20 Culinary Herbs to Grow for Your Kitchen


herbs kitchen

We have prepared a list of traditional and less known herbs that can be used in cooking

There are many culinary herbs that you can grow in the garden, on the balcony or on the windowsill. Edible herbs are usually easy to grow and some are perennials, so they will survive several seasons in the garden or in a pot. Just choose herbs that suit your taste and that you will be able to find a space for in your garden or in your house. Here we've put together a selection of beloved culinary herbs that will inspire you in both the garden and the kitchen.

1. Rosemary Salvia rosmarinus

Rosemary Salvia rosmarinus - spice herbPlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny location and drier, well-drained soil.

Hardiness: USDA zone 7 – 9

If you have to choose just three culinary herbs for your kitchen needs, rosemary should certainly be one of them. This medicinal herb is one of the most aromatic plants, and it’s often used to season roasted meats, potatoes, vegetables, sauces, pasta and various other dishes. Rosemary has a reputation as a long-life herb because it protects the brain and heart, improves digestion and generally strengthens the body. Rosemary is an easy to grow and aesthetically pleasing addition to any garden and its piney aroma is also used in aromatherapy.

2. Lemon balm Melissa officinalis

culinary herb for desertsPlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny location and well-drained soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 3 – 7

No culinary herb garden should lack lemon balm. Although this plant is related to mint and peppermint, lemon balm can be distinguished from these two by its rounded, heart-shaped leaves and, above all, its wonderful, delicate citrus-like scent and taste. In addition to the traditional preparation of tea, lemon balm leaves can be used for seasoning various desserts, fruit salads and sweet dishes. In terms of medicinal benefits, lemon balm calms the nervous system and soothes digestion. 

3. Salad burnet Sanguisorba minor

fresh culinary herbPlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Semi-shaded location and well-drained soil with plenty of water

Hardiness: USDA zone 4 – 8

This Mediterranean herb suitable for use in the kitchen is less well known, but the great cucumber-like flavor of its serrated leaves and its pretty pink flowers will convince you of its benefits. Salad burnet can freshen up any dish including salads, dressings, sauces and a variety of side dishes. This culinary herb is mostly grown as a summer annual because the leaves of young plants taste best, but it can survive winter and then spread easily by seeding or root suckers, so it can provide a constant supply of fresh leaves from the garden for use in the kitchen.

4. Lovage Levisticum officinale

herbs foodPlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny location and well-drained, nutritious soil with plenty of organic matter

Hardiness: USDA zone 4 – 8

Once lovage takes root, it is easy to grow, and it has an excellent distinctive flavor that is immediately recognizable. Lovage can live for 10 to 15 years and can grow up to 3 m tall during the season. This unique herb is an excellent seasoning for soups, sauces, potatoes and meat dishes.

5. Basil Ocimum basilicum

culinary herb for pastaPlant type: Annual

Growing conditions: Sunny location and well-drained soil with nutritious soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 10 – 11 (grown as an annual in colder climates)

Fresh basil is an essential culinary herb that should not be missing in any kitchen.  It is very easy to grow, whether in the garden or on the windowsill. Basil is a low-maintenance plant, but it is delicate in terms of cold-hardiness, so do not plant it in the garden until the danger of frost has passed. Basil is used in many cuisines around the world, but it is probably most famous in Italian cuisine. You can use this aromatic herb on pizza, in salads, tomato sauces, pesto and many other recipes.

6. Dill Anethum graveolens

aromatic kitchen herbPlant type: Annual

Growing conditions: Sunny location and well-drained, nutritious soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 2 – 11

Dill has a distinctive flavor that’s great for flavoring fish, lamb, potatoes, vegetable preparations and of course for seasoning pickles. This culinary herb is a very easy plant to grow. This culinary herb also helps with digestion and freshens breath. Dill is a self-seeding annual that often reappears in the garden in the spring.

7. Marjoram Origanum majorana

herb for food seasoningPlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny location and well-drained soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 9 – 11 (grown as an annual in colder climates)

Marjoram is a traditional herb used in cooking to season various meat dishes, soups, sauces and potato dishes. As this warm-loving culinary herb does not tolerate frost, it is grown as an annual or year-round indoors in colder climates. Marjoram has egg-shaped, greyish-green leaves and tiny flowers, which attract bees and other pollinators. In addition to its excellent flavor, marjoram is also able to soothe the digestive system.

8. Sage Salvia officinalis

aromatic culinary herbPlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny location and well-drained soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 4 – 10

Sage is an aromatic herb that is great for flavoring sauces, roasted meats or vegetables, but it should be used in moderation as it easily overpowers other aromas and flavors in food. This culinary herb is also known for its beneficial effects on healing wounds and inflammation. Sage is easy to grow and attracts pollinators, including bees, to the garden.

9. Bee balm Monarda fistulosa

spicy kitchen herbPlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny to semi-shady location and well-drained, nutritious soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 3 – 9

Bee balm is a lesser-known culinary herb that is slowly gaining popularity due to its spicy, minty-bergamot flavor. Its leaves are great for seasoning pizza, salads, and all dishes in which oregano is used. It also has antiseptic and astringent properties, so it’s used to speed up wound healing and as a component in mouthwash. Monarda flowers attract bees and other pollinators and are also attractive bloomers in the garden.

10. Thyme Thymus vulgaris

mediterranean culinary herbPlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny location and drier, well-drained soil.

