13 Fresh Herbs: How to Use Them in Cooking




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13 Fresh Herbs: How to Use Them in Cooking

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Cooking with fresh herbs can transform a simple dish into a flavorful masterpiece. Fresh herbs have been used in cooking for centuries and are a staple in many kitchens today. Whether you are a seasoned cook or just starting out, understanding the different types of fresh herbs available to you is key to elevating your cooking game.

In this comprehensive guide,13 Fresh Herbs: How to Use Them in Cooking we will cover 13 of the most commonly used fresh herbs in cooking, including basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, sage, tarragon, and marjoram.

We’ll start by discussing the basics of fresh herbs and how to use them in your cooking. Then, we’ll delve into each herb in more detail, discussing its unique flavor profile, ideal uses, and the best dishes to use it in. We’ll also cover important tips for storing, growing, and preserving fresh herbs.

So, whether you are a seasoned cook or just starting out, this guide will help you to fully understand the 13 Fresh Herbs: How to Use Them in Cooking.

What Are the 13 Fresh Herbs and How to Use Them in Cooking?

Fresh herbs are plants that are used for their fragrant leaves and stem in cooking. They can be used whole, chopped, or minced to add flavor, aroma, and color to a wide range of dishes.

Herbs are incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. They can be added to marinades, dressings, and sauces, used as a garnish, or incorporated into the dish itself. Fresh herbs can also be used to make herbal teas, infusions, and tinctures.

When using fresh herbs in cooking, it’s important to understand that a little goes a long way. A small number of fresh herbs can add a significant amount of flavor to a dish. It’s also important to consider the flavor profile of each herb and to choose herbs that complement the dish you are making.

Importance of Fresh Herbs in Cooking

Fresh herbs play a crucial role in adding unique and delicious flavors to dishes in cooking. They can contribute to the color, aroma, and taste of food, elevating it from just being a simple dish to a truly memorable meal. Herbs like basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, savory, oregano, etc., have been used in cooking for centuries and have continued to be an essential ingredient in modern cooking. [2]

Moreover, the use of fresh herbs can also help to reduce or replace salt and sugar in foods, making them healthier and more nutritious. This is because herbs contain many healthy plant compounds that are beneficial to our health. For example, basil has a sweet, aromatic, and somewhat peppery flavor that is rich in plant compounds. [1]

In conclusion, fresh herbs are not just a source of flavor, but also play a significant role in improving the nutritional value of food. They offer a natural alternative to salt and sugar and can help to add variety and color to dishes, making them an important part of cooking. [3]

Purpose of The Article

The purpose of the article “13 Types of Fresh Herbs: A Guide to Using Them in Cooking” is to provide information on the various types of fresh herbs that can be used in cooking and how they can be used effectively to enhance the flavor of food.

The article provides tips and advice on how to store fresh herbs to maintain their flavor and freshness, how to add them to dishes, and when to add them during cooking to maximize their flavor. The information provided in the article can be useful for both home cooks and professional chefs who want to learn more about cooking with fresh herbs. [1, 2, 3]

13 Fresh Herbs: How to Use Them in Cooking
13 Fresh Herbs: How to Use Them in Cooking

Description of Each Herb:


Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a type of herb that can be found in European and Asian cuisines. It is also known as dill weed, and the plant has slender stems with soft leaves and brown, flat, oval fruits [1].

Dill is native to Mediterranean countries and southeastern Europe, but it is now widely cultivated in Europe, India, and North America. The dry fruit and leaves of dill are used to season foods and have a distinct flavor profile [2].

The dill plant provides feathery green leaves that are used as dill weed and the flat, oval fruits are used to make dill seed spice [3]. Dill is an annual herb that is related to celery and has a tendency to replant itself and spread widely, which is useful information for those who are considering planting it in their garden.

In conclusion, dill is a widely used herb in European and Asian cuisines and is widely cultivated in many regions. It provides the dill weed herb and the dill seed spice, both of which are used as seasonings in cooking. Dill has a warm and slightly sharp flavor and is an annual herb that is easy to grow.


