Types of Herbs: List of Herbs Used in the Kitchen with Their Picture

List of Herbs

Using different types of herbs in cooking adds wonderful aromas to dishes, gives them freshness, and adds a depth of flavor. You can add dried herbs or fresh herbs when preparing any meal. Woody herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and oregano can add a Mediterranean flavor to sauces. Soft herbs such as basil, coriander, and parsley give meals a beautiful fragrance. You can also add fresh herbs to salads, stir into cooked foods, and use as toppings.

The list of herbs that you can use in cooking is extensive. Flat-leafed herbs such as coriander are an essential ingredient in Indian, Thai, and Mexican cuisine. Delicious herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, and sage are the hallmarks of French and Italian cooking. But no matter how you decide to use fresh or dried herbs, you can use them to create delicious food.

Some people confuse herbs with spices. Of course, some herbs are also found on the list of most popular spices. For example, coriander (cilantro) and fennel are both on the list of herbs and spices. The difference between herbs and spices is in the part of the plant that is used. The term “herbs” refers to the green leaf or stalk of the plant. Spices are usually from the seeds, roots, bark or fruit of plants. Also, spices are usually dried ingredients, whereas herbs can be fresh or dried.

In this article, you will learn about some of the best culinary herbs to use in cooking. You may find out about some types of herbs you can use the next time you are in the kitchen. At the end of the article, you will find out how to store fresh herbs to keep them fresher for longer.

Types of Herbs with Pictures (Extensive List of Herbs)

Let’s look at some of the tastiest, aromatic, and freshest herbs you can cook with.

Parsley

parsley

Parsley is a common kitchen herb. In the picture: flat leafed parsley (left) and curly leaf parsley (right)

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a green leafy herb that is generally used fresh in the kitchen. This culinary herb has a mild bitter flavor and is popular in many Mediterranean and North African dishes.

Alternate names: Flat-leafed parsley, Italian parsley, curly leaf parsley.

What does parsley look like: Parsley leaves grow on thin stalks. Each leaf has several leaflets with serrated edges. As their names suggest, flat-leafed parley has flattened leaves, and curly parsley leaves are curled.

Uses of parsley as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Add to stocks, stews, casseroles, and soups. Sprinkling fresh parsley leaves on a dish is also a popular garnish. Fresh parsley leaves and stalks are also the main ingredients for salsa verde.

Mint

mint

Mint is a popular culinary herb in both sweet and savory dishes

Mint (Mentha) is a perennial herb that is well known for its sweet flavor and crisp, refreshing aftertaste. There are many species of mint with peppermint and spearmint being the most popular. Mint is used in both savory and sweet dishes.

Alternate names: Peppermint, spearmint.

What does mint look like: Mint leaves are lanceolate shaped with serrated edges. Mint leaves can be dark green, purple, or bluish-green.

Uses of mint as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Mint is prevalent in many cuisines around the world. Mint sauces or jellies are the classic combinations with delicious lamb dishes. Mint is commonly combined with chocolate in ice cream, desserts, or candies. Mint leaves are also used in herbal infusions.

Dill

dill

Dill is an herbal plant often added to pickling liquid

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a fresh green aromatic herb that is native to Europe and some parts of Asia. The feathery leaves are used as an herb, and its seeds can really help to spice up food. Dill has an earthy, tangy taste and a unique flavor.

Alternate names: Dill weed, dill leaf.

What does dill look like: The leaves of the dill plant are thin and threadlike. Dill foliage is similar to fennel but shorter.

Uses of dill as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Dill is used in many types of European and Russian cuisine to flavor fish, poultry, or potatoes. In countries where home pickling is common, dill is often added to the pickling liquid. You can also finely chop the thin fresh leaves to sprinkle on as a garnish.

Basil

basil

Basil is a type of herb commonly used in Italian dishes

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a large bushy herb with a pungent peppery yet sweet smell. Some people say that the scent of basil reminds them of anise spice. Various species of basil are used in many countries around the world.

Alternate names: Great basil, sweet basil, Genovese basil, Thai basil, lemon basil, holy basil, African blue basil.

What does basil look like: Fresh basil leaves are a glossy, vibrant green color and are ovate-shaped. Some types of basil have purple leaves.

Uses of basil as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Basil is an essential herb in Italian cooking where it is the main ingredient of pesto. Sweet basil is used in tomato sauces, green Thai curries, or as a fresh garnish on pizzas. Thai basil has a robust anise-like flavor.

Sage

sage

The herbal leaves of sage are green-gray with velvety feel

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is related to mint and is a green herb with an earthy, woody flavor. The intense flavor of sage can be overpowering, so use it wisely in cooking.