Hardiness: USDA zone 5 – 9

Thyme and its relative, wild thyme, are multifunctional plants that are also widely used in cooking. Thyme leaves are often used in Mediterranean cuisine to season fish, lamb, vegetables, legumes, soups and other dishes. In addition, both thyme and wild thyme are medicinal herbs that are used to treat the digestive system, inflammatory diseases of the upper respiratory tract and other ailments. Thyme is a hardy plant that is easy to grow in both edible and ornamental gardens.

11. Cilantro (Coriander) Coriandrum sativum

culinary herb spicePlant type: Annual

Growing conditions: Sunny to semi-shady location and well-drained soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 2 – 11

This culinary herb is used in the kitchen not only for its leaves, but also for its seeds, which are produced by the plant after its flowers have ripened and are known as coriander spice. All the green parts of the plant are edible, including the stems, leaves and flowers, and are often known as cilantro. Cilantro is great for seasoning salads, salsa, and other Mexican, Indian or South Asian recipes. This aromatic kitchen herb is easy to care and grows back from self-seeding in the spring. Mexican coriander (eryngium foetidum) is also well known and has an even more penetrating flavor.  

12. Fennel Foeniculum vulgare

culinary herbs and spicesPlant type: Biennial

Growing conditions: Sunny location and well-drained soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 5 – 9

Fennel is an aromatic herb that resembles dill, but with a taste more similar to aniseed. Its leaves and seeds are used to flavor both sweet and salty dishes, and fennel bulbs can be eaten cooked or raw. Fennel grows to a height of over 1 m in the garden and is considered one of the most attractive plants for pollinators.

13. Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus

estragon herbPlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny to semi-shady location and  well-drained soil.

Hardiness: USDA zone 4 – 9

Also known as estragon, this plant is one of the classic kitchen herbs used to flavor fish, sauces, soups, vegetables and meat dishes. The leaves of tarragon have a bittersweet, spicy flavor reminiscent of aniseed. This undemanding perennial is a good companion for most vegetables and thrives if its leaves are harvested regularly.

14. Stevia Stevia rebaudiana

herbal sweetenerPlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny location and well-drained soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 9 – 11 (grown as an annual in colder climates)

Stevia is a beneficial herb whose leaves have a distinctly sweet taste and are therefore often used as a sugar-free sweetener. Sugar substitutes made from this plant are used for diabetes patients or as part of low-calorie diets. This subtropical plant is grown in colder climates as an annual or as an attractive indoor plant with appealing foliage.

15. Chives Allium schoenoprasum

herbs used in kitchen Plant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny to semi-shady location and well-drained soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 3 – 10

Chive is a basic herb that has a place in any kitchen or garden. Its garlicky-fresh flavor can elevate the taste of most dishes, including spreads, soups, sauces, salads, potatoes, fish or meat. It is a multi-purpose perennial that can be grown in both edible and ornamental gardens. This hardy bulb plant is very adaptive to a variety of soil types and attracts early spring pollinators with its pink inflorescences.

16. Bay laurel Laurus nobilis

culinary herb for food seasoningPlant type: Evergreen shrub

Growing conditions: Sunny to semi-shady location and well-drained, nutritious soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 7 – 10

The sweet-spicy flavor of bay leaf is used in hundreds of traditional recipes from around the world, including side dishes, sauces and soups, wherever its concentrated and slowly releasing honey-balsamic taste is needed. The bay leaf is not difficult to grow, but it will benefit from a layer of mulch to survive harsher winters.

17. Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium

herbs used in kitchen Plant type: Annual

Growing conditions: Semi-shaded location and well-drained soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 3 – 7

This traditional culinary herb is related to parsley and is often used in French cuisine, where its leaves season salads, fish, poultry and vegetables. Chervil likes cooler weather and has a short growing cycle, so it should be planted as soon as the danger of frost has passed. It should be harvested before the height of summer and then re-seeded in late summer for a fall harvest.

18. Oregano Origanum vulgare

Pizza herb spicePlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny location and well-drained soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 4 – 10

This hardy perennial is a classic kitchen herb for seasoning tomato sauce, pizza, soups, potatoes and other dishes. Oregano is very easy to grow, spreads easily, and its tiny purple flowers attract pollinators. Oregano is also a medicinal plant that can commonly be found growing wild.

19. Lemongrass Cymbopogon

asian culinary herbPlant type: Perennial

Growing conditions: Sunny location and well-drained soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 10 – 11 (grown as an annual in colder climates)

This tropical plant with a strong lemony taste and aroma is a common ingredient in Asian cuisine and is used in many recipes, including salads, sauces and various side dishes. The leaves and the whole fleshy stems are edible, along with the small bulb. Lemon grass is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, so it is also a popular medicinal plant. This warm-loving, culinary plant can be grown as an annual or as a perennial in a pot to be moved indoors for the winter in colder climates.  

20. Summer savory Satureja hortensis

spice herbs used in kitchen Plant type: Annual

Growing conditions: Sunny location and well-drained soil

Hardiness: USDA zone 1 – 11

Summer savory and its relative winter savory are excellent, aromatic herbs with antibacterial and antifungal properties. The intense, spicy flavor of savory is suitable for seasoning fish, legumes or poultry and is also often used to flavor various liqueurs and aromatic beverages. Winter savory is a semi-deciduous shrub and, unlike summer savory, it can survive harsher winters and can be grown year-round as a perennial in mild climates.    

 

There are many other culinary herbs that we have not mentioned in our selection but are noteworthy as well:

For example, Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), Lemon verbena (Lippia citriodora), Lavender (Lavandula), Catnip (Nepeta), Aloe vera, Borage (Borago officinalis), Mustard (Sinapis), Chicory (Cichorium intybus), Rue (Ruta graveolens) and many other herbs used in kitchen.

 

 



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