100 Techniques

Technique #3: Finish with a Sprinkle or Drizzle to Elevate Flavor

Add extra oomph to a dish, even after cooking.

Published Oct. 29, 2023.

This is Technique #3 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

Each technique is broken into three sections: why it works, key steps, and recipes that use it. Learn these recipe building blocks and you'll be set up for a lifetime of cooking success.

Jump to a Section

Whereas seasoning before or during cooking is often about effectively integrating salt and other seasonings into a dish, seasoning foods after cooking can be an instant, easy way to add complexity and layers of texture to any finished dish, along with contrasting pops of flavor.

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

Finishing Ingredients Are Used Everywhere

Finishing salt mixtures, spice blends, and seasoned oils are integral to every cuisine around the world. 

Purchasing these types of finishing condiments can be expensive, and often the quality doesn’t match the price. Making your own is more economical and the flavors are often fresher; it also allows you customize flavors to suit your preferences. We love to make and have on hand a selection of favorite easy seasoning blends to quickly dress up finished dishes.

187 Foolproof Recipes


There's a world of possibility hidden in your pantry! Discover how to use spices to amp up the flavor of your food and get foolproof recipes that put these simple techniques to work.

When to Use a Finishing Salt, Spice, or Oil

The technique here is not so much in making these condiments, since the process is straightforward. Rather, the technique lies in knowing how and when to use them. (Once you do, it will be hard to imagine kitchen life without them.)

Plain rice or simple chicken breasts can be seasoned to suit any cuisine by using different finishing blends. Steep spices in oil and then use that oil to drizzle over bread or anoint your seafood with style. Make your own Fresh Herb Salt to sprinkle over nearly everything. Grind up some spiced sugar for one-of-a-kind desserts and baked goods.

Ways to Quickly Dress Up a Finished Dish

spicy chili oil drizzling from a spoonfresh herbs over finished fish dishmatcha dust over finished tart

From left to right: Chili oil, fresh herbs, and matcha powder showcase how seasoning after cooking can improve the look (and taste) of a dish.

Spice Blends vs. Single Spices

We often think of finishing blends when it comes to adding a final flair to dishes before serving, but keep in mind that this technique isn’t limited to blends of spices. Plenty of single spices add great flavor when sprinkled on finished dishes. 

Celery salt brings a mineral, vegetal note to roasted potatoes. Aleppo pepper has a fruity warmth that’s perfect on avocado toast. Sumac lends its lemony bite to buttered rice, grilled chicken, or white fish. Fennel pollen has a honey-like but savory flavor that enhances goat cheese or roasted vegetables. Cinnamon adds a warmly spiced touch to peanut butter toast or ice cream.


All About Storing and Organizing Spices

Spices enhance the flavor and texture of food. Here's how to get the most from your spice cabinet.
Learn More

Finishing with Salt

And, of course, there’s salt. When using salt to finish, in a finishing blend or on its own, choose a coarse- or large-grained salt, such as kosher or flake sea salt, which will be slower to dissolve and lose its crunch when sprinkled over food.

Learn about flavored salts and how to make them.

Step by Step: How to Finish with a Spice or Infused Oil

Whether you're making infused oils and spice blends at home or using up the premade stuff, here's how to implement them into a dish.

Step 1A: For Dry Spice Blends, Process in a Spice Grinder

Process spices, seeds, and other ingredients in spice grinder. (Sometimes you will simply combine ingredients in bowl without need for grinder.)

Step 2A: Sprinkle Spice(s) Evenly

Use steady hand to evenly apply finishing sprinkle to finished dishes immediately before serving.

Step 1B: For Flavored Oils, Infuse Gently

Infuse oil with flavoring ingredients over low heat.

Step 2B: Strain

Strain infused oil through fine-mesh strainer to remove flavoring ingredients before storing.

Step 3B: Drizzle Oil to Preference

Drizzle flavored oil over cooked vegetables, meats, seafood, noodles, potstickers, and more.

Recipes That Use Technique

Use these recipes to test your newfound knowledge of seasoning after cooking.


Fresh Herb Finishing Salts

Got leftover fresh herbs? Make these finishing salts.
Get the Recipe


The combination of dried herbs, toasted sesame seeds, and tart, citrusy sumac makes for an earthy yet brightly flavored seasoning.
Get the Recipe


This Japanese condiment has briny, earthy, nutty, and sweet notes.
Get the Recipe

Sous Vide Spicy Rosemary-Chile Oil

A grassy, fruity, nutty dipping sauce made sous vide-style.
Get the Recipe

Sichuan Chili Oil

The hallmark of Sichuan chili oil is a balance between là—the concentrated heat from dried chiles—and má—the numbing effect of Sichuan peppercorns.
Get the Recipe

Ready to learn another technique? Choose from our list of 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

This is a members' feature.