What Kind of Herb Is Dill and How Is It Used?

Fresh dill
Tatyana Nikitina / Getty Images

Dill is an aromatic herb with delicate, feathery green leaves. Sometimes referred to as dill weed, dill is a member of the parsley family. Dill has been around since the Middle Ages and was thought to help defend against witchcraft. It is a well-known ingredient around the world and it's used in many European and Scandinavian dishes. 

Fresh Vs. Dried Dill

Fresh dill can be purchased in most food stores along with other fresh herbs. Dill has long slender stems that divide into very thin, delicate, and wispy leaves. The leaves are commonly used in recipes while the stems are usually not included. Dill can be used dried in two forms: The dried leaves are a common spice and often referred to as "dill weed" to distinguish it from the seeds. The seeds of the dill plant can also be used as a spice and have a flavor similar to caraway. 

Easy Ways to Use Dill 

Dill is an herb that is often thought of as paired with salmon. It can accompany salmon in any number of ways, from dill sauce to curing salmon with dill and other spices. Additionally, dill pairs well with other seafood, crunchy vegetables, potato salads, pickles, or yogurt and/or sour cream based dips. 

Simple Recipes With Dill

Some quick and simple ways to use dill include the following recipes. Feel free to adjust them to your liking with additional herbs and your own variations.

Easy Dill Sauce: Stir half a cup of chopped dill into a cup of plain yogurt. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a clove of minced garlic. Season to taste with kosher salt. This dill sauce would pair well with salmon cakes or a fresh vegetable crudite

Roasted Double Dill Potatoes: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut potatoes into bite-sized cubes and lay out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Coat the potatoes with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with dried dill, salt, and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, until tender and golden brown. Sprinkle cooked potatoes with cut fresh dill leaves and serve warm. 

Storing Dill 

Dried dill should be kept in a sealed spice container in a dry, dark, and cool spice cabinet. Fresh dill will last longest if it is washed, carefully dried, gently wrapped in a paper towel, and stored in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator. 

Growing Dill 

Dill is an easy plant for a home gardener to sow. It grows best when grown from seed, rather than from a transplant. Simply scatter the dill seeds in an area with high sunshine levels, preferably after the last winter frost. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and give the area a good watering. Planting in partial shade will reduce the dill's yield, so aim for full sun. Plants should begin to emerge after two weeks; allow them another two weeks to grow before harvesting. Regularly trim the leaves you need and continue to harvest all summer long.

Dill plants are the host for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. Don't be surprised if you see them feasting on the dill—you will be rewarded later in the summer with beautiful butterflies.