7 Delicious Cooking Herbs and the Best Ways to Use Them

Cooking herbs are the best way to spice up a normal dish, fast. You can completely change the taste of a staple meal by switching out some of the herbs you use. And besides adding extra flavor, they have amazing health benefits, too!

When choosing the best herbs for cooking to keep on hand, it’s good to have an idea of what kind of flavors go best with each one. For instance, if you aren’t a fan of pesto, you could probably skip basil. But if you do like basil, what are some creative ways to use it?

When meal planning, having your most used and favorite herbs on hand help you stay prepared during the week. And, another reason to understand a herb’s flavor profile: if you run out of one, what can you substitute in its place?


7 Delicious Cooking Herbs and the Best Ways to Use Them

1. Cooking with Sage

Sage Leaf

Sage Leaf

What to use it in: Sage has a unique flavor, somewhat like pine, citrus, and eucalyptus together. Sage magnifies the flavor in a recipe, and pairs well with sausages, pasta, soups, and onions.

Sage also goes well with apples, like this recipe for satueed apples with brown sugar and sage.

What to substitute: Swap with marjoram or rosemary. Rosemary would give a similar woody flavor, while marjoram would add a sweeter hint.

Why you should use it: Sage is rich in vitamin K, which helps the liver process fats. It also helps prevent gingivitis and reduce inflammation in the body.


2. Cooking with Thyme

Thyme Leaf

Thyme Leaf

What to use it in: Both sweet and woody, thyme is the one herb you’ll always want to keep stocked. As you’ll see below, it’s the universal substitute for most other popular herbs. It’s often used with meat and veggies, although it also tastes great in eggs and cheesy dishes. It’s popular in French and Italian recipes.

Thyme is quite yummy when mixed with citrus and honey in teas, water infusions, and even cocktails.

What to substitute: Basil, oregano, and marjoram can all be used to substitute with thyme, although each would add a different flavor.

Why you should use it: Thyme helps fight sore throats, digestive troubles, and respiratory issues.


3. Cooking with Basil

Basil Leaf - Basil is used in various traditional and folk systems of medicine, and is considered a sacred herb in the Hindu religion.

Basil Leaf

What to use it in: If you love Italian food, then basil is a must. Basil adds a strong but sweet flavor to sauces, pasta, pesto, and pizza. And it makes a yummy, simple tomato, basil, mozzarella salad.

But basil also tastes fantastic with seafood and Thai dishes, and or mix with strawberries in drinks or jam.

What to substitute: While it won’t give the same sweet flavor, you can substitute oregano and thyme whenever you’re out. They’re similar in flavor profile and usually used together in Italian food, anyway.

Why you should use it: Basil helps improve memory and heart health.


4. Cooking with Lavender

Lavender Flowers

Lavender Flowers

What to use it in: Popular in French recipes, lavender works well in savory dishes and baking. You could try it in lemon lavender poundcake, or with lemon honey chicken.

What to substitute: Rosemary is your best option, but mint would be another alternative when baking.

Why you should use it: Lavender helps reduce anxiety and stress. It also helps boost skin and hair health.


5. Cooking with Oregano

Oregano Leaf

Oregano Leaf

What to use it in: Oregano is another staple in Italian food, because it goes so well with pasta sauces and meat. It’s often used for meatballs and dry rubs, to add a warm, woody flavor.

Oregano is quite the universal herb: Add it to lemon chicken, your oven-roasted veggies, marinades, and more.

What to substitute: The best substitutes for oregano are marjoram, thyme or basil.

Why you should use it: There’s a reason pasta can be a comfort food when sick! Oregano is an immune-booster, helping to detox the body of sickness. You can even use it as a tea when feeling under the weather!


6. Cooking with Rosemary

Rosemary Leaf

Rosemary Leaf

What to use it in: Rich, woody, and aromatic, rosemary adds a lot of punch. It’s fantastic with roasted meats and veggies, and pairs well with everything from marinades to sauces. Sprinkle it in stews, soups, and on top of fish and poultry for delicious flavor.

It also adds a nice twist to fruity drinks, like citrus or strawberry cocktails and punch.

What to substitute: The best substitute is thyme, although oregano or tarragon also work.

Why you should use it: Rosemary helps improve memory and focus, and it’s a mood booster.


7. Cooking with Marjoram

Marjoram Leaf

Marjoram Leaf

What to use it in: Popular in Greek recipes, marjoram tastes fantastic with goat cheese and sweet veggies like carrots. Use it in recipes for stews, salads, fish, and pork. It has a sweeter taste than oregano, although it’s similar.

You can even use it in fried chicken batter mix, or toss it in tangy sweet coleslaw or salad.

What to substitute: Basil works best, but thyme and oregano are both good substitutes.

Why you should use it: Marjoram boosts blood circulation and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.


Rich Flavor for Every Dish

Ready to spice up your everyday dish? Grab your herbs and spices, and get cooking!

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