Spice bags are fun kitchen tools to use that are coming back into fashion.
These bags will allow you to use whole spices in your dishes without having to dig them out afterward. It will make your life a ton easier and is a delicious old-school technique that works wonders.
So, what are the best spice bags for cooking? While there are many options out there to choose from, you always have to choose a material that is completely food safe. This includes muslin, cheesecloth, or wood pulp bags.
In our very informative article today, we will explore the ins and outs of these wonderful bags, from what they are, how they are used, and how to best choose one for your needs.
And of course, we have assembled the ultimate list of some of our favorite spice bags out there. This way, you have a comprehensive comparison of the different options available.
What Is A Spice Bag?
There are a couple of things that refer to the term “spice bag.” What we are talking about specifically today, are spice bags for cooking.
These spice bags are usually made from cheesecloth or muslin cloth. However, any heatproof cloth that is very porous will work.
The material needs to allow liquid to mix with the spices inside of the bag. Then, the flavored liquid also needs to infuse the rest of the dish. Thus, the material needs to be porous.
These bags have been designed to be re-used. They have a close-able opening on one side. It can be tied closed with a string or has a drawstring sewn in.
Now, these bags have a few purposes. The first is obviously to infuse the liquid base with some spice flavors.
However, it is also meant to be a way to prevent the while spices from being mixed into the dish themselves. This will save you a ton of time fishing them out afterward.
You can also use it beyond just adding some spices. This is a great way to add some aromatic herbs and other vegetables. You can add some garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme, or chopped onions.
This way, none of these ingredients will end up inside the dish. But, their flavors will still be present.
How Do You Use A Spice Bag?
Using a spice bag is as easy as boiling water. Simply place your spices inside of the bag and tie it shut. Make sure that the bag is tightly closed so that none of the spices escape during the cooking period.
Then, add the filled spice bag to your dish and allow it to cook. Once you’re ready to remove it, simply scoop it out with a spoon, fork, or slotted spoon.
Discard the contents of the bag and rinse it out. Never wash the spice bag with detergents. Only rinse it. If you want to make sure it is completely clean, you can boil it inside some vinegar or salted water.
Once sterilized, remove it from the boiling hot water and allow it to dry completely before storing it. This will help prevent mold from growing on the bag.
Choosing The Best Spice Bag – The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
Now, most spice bags are the same. Their design is simplistic and their function is universal. So, there are only a few factors that set one product apart from the other.
Nevertheless, buying a spice bag that doesn’t work for your specific needs can be a real pain. Not to mention a waste of money! So, we have compiled a list of the things you should look out for before buying a spice bag.
While traditionally muslin cloth or cheesecloth is used for making spice bags, many other materials are being used today. Each material type is different and has its pros and cons. And mainly, the price does differ between some of these.
Cheesecloth is a very common fabric used in the culinary world. This material is very thin and very loosely woven. It is often made from food-safe cotton material. This mainly means that the material is unbleached (to make it white) and not dyed.
Originally this material was used to help drain cheese. Its open gauze allows a lot of liquid to run through the material.
What this means in terms of a spice bag is that it will effectively allow a lot of liquid to quickly merge with the spices. And ultimately, it will quickly release the flavored liquid inside the bag with the rest of the dish.
Essentially, your spices will quickly infuse the dish. It works great for dishes with a shorter cooking time, like soups or quick broths.
Muslin cloth is very similar to cheesecloth and functions in the same wave. The biggest difference is that the weave is a lot finer.
This means a lot less liquid will travel through it. Or at the very least, the liquid will travel through the fabric a lot slower.
This ultimately means that the flavors will be slowly released into your dish. This is beneficial because it may help prevent the dish from being over-spiced during a very long cooking time.
Using muslin cloth works great for stews or stocks that cook for hours on end.
Wood Pulp Filter Paper
This is a newer material to the market that is all-natural and quick eco-friendly. Not to mention, they are biodegradable.
So, if you don’t want to re-use it or the bag has outlived its usefulness, you don’t have to worry too much about its impact on the environment.
Now, before you worry about paper being placed into hot liquids, it is completely safe and heat-resistant. The material is also very strong and won’t easily tear.
These bags also have a very fine weave, meaning they are best suited for releasing flavors more slowly.
There may be some other materials out there to choose from. However, we recommend only the three mentioned above. They are all proven to work and are completely safe to add to your food.
If you do come across a product that you like but you aren’t familiar with the material, give it a quick search. If the product doesn’t specify which material is used, then rather stay away. It may not be food safe.
2. Reusable Or Not
Naturally, we are all about the eco-life. Buying re0usable spice bags is not only smart and environmentally friendly, but it will save you money long-term. If you take good care of your bags and clean them properly, they can last you decades.
Don’t worry if they stain. As long as you boil them in some salted water, the flavor that caused the stain will come out.
That being said, we like clean-looking bags. So, if you know you will be adding something like turmeric, a disposable bag won’t hurt. Just make sure to choose a biodegradable disposable bag at least.
Naturally, choosing a spice bag that will be able to hold all of the spices you need is essential. It isn’t optimal to add multiple spice bags to the dish. It wastes bags and time.
So, make sure that you choose a product that works best for you. If you know you need big bags, then buy big bags. But, if you are only using the bags for home-cooked meals, then the smaller ones should do.
4. Closing Mechanism
This was always our biggest pain. A ton of spice bags aren’t designed with a proper closing mechanism. The string either tears out or is completely detached from the get-go.
