The Ultimate Guide to Using the Best Herbs for Chicken

The Best Herbs for Chicken and How to Use Them

Chicken is a versatile and popular protein choice, but it can sometimes get monotonous if you cook it the same way every time. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to add variety and depth of flavor to your chicken dishes: herbs. In this article, we will explore the best herbs for chicken and how to use them to enhance your culinary creations.

1. Basil

Basil is a widely used herb in Italian and Greek cuisines, and it pairs exceptionally well with chicken. Its slightly peppery and minty flavor adds a refreshing and aromatic twist to chicken dishes. You can use both fresh and dried basil in your recipes. Fresh basil leaves can be used to make a flavorful pesto that complements chicken beautifully, while dried basil, along with salt and black pepper, can add a delicious flavor to your chicken breasts.

2. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves have a distinct flavor and aroma that can enhance the flavor of chicken dishes. Dried bay leaves are often used in slow cooking recipes such as soups, sauces, and stews. They add a subtle flavor that brings the whole dish together. Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving. Bay leaves work well with herbs such as thyme, marjoram, and oregano, and fresh bay leaves can be combined with dill and parsley.

3. Oregano

Oregano, a member of the mint family, is a popular herb in Italian, Greek, and Mexican cuisines. It is known for its aromatic and slightly bitter flavor. Dried oregano works best with chicken dishes because it adds a layer of flavor without overpowering other ingredients. Oregano pairs well with mint and basil, and you can make a delicious marinade by combining oregano, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil.

4. Rosemary

Rosemary is a match made in heaven when it comes to chicken. Its woody and fragrant flavor complements chicken dishes perfectly. Fresh rosemary sprigs can be used in a variety of recipes, from soups to salads, while dried rosemary can be crumbled over chicken for added flavor. Rosemary pairs well with herbs such as thyme, oregano and sage. It also goes wonderfully with garlic, making it a safe choice for cooking chicken.

5. Thyme

Thyme is a delicate herb that adds a subtle yet distinct flavor to chicken dishes. It blends well with other herbs and spices, making it a versatile addition to your culinary repertoire. You can use fresh thyme when grilling chicken or in soups and stews. Greek roasted chicken with lemon and fresh thyme is a delicious combination worth trying. Thyme goes well with basil and parsley, and dried thyme can be used in seasoning blends with rosemary and oregano.

6. Sage

Sage is an herb with a unique flavor profile that adds complexity to chicken dishes. It is savory, sweet, bitter and sour all at the same time. Sage can be used both dried and fresh in chicken recipes. When cooking with sage, remember that a little goes a long way. Sage works well with parsley, thyme, and summer savory. Combine sage with ginger for a delicious flavor combination in chicken dishes.

7. Tarragon

Tarragon is an aromatic herb that adds a touch of sweetness and freshness to chicken dishes. It is most flavorful when used fresh. You can make a tarragon sauce for chicken or add a few sprigs inside the bird while roasting. Tarragon goes well with basil, chives and dill. Its aroma is similar to that of anise, making it a great complement to anise and fennel flavors.

8. Marjoram

Marjoram, often called wild oregano, is a flavorful herb similar to oregano but without the pungent kick. It has a sweet, citrusy and woody flavor. Fresh marjoram can be added to dishes at the end of cooking, while dried marjoram is ideal for marinades. Marjoram works well with basil, parsley and oregano to create a harmonious blend of flavors in chicken dishes.

9. Dill

Dill is an herb with a mild sweet-sour flavor that adds a delicate touch to chicken dishes. It can be used dried or fresh. Fresh dill is perfect for chicken soups and sauces, while dried dill can be used to make dips or dressings. Dill pairs well with a variety of herbs, including basil, parsley, mint, coriander and tarragon. Chicken cooked with lemon and dill in a cast iron skillet is a delightful combination.

10. Coriander

Cilantro, also known as coriander leaves, has a fresh and citrusy flavor that can brighten up chicken dishes. It is commonly used in Mexican, Indian, and Asian cuisines. Fresh cilantro leaves can be used as a garnish or mixed into marinades and sauces. Coriander pairs well with other herbs such as basil, mint, and parsley. It adds a lively and aromatic element to dishes like chicken tacos or curry.
Using a combination of these herbs or experimenting with different pairings can help you create unique and flavorful chicken dishes. Whether you prefer to use fresh or dried herbs, the key is to balance the flavors and let the herbs enhance the natural flavor of the chicken.

Herbs de Provence: The Ultimate Chicken Herb Mix

While each of the above herbs is fantastic on its own, there is also a special herb blend called Herbs de Provence that works wonders with chicken. Herbs de Provence is a blend of herbs commonly used in French cooking, including thyme, summer savory, oregano, and marjoram, among others. This herb mix adds a delightful fragrance and flavor to chicken dishes, making it a go-to choice for many chefs.
You can either purchase a ready-made herb mix from a store or make your own by combining equal parts of the herbs listed above. Sprinkle this herb mixture over the chicken before roasting, grilling, or sautéing to give it a Mediterranean-inspired flavor.
In conclusion, herbs are a fantastic way to elevate your chicken dishes and add a burst of flavor. Whether you choose basil, bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon, marjoram, dill, coriander, or a combination of these, each herb brings its own unique characteristics to the table. Experiment with different herbs, pairings, and cooking methods to discover your favorite herb-infused chicken recipes. Enjoy!


Can I use dried herbs instead of fresh?

Yes, you can use dried herbs in your chicken dishes. However, keep in mind that dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor, so you may need to adjust the amounts accordingly. As a general rule, use about one-third the amount of dried herbs compared to fresh herbs.

What other dishes or cuisines can these herbs be used in?

The herbs mentioned in this article are versatile and can be used in many different dishes and cuisines. For example, basil is commonly used in Italian and Greek cuisine. Oregano is popular in Italian and Mexican cuisines. Rosemary works well in Mediterranean-inspired recipes, while coriander is often used in Mexican, Indian, and Asian cuisines. Feel free to experiment and explore different flavor combinations based on your preferences.

Can I mix different herbs?

Absolutely! Mixing different herbs together can create interesting flavor profiles and add complexity to your chicken dishes. For example, you can combine rosemary and thyme for a Mediterranean twist, or basil and coriander for a fresh and vibrant flavor. Don’t be afraid to get creative and customize your herb blends to suit your taste preferences.

How should I store fresh herbs for maximum freshness?

To keep fresh herbs at their best, trim the ends of the stems and place them in a glass of water, similar to a bouquet of flowers. Cover the herbs loosely with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. This will help keep them fresh and extend their shelf life for several days.

Can I use these herbs on other meats?

Absolutely! While this article focuses on using herbs with chicken, these herbs can also be used with other types of meat, such as beef, pork, or fish. Each herb brings its own unique flavor profile, so feel free to experiment and explore different combinations to enhance the flavor of your favorite meat dishes.

If I want to try the herb mix mentioned in the article, where can I find Herbs de Provence?

Herbs de Provence can be found in most grocery stores in either the spice or herb section. Alternatively, you can make your own herb mix by combining thyme, summer savory, oregano, and marjoram in equal parts. This do-it-yourself option allows you to customize the blend to your liking.