Chives are a type of herb that belong to the Allium schoenoprasum species and the Amaryllidaceae family. They are known for their attractive flowers, flavorful leaves, and for being easy to grow both in pots and in gardens. They are typically grown in sunny to partially shady areas and are best planted in spring from existing plants [2].

In terms of nutrition, chives are considered to be a nutrient-dense food, meaning that they are low in calories but high in beneficial nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants [1].

The leaves of the chive plant can be used fresh or dried and are a common seasoning for eggs, soups, salads, and vegetables. They are also known for their flavorful taste and are used as a 

Chives have a mild, sweet, and slightly tangy flavor that is similar to that of an onion. They are a staple in many kitchens and are used in a variety of dishes, including soups, sauces, and eggs.

Ideal uses: Chives are best used fresh and can be chopped and used as a garnish, added to dressings and sauces, or used to flavor soups and eggs.

Best dishes: Creamy potato soup, scrambled eggs with chives, chives, and sour cream dip.[3].

In conclusion, chives are versatile and nutritious herbs that are widely used for their attractive flowers and flavorful leaves. They are easy to grow and can add flavor to a variety of dishes.


Parsley is a hardy biennial herb belonging to the Apiaceae family and is native to Mediterranean lands. It is well-known for its use in cooking and has been used as a flavoring and garnish for foods by the ancient Greeks and Romans [1].

Parsley is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense herb that is particularly rich in vitamins K, A, and C, as well as antioxidants [2]. It is widely used in American, European, and Middle Eastern cooking and is often used to add flavor to dishes such as soups, salads, and fish recipes [3].

In conclusion, parsley is a versatile and nutritious herb that has been used in cooking for centuries. It is rich in vitamins and antioxidants and is commonly used to add flavor to a variety of dishes.


Marjoram is an aromatic herb that has been long used in cooking and traditional medicine. It is a perennial plant belonging to the mint family (Lamiaceae) and its fresh or dried leaves and flowering tops are used to season many foods, imparting a warm, aromatic, slightly sharp, and bitterish flavor [2].

Marjoram has several potential health benefits, including reducing inflammation, relieving digestive issues, and regulating the immune system [1]. Additionally, it has a long history of medicinal use in various folk medicine traditions across continents.

For example, the Culpeper Herbal, a 17th-century English book of herbal pharmaceutical knowledge, described marjoram as a remedy for brain and mind issues and was used to treat respiratory issues, liver and spleen disease, and loss of speech [3].

In conclusion, marjoram is a versatile herb that has been widely used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Its flavorful leaves and potential health benefits make it a valuable addition to many dishes and traditional medicine practices.


Tarragon is an aromatic leafy green herb that is commonly used in cooking, particularly in French cuisine. The leaves and flowering tops of the plant (Artemisia dracunculus) are dried and used to add flavor and piquancy to various dishes such as fish, chicken, sauces, stews, omelets, cheeses, vegetables, tomatoes, and pickles [2].

It is highly aromatic with a subtle licorice flavor and adds a fresh and elegant taste to the dishes it is used in [1].

Tarragon is sold both fresh and dried and is available year-round. In terms of nutrition, tarragon is a good source of phytonutrients and antioxidants.

According to the USDA, a tablespoon of dried tarragon contains approximately 5 calories, 0.9 grams of carbohydrates, 0.4 grams of protein, 0.1 grams of fat, 0.1 grams of fiber, and 0.1 milligrams of manganese (7% of daily value) [3].

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves, also known as laurel leaves, come from the sweet bay tree (Laurus nobilis) which is an evergreen of the Lauraceae family and is indigenous to countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea [1].

They are widely used as a popular spice in pickling, marinating, and flavoring stews, stuffings, and fish. They are delicately fragrant but have a bitter taste [1].

