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Herbs & Spices

Glossary of Herbs and Spices

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Without herbs and spices, our foods would be bland and boring. Herbs and spices are critically important for flavoring and aromas. They appeal to our senses of taste, smell and visual.

Herbs are the leaves of the plant where spices are from the roots, bark or seeds. Some plants provide both herbs and spices like cilantro (leaves) and coriander (seeds). Some seasonings defy definition such as garlic and onions, and one of the most essential seasonings, salt is a mineral.

Whether herb, spice, bulb, or mineral, they are essential in setting the stage for a wonderfully aromatic, full-flavored and visually appealing dish.


Type: Spice (Berries)
Aroma/Flavor: Cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
Cuisines: Caribbean and Middle Eastern
Dishes: Jerk seasoning, moles, pickling, sausage, curry powders. Stews and meat dishes. Cakes and desserts. Cincinnati-style chili.

Anise and Star Anise

Type: Spices (Seed, Flower)
Aroma/Flavor: Sweet, aromatic, licorice.
Cuisines: European, Australian/New Zealand, Peruvian
Dishes: Cookies, cakes, soups, stews, and liqueurs.

Basil (Genovese/Sweet & Thai)

Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Sweet, menthol with subtle peppery and anise flavors. Thai basil is less sweet with a slight cinnamon scent.
Cuisines: Italian & Mediterranean. Thai.
Dishes: Tomato sauces, pizzas, curries, pork, vegetables, pesto sauces and salads.

Bay Leaf

Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Slightly floral with a woody, astringent flavor and slightly minty aroma.
Cuisines: European, Mediterranean, American, Middle Eastern, Filipino, Indian and Pakistani
Dishes: Soups, stews, sauces, seafood, vegetables.


Type: Spice (Flower Bud)
Aroma/Flavor: Salty and briny.
Cuisines: Italian, French, Mediterranean
Dishes: Salads, pastas, meat dishes, sauces, picatas, tarter sauce, garnish.

Capers are typically added at the very end of cooking and are a good substitute for anchovies.


Type: Spice (Seed)
Aroma/Flavor: Pungent anise-like, tangy and sweet
Cuisines: Eastern European, Middle Eastern, Indian.
Dishes: Rye bread, desserts, liqueurs, sausage, sauerkraut, cabbage, cheese, and soups.


Type: Spice (Seed)
Aroma/Flavor: Strong, intense floral aroma and slightly citrusy. Black cardamom is slightly smoky.
Cuisines: Scandinavian, Asian, South Asia
Dishes: Sweet dishes, curry, breads, drinks


Type: Spice (Seed)
Aroma/Flavor: Salty, slightly bitter with an aroma like parsley.
Cuisines: Common among many cuisines.
Dishes: Soups, stews, stuffing, casseroles, cocktails, brines.

Chervil (aka French Parsley)

Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Parsley-like, yet more delicate with a faint taste of anise
Cuisines: French
Dishes: Poultry, soups, sauces, seafood, vegetables and fines herbs.


Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Very mild onion with a hint of garlic
Cuisines: French, Swedish
Dishes: Garnish, fines herbs, mashed potatoes, stews, eggs, asparagus, seafood.


Type: Herb and spice (root)
Aroma/Flavor: Bitter
Cuisines: French, Mediterranean, Louisianan
Dishes: Coffee (root), salads, hor d’ouerves.

Chicory is cultivated for its leaves and eaten raw in salads and includes radicchio, sugarloaf and Belgian endive.

Cilantro (aka Chinese Parsley)

Type: Herb (Spice is under coriander)
Aroma/Flavor: Very pungent aroma with a distinctive, waxy, citrusy and parsley flavor.
Cuisines: Asian, Mexican, Indian, Caribbean, and North African.
Dishes: Chutneys, guacamole, salsas, salads

Chili Powder

Type: Seasoning blend of spices
Aroma/Flavor: Deep red coloring that adds spicy, smoky flavors.
Cuisines: Mexican, Tex-Mex, American.
Dishes: Chili, meats, barbecue.