Alternate names: Garden sage, common sage, culinary sage, kitchen sage, broadleaf sage.

What does sage look like: Sage leaves have an elongated, oval shape that are gray-green in color and covered in fine short hairs.

Uses of sage as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Sage is a popular herb to serve with meat. A sage and onion stuffing is the classic accompaniment to a roast chicken or turkey dinner. You will also find sage widely used in European cuisine, Middle Eastern cookery, and Italian dishes.

Rosemary

rosemary

Rosemary is a popular herbal plant in many gardens

Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) is a popular culinary herb, and its common name means “dew of the sea.” The woody herb is a great herb to have fresh or dried in the kitchen for its fragrant aroma and flavor.

Alternate names: Rosmarinus officinalis, polar plant, compass plant.

What does rosemary look like: Rosemary leaves are short and needle-like and are green on one side and silvery white on the other.

Uses of rosemary as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Rosemary is a great all-round cooking herb that goes with most types of meat and vegetables. The pine-like flavor is excellent with grilled pork, fish, or poultry. Why not add some chopped sprigs of rosemary and olive oil to boiled potatoes just before serving?

Thyme

thyme

No list of herbs is complete without thyme

Thyme is another woody evergreen herb that adds interesting flavors to any dish. Thyme is one of the herbs that dries well and keeps its flavor. You can also freeze thyme.

Alternate names: Types of thyme include French thyme, English thyme, or German thyme.

What does thyme look like: Small green thyme leaves grow on woody stems.

Uses of thyme as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Thyme is one of the traditional French herbs of the Provence region. You will also find thyme used widely in other countries around the Mediterranean. Thyme goes well with garlic, parsley, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram.

Cilantro / Coriander

coriander

Corinader (cilantro) is a popular kitchen herb in Mexican and Indian dishes

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is called coriander in many countries and is a flat-leafed herb with a citrusy and strong taste. Coriander is an herb that you either love or hate. Some describe the taste as refreshing like lemon, and others compare it to eating dish soap.

Alternate names: Chinese parsley, Mexican parsley, coriander leaf.

What does cilantro look like: Coriander leaves look almost identical to flat leafed parsley. The flat green leaves are deeply lobed.

Uses of cilantro as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Both the leaves and stems are used as fresh herbs in cooking. Fresh coriander is used in Mexican, Indian, and Thai cuisine. Usually, the fresh leaves are added to the end of cooking to retain their flavor. Using the raw herb gives salsa, guacamole, and salad a distinct citrus taste. Coriander seeds are used as an aromatic spice.

Fennel

fennel

Add fennel fronds to salads to give them a mildly anise-flavor

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is another plant that is on the list of herbs and the list of popular spices (fennel seeds). This Mediterranean herb is highly aromatic and has deep flavors. It has a similar taste and aroma to the spice anise.

Alternate names: Florence fennel.

What does fennel look like: The feathery green foliage looks similar to dill leaves.

Uses of fennel as a cooking herb in the kitchen: You can use fennel in recipes if you want a mild sweet aniseed flavor.

Tarragon

tarragon

Tarragon is an herbal plant often used in French cuisine

Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is a perennial herbaceous plant that is related to sunflowers. Tarragon grows freely in the wild and has a strong aromatic flavor.

Alternate names: French tarragon, estragon, Russian tarragon, Dragon herb.

What does tarragon look like: The herb leaves are long and lanceolate shaped with smooth edges and glossy green color.

Uses of tarragon as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Tarragon has a sweet anise-like flavor. Its pungent flavor goes well with eggs, chicken, scallops, and béarnaise sauce. Tarragon is one of the essential herbs for creating classic French cuisine. You can also use the long shiny aromatic leaves as a delicious garnish.

Chives

chives

Chives is a culinary herb grown in many gardens worldwide

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are related to garlic, onions, and scallions. The green tubular stems are easy to grow and are great for garnishing soups and other dishes. Chives are native to most countries around the world.

What do chives look like: Chives look like tubular green grass, and they have delightful purple flowers when they bloom.

Uses of chives as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Chives are another of the “fine herbs” of French cuisine. Use them in any dish where you want some green color and a mild onion taste. They work a treat in omelets, risotto, and salads. You can also sprinkle them on potatoes or use them as a tasty, colorful garnish.

Bay Leaves

bay leaves

Dried bay leaves are often added to stews and soups

Bay leaves (Laurus nobilis) are native to many countries around the Mediterranean. The aromatic leaves are also used in Indian, Indonesian, and Mexican dishes. These leaves from the laurel shrub are usually used whole and dried, as that is when they have the most flavor.

Alternate names: Bay laurel, true laurel, California bay laurel, Indonesian bay leaf.

