The Ultimate Herb & Spice Flavor Pairing Guide

Updated on April 14, 2020
Marla Watson profile image

Marla is a self-employed entrepreneur, tinkerer, and classic over-thinker who loves to get inventive in the kitchen.

Walking down the spice aisle is always the highlight of my grocery trips. The colors and textures of all the spices neatly displayed in tiny glass bottles lets me imagine for a moment that I am in an medieval apothecary.

Once, I only knew how to use a fraction of the spices on the shelf. But after making some serious lifestyle changes to get my health goals back on track, I became much more willing to venture outside my comfort zone. I really have to be adventurous to keep things interesting enough to stick to a healthier diet, and here are some of the best, most flavorful combinations I’ve learned so far.

Lists and charts of which spices and herbs go best together.
Lists and charts of which spices and herbs go best together. | Source

What Spices Go Together?

In this section, I've taken some of the guesswork out of creating your very own seasoning blends for popular main ingredients. After each main ingredient, I list several great spice-and-herb combo options that will taste great together (with acid and other flavor additions thrown in, too).


  • lemon juice, rosemary, black pepper
  • thyme, cloves, orange peel, black pepper
  • garlic, herbed vinegar, black pepper
  • mashed green peppercorns, onions, marjoram


  • ginger, orange peel, sage
  • marjoram, thyme, apple cider vinegar
  • tarragon, shallots, lemon juice
  • basil, white wine vinegar, garlic


  • dill, lemon juice, mustard seeds
  • lovage, celery seeds, lemon juice, black pepper
  • fennel seeds, mustard seeds, bay, lemon peel

Green Vegetables

  • savory, chives, onions
  • dill, bay, rice vinegar
  • basil, nutmeg, marjoram

Yellow & Orange Vegetables

  • cinnamon, nutmeg, orange juice, thyme
  • ginger, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, lovage, celery leaf
  • beebalm, thyme

Cheese & Eggs

  • dill, chives, parsley, paprika
  • nutmeg, dry mustard, black pepper
  • oregano, garlic, thyme

Beans, Rice, & Grains

  • chilies, cumin seeds, oregano, garlic
  • saffron, garlic, parsley
  • mint, parsley, lemon peel, caraway seeds

Herb Butters

  • mint and dill
  • beebalm and lovage
  • lemon verbena and dash of orange peel
  • costmary and tansy
  • basil, sweet pepper, oregano, thyme
  • marjoram and garlic
  • garlic, sesame seeds, chives

Flavored Oils

  • oregano, thyme, garlic, olive oil
  • chervil, tarragon, shallots, peanut oil
  • ginger, cardamom, coriander leaf, safflower oil
  • saffron, garlic, olive oil
  • dill, garlic, sunflower oil
  • basil, chili, garlic, and olive oil
  • lemon verbena, lemon thyme, walnut oil
  • lovage, garlic, celery leaf, olive oil

Flavored Vinegars

  • rosemary, raisins, orange peel, garlic, white wine vinegar
  • sage, parsley, shallots, red wine vinegar
  • borage, dill, shallots, white wine vinegar
  • chilies, garlic, oregano, cider vinegar
  • mint, honey, cardamom, white vinegar
  • coriander leaf, garlic, rice vinegar
  • rose petals, violet petals, rice vinegar
  • dill, nasturtiums, garlic, cider vinegar
  • fennel leaf, garlic, parsley, white wine vinegar

Which spices taste best with which ingredients?
Which spices taste best with which ingredients? | Source

What Spices Go Well With...?

Cilantro: What herbs and spices taste good with cilantro?

Cilantro works well with garlic, onions, chiles, limes, basil, and mint.

Cumin: What spices go well with cumin?

Cumin is a very warm flavor that tastes great mixed with turmeric, curry, cayenne, cinnamon, coriander, garlic, and saffron. It also pairs well with tomato, chickpeas, and yogurt.

Dill: What herbs and spices taste good with dill?

Dill goes well with basil, mint, cilantro, bay, borage, chervil, chives, garlic, onion, parsley, sorrel, and tarragon.

Rosemary: What spices go well with rosemary?