Type: Spice (Bark)
Aroma/Flavor: Unique, hot aromatic and flavorful profile.
Cuisines: Common amongst many cuisines.
Dishes: Cakes, cookies, desserts, and savory dishes of chicken and lamb.


Type: Spice (Flower)
Aroma/Flavor: Pungent, bitter woody aroma.
Cuisines: Asian, African, Middle Eastern and American.
Dishes: Pork/ham, pies, cookies, cakes.


Type: Spice (Seed)
Aroma/Flavor: Sensual, musky aroma with a somewhat citrusy tang. Earthy with notes of butter and thyme.
Cuisines: Common amongst many cuisines
Dishes: Salsa, guacamole, pickling, breads, beer, curries.


Type: Spice (Seed)
Aroma/Flavor: Highly distinctive adding an earthy warm feeling and a depth of flavors.
Cuisines: South Asian, North African, Mediterranean, Latin American, Mexican and of course in Tex-Mex cuisines.
Dishes: Chili, curry, gravies, pickling spices and some pastries.


Type: Spice (Seed)
Aroma/Flavor: Aromatic with grassy aroma and similar flavor profile as caraway with grassy notes.
Cuisines: American, European and Middle Eastern
Dishes: Fish, soups, pickled foods


Type: Vegetable, herb and spice (seed)
Aroma/Flavor: Similar to anise with a mellow licorice flavor. As a vegetable, the bulb is crisp and celery-like but more pungent.
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Italian, Chinese, Scandinavian
Dishes: Fish, sausages, baked goods and liqueurs. Also key ingredient in Chinese five spice, mirepoix and herbes de Provence.


Type: Vegetable, herb, spice (seed)
Aroma/Flavor: Sweet, nutty, caramel, and maple syrup with hints of celery. Rich rounded aroma with a slight biting smell.
Cuisines: India, North Africa and Middle Eastern
Dishes: Curries, dry rubs, salads, breads, yogurt


Type: Bulb
Aroma/Flavor: Powerful, pungent flavor and aroma that is warm, sweet and spicy.
Cuisines: A staple in most cuisines
Dishes: Used with almost every food group except sweets (unless you consider Garlic Ice Cream from Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world, a treat!)


Type: Spice (root)
Aroma/Flavor: Floral with citrusy, soapy, a bit musty with earthy notes.
Cuisines: Asian, European, North African, European, Caribbean, Indian
Dishes: Drinks, desserts, and savory dishes.


Type: Spice (fruit)
Aroma/Flavor: hot, sweet, and slightly smoky.
Cuisines: Korean
Dishes: Kimcho, galbi, tofu, bulgogi, teokbokki


Type: Spice (root)
Aroma/Flavor: Very sharp, tangy and pungent with a very sharp, hot biting taste.
Dishes: As a condiment for prime rib, fish and added to sauces and drinks.

Juniper Berries

Type: Spice (seed)
Aroma/Flavor: Spicy, piney aroma with a fresh, green, sweet, resinous flavor.
Cuisines: Mostly northern European, particularly Scandinavia plus Germany, Polish, Czech, Austrian and Hungarian
Dishes: Primary ingredient to make gin.


Type: Herb (Flower)
Aroma/Flavor: Floral, and slightly sweet with hints of mint
Cuisines: French
Dishes: Desserts, Herbs de Provence


Type: Seed (cover of the nutmeg seed)
Aroma/Flavor: Similar to nutmeg but is more delicate in favor.
Cuisines: Used in a wide variety of cuisines from Asia to Europe
Dishes: Desserts to savory items such as soups and roasts.


Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Wild marjoram has a thyme like aroma and sweet marjoram has a distinct, oregano-like scent.
Cuisines: All
Dishes: Often used to season stews, soups, sauces and dressings.


Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Pungent, sweet menthol aroma. Many varieties exist such as chocolate mint, with hints of chocolate flavors and aroma.
Cuisines: Frequently found in American, British, and Middle Eastern Cuisines.
Dishes: Cocktails, teas, and lamb dishes.


