You will never know how great your chicken dishes can be until you find out the best herbs for your chicken! Even though chicken is the most loved food of all time due to its availability, tastiness, and nutrients, not many people know how to cook it properly.
Whether it is a roasted, deep-fried, pan-fried, or braised dish, there is a secret ingredient that can greatly boost your chicken’s flavors: herbs.
If you’re tired of eating casual and satiated chicken dishes, it’s time for you to step up your chicken recipes with the new knowledge of the best herbs for your chicken. Keep reading and search for the treasure yourself.
What Are Herbs And How Do They Work?
Since ancient times, humans have been using herbs in cuisine and medicine. Similar to humans, birds and domestic poultry also find herbs in the garden and eat them to get more nutrients or to cure illness.
Herbs are a widely grown and widespread group of plants distinct from vegetables and the like. People and animals usually consume them as a source of macronutrients. Each type of herb offers unique aromatic properties that are great for flavoring and garnishing foods.
In culinary terms, people consider herbs to be different from spices. Herbs refer to leaves or flowering parts of a plant, while spices are from other parts such as seeds, roots, stems, or fruits. Herbs can either be fresh or dried, while spices are always dehydrated.
Some plants are both herbs and spices, such as dill and its seeds or coriander leaves and seeds.
Update your knowledge by learning how to distinguish spices and herbs.
Herbs In Culinary Field
Herbs have been a big part of cuisine as far as history has been recorded. Back in the old days, seasonings were not diverse and abundant, so people tried herbs with different flavors to give them a better taste.(1)
People can mix raw herbs with salad, scatter them over dishes, mince them up with meat, stuff them inside fish or chicken, eat them with BBQ, stir them into cooked food, or even use them as decorations for beverages.
Cooking with herbs, even in a small amount, is a great way to infuse unique flavors into many of your dishes.
Fresh Herbs Vs. Dried Herbs
You cannot simply say which is better than which because it’s more of a personal preference.
However, fresh herbs are generally more aromatic and flavorful, so they usually appear in dishes with short cooking time or get added when the dish is nearly ready to serve. You can use them as toppings for chicken salad or sprinkle over chicken curries.(2)
Unless you grow herbs at home, fresh herbs are harder to store because it takes only a few weeks for them to go bad with proper storage conditions like light, moisture, and the right temperature.
On the other hand, dried herbs are easier to store. They have a more concentrated flavor, so they are suitable for slow-cooking dishes. Long cooking also helps soften them. Dried herbs work best in sauces, roasting, or grilling.
Fresh herbs and dried herbs can be used interchangeably in most cases. There is a formula to convert them: 1 teaspoon of dried herbs for every 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.
That means you should use three times as many fresh herbs as you would with dried herbs, and vice versa.
Try this traditional and organic way to dry your herbs and keep them from spoiling.
Best Herbs For Your Chicken You Have To Try
You can experiment with different herbs and find out what is best for your chicken. Or, you can look at this table to know what people use with chicken and where to get them:
|Herbs||Flavors||Best used fresh or dried|
|Basil||Strong, peppery, and minty||Dried|
|Rosemary||Woody and earthy||Fresh|
|Thyme||Earthy and delicate||Fresh or dried|
|Sage||Sweet, savory, bitter, and sour||Dried|
|Cilantro||Fragrant and citrusy||Fresh|
|Bay Leaves||Aromatic and woody||Dried|
|Marjoram||Sweet, citrus, and woody||Dried or fresh|
|Dill||Sweet and sour||Dried or fresh|
|Tarragon||Strong and aromatic||Fresh|
|Oregano||Earthy and slightly bitter||Dried|
|Parsley||Clean, refreshing, and slightly peppery||Fresh|
|Chervil||Mild and delicate||Fresh|
Basil is one of the most used herbs in chicken dishes. That’s why you see basil in a lot of Italian or Greek chicken recipes on the internet. Its strong peppery, minty flavor spices up your chicken a great deal.
It usually serves as a tune-up for other flavors, but this herb can also be in the limelight. Basil is the main ingredient in pesto sauces that comes from Italy. Chicken tastes incredibly good with pesto. Whip up that fresh basil pesto to dip the chicken in or eat with chicken pasta.
Basil goes well with marjoram and mint because they all have a minty flavor. Both mentioned herbs are good with chicken too. You can also try pairing basil with citrus fruits like oranges or lemons. If you are cooking with chicken, then dried basil will perform better.
It’s hard to mistake rosemary for any other herbs due to their look and remarkable smell as well. This herb has a woody and earthy flavor that can balance out all the greasiness in roasted or grilled chicken.
