Herbes de Provence, an essential component of French and Mediterranean cooking, is a mixture of dried herbs that adds a distinctive flavor to dishes such as chicken, roasted vegetables, grilled fish, salads, tomato-based soups, and stews like ratatouille.
Herbes de Provence originated in the southeastern region of France, where summertime herbs are plentiful and used in daily cooking. But it only became familiar in America during the 1970s, after Julia Child began teaching home chefs around the world about French cooking. At this time, commercial varieties of the mixture began popping up in grocery stores, making the herb mixture more accessible. While you can purchase herbes de Provence in most supermarkets, it's just as easy to make your own. Plus, you can adjust the amounts and ingredients according to personal taste.
There are many herbs (and spices) that can collectively be called herbes de Provence, but the basic recipe includes fennel, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme. Other recipes include (or omit) basil, bay leaves, savory, chervil, sage, oregano, mint, and lavender.
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 1/4 cup dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons dried marjoram
- 3 tablespoons dried summer savory
- 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried chervil
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- Optional: 1 teaspoon dried lavender
Gather the ingredients.
Grind the fennel seeds and rosemary in a spice grinder. Pour into a mixing bowl. Stir in the remaining herbs.
Store in an airtight container.
Use to season meats, chicken, fish, salads, vegetables, soups, and stews.
What's the Difference Between Herbes de Provence and Italian Seasoning?
Although there are times these herb blends can be swapped for each other, there are some differences between the two. The most obvious is their origins: Herbes de Provence features the herbs naturally grown in the South of France while Italian seasoning includes the herbs that are most often used in that cuisine. (It should be said, however, that Italian seasoning is an American invention.) Because of the countries' close proximity to each other, Herbes de Provence and Italian seasoning share several of the same herbs, such as oregano, thyme, and rosemary. But herbes de Provence tends to have a much longer ingredient list, including herbs such as mint, savory, and lavender. When herbes de Provence includes lavender it has a more distinct taste.
How to Store Herbes de Provence
When kept in an airtight container such as a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, the Herbes de Provence will last between six months and a year, depending on the freshness of the herbs. Store in a cool, dry place away from light and heat.
Is Lavender Part of Herbes de Provence?
Despite its ubiquity throughout Provence, lavender was not traditionally included in the mixture; it is often found in the commercial versions, however. Lavender adds aroma and has a strong—some say soapy—flavor. If you include it in your homemade herbes de Provence, be sure to buy culinary lavender buds specifically marked for cooking and use it sparingly. Lavender can easily overwhelm sweet and savory foods.
How to Use Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence should be added before or during cooking. The herb blend can flavor a vinaigrette, be part of a steak rub, and contribute an earthy note to a tomato-based sauce for chicken, fish, or meat. It can also be used to coat a skinless chicken breast along with olive oil and kosher salt. Marinate for an hour or so, then grill. Or season skin-on chicken thighs the same way, then braise with white wine, tomatoes, and halved shallots.
Certain herbs are known to pair well with particular foods: rosemary with lamb, tarragon with chicken, basil with tomatoes, and fennel with fish, so it is best to keep these combinations in mind when mixing your herbs. You might want to try making separate batches, each with different ratios of herbs for use in various recipes. Just be sure to label your containers.