Homegrown herbs are a great way to make any backyard bbq special. They add a lot of flavor to your cooking and are sure to impress your guests! Herbs are super easy to grow, whether you have a big garden or just a small space like a window box or balcony container garden.
Here are five of our favorite herbs and delicious ways to use them at your next cookout:
A gorgeous perennial herb, rosemary is native to the Mediterranean and is both heat and drought tolerant. It’s easy to care for, and just a single pot can produce enough to flavor all of your meals. Plant in well-drained soil and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Rosemary is difficult to grow from seed, so it’s best to purchase a plant. There are many different varieties of rosemary, including a fun one called Shish Kabob™, which is perfect for grilling.
One of our favorite ways to serve up fresh rosemary is in a quick homemade marinade for grilled chicken. All you need to make your own marinade is a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. It’s a must-try for summer!
Another drought-tolerant Mediterranean perennial, thyme is available in many different subtle flavors and varieties. While most thymes are fairly low-growing, there is a range of growth habits. Some varieties send up taller flower stalks while others have a trailing nature that makes them ideal for rock gardens. It’s typically easiest to get started by purchasing a thyme plant. Thyme is also covered with gorgeous little flowers that are a favorite of bees.
Thyme is versatile and does well in a variety of dishes, but we’ve found that an excellent way to feature fresh thyme is to make thyme baked apple slices. Toss apple slices with a bit of apple cider, melted butter, and fresh thyme. Bake at 350°F for approximately 15 minutes or until tender. This is a delicious and distinctive side to bring to your summer get-togethers.
A hardy perennial from the mint family, oregano is a great herb for both beginning and experienced gardeners to grow. Just one plant will provide you with enough leaves to use throughout the year. Oregano is vigorous! Like many herbs, oregano doesn’t require particularly rich soil. It does best with full sun and good drainage. Just snip stems and strip the leaves for use.
A great way to feature your fresh oregano is seasoning grilled shrimp with oregano and lemon. You can make a quick marinade for your shrimp with some olive oil, lemon juice, fresh oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Served with a few fresh lemon slices, its bright summery flavor is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Fresh basil is a summertime must-have. If you love pesto, Bloody Marys’, or Caprese salads, it’s definitely worth growing basil in containers or in the garden. Basil does best in well-drained soil and full sun. It’s easy to harvest fresh basil whenever you need it. Just snip off a stem above where two large leaves meet. This will encourage the plant to put out more branches and be less leggy. Always snip off the flowers to keep the plants producing fresh, aromatic leaves.
Here’s how we like to use fresh basil: Toss some warm al dente pasta with small chunks of fried or grilled summer squash, salt, garlic, pepper, a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, and a generous amount of fresh basil leaves. Finish with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Both beautiful and delicious, chives deserve a place in every garden. Once you get them started, they’re easy to grow, and in future years, you can divide your chives to share or add more plants throughout your garden. Purchase plants and grow in full sun with medium-moist soil. You can begin harvesting your chives when they reach 6 inches tall. Don’t cut the whole plant — just snip off a small bundle at a time, leaving about 2 inches of growth above the soil.
While chives lend themselves to topping many different savory dishes, one flavorful way to use them is baked garlic-chive French fries. Cut your potatoes into 1/4-inch strips and toss them with olive oil or melted butter, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and chives. Then bake them at 450°F for 20-25 minutes. These fries will impress both kids and adults!
Dill is an easy-to-grow annual that can be directly seeded into your garden. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and plant them about 6 inches apart. Dill can grow about 3 feet tall, so seedlings should be thinned to about 12 inches apart. Dill will eventually bolt (flower and set seed) in hot weather, although you can also use the dill flowers and seeds in cooking. Pollinators also love dill flowers, so leave some for the beneficial insects!
We love dill for a refreshing cucumber salad. Slice fresh cucumbers and red onions, then mix them with sour cream, a bit of Dijon mustard, just a touch of apple cider vinegar, black pepper, and fresh dill leaves.
Herb gardening is a great choice for beginning gardeners or those with limited space. Growing just a few containers of herbs this year can have a big impact on your cooking!
To learn more about herbs you can grow check out 10 Herbs & Vegetables You Can Grow On Your Patio or visit one of our in-store experts for more information.