Which herbs and spices go with which foods?

Nothing beats knowing how to enhance your food with herbs and spices.  The right herb or spice will make a dish.  the wrong one, or too much of one can equally ruin it. I’m often asked about which herbs and spices to use  and to be fair most herbs go with most foods, but some pairings that are especially delicious. I’ve made a list below foods the herbs and spices that I think best flatter them. While this list certainly isn’t the final word, it’s a good starting point.

I can’t emphasise enough how fresh herbs and spices matter. The absolute best practice is to grow your own herbs, both environmentally  and for the best taste.  I always try and buy Fair-trade spices .. they are not always available .. but if you can then do because the few pence more they cost makes a huge difference to peoples lives and to sustainable faming practices.


Beef  – gravy infused with bay, thyme and garlic is my favorite combination .. but try any of he following  basil, bay, caraway, cumin, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, shallot, tarragon, thyme

Beef burgers I love a good kick of cayenne pepper,  chili, oregano, or paprika, but for a gentler burger try a sprig of thyme

Steak   chives, garlic, rosemary, tarragon thyme

Lamb   Sweet and tender lamb is never better than with rosemary .. but try any of the following. basil, bay, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon balm, mint, marjoram,  onion, parsley, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory,  star anise, tarragon, thyme

Ham The sweetness of ham is complimented by cardamom, clove, cinnamon, bay, ginger, sage, star anise.  I love adding herbs and honey.

Chicken   anise, basil, bay leaf, chives, cinnamon, cumin, dill, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, rosemary, saffron, sage, tarragon, and all thyme especially lemon and orange

Turkey can be quite bland.  So use a good measure basil, garlic, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme

Duck  Is quite tricky.  Chinese five spices goes really well. As do chervil, ginger, thyme,

Pork   My favorite combination is garlic and basil  blended in oil smeared on before roasting.   But any of the following would be delicious too – anise, basil, bay, caraway, cardamom, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, oregano, rosemary, saffron sage, tarragon, thyme ( lemon especially well)


Game benefits of some good strong robust herbs and spices.

Pheasant  bay leaf, cayenne, cloves, garlic, juniper berries, leeks, lemon grass, onion,     black and white and green peppercorns,       paprika,    rosemary, sage, thyme

Grouse  nutmeg, liquorish, shallots, thyme

Partridge is delicious with herbs.  Try bay leaf, cardamoms, cinnamon, chili peppers,   cayenne pepper, coriander,  cumin,  garlic, garam masala,  ginger, lemon zest,  mint, nutmeg, onion,  parsley, ground saffron,  sage,   thyme

Duck as I mentioned above is great with five spice.. but  try herbs OR spices .. chervil, cinnamon, coriander    cumin seeds,   dill weed, fennel seeds, ginger,   juniper berries, lemon zest, marjoram, paprika, rosemary, saffron, sage, tarragon, thyme,    turmeric

 Grouse aniseed,   bay leaf, caraway seeds, cinnamon, cayenne, coriander, garlic, ginger,  juniper berries, lemon zest,  minced meat, onion, sage,  thyme

 Venison    allspice ,  cardamom,  ground cumin,  cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cloves, chili powder,  coriander leaves,  dill,    garlic,    ginger,    juniper berries, lemon,  nutmeg, onion,   oregano,   parsley,  rosemary, star anise, thyme,

 Wild Boar is up for some robust flavour… try  cayenne pepper, coriander leaves, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, juniper berries,  red chills, rosemary, tarragon,

Rabbits are lovely with spring herbs.  Try a bouquet garni (parsley, bay leaf, celery leaves, marjoram, lemon zest), garlic, ginger, juniper berries, nutmeg, parsley, rosemary, saffron, tarragon, thyme


From Egg mayonnaise to omelet. I love herbs with eggs.

Anise, basil, caraway, cayenne pepper, chervil, chives, coriander,  dill, fennel, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, saffron, sage,  savory, shallot, sorrel, tarragon, thyme

Omelets:       chervil, oregano, parsley,

Quiches            basil, dill, marjoram,

Souffles        basil, cayenne, chives dill

 Rice and Couscous

Basil, bay fennel, lovage, saffron, tarragon, thyme


basil, bay, calendula, caraway, chervil, chives, cumin, dill , fennel, lovage, marjoram, mints, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, sorrel, tarragon, thyme, lemon and orange thyme


 Aubergine.  I think this is one of the most delicious vegetables about Pair with basil, cinnamon, curry powder,   dill, garlic, marjoram, mint, onion,   oregano, parsley, sage, savory, rosemary, thyme .

 Aparagus: I love to add herb infused butter  chives, lemon balm, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme,

 Beans ( any green beans)  basil, caraway, cloves, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme

 Broccoli as a salad is delicious with a yogurt dressing.  Try mixing one of these and a pinch of salt.  basil, curry powder, dill, garlic, lemon balm, marjoram, oregano, tarragon,  thyme

Carrots I think always benefit from herbs and something to sweeten them sugar as a pinch of sugar or a teaspoon of honey  .. add some herb butter for an outstanding dish. anise, basil, chervil, chives, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, dill, ginger, marjoram, mint, parsley, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme

 Cauliflower. Add cheese and bake with herbs outstanding vegetable dish. Try   basil, caraway, chives, cumin, curry powder, dill, garlic, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, savory, or tarragon

Courgettes are perfect to sauté in butter and olive oil with basil, dill, tarragon, or thyme

Mushrooms with cream and herbs on toast makes a superb lunch.  Try black pepper, coriander, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, but my favorite is thyme

Onions chives, rosemary, sage, savory

Parsnips I know orange isn’t a herb or indeed a spice .. but try Orange Honey and any of the following herbs with your  parsnips  basil, dill, marjoram, parsley, savory, orange thyme

 Peas and mint is the most common combination .. but try basil, caraway, chervil, chives, mint, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme

 Potatoes go brilliantly with most herbs. basil, caraway, chives, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, lovage, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme

 Spinach for me is best with nutmeg.  But try out anise, basil, black pepper, caraway seed,  chervil, chives, cinnamon, dill, garlic, parsley , rosemary, thyme  ,

Squash is heavenly with caraway, but I love it with any herbs such as  basil, caraway, cardamom, , marjoram, dill, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory

Tomatoes and basil are a match made in heaven .. but there are plenty of other combinations  bay leaf, black pepper, chives, coriander, dill,  garlic, lovage, marjoram, oregano, parsley,  rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme


Béarnaise  goes well with  chervil, parsley, tarragon

Mayonnaise with basil or curry powder, parsley or tarragon

Hollandaise with a spinkles of cayenne or paprika


Crab meat needs treating gently  so try chives or , marjoram

Cod goes well with parsley, tarragon or thyme

Trout is a good fish to  try out a slightly stronger flavour such as basil, chives, rosemary, sage, tarragon

Prawns go well with cayenne, garlic, parsley, oregano

Shellfish benefit from black pepper, chives, garlic, and thyme

Salmon pairs beautifully with chervil, dill, parsley

Lobster is quite a gentle dish so go easy  with parsley, tarragon or thyme




  1. Ursula says

    Thanks, this is just what I needed as I’m never sure what herbs to add to what I’m cooking.
    I shall print this out (if you don’t mind) and it will become my herb bible.

    Thanks again


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