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What AIP spices and herbs can you have? What spices do you have to avoid? This can get confusing while on the Autoimmune Protocol, but this post will clear it all up for you, teach you how to use them and seasoning blends to make your dishes more flavorful, and you can also get a printable PDF cheat sheet with a list of compliant and non-compliant AIP spices and herbs.
Are You Destined to Have Boring Dishes on the AIP Diet?
Ah, I think this is one of the biggest myths about the Autoimmune Protocol – that dishes are going to be bland and tasteless because the majority of “normal” spices are eliminated.
However, just like a lot of the parts of the AIP Diet, it's more about relearning how to use what you CAN use rather than lamenting the lack of what you can't.
See also: The Ultimate Guide to the AIP Diet – everything you need to know to be successful
So let's start by first talking about what you can and can't have during the elimination portion of the diet, and then we'll go on to talk about using what you can to flavor your dishes. (See the entire AIP Food List )
What spices are allowed on AIP? (Safe herbs and spices)
- Basil leaf
- Bay Leaf
- Cilantro / Coriander Leaf (leaf only)
- Curry Leaf
- Dill Weed
- Fennel Leaf
- Fenugreek Leaf
- Horseradish Root
- Kaffir Lime Leaf
- Marjoram Leaf
- Onion Powder
- Oregano Leaf
- Savory Leaf
- Wasabi (additive-free)
What spices are NOT allowed on AIP?
- Anise Seed
- Annatto Seed
- Black Caraway
- Black Cumin
- Black Pepper
- Celery Seed
- Chili Pepper Flakes
- Chili Powder
- Chinese Five-Spice
- Chipotle Chili Powder
- Coriander Seed
- Cumin Seed
- Curry Powder (typically contains nightshades)
- Dill Seed
- Fennel Seed
- Fenugreek Seed
- Garam Masala
- Pepper (from black, green, pink, or white peppercorns)
- Poppy Seed
- Poultry Seasoning
- Red Pepper
- Russian Caraway
- Star Anise
- Steak Seasoning
- Taco Seasoning
Free Printable AIP Spices PDF Cheatsheet
Since I know you're not going to want to have to pull this blog post up EVERY time you need to figure out what spices you can have, you can simply print this free AIP Spices cheatsheet in my Paleo & AIP Freebie Library.
Put it up in your pantry so you have easy access!
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Why You Need To Be Cautious With Seasonings
When you go to the store while on the AIP diet, it can feel like a minefield of danger.
If you need any sort of non-perishable foods, you sometimes wonder if you need a college course in reading labels.
One thing to steer clear of while on the elimination diet though are the words “spices” or “seasonings” on packaged products.
Unfortunately, these typically have spices that are not compliant – usually paprika.
Store-bought seasoning blends that you might buy to flavor foods or to season things like steaks, chicken, and fish typically have non-compliant spices in them as well, and sometimes thing like rice, gluten, or corn to keep them from clumping together.
It's best that for the duration of the elimination diet that you either make your own seasoning blends (see some ideas below) or purchase ones that you know are AIP-compliant.
Storebought/Pre-made AIP Spices
One very flavorful seasoning/spice blend is Herbes de Provence. It can be used to sprinkle on steaks before grilling, chicken before cooking, fish, veggies, you name it. Do be careful of fennel seed though – some Herbes de Provence blends have it, some don't, so make sure the one you get does NOT have fennel seed.
Another delicious pre-made seasoning is Italian Seasoning. It can give an authentic taste to a no-mato sauce or again, spice up your proteins or veggies.
I love these AIP Seasonings by Primal Palate. They have three – Super Gyro, which is a greek-style blend that goes well on meats (and in my AIP Gyro Recipe!), a Breakfast Blend which is great on breakfast hashes of sweet potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, etc, and a Garlic & Herb blend that is good on just about everything – roasted veggies, to spice up steak, chicken, or fish, etc.
My Favorite DIY AIP Spice Blends
Taco Tuesday wouldn't be complete without tacos, right? I love this AIP Taco Seasoning that tastes quite authentic without the nightshades.
I also have a post with four different homemade AIP seasoning blend recipes in it – ranch, greek, sage breakfast sausage, and tandoori.
Curry Powder typically is out because it contains quite a few nightshade and seed-based spices, but this AIP curry seasoning by Paleo on the Go is awesome.
And of course, Pumpkin Spice tops the lists of many, but luckily that's an easy fix. You'll need mace instead of nutmeg, but other than that, it's very similar to regular pumpkin spice. This AIP pumpkin spice blend by Whole New Mom is good.
Good Substitutions For Basic Spices
A few spices that you might need to replace on AIP are black pepper and mace.
To get that same “kick” that you get from black pepper, try using ginger instead. It can be either dried or fresh.
And instead of nutmeg, use Mace, which is made from the outer red coating of the nutmeg plant and tastes very similar. It can be hard to find mace in stores sometimes, but you can always ask a store manager if they'd order it for you. Or, trusty Amazon typically has it and Shop AIP also does.