Always ensure that you have a close look at how the bag closes. There is nothing worse than fishing out individual peppercorns or thyme sprigs from a large batch of stew.
You can also read the reviews if you are ever unsure of how well the strings work.
5. Price Vs. Quality
While spice bags are generally very affordable, you still want one that is high in quality and that won’t just break after one use.
Always weigh the quality of the bag versus the price. And of course, if you regularly use these bags, invest in a good one. Even if it does turn out to be pricey.
Best Spice Bags For Cooking
Without further or due, here are our favorite spice bags that can all conveniently be found online. These bags are all a fantastic addition to your kitchen and they can last you a long time!
|Kingleder Reusable Drawstring Cheesecloth Soup Bags
|Medium weave between cheesecloth and muslin cloth, multi-functional, various sizes
|Calary Double Canvas Muslin Bag
|Smaller cotton cheesecloth soup bags, durable
|Tinkee Disposable Tea Filter Bags With Drawstring
|Eco-friendly material, multi-functional and are disposable too
|Pangda Drawstring Cotton Muslin Soup Bags
|Sturdy muslin material, well designed, close tightly
|AKOAK Cotton Muslin Drawstring Bags
|Natural fine-gauze cotton, well-made
|Regency Wraps Muslin Reusable Tea Bags
|All-natural cotton bags, universal size
|Boao Beige Reusable Cheesecloth Soup Bags
|Well-built and strong, various sizes, drawstring design
1. Kingleder Reusable Drawstring Cheesecloth Soup Bags
Our first product on the list today is a spice bag made from unbleached natural cotton.
It has a looser weave that creates more of a cheesecloth fabric instead of a muslin one. However, it isn’t as loose as most cheesecloth materials.
This unique weave makes it the perfect multi-functional spice bag. It is a great option for slow cooking for prolonged periods. However, it can also quickly release and blend flavors in your dish.
Another feature we love about this product is its size. This specific one is 4 by 6-inches. This will allow you to fit a bunch of spices of various sizes. But, Kingleder has also released some other bigger and smaller spice bags to suit your specific needs.
These bags are all designed with a drawstring mechanism that will allow you to effectively close the bags.
All in all, we love these bags for their diversity and amazing design. Oh, and did we mention that they are surprisingly affordable?
Yes, folks, you can get great quality at a reasonable price. And, they will last you a long time if well taken care of.
2. Calary Double Canvas Muslin Bag
Next, we have some smaller bags that are equally effective.
These are cotton bags that are unbleached, unscented, and completely chemical-free.
It may seem obvious to say, but you have no idea how many false advertised products are out there!
They are 2.75-inches by 4-inches in size. While this may not be ideal for large spice mixes, it does work well for some homemade dish portions.
And finally, these bags have a very open gauze which means they are well-suited for shorter cooking periods. The material is very thick and extremely durable. And, it has a double drawstring mechanism to ensure the bag closes tightly.
3. Tinkee Tea Filter Bags With Drawstring
Our first disposable spice bag on this list is quite an amazing one. These bags are made from biodegradable wooden pulp paper filters.
They are very resistant to high temperatures, making them perfect for long and slow cooking.
And, while they don’t have a specific type of weave, they do work well in quickly releasing flavors from their contents.
These bags will allow you to dispose of the bag guilt-free. And, it will prevent your reusable bags from becoming completely ruined by stains.
4. Pangda Drawstring Cotton Muslin Soup Bags
Next up, we have another reusable cotton bag, this time, with very fine gauze.
The muslin fabric makes it suitable for long cooking so that it can more slowly release the flavors.
And, it is also great for finer spices (even some coarsely ground ones).
This range of bags also comes in various sizes, making it easy for you to choose the exact one you need. And, all of them are designed with a one-sided drawstring mechanism.
You can tightly close and tie these bags, preventing even the smallest spice from escaping.
And, they are only sold in 100s. So, you will be having a few on hand for a while. Luckily, you can use them for other things like tea making or storing candy.
5. AKOAK Cotton Muslin Drawstring Bags
These spice bags are perfect for a variety of uses, not only for soups and stews.
They are made from unbleached and all-natural cotton material.
Their fine gauze makes them best suited for slow cooking. But, because they are quite thin, they will work just as well for quicker dishes.
Their biggest downside is that they are sold in one size (which may not even be a problem for everyone), they are a bit pricey because of the quality of material, and they aren’t as durable if they aren’t well taken care of.
6. Regency Wraps Muslin Reusable Tea Bags
Nearing the end of our list, the options may start sounding a little bit more repetitive.
We mean, how different can these bags be from each other. Well, a picture is worth a thousand words.
And when you look at these bags, you will instantly see how they differ from the previously mentioned products.
These bags are made with 100% unbleached all-natural cotton. They have a darker color (almost beige) to them, making them perfect for those among us who like some old-school aesthetic.
They only come in one size (3 x 4-inches), but they are sold in various packs. And, if you haven’t already guessed, they are completely reusable.
7. Boao Beige Reusable Cheesecloth Soup Bags
Last, but not least, we have another type of natural cotton cheesecloth that is completely safe to be used for food purposes.
Although they also make great gift bags, you don’t have to worry about how they will hold up in hot stews and soups.
These spice bags are simple in design. However, they are a little bit bigger than your average bag. They measure to 4 x 6-inches. But, there are other size options to choose from.
Their biggest downfall is their price, which is on the heftier side of things. But, it still is a great investment that can last you decades!