15 Scrumptious Culinary Herbs You Want in Your Backyard

Herbs are a great intro to gardening for beginner gardeners because they are so easy to grow from seed. They are versatile. Grow them indoors, right in your kitchen, interplant them with your veggies, use them to fill containers, or grow a special garden just for your herbs!

Most of the time, you can propagate herbs from cuttings, which will give you an endless supply. The savings become immediately apparent when you visit the grocery store and find tiny plastic packages of basil for the price of one seed packet that can sow hundreds of basil plants! 

Herbs are not only easy to grow, but they also help you take your cooking to the next level. They add a wonderful layer of flavor to any dish. Toss hardy herbs like rosemary and thyme into soups and stews as a whole sprig to impart their flavor. Use tender annual herbs to make a variety of pesto aside from the standard basil pesto.

The fresh flavor that herbs add to your food is well worth it. Let’s look at 15 delicious culinary herbs for your garden!

Must-Have Culinary Herbs for Your Garden


Use in pesto or freeze for winter pasta dishes.

Basil is the king of all herbs for the home gardener. There are tons of varieties that cover a wide range of flavors and colors, including sweet, purple, lemon, lime, cinnamon, lettuce leaf, and many, many more. Basil is easy to grow from seed, and cuttings root in a glass of water after a few weeks. 

You can even let your basil flower and go to seed at the end of the season and collect your basil seeds for next year. Not to mention, the bees love the delicate white (or pinkish purple) flowers of basil. Once it flowers, it will stop producing foliage, so it is best to only let your basil flower towards the end of the growing season once you’ve had your fill. Otherwise, pinch back the flower buds as they appear

Purple basil adds a stunning pop of color to dishes with the same basil flavor you know and love. You can brew it into a tea, turning it into a beautiful blue color. When you add a squeeze of citrus, like lemon juice, to the basil tea, it will turn from blue to bright pink! This is due to the reaction between the citrus and the anthocyanins present in the purple basil, which makes for a fun and tasty homegrown science experiment. 

Lettuce leaf basil produces large lettuce-like leaves that have a mild basil flavor, perfect for a lettuce wrap. The uses for basil are limitless. 


Close-up shot of blooming Chives in the garden. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are characterized by their slender, hollow stems and narrow, grass-like leaves that grow in dense clumps. Chives produce small, round flower heads atop tall, straight stems consisting of clusters of lavender-pink star-shaped flowers.Effortlessly infuse dishes with a mild onion essence using these perennial herbs.

Chives are the quick and no-fuss way to add onion flavor to your dishes. Growing bulbing onions can be a challenge and requires a longer growing period, up to 120 days, whereas chives will be ready to harvest within 60 days. Perennial chives will come back year after year. Chives are perennial in USDA growing zones 3-9 and grow best in full sun conditions, although they will tolerate light shade. 

Once established, you will have chives for years to come with little to no effort on your part. If you are especially lucky, your chives will flower, drop seeds, and continue to spread throughout your garden. If you don’t want them to spread, then remove the flowers once they appear (they are edible, too!)

As mentioned above, in the kitchen, chives add a delicious onion flavor to dishes. Since the onion flavor is so mild, it is best to add them as a garnish or towards the end of cooking. Don’t forget, the chive blossoms are edible too. Infuse the blossoms in vinegar and mix them with olive oil to make a flavorful chive blossom salad dressing. The flowers also make a beautiful garnish for salads. 


Close-up of a Cilantro growing in a garden. Cilantro is characterized by its delicate and fern-like leaves that grow in clusters atop slender, erect stems. The leaves are deeply lobed and arranged alternately along the stems, with a vibrant green color.Despite controversy over taste, cilantro adds a unique flavor to dishes.

Cilantro is likely the most controversial herb on this list. Some feel it tastes like soap! This is linked to a gene that some people possess, making it taste this way. If you’re lucky enough to have avoided the genetic short stick and love the taste of cilantro, then it’s a definite must-grow for your culinary herb garden

Cilantro is easy to grow, given the right conditions. It prefers cooler weather, which means this will be one of the first herbs to pop up in your garden in early spring. You can also sow a second round of it in the fall. However, it can struggle and bolt (flower and go to seed) in the heat of the summer. You can choose a variety like Long Standing, which can resist bolting for longer, but regardless, at some point, your cilantro will flower and go to seed. 

If your cilantro bolts, don’t worry! The tiny, delicate white flowers attract a host of pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden. Once the plant has gone to seed, you can collect the coriander seeds and add them to your homegrown spice collection. Coriander adds a unique spicy and floral flavor. Leave the seeds whole and grind them just before using for optimal flavor. 


