Monday, September 10, 2012

“What Does (Herb) Taste Like?”

Herbs on Cutting Board
Short flavor profiles for fifteen common Herbs

There's actually a lot of overlap with the flavor of some herbs because they are in the same plant family and share some naturally occurring chemicals.

For example: the Mint family includes basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, and thyme. 

So when someone says “It has an herb flavor...” I think of this group.

Hopefully this list will help you build a “mental toolbox” and make it easier to cook without a recipe (intuitive cooking). It's easier for me to recall a flavor when I match it with a familiar food, so that's what I did here.

This list has the Herb, a familiar food, then the flavor

Basil - Caprese Salad: Pepper & Clove
Bay - Beef Stew: Eucalyptus & Woodsy
Chervil - French Food: Parsley & Anise

Cilantro - Salsa: Fresh & Tangy
Dill - Dip & Seafood: Parsley & Anise
Lemon Grass - Thai Food: Citronella & Lemon

Marjoram - Mediterranean Food: Sweet Oregano
Mint - Gum & Candy: Sharp & Cooling
Oregano - Pizza Sauce: Warm & Bitter

Parsley - Stroganoff: Astringent & Peppery
Rosemary - Grilled Beef: Pine & Lemon
Sage - Turkey Stuffing: Pine & Earth

Savory - Bean Soup: Sage & Peppery
Tarragon - Bearnaise Sauce: Anise & Mint
Thyme - Meatloaf: Earthy & Clove

If you found this helpful give me a shout - I'll make one about ground spices too!


  1. I remember that oregano! I started avoiding it after I got itchy to the point that I had to take nasonex afterwards.

    1. Hi Arthur,

      Thanks for reading my blog! Sorry to hear Oregano is off your list - it's a really commonly used herb. You may want to watch out for Italian, Greek, and Mexican main dishes. Of course if you are very concerned an Allergist can help you pinpoint all your triggers.

      Best of Luck,

  2. This was so very helpful. Your list of herbs with a familiar food and flavor helped me to choose the right substitutes to use in place of the herb, if I don't have it on hand.


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