Type: Seed
Aroma/Flavor: Sharp, hot and pungent flavor
Cuisines: Popular across Asian, Africa, Middle East, Europe and America
Dishes: Popular in dressings, sandwiches, steaks, dressings and sauces and as a condiment.


Type: Spice (seed)
Aroma/Flavor: Piney and citrus aromas with a sweet/bitter tastes
Cuisines: Used across a wide variety of cuisines
Dishes: Desserts, soups and savory dishes


Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Warm, slightly bitter and peppery taste.
Cuisines: Most common in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Italian and Latin American cuisines.
Dishes: Many sauce and meat recipes


Type: Spice (fruit)
Aroma/Flavor: Hungarian paprika has a sweet smoky flavor. Spanish paprika is less sweet, and smokier.
Cuisines: American, Hungarian, Spanish, India, Middle East.
Dishes: Rice, stews, goulashes, sausages, and meats


Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Fresh, peppery with a slight anise- taste.
Cuisines: American, Italian, Greek, French, and Middle Eastern
Dishes: It is frequently used in soups, stews, egg dishes and stocks.

Pepper – Cayenne

Type: Spice (fruit)
Aroma/Flavor: Hot, pungent, with tobacco and hay-like aroma
Cuisines: Italian, Indian, Caribbean, Mexican and Asian cuisines
Dishes: Stews, chili’s, and meats

Pepper – Black or White

Type: Spice (fruit)
Aroma/Flavor: Hot, biting, woody taste
Cuisines: A common ingredient in most cuisines
Dishes: A common ingredient in a wide variety of dishes


Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Distinctive woody, piney aroma with a bitter, astringent taste
Cuisines: Italian, Mediterranean, and French
Dishes: Roast meats and vegetables


Type: Spice (flower)
Aroma/Flavor: metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes that also adds an orange-red hue to dishes.
Cuisines: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Indian and Spanish cuisines
Dishes: Biryani, breads, risotto, paella, and meat stews.


Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Highly aromatic with a woody, piney, peppery and medicinal flavor
Cuisines: Italian, Balkan, French and Middle Eastern cuisines
Dishes: Poultry, sausages, and fish

Savory – Winter & Summer

Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Medicinal, grassy, minty with a warming taste. It has a resinous aroma similar to thyme. Summer savory is milder than winter savory.
Cuisines: European cuisines
Dishes: Bread, beans, vegetables, eggs, condiments, gravy, soup, and stuffing, venison

Star Anise

Type: Spice
Aroma/Flavor: Resembles anise in flavor and imparts a stronger, slightly more bitter licorice flavor.
Cuisines: Chinese, Indonesian, and Vietnamese cuisines
Dishes: Meats, duck, fish, eggs, pastry, pears, poultry, pork, and pumpkin.


Type: Spice (berries)
Aroma/Flavor: Tart, lemony flavor
Cuisines: Middle Eastern
Dishes: Salads, meats, and drinks


Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Licorice-like flavor and aroma but not as intense as anise or star anise. Earthy with mint notes.
Cuisines: French, Middle East
Dishes: Drinks, stews, sauces, dressings and vinegar.


Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Minty, peppery with a hint of cloves.
Cuisines: European, Mediterranean
Dishes: Dressings, stews, sauces, poultry and much more.


Type: Spice (root)
Aroma/Flavor: Pungent, bitter flavor with mildly aromatic scents of orange and ginger
Cuisines: Southeast Asian
Dishes: Curry


Type: Spice (bean pod, seeds)
Aroma/Flavor: Quite distinctive in flavor and aroma with a delicate, sweet and rich flavor. Exceptionally fruity and rum like fragrance.
Cuisines: American, Mexican, and European
Dishes: Desserts


Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Highly pungent, sharp, hot mustard flavor with heat that is short lived.
Cuisines: Japanese
Dishes: Sushi


Type: Herb
Aroma/Flavor: Bitter tang that is very hot and spicy yet little aroma.
Cuisines: British, French
Dishes: Salads and garnishes

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