Close-up of Dill growing in a sunny garden. Dill is characterized by its feathery and delicate foliage, consisting of finely divided, thread-like leaves that grow in clusters atop thin, hollow stems. The leaves are bright green.Enjoy dill’s self-seeding nature, attracting swallowtail butterflies to your garden.

Dill is an annual herb that will come back year after year in your garden as it easily self-seeds. If you want to prevent this from happening then be sure to remove the flower heads before they can form seeds. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy finding dill in various locations throughout your garden for years to come! Another way to limit self-seeding is to grow a variety like Tetra, which is slower to produce flowers. This variety remains bushy and compact and produces much more foliage vs. flower heads. 

I intentionally let my dill self-seed since it is not only a culinary herb that I enjoy but a host plant for swallowtail butterflies. The caterpillars chomping away on my dill in the summer are a joy to see. I grow enough that I don’t even notice any losses from their presence. Plus, I get to enjoy the swallowtail butterflies flitting around my garden. 

In the kitchen, dill is part of pickling spice blends with a variety of vegetables, but most commonly with cucumbers to produce dill pickles. But don’t stop there! Dill can add a wonderful flavor to soups, potato salads, pasta salads, and dips, like tzatziki which is a yogurt-based dip including cucumbers, garlic, and dill.

You can also let the flower heads dry once they’ve gone to seed and add them to dried flower arrangements. Or pick the flower heads fresh and make a stunning yellow dill bouquet, which is like bringing sunshine indoors. Air-dry dill leaves and store them in your homegrown spice cabinet for later use. 


Close-up of Fennel in a garden bed. Fennel is characterized by its feathery and finely divided foliage that grows in dense clusters atop sturdy, upright stems. The leaves are bright green.Grow fennel for bulb and herb use, enjoying its versatility.

Fennel produces a tasty edible bulb, but you can also use it as a culinary herb. When planting fennel, you can intentionally oversow your seeds. When the seedlings start to sprout, thin them and enjoy the thinnings as an herb. Then, leave the remaining seedlings to grow to full maturity.

Snip a few fronds from each bulb as it grows without damaging the plant or slowing its growth. This will get you two harvests from the same plant. You could also let the fennel bulb flower and go to seed and collect the seeds for use as a spice. 

You might recognize the taste of fennel seeds if you’ve ever eaten Italian sausage. Fennel seeds are a common component in Italian sausage seasoning blends. The delicate young fennel fronds add a sweet licorice flavor to your dishes. This flavor pairs well with fish. The delicate, frilly, green fronds also make for a beautiful garnish on soups and salads. When used as a garnish, they can add a wonderfully fresh flavor to roasted vegetables. 


Close-up of Oregano growing in a raised bed in a sunny garden. Oregano is characterized by its compact and bushy growth habit, with woody stems covered in small, oval-shaped leaves that grow in pairs opposite each other. The leaves are dark green and have a slightly fuzzy texture.This versatile herb enhances savory dishes.

Oregano is a perennial herb in USDA growing zones 4-8. There are two main varieties of oregano that you’re likely to come across when searching for seeds, common oregano and Greek oregano.

Common oregano, also referred to as wild oregano, produces delicate pink flowers and has a milder flavor. Greek oregano produces white flowers and has a pungent flavor. Greek oregano is also more cold-tolerant and hardy which is a bonus if you live in a place with cold winters and want to ensure its survival as a perennial in your culinary herb garden. 

Oregano is popular in Italian cuisine, especially pizza. It compliments the flavors of tomatoes very well. It adds a unique and savory flavor to many dishes! 


Close-up of Parsley in the garden. Parsley is characterized by its lush and bushy growth habit, featuring bright green, deeply divided leaves that grow in dense clusters atop slender, erect stems.The leaves have a serrated edge and a smooth, glossy texture.Flat and curly parsley offer flavor and garnish versatility in dishes.

Parsley comes in two main categories: flat leaf and curled leaf. Flat leaf parsley is popular for culinary use, while curly parsley is tasty as well as ornamental. Try adding it to plantings of flowers for its bright green color and the texture of its curly leaves.

Parsley prefers cooler weather and grows well in spring and fall. In areas with hot summers, it may bolt and flower with the heat. Succession sow your parsley so that you also have fresh leaves on hand. 

In the kitchen, use flat-leaf parsley when you want a ton of parsley flavor, like in pesto, falafels, or tabbouleh. Use curly parsley when you want to use the delicate curly leaves as a garnish without adding too much parsley punch. Chewing on parsley also freshens breath!


