Herbs are easy to grow. In fact, many thrive in dry, baked conditions and don’t ask for much in the way of fertilizer or water. They’re just great plants that offer great flavor. Not too familiar with some of the best ways to use herbs in your everyday cooking? Here are some suggestions:

Mint tea

A handful of fresh mint is an ancient – and delicious – way to use this delightful herb from your garden.

Photo Credit: Sandra Cunningham/fotolia.com

thriving herb garden

In a very small area, you can grow a great variety of herbs that will add amazing flavor to your meals!

Photo Credit: Steve Lovegrove/fotolia.com

Flowering thyme

Some herbs are as ornamental as they are tasty. Thyme makes a great groundcover for a hot, dry, sunny spot and can be used in many different dishes.

Photo Credit: Alison Bowden/fotolia.com


(The ultimate herb to use with tomatoes.)
  • Add to tomato sauces and tomato-based soups.
  • Snip over fresh tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar (and a bit of mozzarella).
  • Perk up a green salad with a few chopped leaves.
  • Chop into slivers and toss with nearly any Italian-type pasta dish. (This is a great trick to add flavor to bland frozen dinners.)
  • Make pesto (see Extras, right) – it freezes beautifully and costs just a fraction of what supermarket pesto does.
  • Include a fresh basil leaf in a glass of champagne (a recent trend at upscale restaurants).


(Good with just about anything containing lime – except desserts and beverages.)
  • Add to Mexican, Southeast Asian or Indian cuisine – especially on top of frozen entrées to perk up the flavor.
  • Chop and sprinkle over a dish of enchiladas.
  • Freshen up the flavor of purchased salsa with a liberal sprinkling (chopped).
  • Add a handful at the end of stirfry cooking when using any tropical flavors (like lime, lemongrass, ginger, peanuts or coconut).


(Great in almost any cocktail with lime.)
  • Perk up Asian and Indian dishes with some authentic flavor.
  • Toss with any fruit salad (especially if you splash a little rum, brandy or triple sec on top).
  • Add a sprig to your margarita; a key in mojitos.
  • Pump up your iced tea: Pour a few tablespoons of raspberry (or other fruit juice) into the bottom of a tall glass. Add a sprig of mint. Pour in iced tea, stir, and add plenty of ice. (Fabulous!)
  • Make an authentic Turkish mint tea: Put a few handfuls of mint (stems and all) into a tea pot. Top with boiling water and steep a few to several minutes. Strain into mugs and serve with plenty of sugar or honey. Mix the leftovers with iced tea for a refreshing cold drink.


(Use homegrown oregano almost like a specially-flavored parsley.)
  • Use as a topper for red sauces and other tomato-based or Italian- or Greek-inspired recipes.
  • Grill with it. Lay several pieces of oregano on top of steaks, chicken, fish or lamb when the meat’s on the grill to impart a subtle flavor.


(More than just a garnish.)
  • Toss into pasta dishes, atop casseroles or over a bowl of soup to add a fresh, green taste. (Don’t chop too finely. It’s sometimes nice to have larger pieces for more texture.)
  • Toss a handful into a green salad.
  • Make a parsley-walnut pesto. (As with regular pesto, this can be frozen.)
  • Lighten up heavy dishes: Add generously to mac and cheese or fettucine Alfredo.


(A classic with anything containing lamb. Also very good with chicken.)
  • Stuff several sprigs into the hollow cavity of a whole chicken before roasting.
  • When grilling, lay a spring over the top of meat or veggies. Or use the woodier part of the stem as a skewer, soaking it in water for 15 minutes. (It adds flavor from the inside out!)
  • Use in any marinade. (Excellent!)
  • Chop and toss over pasta. (Just be careful not to add too much, or its slightly piney flavor will make the dish taste like a Christmas tree!)
  • Use with any potato dish. Sauté chopped rosemary for a moment in oil (or butter) with onion, then mash with potatoes. Toss the herb with potatoes before roasting, or add some to shredded potatoes before making hash browns.


(From grill to garnish.)
  • Grill with it, laying sprigs over chicken or fish for extra flavor.
  • Stuff several sprigs into the hollow cavity of a whole chicken before roasting.
  • Toss a handful of chopped, fresh tarragon into a green salad for a slight anise flavor.
  • Make an herb vinegar: Put several sprigs of tarragon into a few cups of vinegar in a large glass jar. Steep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, then use to make salad dressings.
  • Add sprigs to marinades.
  • Use large sprigs as a garnish around roasted chicken and other dishes.


(The über-herb – good in just about any savory [not sweet] dish.)
  • Use in tomato sauce or almost any soup. Try with roasted or grilled chicken or with red meats.
  • Stuff several sprigs into the hollow cavity of a whole chicken before roasting.
  • Add sprigs to marinades.