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8 Herbs & Spices Every Italian Cook Needs in Their Kitchen

Published December 8th, 2020 by Devteam

Italian cuisine is among the tastiest, freshest, most versatile foods in the Mediterranean.

Aside from pizza, pasta, and pastries, Italians love to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, as well as freshly-caught seafood. Still, with all this food, Italian cuisine is considered among the healthiest in the world.

Wondering what their secret is? Here are 8 Italian cooking spices and herbs you can use to bring the taste of Italian cuisine to your kitchen.

1. Basil

Basil is an aromatic herb essential to many Italian dishes, especially pesto. You can use it fresh in salads, dressings, or other cold dishes. Dried basil is also delicious in stews, soups, roasted meat, and sauces. 

2. Thyme

Thyme is one of the main herbs in Italian cooking with a subtle minty flavor and a sweet and strong scent. Dried thyme is mainly added to stews, meat, and roasted potatoes. 

Fresh thyme is mostly used in salads and dressings as it has a slightly more pungent flavor than dried. Thyme pairs perfectly with fresh garlic and lemon.

3. Oregano

Oregano is a typical Italian herb mainly used in pizza and pasta sauces. It's one of the most versatile spices to have at home as you can add it to stews, meat dishes, salads, and salad dressings.

4. Rosemary

Rosemary is a classic Italian seasoning that gives meals a distinct herbal flavor and aroma. It pairs best with garlic and lemon and Italians love to use it fresh or dried in chicken dishes, pasta dishes, salads, and sauces.

5. Sage

One of the most aromatic herbs in Italian cuisine is sage. You can use it on pasta, risotto, roasted potatoes, lasagna, chicken, and fatty meats.

Fresh sage pairs with fresh homemade cheese, pastries, marinades, and even fresh compound butter.

6. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are an essential part of Italian cuisine and are mostly added to soups, stews, and sauces to enrich their flavor.

Though you can't (and shouldn't) eat a whole bay leaf, adding them to meals will give them a taste you'll never forget.

7. Parsley

Parsley, specifically the flat-leaf variety, is a staple in Italian cuisine. It goes great with seafood, fish, stews and soups, as well as salads.

Whether you prefer it dried or fresh, parsley will give a rich flavor to pasta sauces, salad dressings, and is especially delicious sprinkled on top of a pizza.

8. Marjoram

Marjoram is similar to oregano but it has a milder taste and a slightly more floral aroma. You can use it fresh or dried and add it to all kinds of Italian dishes, salads and salad dressings, sauces, marinade, and stews.

Both oregano and marjoram have a pretty strong flavor, so we recommend using them in moderate amounts so as not to overpower the flavor of the meal. 

These Italian Cooking Spices Will Make Your Dishes Fresh and Flavorful

Whether this is your first time preparing Italian dishes or you're an experienced home cook, these cooking spices will transport you to Italy with every bite.

If you need some cooking inspiration for your Italian meals, read about the 5 most iconic foods to try in Italy and that you can make at home.


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