People usually use fresh rosemary in many chicken dishes, such as stews, soups, or casseroles. When cooking a whole chicken, put some fresh sprigs inside to add a piney flavor to your chicken.
Remember to remove the leaves and chop them finely first. If you have dried one, sprinkle some on top. Dried rosemary splendor is good with just about every dish. Whether it is omelet or chicken breast, rosemary will give them a much better taste than before.
Oregano, garlic, and thyme are rosemary’s best sidekicks. Fresh rosemary is also good with garlic, parsley, and mint.
Check out this rosemary and garlic grilled chicken recipe to diversify the menu of your family’s dinner.
This Mediterranean herb is often used in chicken recipes for its exquisite aroma. When added to a variety of dishes, thyme never overpowers the original flavors of the dish but adds a new layer of delicate flavor to their general taste.
This earthy herb is excellent with grilled chicken, soups, or stews. People usually simmer some sprigs of fresh thyme with other ingredients and take them out once finished cooking. Thyme must be an essential part of any Thanksgiving turkey.
Fresh thyme usually combines with basil and parsley, while dried thyme goes well with rosemary and oregano. Adding thyme to a spicy marinade will bring out the flavor of pepper and tomatoes.
If herbs are a family, sage will be the stubborn eldest brother. The taste of sage is pretty chaotic. The herb has a sweet, savory, bitter, and sour taste at the same time. Most cooks prefer dried sage over fresh one, especially in the whole leaf, rubbed, and ground forms.
This antioxidant-rich herb is excellent in soups, sauces, and chicken stuffings. People use both fresh and dried sage in chicken dishes. Due to the strong flavor, you should use it sparingly so that it will not diminish other flavors.
Sage tastes best when going with parsley and thyme. People also use sage and ginger in chicken dishes.
Cilantro is popular in Asian cuisines. This herb is best when used fresh since the freshness and sweetness are lost when it is dried. It has a fragrant and citrusy flavor. People use this herb in various recipes.
Whether fresh or dried, cilantro doesn’t need much cooking. Still, dried cilantro doesn’t have much flavor, so many people dislike it. Meanwhile, the fresh variety has many applications, both as a garnish and a cooking ingredient.
Cilantro goes best with chives, parsley, mint, and basil. Your chicken dishes will be tastier and more appealing with fresh cilantro sprinkled on top and slices of limes garnished around the dish.
Learn how to grow your own cilantro at home and enjoy its freshness.
6. Bay Leaves
This herb packs a delicate aroma with a woody flavor inside. The flavor is so subtle that some people argue that bay leaves have no contribution to the general taste of a dish at all.
In fact, it adds a subtle depth of flavor to a recipe in a way that you can’t just achieve with any strong-flavored herb. The flavor of bay leaves intensifies as they get old and even better when dried. Their medicinal properties are a good addition to your dish too.
People also add bay leaves to slow cook in soups, stews, or sauces, but they’re there for flavoring, not for eating. Remember to remove these inedible leaves before serving your dish.
Bay leaves pair well with marjoram, parsley, thyme, and oregano. Fresh bay leaves can be a great combination with fresh dill and parsley.
Famous for its sweet, citrus, and woody flavor, marjoram is here to save your chicken from being too bland! People usually refer to marjoram as wild oregano with a sweeter flavor.
There are many ways to use marjoram, but it is best to use chicken marinades to balance the sweetness in the herb with the savory taste. People usually add this herb on top of chicken dishes when it is nearly ready to serve to preserve its delicate flavor.
Marjoram has many medicinal uses thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. In culinary terms, the herb is good with parsley, basil, or its cousin oregano.
Dill as a bushy herb with a grassy, sweet, and sour flavor, works extremely well in chicken soups and sauces. With a delicate taste in both fresh and dried state, dill is usually added when the dish is almost ready to retain the flavor.
Dried dill can add a zippy flavor to your mayonnaise or cream dip for chicken dishes. Next time you want to make a chicken salad sandwich, don’t forget to mix dried dill with your mayo before putting it on your salad.
Since its mild flavor rarely conflicts with other herbs, dill can go with a lot of herbs such as basil, parsley, mint, tarragon, and cilantro.
Tarragon is one of the top four herbs of French cuisine. It has a powerful and aromatic flavor, especially when it is fresh, so it’s better to use tarragon with care to avoid it overshadowing your foods.
The slightly sweet taste of tarragon always also helps bring out the best of the dish it is added to. There are 3 types of Tarragon: Siberian tarragon, Mexican tarragon and French tarragon. People mainly use the last one to prepare food.
