The Herbs That Will Elevate Your Spring Cooking

by Colleen Stinchcombe
Apr 11, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. ET
Variety of spring herbs
Image: Getty Images

Spring is here, and it's time to start eating like you believe it. Whether you’re down south where it already feels like summer or still bundled in your winter garb up north, it’s no surprise we feel a little bit of whiplash trying to figure out how to let go of our wintertime staples and embrace the spring. One way we’ve found success: Get excited about springtime herbs.

Although grocery stores often offer these herbs year-round, there’s something about knowing you’re eating seasonally that helps you feel a little more connected to the food you’re eating and the world you live in. Plus, in-season herbs and veggies tend to taste better anyway.

We chose some of the best spring herbs to get your palate out of winter stew season and into sunshine tastes. From lesser-known herbs like chervil to standby favorites like basil and cilantro, each of these herb recommendations will give you something new to try.

1/9 :Chervil

Chervil is one of the first herbs to sprout in spring and has a light flavor similar to anise. Try sautéing it with other spring vegetables like asparagus or mushrooms or adding it to a light, brothy soup.

2/9 :Chives

Onion chives have a light, oniony flavor and make an excellent garnish. Try sprinkling them into your scrambled eggs at the last moment to upgrade your spring breakfast or add them to your spring potato salad.

Garlic chives (also known as Chinese chives) have a mild garlicky flavor and can be used similarly. 

3/9 :Dill

Dill has complex flavor — like a combination of anise, fennel and celery leaves with slightly bitter undertones — and you’ve probably mostly had it paired with a cream sauce for salmon. Try mixing it into your next pasta salad with peas and asparagus or mashing it into a butter with a squeeze of lemon for a tasty herb butter to melt over vegetable sides.

4/9 :Lavender

Lavender might be known for its relaxing properties, but it's also quite delicious, with a distinctive floral flavor. Add it to your breakfast pastries like muffins or scones, or boil it with sugar to make your own lavender syrup for teas or sodas.

5/9 :Lemongrass

Popular in Thai dishes, lemongrass is exactly what it sounds like — a lemony herb. Try adding it to a heavier meat, like ground pork patties, for an extra fresh flavor or stir-frying it with seasonal vegetables — just make sure you get to the tender insides and toss aside the fibrous outer layers of the grass.

6/9 :Lime Leaf

Popular in Asian dishes, lime leaf, as its name implies, has a distinctive citrus flavor. Try adding it to your springtime pico de gallo for a punch of flavor or, if you’re feeling fancy, Food and Wine recommends wrapping scallops in the leaves and seasoning with a light onion sauce.

7/9 :Basil

You’re probably no stranger to basil, so the challenge is to find new, exciting ways to use it. We like adding it to a lemony spring cocktail or lemonade to make it extra refreshing or pairing it with avocado to turn into a creamy dressing.

8 /9: Cilantro

8/9 :Cilantro

Cilantro is another staple of springtime and summertime recipes. We like the idea of using it to take your favorite corn salad recipe from good to wow or creating a cilantro chimichurri for your next pork recipe.

9/9 :Mint

Another classic, here’s a way to make mint into something delicious from one of our editors: Combine orzo, olive oil, lemon juice and chopped mint leaves into a refreshing, easy-to-grab spring salad.