Bay leaves have been used in entomology as the active ingredient in killing jars [2]. Crushed fresh and young leaves are put into the jar under a layer of paper and the vapors they release kill insects slowly but effectively. The leaves also discourage the growth of molds [2].

In terms of burning bay leaves, it’s recommended to use dried bay leaves as fresh leaves won’t burn easily. Healthline suggests collecting dried bay leaves, which can be purchased in the spice section of most grocery stores, to burn them safely [3].


Cilantro, also known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is an annual herb plant native to the Mediterranean and is believed to have originated in the Nahal Hemar cave in Israel around 6000 BC [1]. Cilantro grows in damp areas near water sources and is known for its slightly bitter, distinct taste that is similar to parsley [2].

It is widely used as a culinary herb, adding flavor and freshness to a variety of dishes such as cilantro lime rice or cilantro lime chicken. The herb pairs well with meats, especially with seafood, and is often added to enhance the flavor of the dish [3].

Cilantro is loved worldwide and is a staple of many cuisines. It is also historically renowned for its medicinal properties, making it a versatile ingredient both in the kitchen and in traditional medicine.

Cilantro is a fragrant herb with a fresh, slightly bitter, and citrusy flavor. It is commonly used in Mexican, Asian, and Indian cuisines.

Ideal uses: Cilantro is best used fresh and can be chopped and used as a garnish, added to dressings and sauces, or used in salsas, guacamole, and curries.

Best dishes

Cilantro is a fragrant herb that is popularly used in Mexican, Asian, and Indian cuisines [1]. It has a fresh, slightly bitter, and citrusy flavor [3]. The herb is commonly used to add a burst of flavor to various dishes, as it pairs well with lime in cilantro rice dishes or cilantro lime shrimp. It can also be used as a garnish to add color, taste, and nutrients to dishes such as cilantro tacos, salsa, and guacamole [1].

Cilantro is best used fresh and can be chopped and used as a garnish, added to dressings and sauces, or used in salsas, guacamole, and curries [1]. In Central American, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisines, it is commonly used in a wide range of dishes to add its unique flavor profile and aroma. Its aroma is described as warm, spicy, nutty, with a hint of citrus, and the spice is often paired with cumin and cinnamon because of the shared flavor traits [3].

various dishes, as it pairs well with lime in cilantro rice dishes or cilantro lime shrimp. It can also be used as a garnish to add color, taste, and nutrients to dishes such as cilantro tacos, salsa, and guacamole [1].


13 Fresh Herbs: How To Use Them in Cooking
13 Fresh Herbs: How To Use Them in Cooking

According to [3], there are two main types of basil, Sweet, or Genoese, basil and Asian basils. Sweet basil is most often associated with Mediterranean foods like pesto and tomato sauce.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a popular herb that belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae) [1]. It is a fragrant herb with a distinctive flavor that is widely enjoyed by many people [2]. The sweet basil variety is the most popular in the U.S. but there are many different varieties of basil that exist, each with its own unique flavor [3]. Basil is native to Asia and Africa and is widely used as a food seasoning. The leaves of basil are used fresh or dried to flavor a variety of dishes including meats, fish, salads, sauces, and drinks like basil tea, which is a stimulant. [1].

Basil is one of the most popular and versatile fresh herbs used in cooking. It has a sweet, pungent, and slightly peppery flavor that pairs well with a wide range of ingredients. Basil is commonly used in Italian, Mediterranean, and Thai cuisines.

Ideal uses: Basil can be used fresh or dried in a variety of dishes, including salads, pasta, sauces, soups, and pesto.

Best dishes: Caprese salad, spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce, basil chicken.


Oregano: [2] states that oregano is a delicious herb used in French and Italian cooking.

Oregano is a perennial herb that is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and is known for its flavorful dried leaves and flowering tops. The herb is native to the hills of the Mediterranean countries and western Asia and has since naturalized in parts of Mexico and the United States [1].