Close-up of blooming rosemary in a sunny garden. Rosemary is characterized by its woody stems and needle-like leaves that grow in dense clusters along the branches. The leaves are dark green on top and silver-gray underneath. Rosemary produces small, blue flowers that grow in clusters at the tips of the stems.This piney-flavored perennial herb enhances various dishes.

Rosemary has a herbaceous and piney flavor. This perennial evergreen is native to the Mediterranean, and therefore, is drought-tolerant and relatively hardy. It’s perennial in USDA growing zones 8-11. Most love it for its edible qualities, but it makes for a beautiful ornamental, too.

Rosemary produces tiny and delicate lavender flowers that pollinators love. If you live in a colder zone where rosemary may have a hard time overwintering, you can grow it in a container and bring your container indoors during the colder parts of the year. 

In the kitchen, rosemary goes great with almost anything from roasted chicken to cocktails. A rosemary simple syrup makes a great accompaniment to the piney/citrus flavor of a gin cocktail. You can also strip all of the leaves from the woody stem and use the stems to make a vegetable shish kabob. The stem will char on the grill and release its flavor.

One of my favorite ways to use rosemary is to toss it into some melted butter over low heat, along with a crushed garlic clove. Let the flavors infuse for a few minutes, and then pour the butter over freshly popped popcorn. It also makes a delicious addition to homemade breads, like focaccia. 

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Close-up plan of Thyme in the garden. Thyme is characterized by its low-growing and creeping habit, forming dense mats of tiny, aromatic leaves. The leaves are small, oval-shaped, and gray-green in color, with a fuzzy texture.Explore flavorful thyme varieties for cooking.

Thyme, in my opinion, gets a bad rap. And that’s because dried thyme is not that great. Some might describe it as tasting like dirt. Well, if you’ve never tried fresh thyme, then give growing it in your garden a try!

If you don’t like the flavor of English thyme, then try other flavors like lemon or orange. German thyme is one of the hardiest varieties. And there are also creeping thyme varieties that grow low to the ground and sprawl making them a great edible ground cover. 

In the kitchen, lemon thyme is delicious when used to season roasted potatoes. The Pennsylvania Dutch Tea Thyme variety is excellent in savory teas. Thyme is also an integral part of a bouquet garni which is a traditional French culinary classic ingredient that consists of a bundle of herbs usually made up of parsley, bay leaves, and thyme. One thing is for sure, adding a bundle of thyme sprigs into your soup or stew while it simmers will elevate the flavor. 


Close-up of Sage in the garden. Sage is characterized by its woody stems and oval-shaped leaves that are gray-green and velvety to the touch. The leaves have a slightly wrinkled texture and are arranged in pairs opposite each other along the stems.This hardy perennial with culinary and ornamental varieties is commonly used in Thanksgiving dishes.

Sage comes in a wide range of varieties, including ornamental varieties that are grown for their showy spires of purple flowers. If you want to grow sage for culinary purposes, be sure to look for common sage, culinary sage, or broadleaf sage.

Sage is a hardy perennial and can be grown in USDA zones 4-8. Though culinary sage has been cultivated for its fuzzy gray-green foliage, it can also still produce blue-purple edible flowers. 

The last three herbs mentioned here, rosemary, thyme, and sage, are the three herbs that you likely associate with Thanksgiving. They’re often used to flavor stuffing and herb-roasted turkeys. Sage pairs well with any of the standard fall and winter seasonal fare, like roasted butternut squash, pumpkin soups, and teas. Sage can also be fried and crumbled as a garnish. Or it can be added to brown butter to compliment its nutty flavor and spooned over ravioli. 


Close-up of Mint in a sunny garden. Mint is characterized by its fast-growing and vigorous habit. The leaves are small, oval-shaped, and toothed, with a hairy texture and a refreshing, minty scent.Commonly used in sweet and savory dishes.

Mint comes in an almost endless number of varieties and flavors. Some of the most popular include spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, apple mint, and orange mint. Mint spreads quickly in the garden by putting out runners and rhizomes and can take over!

For this reason, it is recommended to plant your mint in a raised bed or container where it will have a harder time escaping. You can plant it directly in the ground if you don’t mind the spread. At the end of the season, your mint will produce small spires of tiny purple flowers that are loved by bees, hoverflies, and other beneficial insects. 

Mint is linked to mouthwash, toothpaste, and chewing gum, and for good reason. It does have breath-freshening properties. However, it has many other culinary uses as well. It can be used to flavor sweet teas and cocktails like mojitos and mint juleps.