Garlic and parsley are frequently paired with rosemary, and it can be used with curry and mint. It's a very aromatic herb, so it can be used by itself...especially for seasoning meat!

Spice Pairing Chart for Main Dishes (Proteins): Fish, Meats, Poultry, and Eggs

Protein (Main Ingredient)
Pairs Well With
Basil, Bay Leaf, Caraway, Cumin, Fenugreek, Garlic, Ginger, Marjoram, Onion, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme
Anise, Basil, Bay Leaf, Borage, Chives, Cinnamon, Cumin, Dill Fenugreek, Garlic, Ginger, Lovage, Marjoram, Onion, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme
Anise, Basil, Caraway, Cayenne Pepper, Chervil, Chives, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme
Anise, Basil, Borage, Caraway, Chervil, Chives, Dill, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme
Basil, Bay Leaf, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Garlic, Ginger, Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Mint, Onion, Parsley, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme
Anise, Caraway, Cardamom, Dill, Garlic, Ginger, Oregano, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Tarragon
Basil, Garlic, Marjoram, Onion, Oregano, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme
Which herbs and spices taste good with fruit?
Which herbs and spices taste good with fruit? | Source

Spice and Herb Pairing Guide for Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetable or Fruit
Pairs Well With
Chives, Lemon Balm, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme
Beans, Dried
Cumin, Garlic, Mint, Onions, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Savory, Thyme
Beans, Green
Basil, Caraway, Clove, Dill, Marjoram, Mint, Sage, Savory, Thyme
Basil, Dill, Garlic, Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Oregano, Tarragon, Thyme
Basil, Caraway, Cayenne Pepper, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Marjoram, Sage, Savory
Anise, Basil, Chervil, Chives, Cinnamon, Clove, Cumin, Dill, Ginger, Marjoram, Mint, Parsley, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme
Basil, Caraway, Chives, Cumin, Dill, Garlic, Marjoram, Parsley, Rosemary, Savory, Tarragon
Chervil, Chives, Lemon Balm, Saffron, Sage, Thyme
Basil, Cinnamon, Dill, Garlic, Marjoram, Mint, Onion, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Savory, Thyme
Fruit (most types)
Anise, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Lemon Balm, Mint, Rosemary
Coriander, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Tarragon, Thyme
Basil, Dill, Marjoram, Parsley, Savory, Thyme
Caraway, Chervil, Chives, Rosemary, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme
Basil, Caraway, Chives, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Lovage, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme
Anise, Basil, Caraway, Chervil, Chives, Cinnamon, Dill, Rosemary, Thyme
Squash (all types)
Basil, Caraway, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, ginger, Marjoram, Dill, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Savory
Basil, Bay Leaf, Chives, Coriander, Dill, Garlic, Lovage, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme
Good herb and spice flavor pairings for meats, vegetables, and starchy dishes.
Good herb and spice flavor pairings for meats, vegetables, and starchy dishes. | Source

Spice Pairings for Side Dishes (Carbs)

Side Dish Ingredient
Pairs Well With
Basil, Caraway, Chervil, Chives, Cinnamon, Dill, Fennel, Garlic, Lavender, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme
Basil, Caraway, Chives, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Lovage, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme
Basil, Fennel, Lovage, Saffron, Tarragon, Thyme
Stuffing (Bread)
Garlic, Marjoram, Onion, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme

Tips for Maximizing Flavors and Using Spices Properly

  • To get more mileage out of dried herbs, soak them for several minutes in a liquid that can be used in the recipe such as water, broth, oil, lemon juice, or vinegar.
  • When using herbs in salad dressings, allow the herbs to soak in the acid for at least 15 minutes to 1 hour before dressing the salad.
  • To work the flavors of spices and herbs into meat, poultry, or fish, rub them in with your hands before cooking.
  • For steamed or boiled vegetables, add the herbs to melted butter and allow this mix to stand for 10 minutes before tossing in the vegetables and serving.
  • Generally speaking, dried and fresh herbs can be used interchangeably in recipes, however the amount of each will vary since dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor. You will need to use 3-5 times more fresh herbs than dried, depending on the strength of the herb.
  • To achieve the best flavor in foods that cook for a long time, add the herbs during the last 20 or so minutes of cooking so that they don't lose their taste.

