Naturally Sweet Herbs

We all know that Americans indulge in too much sugar. In fact, even those of us trying to avoid sugar have a difficult time because manufacturers put so much into food unnecessarily. When you try the natural version, you may think it tastes bland or unfinished because your palate has become used to the highly overly sweetened flavor of prepared foods.

If you are making an effort to avoid added sugar in foods, there are herbs that have a naturally sweet flavor. Use them in recipes that will...MORE benefit from a bit of sweetening, but know that they aren’t exactly like artificially sweetened foods. Sweet herbs are lovely and natural. Give yourself time away from ​high fructose corn syrup and other unnaturally sweet additives before deciding if a sweet herb is right for your recipe. 

  • 01 of 07
    Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris)
    Phil Sellens/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Angelica is sweet on its own (perfect for making candied treats), but it is also a perfect addition as a sweet ingredient in salads. Since it isn't often found in stores, grow your own! 

  • 02 of 07
    Bee Balm - 4
    raymondgobis/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Bees and butterflies absolutely love bee balm. The same goes for people, once they realize how sweet these blooms actually taste. Use bee balm in your summer beverages, and add a hint of natural sweetness, plus beauty!  

  • 03 of 07


    Oberlin Summer - Mint
    Edsel Little/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Mints of all sorts are easy to grow and extremely flavorful. Try experimenting with sparkling water and assorted mints. They add a naturally sweet flavor (some more than others), and a refreshing treat on a hot day. 

  • 04 of 07

    Lemon Balm

    Lemon Balm
    Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Lemon balm is simply a heavenly flavored herb. Use it alone or in combination with other sweet herbs. It is strongly scented with lemon, but the sweetness can't be dismissed. 

    Make a charming summer sipper, using lemon balm mixed with a few other mints, and serve ice cold. It's tremendously refreshing. 

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07
    Aloysia citrodora (Lemon verbena, lemon beebrush)
    Forest and Kim Starr/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Perhaps not as bushy and attractive as lemon balm, this lemon verbena deserves notice. It's a sweet tasting herb that packs quite a lemony flavor. You may not find lemon verbena available in your area, but it is often sold from online nurseries and then grown in the greenhouse overwinter. Use lemon verbena in cool teas and sparkling waters. Try it combined with blueberries and you will be in love!

  • 06 of 07


    slgckgc/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    You can tell that violets are sweet tasting the first time you get a whiff of the blooms. Enjoy these delicate, pretty blooms in your herbal ice cubes for a decorative touch. Naturally sweet, try using violets in a simple herbal iced tea. You will love the unusual taste. Very sweet and delicate. 

  • 07 of 07
    Alden Chadwick/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Roses are more than just a richly scented bloom. The blooms are naturally sweet, so they are a wonderful ingredient to add to your ice teas and herbal tea blends. 

    Do be certain that your roses are heavily scented. Most roses today are cultivated, which means they have beautiful blooms but very little fragrance. Fragrance equals taste in this case!

    Wild roses are perfect for this use. Harvest tight buds and individual petals. They dry easily and keep their flavor as long as you dry them in the...MORE dark or in a dehydrator with fan only (no heat). 

    Remember that roses purchased from a store are always treated with chemicals and should never be used for ingesting. Always harvest your own roses for eating. Even rose petals that you buy from the store are suspect. Be safe and grow/harvest your own. 

Use naturally sweet herbs instead of unhealthy sugars in your food whenever possible. You will enjoy a more flavorful dish.