How to Use Herbs and Spices to Add Flavor to Your AIP Meals
In this YouTube video I go over many of the AIP Spices and Herbs that you can have and how to use each of them to flavor your dishes.
AIP Meals That Use Spices
The following are some meals that use herbs and spices to make the dishes very flavorful:
AIP Gyro Sandwich with Tzatziki Sauce
AIP Spices Allowed in the Reintroduction Phase
The good news is that most of the spices that you probably miss are reintroduced first during the reintroduction period. Below are the spices and what stage of the reintroduction schedule you can reintroduce them.
Fruit and berry-based spices: Allspice, star anise, caraway, cardamom pod, juniper, pepper (from black, green, pink, or white peppercorns), and sumac.
Seed-based spices: Anise seed, annatto seed, black caraway (Russian caraway, black cumin), celery seed, coriander seed, cumin seed, dill seed, fennel seed, fenugreek, mustard, and nutmeg.
None added, except poppy seed sometimes is used as a flavoring
Paprika is the only added spice here
Nightshades or spices derived from nightshades: cayenne pepper, chili powder, chili-based spices, crushed red pepper, curry powder
Frequently Asked Questions
Unfortunately no, not on the elimination phase, it is a seed spice.
Nope, paprika is from the nightshade family, therefore not AIP-compliant. Do be careful as a lot of packaged goods include the word “spices” as an ingredient, and paprika is often one of those “spices”.
YES! Use cinnamon at will. It's a great warming spice that will add lots of flavor to your dishes – both savory and sweet.
No, black pepper isn't actually a nightshade. It's a berry-based spice and still not included on AIP due to the potential for causing inflammation. It's one of the first spices to be reintroduced though.
Still Have Questions?
If you still have any questions about herbs and spices on the Autoimmune Protocol, feel free to ask them in the comments below and I'll get back to you!
And remember to grab your AIP Spices cheatsheet in the Paleo & AIP Freebie Library.
The Ultimate Guide to the AIP Diet
Common AIP Foods that You May Not Be Familiar With
Is fennel tea allowed?
That’s a really good question! I’m not absolutely sure – I’m not familiar with it so not sure what it’s made from, but if it’s made from the leaves it’s definitely ok. If it’s made from the seeds it probably should be removed, but if it’s really helping with a health issue you might be able to consume it with caution. Like if you feel any symptoms from drinking it, or if after 3-4 weeks on AIP you’re not feeling any better, consider removing it.
Is cardamom powder allowed on AIP diet?
Thank you in advance
No, unfortunately it is not because it is a seed. Sorry!
Thank you so very much for helping my family and the AIP community!!
Glad to be of help! 🙂
Is saffron allowed in the elimination phase of AIP diet
Yes, it is. Thanks for pointing that out for me – I apparently don’t have it on the list! I’ve changed that now.
Hello! Thank you for post. Is celery powder allowed? I struggle to find AIP compliant bacon. Thank you so much!
Celery powder as used on meats like bacon and cold cuts are fine. So are nitrates as they are typically naturally occurring. And also, sugars used in the curing process are ok – so where as in a Whole30 you wouldn’t be able to eat bacon cured with sugar you CAN with AIP! I know that struggle to find bacon, but this should make it easier!
Thank you so very much for helping my family and the AIP community!!
Hej can AIP diet help with my alopecia? U suffered this for over ten years now.
I know it’s helped a few people grow hair again, but can’t give a blanket statement that it will definitely help. Though, it’s only a few months of your time – my take on it is why not try it and see?
This is the first site that I’ve read that black, red, and white peppercorns are not allowed on the AIP. Could you please explain this to me?
Thank you so much for you site with all the information!
Sure! So the version of AIP I talk about is the one by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, and she eliminates peppercorns because they are the fruit of trees or shrubs, and we eliminate all fruit- and berry-based spices in the elimination portion. I used to kind of say “use your judgment here” as other versions of AIP don’t eliminate it, but I’ve been surprised by the number of clients who react negatively with symptoms when they reintroduce black pepper! So if you can, remove it for at least the initial 30 days.
is erythritol aip approved?
I’m not allowed xylitol or stevia…
Unfortunately no, erythritol is not allowed as it can negatively affect gut bacteria and cause the bad bacteria to thrive.
Thanks for sharing this, I struggle with what spices to include/avoid.
Is there a resource out there that has a list of AIP approved packaged foods? The nutrient dense natural foods are simple, but discerning what’s AIP approved and isn’t seems to be a full time gig. An app or other resource you could recommend may be a huge help.
Eh, I don’t know of one at the moment. The problem is that the brands change constantly – it would be a full time job for someone to keep that maintained as well… But you’re pretty safe if you order online from a place like ShopAIP as everything is either elimination-phase compliant or for a reintro (but it will tell you if it is for one of them). https://partners.shopaip.com/idevaffiliate.php?id=180