Popular Spices Around the World: How to Add a Regional Flavor

Popular Herbs & Spices
ginger, garlic, fenugreek, chilies, black pepper, cloves, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, turmeric, peppercorns
allspice, basil, bay leaves, caraway, cardamom, cayenne, celery seed, chives, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon, mace, marjoram, mustard seed, nutmeg, onion, oregano, paprika, parsley, peppercorns, saffron, salt, savory, tarragon, thyme
thyme, marjoram, basil, cilantro, shallots, allspice, arrowroot, ginger, garlic, chilies, Jamaican jerk seasoning*, nutmeg, lemon, mace, lime
Chinese 5 Spice*, star anise, cinnamon, fennel seed, ginger, Szechuan peppercorns
Fines Herbes*, Persillade*, Herbes de Provence*, nutmeg, tarragon, saffron, chives, chervil, parsley, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender, sage, bay leaf, peppercorn
bay leaves, borage, caraway seeds, chives, dill, juniper berries, marjoram, parsley, thyme, white pepper, mustard seed, celery seed, coriander, dill seed
ginger, turmeric, chilies, saffron, cumin, garam masala, curry powder*, coriander, black pepper, fenugreek, fennel, nutmeg, cardamom, star anise, basil, mint, bay laurel, cloves
oregano, black pepper, parsley, bay leaves, sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram
cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, ginger, turmeric, orange peel, sesame seeds, wasabi powder, Japanese 7 Spice Blend (Shichimi Togarashi)*
Latin America
cilantro, oregano, thyme, parsley, mint, allspice, cayenne pepper, chilies, chili powder*, cloves, coriander, sage, Adobo*, cacao, celery seed, sea salt, chia seeds, cumin, Jamaican Jerk Seasoning*, lime, paprika, peppercorns
arugula, basil, bay leaf, dill, fennel leaves, marjoram, spearmint, oregano, parsley, purslane, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme, garlic
basil, lemon basil, ginger, shallots, lemongrass, lime leaves, spearmint, coriander, garlic, chilies, turmeric, bay leaves, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder*, galangal, green peppercorns, holy basil, mace, nutmeg, star anise
(*) indicates popular commercial blends of multiple spices
Which herbs and spices taste best in tea?
Which herbs and spices taste best in tea? | Source

Which Herbs and Spices Can Be Used as Teas?

Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Citrus Peels, Hibiscus, Lemon Verbena, Licorice Root, Nettle Leaf, Spearmint, Ginger, Red Clover, Rosehips, Roses, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Lavender, Thyme, Jasmine, Marjoram, Fennel, and Rosemary.

A Word of Caution

When preparing food for children, pregnant women, or people with compromised immune systems, it is always best to do a little research on the herbs or spices you plan to use in your dish. Erring on the side of caution is especially important when using herbs from your own garden or making tea. Some of the plants used to make popular spices have very poisonous leaves, stems, or berries. Stay safe and have fun!

Questions & Answers

  • Do fresh fennel and basil pair well together?

    Yes, fennel goes well with well as cilantro, chives, garlic, oregano, parsley, sage, shallots, and tarragon

  • Do thyme and dill mix well?

    Yes! There are several combination including both in the article for different types of foods--see Spinach and Tomatoes for other spice ideas.

  • What is jerk seasoning made from?

    The history of jerk seasoning is pretty interesting...but for the most part modern jerk seasoning includes scallions, black pepper, hot peppers, thyme, cinnamon, garlic, and nutmeg.

  • What herb works well with rosemary?

    Garlic and parsley are frequently paired with rosemary. Also can be used with curry powder and mint. It's a very aromatic herb so it can be used by itself....especially for seasoning meat!

  • Vegan Spaghetti with Oregano: what additional seasoning can be added?

    If the sauce has tomatoes the following might also go well with it: Basil, Bay Leaf, Chives, Coriander, Dill, Garlic, Lovage, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme.

© 2017 Marla Watson


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      8 months ago

      Is meat rub with herbs can be use in another cooking aside from roasting?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)