19 Essential Herbs for the Perfect Recipe

When crafting the perfect recipe, you must start with high-quality ingredients. No amount of skill in the kitchen can mask sub-par contents in your meal. Genuinely delicious recipes include fresh and dried culinary herbs and their essential oils. These must-have kitchen herbs accentuate the base taste of the dish itself by adding a touch of exotic and delicious flavor. Dive into our culinary herb guide!

Whether you’re a long-time professional chef or a novice building up your home kitchen repertoire, here are 19 essential herbs for cooking we think you can incorporate into your future fares.

  • 1. Alfalfa

    Alfalfa is packed with nutrients and can add a fresh, earthy flavor to your dishes and beverages. Its fresh, grassy and palatable texture is perfect for a variety of recipes. For best results, try to purchase non-GMO or organic varieties to avoid overt pesticide exposure.

  • 2. Barberry Root Bark

    Barberry root bark is best known for its base tea. However, it’s bitter flavor pairs well with various other teas, including black, green and white teas. In addition to its taste, berberine, a naturally occurring chemical compound in barberry root and other herbs, may help aid in several of the body’s natural processes and relieve some digestive discomfort.

19 Essential Herbs for the Perfect Recipe
  • 3. Bay Leaf

    You can use bay leaves whole or crushed in many recipes. Crushed bay leaves will add more fragrance and flavor to dishes than whole bay leaves. However, most cooks will use a muslin bag to avoid the difficulty of removing the crushed bay leaves from the main meal.

  • 4. Bergamot

    Earl Gray tea combines black tea and bergamot essential oil. It is popular in Great Britain and the United States. Bergamot oil has a sweet-sour aroma that gives the tea a unique flavor.

  • 5. Calendula

    You may recognize marigold for its bright orange color. It adds a visual appeal to a variety of foods and beverages. The leaves can be used in fresh salads or may add color to cheese. It can be used as a replacement for saffron to make yellow rice.

  • 6. Caraway Seeds

    You can add caraway seeds after cooking a specific dish and then allow them to simmer for added flavor. European countries utilize caraway seeds to counteract the fattiness of pork, duck and goose. They hold their flavor for months if stored in airtight containers away from sunlight.

19 Essential Herbs for the Perfect Recipe
  • 7. Carob

    You can use carob powder as a chocolate, cocoa or sugar substitute in recipes. Use the same amount of carob as you would use with cocoa powder. Use approximately three tablespoons of carob powder for each square of chocolate the recipe calls for.

  • 8. Cardamom

    Powdered cardamom can deliver a warm and sweet flavor to a variety of dishes, including puddings, sauces, curries, breads and cakes.

  • 9. Catnip

    Catnip was used as far back as the 13th century. Catnip leaves were used to rub meats before cooking. They were also chopped and tossed into salads, soups, stews and other hearty sauces.

  • 10. Cayenne Pepper

    Cayenne pepper is often used as a spice in cooking dishes or as a table condiment. Cayenne pepper is perfect for enlivening seafood, such as oysters, salmon, sardines, mussels, crab, lobster and scallops. Plus, you can sprinkle it over soups and chowders for an added kick. It is also good with roasted, grilled and fried meats.

19 Essential Herbs for the Perfect Recipe
  • 11. Celery Seed

    Celery seed has only been used as a culinary ingredient since the 17th century. The Romans and Greeks avoided celery seeds since they were commonly associated with funerals and graveyards, which gave them a bad name.

  • 12. Chervil

    Chervil leaves can be incorporated in seafood, egg platters, soups and stews, and various sauces. Chervil leaves are essential in tabbouleh and are perfect as an ingredient in a warm potato salad dish. Chervil will intensify the flavor of other herbs present in the dish.

  • 13. Chicory Root

    Roasted chicory root can be added to salads to add extra taste and color. Chicory ranges in many different types of color and is an Italian native with red-leaved chicory plants, also known as radicchio.

  • 12. Cinnamon

    Cinnamon is often found in the pantries of every residential home across the world. It is one of the world’s most popular spices for baked goods, such as cookies, cinnamon buns, breads, and pies. Cinnamon can also be added to sweet potato and acorn squash for added zip. Additionally, cinnamon is often added to oatmeal, cereals, and other dishes.

19 Essential Herbs for the Perfect Recipe
  • 15. Dill Seed

    Dill seed can be used in many different spreads and salads, including tuna, mock-tuna, and potato, vegetables, soups and stews, and pickling mixes.

  • 16. Elderflower

    Elderflowers are often used to make elderflower cordial, wine, vinegar and champagne. Elderflower vinegar is often used as a salad dressing. Gooseberry jelly, elderflower and polenta cake, and elderflower fritters are popular dishes.

  • 17. Fennel Seed

    Fennel seeds are prominently found in Mediterranean cuisine. Dishes include raw and cooked bulbs in side dishes, pastas, salads, risottos and vegetable dishes. Fennel seeds are commonly found in Italian sausages, meatballs, and rye breads.

  • 18. Galangal

    Galangal rhizomes are used as a spice and flavoring ingredient in vinegar and liqueur. Galangal is used as a spice in Lithuania and Estonia.

  • 19. Nutmeg

    Nutmeg is primarily used as a spice in various dishes. For instance, in Penang cuisine, shredded nutmeg rind with a sugar coating is used as toppings on a unique dish of Penang origin. Nutmeg rind is also blended or boiled to make a nutmeg juice.


If you want to start using these essential herbs for cooking your recipes or need a new supplier, the Monterey Bay Herb Co team has helped connect customers with the bulk herbs and spices they need to make the products their customers crave. Visit our Herbs & Spices page to see the full selection, or head to our Contact Us page to get in touch with one of our knowledgeable team members.