French tarragon produces light-green, fragrant leaves with sweet and anise-like flavors that are excellent for cooking. By contrast, Russian tarragon tastes dull and unflavorful. Mexican tarragon has a peppery aroma resembling French tarragon, but it belongs to another family of plants.
People usually stuff tarragon sprigs into the bird and grill or oven it whole. Tarragon sauce is also great with chicken dishes. With fresh tarragon, you can chop them finely and sprinkle them on newly cooked chicken dishes. Tarragon pairs well with basil, dill, or chives.
Oregano is a member of the mint family, but this herb comes with a milder flavor. It has an earthy and slightly bitter taste. It is also the staple herb in Mediterranean cooking, particularly in Greek and Italian cuisines.
Oregano proves that some herbs are better dried than fresh. People mix oregano with lemon juice, pepper, and salt to create a baste for grilling and roasting, which can help chicken retain its moisture under heat.
Oregano goes best with mint since it has a minty flavor. Basil is also a great choice of pairing.
The famous parsley can’t fail to appear in this list. It can easily make it to the top 5 most used herbs worldwide. Parsley has a clean and refreshing taste with a slightly peppery note. Parsley tastes delicate and somewhat mild, so people usually add it to dishes at the end.
Fresh and delicates as leafy herbs like parsley taste much better when fresh because their dried versions have lost a lot of flavors. In order to keep parsley fresh, you should store it in the fridge. Just wrap it in a dampened towel and put it in a resealable bag.
Italian parsley packs more flavors and is great in soups, sauces, and stews. It can go well with a lot of herbs, such as dill, marjoram, cilantro, and bay leaves.
Learn how to keep your parsley fresh when you cannot eat it all.
Belonging to the parsley family with a mild flavor, chervil often appears in French cuisine. It has a delicate taste, like a combination of tarragon, anise, and parsley. Its flavor is kind of bland with a hint of licorice. Like parsley, this herb is much better to serve fresh.
Chervil comes in a refreshing green color. It grows in small bushes on the ground, with the plants growing up to 16-28 inches (40-71 centimeters). This herb prefers a cool location with high moisture, so you should plant it in early spring or late fall.
Chervil usually appears in light dishes like salads and soups. It is added at the end of the cooking process to preserve flavor. The herb is also good in omelets and chicken soup. Chervil pairs well with parsley, dill, and cilantro.
Herb Mixes: When All The Good Things Combine
What is better than a herb used in a chicken dish? The answer is all herbs used in chicken dishes at once! Yes, your fantasy is real. There are many herb mixes that people use in many cuisines all around the world.
Italian seasoning is a blend of dried herbs that can be a great flavor booster to your chicken marinades, chicken pasta, or any other chicken dishes.
This mildly flavored herb mix has everything you need in a seasoning: the harmony of aromatic herbs and spices that can balance out the savoriness of meaty dishes. You can also add chili flakes and garlic powder for more heat.
Herbes de Provence comes from a region of southeastern France called Provence, hence the name. It is a mixture of many kinds of dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme, savory, marjoram, and oregano.
These herbs seem conflicting in taste, but they work surprisingly well together to complement the flavor of your chicken dish. This herb mix is popular in grilled foods and stews.
The special thing about this French herb mix is that it’s a blend of fresh herbs, not dried ones like others. It includes parsley, chives, chervil, and tarragon. Like other herb blends, you should store this one in an airtight container.
As in the name, this herb mix is specially made for seasoning poultry like chicken. It consists of dried herbs such as sage, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary, plus some nutmeg and black pepper. The secret to upgrading your chicken dish is right here!
You have learned so much about the best herbs with chicken, but I still have more knowledge for you to step up your cooking:
Refresh Your Life With Cooking Herbs
Herbs are not only wonderful in taste but also exceptionally good for your health. Stock your cupboards with dried herbs or grow your favorite fresh herbs to make sure you always have organic and delicious additions to your cooking.
Some herbs are surprisingly easy to grow, some of which are mint, chives, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. You can even plant them by your window and watch them grow.
Thanks for reading! Let me know your opinions on the best herbs in the comment sections. Remember to share this article for more great content!
- Herb (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation.
- Department of Health & Human Services (2019) Herbs, Better Health Channel. Department of Health & Human Services.
Table of Contents
- What Are Herbs And How Do They Work?
- Herbs In Culinary Field
- Best Herbs For Your Chicken You Have To Try
- Herb Mixes: When All The Good Things Combine
- Refresh Your Life With Cooking Herbs