Meat Seasoning Guide: The Best Spices for Every Meat

Becoming a certified grill master requires knowledge of which spices pair with various types of meats. Often, proper seasoning makes or breaks a quality meal, and the wrong herb ultimately detracts from the natural flavor of your favorite carnivorous snack. So don’t let a bland dinner ruin your reputation as a skilled chef. Instead, use this meat seasoning guide on the best spices for every meat to ensure your next cookout is a raving success.


Our flying feathered friends provide delicious, lean meat filled with healthy proteins and other vitamins. A robust cooked bird is typically the centerpiece at a holiday dinner, and seasoning plays a considerable part in ensuring your guests and loved ones overwhelmingly enjoy their meat feast.


Of all the lean meats, chicken is the most popular throughout this country and the world. Chicken is extremely affordable and relatively simple to cook, however a poorly seasoned meal leaves this meat tasting bland. No matter the cut, these seasonings work best for chicken:

  • Citrus peels and juices – perfect for a marinade, as the citrus unlocks truly vibrant flavors.
  • Dill weed – a pickle that pairs well with this bird, unlocking a savory flavor best for chicken sandwiches.
  • Rosemary – the staple seasoning for chicken, this spice elevates your meal to restaurant-level meat.

Remember that salt is essential for chicken, especially when marinating – this seasoning locks in juices and makes your meat far more tender. However, don’t go overboard with the salt, as the spices listed above add flavor and keep lean meats healthy.


Benjamin Franklin wanted America’s national bird to be a turkey, and while this never happened, our country absolutely loves this meat. It’s best known for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for its rich flavor, but many people enjoy making turkey burgers and meatballs in place of beef. These seasonings work best for turkey:

  • Cumin – adds a warm, nutty flavor to an already savory cut of meat. Perfect for the colder months, thanks to its natural spice and heat.
  • Sage – this is the spice you want to opt for during Thanksgiving dinner, providing your meal’s centerpiece with an earthy tone.
  • Star Anise – technically a fruit, the seasoning comes from the dried herb. It’s the perfect spice for an Asian-inspired meal.

While many people reach for dark meat thanks to its juicy flavor, the perfect seasoning makes any part of a turkey delicious and filling. Combine different spices to create a truly decadent meal.


Most people only eat duck or goose at a fancy restaurant, but these meats are perfect for any family dinner. These birds are rich in juice and flavor and are priced similarly to chicken and beef. These seasonings pair best with goose or duck:

  • Cinnamon – roast your meat with this spice to ensure tenderness and robust flavor.
  • Rosemary – best for the goose, this spice helps lighten the intensity of the meat.
  • Red pepper flakes – when used in moderation, this seasoning adds just the right amount of spice to any duck or goose meal.

Goose and duck meat is enjoyable in any season, and the right seasonings ensure a delicious and pallet-engaging meal for all.

Red Meat

Red meat cuts are staples at any cookout, barbeque, or family dinner. This meat is used for many enjoyable foods thanks to its juiciness, texture, and rich flavor. These are the most common cuts of red meat and their best-fitting seasonings:


Used for burgers, meatballs, steaks, and other delicious meals, beef is a massively popular meat thanks to its reasonable affordability and flexibility. The possibilities for beef meals are endless! These seasonings are preferred for beef products:

  • Basil – this spice adds a refreshing, hearty tone to beef, and the flavors of this spice complement the meat.
  • Yellow mustard powder – a very pungent seasoning that produces a sharp taste when used for burgers.
  • Onion/garlic – much like yellow mustard powder, this spice creates that classic, strong taste for your beef.

The robust flavor of beef makes cooking a delicious meal quite easy. Truly elevate your meat with these seasonings, which add complex layers to the taste of beef. For ground beef, seek out and buy fajita seasoning that’s perfect for stellar tacos and other Mexican-inspired dishes.


Lamb comes from adolescent sheep, and the meat is known best for its tenderness. From sheep at least three-years old, mutton has a reputation for tasting like a cross of beef and pork. Both cuts feature dark layers of exploding flavors. These seasonings pair best with lamb and mutton:

  • Mint – this spice adds a “chilled” element to a meat type that’s overwhelmingly warm – this difference of flavors complements each other well.
  • Curry powder – many Indian-inspired dishes use this special seasoning for its unique heat and spiciness.
  • Turmeric – perfect for contrasting the richness of sheep meats.

A lamb or mutton dish is a delicious meal that’s sure to impress others. The best sheep meats use spices that juxtapose hearty, earthy tones.


What American doesn’t love pork? It’s delicious year-round and decadent when adequately made. A good pork meal is one cooked to the perfect temperature, but the best pork meal uses quality, complementary seasoning. These are the spices for pork dishes:

  • Juniper berries – a tart addition to already sweet meat, this seasoning is perfect for pork chops or ham.
  • Caraway – many people don’t consider this spice for its licorice taste, but the combination is to die for!
  • Sage – differing from the gentle flavor of pork, this seasoning is best for potato-based meals.

A hearty cut of pork with an ice-cold beer is the perfect way to spend a relaxing day. Combining these spices listed above adds unique flavors to any pig-based meat.


While land-based meat is quite delicious, a seafood dish is a versatile meal sure to please guests and loved ones. A refreshing fish dish is perfect for a summer or spring event and an excellent alternative for vegetarian eaters. These are common ocean dwellers and their preferred seasonings:


Fish have a distinct, tangy taste that’s quite enjoyable for many people’s pallets. These cuts of meat benefit from contrasting and complementary spices that help curb the intense flavor of the dish. Here are the best seasonings for fish meat:

  • Lemongrass – citrus spices pair amazingly well with fish, and this seasoning in particular works best for Asian-inspired fish dishes.
  • Mediterranean oregano – opt for this seasoning when cooking freshwater fish, such as catfish or bass.
  • Basil – this spice complements raw fish, such as mahi-mahi, or any meat with a firm flesh texture.

Shellfish pairs well with many of the spices listed above, but lobster and crab meat benefit from Tarragon seasonings. Experiment with different spices until you find the best-tasting fish meal.

Williams Food Co. offers excellent, affordable seasonings and spices that are sure to upgrade your next cookout or family dinner. Use this meat seasoning guide of the best spices for every meat to elevate your home-cooked dishes.

Meat Seasoning Guide: The Best Spices for Every Meat

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