Oregano has been used for thousands of years to add flavor to dishes and as a treatment for health conditions [2]. This popular culinary herb is utilized extensively in Italian, Greek, Mexican, and Spanish cuisine and is considered a close cousin of marjoram [3].


Rosemary: [2] states that rosemary is a delicious herb used in French and Italian cooking.

Rosemary is a perennial shrub that is native to the Mediterranean and Asia. [1]. It is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 1-2 meters in height, with linear leaves that resemble small curved pine needles. [3]. Rosemary is known for its dark green and shiny leaves with a white underside and curled leaf margins. [1].

In addition to its ornamental value, Rosemary has medicinal properties as well. It is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. [2].

Rosemary is also known to be hardy and can withstand droughts and winter temperatures down to about −20 °C (−4 °F). [3].


Sage: [2] states that sage is a delicious herb used in French and Italian cooking.

The herb also called common sage or garden sage (Salvia officinalis), is an aromatic herb of the mint family (Lamiaceae) that is cultivated for its pungent edible leaves.

Sage is native to the Mediterranean region and is used fresh or dried as a flavoring in many foods, especially in stuffings for poultry and pork and in sausages [1].

Sage can also be used for dental health, as it has been proven to soothe a sore throat and canker sores, and treat gum disease. It can also be used externally for hair, skin, and nails, as a rinse to improve the texture and tone of hair and leave a nice shine [3].


Thyme is a widely used herb that belongs to the mint family. It is known for its small leaves that grow on clusters of thin stems [3]. Thyme is often used as a spice in cooking, but it also has a range of other uses due to its impressive health benefits [1].

According to [2], thyme is a herb that can be consumed fresh or dried and is packed with disease-fighting nutrients and antioxidants. It has a long history of use in natural medicine and has a proven track record as a natural medicine that can fight off bacteria.

The storage of thyme is mentioned in [3]. Thyme can be stored wrapped in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and will last for a week to 10 days.

In conclusion, thyme is a versatile herb that not only adds flavor to dishes but also has impressive health benefits. It has a long history of use in natural medicine and is considered to be a natural remedy that can fight off bacteria.


Mint is a genus of aromatic herbs from the Lamiaceae family that contains around 15 to 20 species, including peppermint and spearmint [2]. Native to the eastern Mediterranean and widespread in temperate areas of the world, mint is an herb that is widely used in cooking and herbal medicine [1].

The name “mint” comes from a mythic nymph named Minthe, who was turned into a plant by Persephone after having an affair with Pluto, the god of the underworld [3].

The Art of Cooking with Fresh Herbs: Techniques and Pairings

Do you want to add an extra layer of flavor and freshness to your dishes? Look no further than fresh herbs! Whether you’re a seasoned chef or just starting out in the kitchen, fresh herbs can make all the difference in your dishes.

They are versatile, healthy, and make a great addition to any recipe. With the right techniques for incorporating them into your cooking and the perfect pairings, your dishes will be elevated to the next level.

Incorporating Fresh Herbs Into Dishes

Fresh herbs are at their peak freshness and are the secret weapon for many professional chefs [2]. But how exactly do you use them in your cooking? Here are some techniques to get you started:

Chopping and Mincing

One of the most common techniques for incorporating fresh herbs into dishes is by chopping or mincing. This can be done using a sharp knife or a herb chopper.

Chopping releases the essential oils in the herbs, which results in a stronger flavor. Mincing is useful for herbs that are more delicate, like cilantro, which needs to be gently chopped [1].

Adding Just Before Serving

Another important tip to keep in mind is to not cook fresh cilantro. Instead, add it to your dish just before serving. This helps to preserve the delicate and refreshing flavor of cilantro [1].

