It’s way too easy to go down the rabbit hole when stocking your spice rack—especially if you like to try new recipes and explore different cuisines. From Aleppo pepper to za’atar, there are so many jars worth seeking out; arguably too many for someone building their first kitchen, or a cook with a small space. But being a great cook isn’t about having a full arsenal. Instead, it’s about choosing a few great tools and using them well. We asked the BA test kitchen staff to name their top five favorite spices for savory cooking (not including salt and pepper, which are a given!). Here are the seasonings they consider to be essential; the rest is just (really tasty) gravy.