What do bay leaves look like: The leaves are dull green and have an elongated lanceolate shape.

Uses of bay leaves as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Prized for their sharp, peppery flavors. Dried bay leaves are often added to stews and soups to give a depth of flavor. They should be removed before eating. Bay leaves are also used to flavor rice dishes and are ground up and used as an ingredient in garam masala spice.

Lemongrass

lemongrass

Lemongrass is a popular culinary herb in Asian dishes

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon) is native to Asia, where it is a common ingredient in many local dishes. As its name implies, this herb looks like a type of grass and has a citrus lemony taste and aroma.

Alternate names: Cochin grass, oily heads, barbed wire grass, ginger grass, citronella grass.

What does lemongrass look like: The herbal grass has long slender blades which grow as a bush. The grassy leaves grow upwards and then droop at the top.

Uses of lemongrass as a cooking herb in the kitchen: The strong citrus flavor of lemongrass makes this culinary herb ideal for many recipes. Lemongrass is a common ingredient in Thai, Indian, and Asian cuisine.

Oregano

oregano

Oregano is a classic Italian herb

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a flowering herb that is usually used as a dried herb rather than a fresh herb. The name oregano means “brightness of the mountain” due to the delightful purple flowers that grow on the aromatic herb. The herb has pungent flavors with hints of sweetness, spiciness, and mint.

Alternate names: Wild marjoram, pot marjoram.

What does oregano look like: Oregano is a bushy herb plant with small spade-shaped green leaves. Oregano is similar in appearance to marjoram.

Uses of oregano as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Oregano is the classic Italian herb that is used to flavor many tomato-based pasta and pizzas sauces. This aromatic herb is also found in Greek, Mexican, and Turkish cuisines. However, the strong-flavored herb is also popular in Argentinian, Filipino, and Latin American dishes.

Marjoram

marjoram

Marjoram herb is similar to oregano

Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is similar to oregano and in some cuisines, the two herbs are used interchangeably. Both of these herbs have a similar look and aroma. Compared to oregano, marjoram has a sweeter taste whereas oregano is spicier.

Alternate names: Sweet marjoram, knotted marjoram, pot marjoram.

What does marjoram look like: Small green leaves on a woody stem and similar in appearance to oregano.

Uses of marjoram as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Marjoram is a common dried herb used in Turkish, Cypriot, and French cooking. In Mexican cuisine, marjoram is combined with thyme and oregano. Marjoram is also a classic herbes de Provance herb that is popular in the south of France.

Myrtle

myrtle

Dried myrtle leaves are used similarly to bay leaves

Myrtle is another herb native to Mediterranean countries and has a strong, fresh scent with citrusy overtones.

Alternate names: Common myrtle, Saharan myrtle.

What does myrtle look like: Myrtle herb leaves are elongated dark green pointed leaves that give off an intense fragrance.

Uses of myrtle as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Dried myrtle leaves are used similarly to bay leaves. Putting a couple of myrtle leaves in stews, soups, and casseroles helps to intensify and deepen their flavors. The citrus flavor of myrtle herb complements pork dishes and gives it an aromatic taste. Because of its lemony flavor, myrtle is also an excellent dried herb to use with fish or roasted meat.

Stevia

stevia

Grow stevia in an herb garden and use it as a natural sweetener

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a sweet-tasting herbaceous plant native to South America. In indigenous languages, the herb is sometimes called “sweet treat” or “sweet herb.” If you want to grow a natural sweetener with no calories, then stevia is easy to grow in an herb garden.

What does stevia look like: Lime-green leaves with an elongated oval shape and serrated edges that look like mint leaves.

Uses of stevia as a cooking herb in the kitchen: Because the sweet leaves are 350 times sweeter than sugar, the primary use of stevia in the kitchen is as a zero-calorie natural sweetener.

How to Keep Fresh Herbs Fresher for Longer

One of the challenges of using fresh herbs in the kitchen is to keep them fresh. Unlike dried herbs, the fresh plants have a shorter shelf life. So, what can you do to keep them fresher for longer?

First, you also have to know what kind of herbs you have.

Soft herbs are ones with soft green stems such as parsley, basil, cilantro (coriander), mint, tarragon, and dill.

Hard woody herbs are oregano, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme.

Here are the secrets to keeping all types of fresh herbs fresher for longer:

  • Wash fresh herbs in cool water and dry all excess moisture off them.
  • Soft herbs should be kept like a bouquet of flowers by placing their stems in a glass of cool water. Basil should be kept at room temperature whereas other soft herbs can be kept in the refrigerator, covered loosely with a plastic bag.
  • Woody herbs should be loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and put in an airtight container. Keep them in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer to keep them fresh.

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