Pairing Fresh Herbs with Specific Ingredients and Dishes

Fresh herbs are an easy way to add life to dull dishes and can be paired with a variety of ingredients and dishes for optimal flavor. Every herb has its soul mate, so it’s important to understand which herbs go well with what. Here are some popular fresh herbs and their best-known pairings:

Basil and Pine Nuts

Basil and pine nuts combine to create a mouth-watering pesto. The sweet, fresh flavor of basil pairs well with the nuttiness of the pine nuts, resulting in a delicious and unique sauce that can be used in a variety of dishes.

Rosemary and Thyme

Rosemary and thyme are one of the best-known combinations in cooking. The strong, earthy flavor of rosemary pairs well with the delicate and mild flavor of thyme, making them a perfect match for a variety of dishes, including roasted meats and vegetables.

Bay Leaf

Bay leaves are a must-have herb for cooking and are commonly used in soups, stews, and sauces. Their subtle, slightly bitter flavor adds depth to dishes and complements a variety of ingredients.

Tips for Storing Fresh Herbs

There are a few ways to store fresh herbs, and each method depends on the type of herb and how long you want to preserve it. Here are some tips to store fresh herbs that you can choose from:

  1. Store herbs in water: After washing and trimming your herbs, place them in a glass of water and cover the top with a plastic bag, cinching it at the bottom. This method can keep your herbs fresh for a week or more. [1]
  2. Store herbs in a plastic bag or jar: You can place the herbs in a jar like a bouquet of flowers, and loosely cover them with a resealable plastic bag or cling wrap. If using a large Mason jar or quart container, you can use the lid to cover the herbs. This method works well with parsley, cilantro, tarragon, mint, and dill. [2]
  3. Store dried herbs: To preserve fresh herbs for a longer period of time, you can dry them using an oven or dehydrator. Simply place the herbs on a sheet in the oven for about 2-4 hours until they are completely dry and brittle. Let them cool down, remove any of the herbs’ woody stems, and store them in a tightly sealed container inside your pantry. [3]

Overall, the best method for storing fresh herbs depends on the type of herb, how long you want to preserve it, and your personal preferences.


Do you use the stems of fresh herbs?

For herbs like rosemary, you can use the stem to infuse flavor into the dish. However, for herbs like basil, the leaves hold the most flavor, so it’s best to discard the stem and only use the leaves. [1][3]

How do you prepare fresh herbs for use in cooking?

To prepare fresh herbs for cooking, pinch your finger and thumb at the top of the stem and firmly pull down the length of the branch to remove the leaves. Discard the stem and chop the leaves. For herbs like basil, remove the leaves and discard the stems, as the leaves hold the most flavor. [1][3]

How do you activate fresh herbs?

There is no specific way to activate fresh herbs. However, to release their flavor, you can chop them finely or rub them between your fingers to release their oils. [1]

Do you add fresh herbs before or after cooking?

It depends on the herb and the dish you are preparing. For maximum flavor and to prevent browning, add delicate herbs like basil at the end of cooking. For stronger herbs like rosemary, you can add them at the beginning of cooking to infuse their flavor into the dish. [3]

What can I do with fresh-cut herbs?

Fresh-cut herbs can be used in a variety of dishes, such as roasted root vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, cabbage, oily fish, shrimp, pears, apples, and fiber-rich whole grains.

You can also use them to make herb-infused oils or vinegar, or as a garnish for soups and salads. [1]

How long will fresh herbs last in the fridge?

The length of the time fresh herbs will last in the fridge can vary depending on the herb. To keep them fresh, cut the leaves from the bottom half inch of the stems, stand the stems in a small jar with some water, and loosely cover the leaves with a plastic bag. Most herbs will last up to a week using this method. Basil should not be refrigerated as it may blacken. Discard wilted leaves as they appear. [2]

Conclusion for 13 Fresh Herbs: How to Use Them in Cooking

In conclusion, incorporating fresh herbs into your cooking can enhance both the flavor and health benefits of your dishes. If you haven’t been using fresh herbs, consider giving them a try and see the difference they make in your meals.

Experiment with different herbs to discover your favorites and find new ways to incorporate them into your cooking.

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