Chicken is a great source of protein but it can get boring if you cook it the same way over and over again. And what can bring more diversity to it if not aromatic herbs?
But what are the best herbs for chicken? While many flavorful herbs pair well with chicken, these are our top 10 picks.
- Bay leaves
Used fresh or dried, these herbs will take your chicken dish to the next level if you know how to use them.
Although these 10 herbs are all wonderful when used alone with chicken, the best herb for chicken is actually an herb mix called Herbs de Provence that is easy to make and contains thyme, summer savory, oregano, and marjoram, among other spices.
Read on to learn more about using herbs with chicken, as well as a homemade herb mix recipe that will help you cook signature chicken dishes.
The 10 Best Herbs For Chicken
Chicken is like a blank canvas. You can add various herbs and spices to it and end up with a unique dish every time.
Here are the best herbs to use with chicken. Whether you like cooking with fresh or dried herbs, you will surely find an option that works for you.
You may have seen basil listed in the ingredient list of many chicken dishes. And there is a reason why. Its slightly peppery and minty flavor pairs well with chicken.
Basil is widely used in Italian and Greek chicken dishes. You may find both fresh and dried basil in chicken recipes. In any case, this herb packs a lot of flavor into the dish.
You can make a fresh basil pesto that goes exceptionally well with chicken. If you have only dried basil at hand, it is more than enough to give the chicken breasts an outstanding flavor.
Dried basil, alongside salt and black pepper, is more than enough for a deliciously cooked chicken.
What Goes With Basil?
Basil pairs well with marjoram and mint, both of which are two of the best herbs to go with chicken.
Basil also goes well with citrus fruits such as lemon and oranges, which gives a lot of room for creativity.
2. Bay Leaves
Bay leaves have a rather distinctive flavor. However, in addition to the flavor, these leaves smell quite strong. If there are a couple of bay leaves in a dish, there is no way you will not distinguish their aroma.
Bay leaves can be both fresh and dried. They also come in a powder form.
Dried bay leaves, however, are more preferable. They don’t add a strong flavor to the dish like many other herbs do but they do add a note of flavor that brings the whole dish together.
Bay leaves are used in slow-cooking chicken dishes. You can add a couple of dried bay leaves in soups, sauces, and stews. Don’t forget to take the leaves out before serving the dish.
What Goes With Bay Leaves?
Bay leaves go well with thyme, marjoram, and oregano. Fresh bay leaves may be paired with fresh dill and parsley.
Dried oregano is one of the most widely used herbs. Being related to mint, this aromatic herb is very common in chicken dishes.
Usually, many people prefer fresh herbs over dried herbs. However, in the case of oregano, it seems like this herb is at its best when dried.
It doesn’t overshadow other flavors in the dishes but adds the necessary layer of flavor that makes the dish wholesome.
Oregano is widely used in chicken dishes in Italian and Greek cuisines. It is also a beloved herb in Mexican cooking.
What Goes With Oregano?
Being a member of the mint family, oregano pairs well mint itself. It also goes well with basil.
If you want to make a delicious yet simple marinade for chicken, pair oregano with some lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil.
Rosemary with chicken is a match made in heaven. Whether you use fresh or dried rosemary, its woodsy flavor will complement the chicken very well.
Fresh rosemary can be used in a variety of chicken dishes, from soups to stews and from salads to casseroles.
When cooking a whole chicken with rosemary, you can put a few fresh sprigs inside to transfer the piney flavor of the herb to the poultry.
If you want to use dried rosemary, simply crumble it on top of the chicken.
A creative way of cooking chicken with rosemary is making rosemary skewers by threading smaller cubes of chicken onto the sprigs.
What Goes With Rosemary?
Rosemary pairs well with oregano, thyme, and sage. Fresh rosemary can also be paired with chives, mint, and parsley.
Rosemary and garlic make an unbeatable duo and are perfect for cooking chicken when you want to play on the safe side.
