Best Cooking Herbs to Grow at Home

The Food Channel explores some of the best herbs you can grow at home for use in cooking. This photo shows a variety of fresh herbs on a table next to a sliced red bell pepper.

Best Cooking Herbs to Grow at Home

Food & Drink

Best Cooking Herbs to Grow at Home

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Growing your own herbs for cooking at home is a growing trend. Gardening and design writer Nanette Walker takes a look at some of the best herbs you can grow yourself. With each herb, you’ll find a photo, which links to the recipe shown, featuring each herb. —Editor

The Lure Of Fresh Picked Herbs

Growing your food at home is a great way to infuse vibrant flavors into your dishes. The quality and freshness that herbs provide after being picked seconds before in the herb garden are hard to beat. Using just a small garden space or pots on a windowsill, you can grow delicious herbs that are great to add to any meal. Check out these cooking herbs to grow at home for a boost of fresh flavor to your favorite dish.

Basil

Portable, easy to handle and silverware-free, canapés afford us many special freedoms, including the benefit of being able to taste a large variety of foods without over-eating!

Raspberry Basil Canapés. Photo: Laura Kurella.

This herb is the king of all herbs. For its prolific leaves, beautiful color, and its popular fragrance, basil is loved by many. Basil is so famous that it is widely used all around the world in both fresh and dried capacities. Its flavor can complement many different cuisines, and it also offers health benefits like anti-inflammatory and antioxidant elements. Basil provides vitamins A, C, and K as well as other essential elements like iron and magnesium. You can grow basil from seed or by purchasing a starter. Basil will taste better if you regularly remove the flower stalks as well. Pluck fresh basil leaves to add to dishes or as a garnish to brighten a bland dish.

Parsley

This recipe for Mediterranean Pizza with Grapes is a take on a classic pizza, made with naan. Filled with the protein of your choice browned and seasoned with tomato paste, olive oil, lemon juice, paprika and cayenne.

Mediterranean Pizza with Grapes and Parsley. Photo: California Table Grape Commission.

This potent herb is mostly used as a garnish for dishes but don’t let that fool you. It has many health benefits. Parsley is known for its ability to boost immunity as well as provide antioxidants. This herb is frequently used crushed as a pesto for pasta dishes and can be added easily to vegetable side dishes. Plant seedlings indoors and once plants are about 6 weeks old, transfer to an outdoor garden area or windowsill garden. Parsley is an annual that comes back stronger during the second year of growth. Cut the stems back during the fall for the best results. Watch for garden pests that may want to chomp on this delicious herb as well.

Oregano

Commonly used in many Italian and Greek dishes, oregano is a favorite. Many cooks like to use this spice to flavor bread, eggs, soups and poultry as well. Oregano is usually used in crushed form as the leaves break easily into smaller pieces once harvested from the woody stems. Start oregano seedlings indoors and then transplant the garden later in spring. Oregano flowers are also edible making them a beautiful and surprise addition to a special dish. Cover the plant during cold weather so that the roots don’t freeze.

Chives

A creamy chive-infused dip, best served with fresh homemade wheat pita crackers!

Creamy Chive Dip. Photo: Laura Kurella.

The lovely onion scent of chives makes them a natural addition to an herb garden. Chives offer many benefits in the garden including being a natural deterrent to common garden pests. They also help digestion and can be used in both fresh or dried varieties depending on the dish. Use them to flavor up soup, fish, and potatoes after finely dicing the stems. Chives are a welcome addition to the garden given their ability to multiply. Divide and replant clumps of chives every year to help keep garden pests away as well as provide fresh flavor to dishes.

Cilantro

Tender beef simmered in salsa provides a deep, rich flavor upon which to pile grilled fresh peppers and chopped tomatoes all cooled down with a cilantro lime crema.

Tacos de Carne with Cilantro-Lime Crema. Photo: Lance Mellenbruch.

This well-known Mexican herb is one that you either love or hate. Cilantro has a distinct flavor and fragrance that makes it a favorite in Latin dishes. It is high in antioxidants, as well as Vitamin C—another reason it’s a desirable herb. Use it on top of tacos, dips, or in soups with a broad flavor profile. Grow cilantro directly in the garden by sowing seeds during the late spring and summer months. Consider drying older plants to bring forth coriander seeds from cilantro as well.

An Herb For Every Dish

There are plenty of delicious herbs that can add unique flavors while cooking in the kitchen. From spicy cilantro and chives to complex oregano there is an herb for every dish. Incorporate herbs into your cooking to not only add a boost of taste and texture but to also add essential vitamins and health benefits to those sitting at your table. Consider all of these cooking herbs to grow at home this year for flavorful dishes.

Nannette Walker is a gardening and design writer with a passion for growing her own food. She loves to make quirky decor using recycled elements, she is also a music lover, always making time for a sing along with her guitar.

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