ginger: Ginger is a root that offers many Chinese cuisines a hot, spicy flavour. It is frequently used to season marinades, stir-fries, and soups. Ginger is also thought to aid in digestion and reduce motion sickness.

  • Garlic: Another essential ingredient in Chinese cuisine, garlic gives food a unique flavour. It is frequently employed in marinades, sauces, and stir-fries and possesses antiviral and antibacterial qualities.

  • Scallions: Scallions, also referred to as green onions, give food a delicate onion flavour. They are frequently used as a garnish for soups and stir-fries.

  • White pepper: White pepper exhibits a milder flavour than black pepper and is created from pulverized white peppercorns. It is frequently used in light-colour Chinese seasonings, like soups and steamed fish.

Overall, Chinese herbs and spices are essential to the nation's culinary tradition since they give food depth and complexity as well as a host of health advantages.

Popular Chinese Dishes that incorporate Herbs and Spices

Chinese herbs and spices are frequently used in various cuisines because they are adaptable. Here are a few examples of traditional Chinese dishes together with the best Chinese herbs and spices they use:

  • Wonton Soup: Flavors of scallions, ginger, and garlic are present in this savoury soup, along with possibly a touch of white pepper.

  • Kung Pao Chicken: Sichuan peppercorns, dried chilli peppers, and ginger make this spicy stir-fry meal.

  • Mapo Tofu: You can prepare Mapo Tofu, a spicy Sichuan dish, with a blend of Chinese food spices, which includes Sichuan peppercorns, scallions, and chilli bean paste. It tastes too hot and savoury.

  • Chinese Five-Spice Roast Chicken: You need to put a blend of five-spice powder, garlic, and ginger over this classic roasted chicken, which thereby produces a flavour that is savoury, aromatic, and both sweet as well as spicy.

  • Cumin Lamb: In this flavorful dish flavoured with cumin, chilli powder, and garlic, you've to stir-fry tender lamb with onions and peppers.

  • La Xiang Guo Ma: This dish is a spicy stir-fry that you may prepare with a variety of meats, vegetables, dried chilli peppers, Szechuan peppercorns, and other spices.

These meals demonstrate the adaptability of Chinese herbs and spices in cooking, enhancing each meal with distinctive flavours and health advantages.

Health Benefits of Various Chinese Food Using Herbs and Spices

Below are some eminent health benefits of Chinese herbs and spices on consumption:

Anti-inflammatory along with antioxidant qualities
  • Turmeric includes a compound called curcumin, which has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may reduce inflammation in your body and provide protection from diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

  • Furthermore, being high in antioxidants, cumin is proven to possess anti-inflammatory properties.

Immune-stimulating qualities
  • The sulfur compounds found in garlic and onion powder can strengthen the immune system and assist the body in fending off infections.

  • Ginger powder has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory benefits on the body and immune-boosting qualities.

Digestive Health
  • Fennel and anise seeds are frequently used to enhance digestion and lessen gas and bloating. Additionally, they include antibacterial qualities that may aid in reducing the risk of digestive system infections.

  • Cinnamon has a reputation for easing nausea and other digestive pain in the stomach.

Brain function
  • Anethole, a substance found in star anise, has been demonstrated to have neuroprotective benefits and may enhance cognitive performance.

  • Chinese herbs called adaptogens, like ginseng and goji berries, may assist the body in coping with stress and enhance mental clarity.

Cardiovascular health
  • Capsaicin, an ingredient in chilli powder, has been found to positively affect the heart, reducing blood pressure and decreasing inflammation.

  • The antioxidant content of cloves has been demonstrated to lower the likelihood of heart disease and enhance blood sugar levels.

Chinese Herbs and Spices: Side Effects and Precautions

Chinese herbs and spices can have various positive health advantages, but it's vital to use them sparingly and be aware of any possible negative consequences. Who should avoid specific Chinese herbs and spices, as well as some potential adverse effects, are listed below:

  • Allergies: Certain herbs and spices, including cinnamon, ginger, and garlic, may cause allergic reactions in specific individuals. It is critical to be mindful of any allergic responses and, if required, seek medical advice.

  • Blood thinning: Garlic and ginseng, two Chinese herbs and spices with blood-thinning characteristics, can make bleeding more likely. Before utilizing these herbs and spices, those using blood-thinning drugs or who have bleeding disorders should speak with a medical professional.

  • Drug interactions: A few Chinese spices and herbs could affect how some drugs work. Ginseng, for instance, may react with warfarin and blood pressure drugs.

  • Breastfeeding and pregnancy: Certain essential Chinese spices and herbs might not be suitable for expectant mothers or nursing mothers to consume. For instance, taking large quantities of ginger and cinnamon may make you more likely to miscarry.


Most individuals can safely use Chinese herbs and spices in small amounts, and it is crucial to emphasize that these potential adverse effects are uncommon. Before introducing new spices and herbs into your dietary routine, speaking with a healthcare provider is strongly advised, particularly if you're suffering from any existing medical conditions or use prescription medication.