Food52 Life

Too Many Cooks: What's Your Favorite Herb?

September 21, 2012

You'll be hearing from the staff at FOOD52 every week in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more.

With temperatures cooling, the way we cook is changing: rather than just sprinkling some sea salt on a fresh heirloom tomato, it's the season for caramelized onions, roasted vegetables, soup, and...lots of herbs.

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This week, we tackle the question: What's your favorite herb? Our answers are pretty divisive -- everyone has their favorite. Here they are, in order of popularity.

Did we miss your favorite herb -- mint, parsley, marjoram, or anything else? Let us know in the comments!


• Merrill: It has the same rich, woodsy quality as rosemary, but without the sometimes overpowering perfume. I love that you can usually just strip the tiny leaves and throw them into whatever you're making, without having to go at them with a knife.
Stephanie: Definitely thyme. I put it in everything. And a lot too. I love the woodsiness. It works well with so many things. And it's fun to run your fingers down the sprig and have the leaves come off. It feels very efficient.
Jennifer: Sweet and earthy, I love to toss a few sprigs into a soup or stew -- the leaves just fall off and you can simply discard the stems.
Kristy: I'm on Team Thyme. Thyme is the prettiest herb I know.
Maddy: It's just so darn fun to strip off those leaves.


Michael: There can never be enough cilantro.
Brette: I could eat salads of the stuff.
Ryan: So many of my favorite dishes would be meh without it.


Christina: Rosemary -- I think she smells lovely. A perfect partner for anything grilled, roasted, and even in baked bread.
Peter: I'm herb agnostic but my wife Sarah stepped to the plate and says "rosemary, because it works for sweet or savory (but really I like lavender for sweet better)."
Kenzi: I'm with Sarah. It's predictable, but heady and strong-willed -- kind of like that kid you rolled your eyes at in high school but secretly wanted to be.


Nozlee: It's equally suited to cool and warm temperatures, its seeds, flowers, leaves, and stalks can all be used in different ways, and it's so damn refreshing.
Gheanna: Dill, due to its versatility. I'm all for utilitarianism.

Thai Basil

Amanda Li: Thai basil. It's spicier than Italian basil and instantly reminds me of a big steaming bowl of pho.

Bay Leaf

Molly: I am a deep devotee of the bay leaf. Fresh or dried, its nuanced medicinal quality impacts savory and sweet dishes alike. Most of the time it serves an undetectable purpose, but if you dive in and add 4 or 5 leaves, your recipe will be richly rewarded.

Lemon Verbena
Amanda: It makes me happy every time I smell it.


Jenny: You all give the back of your pans to sage. And yet it does so much for all of you!

Kristen: Tarragon -- it's like licorice chilled out and went to the countryside. And it's good in deviled eggs.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • MsMora
  • Stubor
  • susan g
    susan g
  • cocktailhour
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


MsMora September 23, 2012
Chervil. It's such a delicate herb that is perfect for light sauces or simply sprinkled atop a dish as a finishing element. My Brussels-born mother used to make the most ethereal chervil quenelles that were served in homemade chicken stock. Divine!
Stubor September 23, 2012
I can't believe y'all completely skipped garlic. You also didn't mention cumin; tsk, tsk. I see a comment about pineapple sage, which is great stuff. Also, check out hot n spicy oregano; wonderful!
susan G. September 21, 2012
Thyme, which makes onions more oniony.
Pineapple sage, a new discovery, lifted up a white bean dip; not sage, though!
cocktailhour September 21, 2012
fresh: thyme. most versatile herb.

dried: Mexican oregano. tons of flavor.