If you are looking for a delicate herb to add to your chicken dish, then thyme is one of the best options. It is not too aromatic like other herbs but its flavor profile is strong enough to play with other herbs and spices to make a delicious chicken dish.
You can use thyme when grilling chicken or making soups or stews. You can add a sprig of fresh thyme to slow-cooking dishes and then take it out once the dish is ready.
Thyme and chicken are a popular pairing in the Mediterranean cuisine. Greek roasted chicken with lemon and fresh thyme is something you should give a try.
What Goes With Thyme?
Fresh thyme goes well with basil and parsley.
Dried thyme can be a part of a seasoning blend alongside dried rosemary and oregano.
Sage holds one of the most unique flavor profiles among the herbs that go well with chicken. Native to the Mediterranean, this herb is savory, sweet, bitter, and sour all at the same time.
You can use it both dried and fresh in chicken dishes. Sauté chicken with fresh sage or grill it with dried sage. Either way, the result will please you.
When cooking with sage, don’t overuse it. A little of this herb goes a long way. Even if you feel like its flavor is subdued and not enough, don’t be tempted to add more than the recipe calls for.
What Goes With Sage?
Sage goes well with parsley and thyme. It also pairs well with summer savory.
Chicken made with sage and ginger is also a delicious combination of flavors.
Tarragon is one of those herbs that is most aromatic when it is fresh. It has a slightly sweet taste and brings lots of freshness to whatever dish you are making.
You can make chicken with tarragon sauce or put a few sprigs inside the bird while cooking it in the oven. Sprinkling chicken salad with freshly chopped tarragon is also an option.
What Goes With Tarragon?
Pair tarragon with basil, chives, and dill. Fresh tarragon will also go well with parsley.
Because tarragon has an aroma similar to that of anise, it goes well with anise and fennel. The latter also has a sweet flavor resembling that of the anise.
Yet another flavorful herb to use with chicken. Closely related to oregano and often referred to as wild oregano, marjoram is a delicate herb with a symphony of notes.
It is both sweet, citrusy, and woodsy at the same time. As opposed to oregano, marjoram doesn’t have a spicy kick.
If you are using fresh marjoram, add it to the dish when it is almost ready. Dried marjoram, on the other hand, is best used in chicken marinades.
What Goes With Marjoram?
Marjoram goes well basil and parsley. Unsurprisingly, it also pairs well with oregano.
Dill is one of those herbs that can be used with chicken both dried and fresh. It has a mild sweet-sour flavor that is much more delicate compared to other herbs.
You can use fresh dill in chicken soups and sauces. Make sure to add it when the dish is almost done in order not to overcook the herb and keep it fresh.
As for dried dill, you can use it to make an easy sour cream or mayonnaise dip for chicken fingers.
What Goes With Dill?
As the dill doesn’t have an intense flavor, it goes well with a variety of herbs, including basil, parsley, mint, cilantro, and tarragon.
Chicken cooked in a cast iron with lemon and dill is also delicious.
Cilantro is an herb to be used fresh rather than dried. It has a sweet flavor and much of it gets lost when the herb is dried.
Cilantro is a delicate herb that doesn’t need much cooking. It is perfect for sprinkling on top of your chicken dishes as a garnish once they are ready. Top your chicken salads and tacos with cilantro as a touch of freshness.
What Goes With Cilantro?
Cilantro goes well with mint, parsley, chives, and spicy varieties of basil.
You can also spice up your oven-baked chicken by sprinkling it with some fresh cilantro and serve with slices of lime.
Homemade Herb Mix for Chicken – Herbs de Provence
If you are a fan of French cuisine and want the feel of it in your kitchen when cooking ordinary dishes, then you should definitely try making your own Herbs de Provence mix.
This herb mix originated in France in the late 20th century, when the renowned cooking teacher and author of a number of culinary books Julia Child introduced it in a chicken skillet dish.