Lemon Balm

Close-up of lemon balm growing in the garden. Lemon balm is characterized by its clumping growth habit, with square stems that branch out to form bushy, aromatic foliage. The leaves are heart-shaped, bright green, and have serrated edges. Lemon balm plant features a slightly wrinkled texture to their leaves.Easy-to-grow perennial with lemony flavor, ideal for tea and cooking.

Lemon balm is similar to mint and that is because they are in the same family of plants, Lamiaceae. This perennial plant can be grown in USDA growing zones 3-7. Just like mint, it is very easy and spreads quickly so it is best grown in a container.

It is native to Europe and Central Asia but has since naturalized in locations all over the world. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental plant, and its flowers attract bees. 

In the kitchen, lemon balm makes a great addition to tea and can also be used as a cooking herb to add a lemony flavor to dishes. It is used in ice creams, toothpaste, and even as a fragrance for perfumes. It can be used in place of or in conjunction with mint as well. The delicate lemon flavor pairs well with fish dishes. 


Close-up of a blooming Borage in a sunny garden. The leaves are alternate, oval-shaped, and a vibrant green color, with prominent hairs that give them a slightly prickly texture. Borage plants produce small, star-shaped flowers in shades of blue, which emerge in clusters along the stems.Versatile herb with cucumber-flavored flowers and leaves.

Borage, in my opinion, is the most underrated culinary herb, and that’s because it isn’t often thought of as an herb. It is generally grown for its ornamental qualities. Borage produces star-shaped blueish-purple flowers that are bee magnets! And if you let borage go to seed in your garden, it will keep coming back. But did you know that borage is also edible?

The star-shaped flowers are slightly fuzzy and taste just like cucumber! This makes them a gourmet garnish for garden fresh salads or soups. You can also freeze them into ice cubes to use in cocktails. The leaves and stems are also edible and taste like cucumber. The leaves can be steeped to make a very interesting, unique summer tea. 


Close-up of blooming Chamomile in the garden. Chamomile is characterized by its delicate and feathery foliage, forming low-growing mounds of finely divided leaves. Chamomile plants produce small, daisy-like flowers with white petals surrounding a yellow center.Edible flowers are used for tea and garnishes.

Chamomile is another culinary herb that might not be immediately thought of as an herb because it’s another edible flower. Although its edibility is more well-known than that of borage, German chamomile is the most popular variety grown for tea-making purposes. In addition, the delicate white daisy-like flowers are beautiful when used as an ornamental in the corners of vegetable beds. 

As mentioned above, chamomile is most often used to make tea. The flowers can be used either fresh or dried for this purpose. Fresh chamomile flowers have a green apple scent when picked, which is like nothing else! The edible petals can also be tossed into salads or used as a garnish.

To dry the flowers, lay the heads out of a screen, away from direct sunlight, at room temperature, and let them sit for one to two weeks. Once they’ve completely dried, move them to an air-tight container. Then you have chamomile tea on demand during the cold winter months when you’re longing for the flowers to be back in the garden. 


Close-up of blooming lavender in the garden. Lavender is characterized by its compact and bushy growth habit, featuring slender stems adorned with linear or lance-shaped foliage that is gray-green. Lavender plants produce spikes of small, fragrant flowers in shades of purple which emerge from the leaf axils and create a stunning visual display.This heat-tolerant perennial with beautiful flowers is used in baking and beverages.

Lavender is the third and final culinary herb that might not be thought of as an herb since it can also be grown for its beautiful flowers. These plants are heat and drought-tolerant once established and are perennial in USDA growing zones 5-9. Not only is it beautiful to the human eye, but it will also attract tons of pollinators to your garden

English lavenders are the best varieties for culinary uses, with the most popular English variety being Munstead lavender. Munstead lavender was named after Munstead Woods in England.

Lavender is well known as a fragrance used in oils, perfumes, and soaps, but it can also add a delightful floral flavor to baked goods like cookies, cakes, and scones. It also adds great flavor to beverages like lavender lemonade and can be brewed into an herbal tea. My favorite homegrown herbal tea blend includes three of the culinary herbs mentioned here: mint, chamomile, and lavender. 

Final Thoughts

Growing culinary herbs is both practical and economical. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be elevating your culinary skills by adding a diverse range of flavors when you grow these herbs.

Herbs are great for beginner gardeners because they are easy to grow and easy to start from seed. Plus, they can be harvested multiple times throughout the season and many of the herbs mentioned here are either perennials or will self-seed and return year after year. Give growing herbs a try! 

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