There are many varieties of this herb mix. However, all of them will complement the chicken you are making. Not only that. You can use this aromatic mixture of dried herbs in roasting vegetables or making salads or stews.
Here are the dried herbs you will need to make a flavorful Herbs de Provence.
- Thyme (4 tbsp)
- Summer savory (3 tbsp)
- Marjoram (3 tbsp)
- Rosemary (2 tbsp)
- Basil (1 tbsp)
- Mint (1 tbsp)
- Lavender, culinary (1 tbsp)
- Chervil (1tbsp)
- Tarragon (1 tbsp)
- Fennel seeds (1 tbsp)
Mix all herbs together and feel free to make adjustments. You can change the ratios of herbs based on your preferences or take them out completely.
If you don’t want to make it, you can purchase pre-made Herbs de Provence on Amazon.
Fresh Herbs Vs Dried Herbs For Chicken
Many people like cooking with fresh herbs as they add greenness to the dish and give it lightness. However, if you are not growing your own herbs, storing different kinds of fresh herbs at home can be a problem.
You can only make fresh herbs last for a few weeks if you maintain the necessary conditions, including moisture, light, the right temperature, and most importantly, oxygen. But as doing this is quite complicated, dried herbs are preferred by many cooks.
Considering that dried herbs hold a lot of flavors, using them in cooking is just as good as using fresh herbs.
It should be noted, however, that certain herbs are better fresh, while others are more aromatic dried. Additionally, different dishes may call for different kinds of herbs.
While there are no rules to using herbs with chicken and it all depends on your personal preferences, knowing where and how fresh and dried herbs are used is important.
Cooking with Fresh Herbs
Compared to dried herbs, fresh herbs are more delicate not only in texture but also the flavor they give to the dish. For this reason, fresh herbs are added to dishes with either a short cooking time or they are added when there is little time left until the dish is ready.
However, if you do want to create a ‘background’ flavor with fresh herbs, you should add them earlier in the cooking process so that they release all their flavor.
Bruising fresh herbs, i.e. bending and breaking the leaves, is also a popular method of getting the most out of the fresh herbs.
Fresh herbs are typically used in salads and as a garnish. They are also added to long-cooking dishes when these are almost ready.
Herbs that are better fresh are mint, parsley, tarragon, and cilantro. Added to chicken salad or tossed over chicken curry, these herbs will add freshness and bright colors to your dish.
Cooking with Dried Herbs
Dried herbs usually have a more concentrated flavor. As opposed to fresh herbs, they are easy to store, and having a few varieties of dried herbs in your pantry will have you ready for hearty slow-cooking dishes.
Dried herbs are best used in dishes that remain on the oven for over 15 minutes. You can use dried herbs in chicken sauces and stews.
Marinating chicken in your preferred mixture of dried herbs and then roasting or grilling it is also a great way to use dried herbs.
Some of the most popular herbs used dried are rosemary, oregano, and thyme. While it is best to cook dried herbs longer in order to soften them, you can also crumble these herbs on top of your dishes alongside chopped fresh herbs.
Dried Vs Fresh Herbs Chart – What Goes With Chicken?
|Rank||Herb||Fresh or Dried?|
|1.||Basil||Fresh & Dried|
|6.||Sage||Fresh & Dried|
|8.||Marjoram||Fresh & Dried|
|9.||Dill||Fresh & Dried|
Are Dried and Fresh Herbs Interchangeable?
While dried and fresh herbs each have their uses in cooking, there are cases when you can substitute fresh herbs with dried herbs.
In this case, keep in mind that dried herbs are usually more powerful, as they have a strongly concentrated flavor.
Thus, if the recipe calls for a tablespoon of some kind of fresh herb, using a teaspoon of the dried variety will do the job. In other words, using 1/3 of the stated amount of fresh herb is enough.
Bay leaves, however, are an exception. Dried bay leaves are not as flavorful as fresh ones. So, use double the amount of what the recipe calls for. One fresh bay leaf is as strong as two dried ones.
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