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Herbs and Spices That Go With Chicken

by
Jul 22nd, 2022

Having a great spice collection will go a long way to improving your home-cooked meals! 

But spices are sometimes tricky. There are so many spices and spice combinations out there to use, not to mention all the herbs and roots, too!

So, let’s take it one meal at a time and look through all the spices that work with chicken! 

What seasonings go with chicken?

Herbs that go with chicken

Cilantro

This goes best with Mexican, Turkish and Greek food or on top of chicken curries. If you’re using fresh leaves, then sprinkle them on right before serving so they maintain their freshness. Here’s a cilantro lime chicken recipe to get you started!

Rosemary

Rosemary sprigs are hardy and are most flavorful when cooked with the chicken and some liquid. Place a sprig or two inside a whole chicken or sprinkle some leaves over smaller pieces.

Sage 

This has a very particular flavor that goes best with soups and as dry rubs. You can also stuff a few leaves into a whole chicken, but watch out that it doesn't overpower the chicken too much. 

Oregano

This is a great addition to Italian and French dishes, as it's very mild and goes well with other herbs. It’s especially good in marinara sauces and other creamy sauces. 

Dill

Dill is most popular in Greek, Turkish and Middle-Eastern cooking, especially with cold chicken dishes. It has a strong but fresh taste. It’s also a great addition to sauces like tzatziki

Thyme

Thyme is another great all-around herb that goes well with nearly everything, though it really shines when cooked into a dish with tomatoes and peppers. This is great for Italian and Spanish cooking, so keep a decent stock of this herb in all its forms on hand: dried, fresh and in sprigs.

Tarragon

Tarragon is more widely used in the Mediterranean than here in the United States, but if you manage to find some it's well worth the purchase. It goes well with chicken dishes that have apple, leeks, shallots and other slightly sweet and rich ingredients, as well as mushrooms, onions and smoked chicken. Keep a sprig or two on hand for soups and broths, too!

Marjoram

This is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes thanks to its citrusy flavors and notes of pine. It’s a main ingredient in za’atar spice blends and gives a sweet flavor that pairs well with rice, breads, grilled chicken, cheeses and eggs. 

Basil

Basil is another one of those herbs that goes well with anything, but tailoring dishes to really pair well with this herb will change our outlook on the flavor altogether!

Fresh basil should always be added to a dish before serving so as not to burn the leaf. Add fresh basil to grilled chicken, dishes with ricotta or other cheeses, Greek food and, of course, in a freshly made pesto!

Roots that go with chicken

Garlic

Garlic is an incredibly versatile flavor that works well in curries, pastas, grills, Asian cooking and so much more, making it a go-to for any chicken dish. 

If you really want to add a flair to your garlic-chicken dish, roast some garlic cloves with chicken and butter!

Ginger

Ginger has a sweet, spicy and fresh flavor profile, making it an excellent choice for East Asian and South Asian dishes. Make sure to balance the strong flavor with other flavors like garlic, onion, cumin, cilantro, soy sauce or chili powder

Spices that go with chicken

Sweet spices

Cinnamon

Cinnamon can add a gorgeous flavor to a savory dish if used well. Moroccan tagines often include whole cinnamon sticks, as do many Indian curries. Try this recipe for cinnamon spiced Moroccan chicken to see what this tasty spice can do in a savory dish!

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is not used often when cooking chicken, but the recipes that do use it well are outstanding! In fact, many Caribbean dishes include nutmeg, especially dishes from Grenada, when nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and other warm, sweet spices are found in abundance. 

Fennel

Fennel comes in both seed form and leaf form, both of which have different flavor profiles. Use the seeds for a slightly sweet, licorice-like flavor that works astoundingly well in chicken sausages or curries. 

Hot spices

Chili powder

Finding a good chili powder means you get so much more than just the heat — you get smoky, roasted flavors and notes of sweetness from the dried peppers. That being said, chili powder is a great ingredient for rubs and marinades, as its powerful flavor matches well with simple pairings like salt, pepper, thyme and olive oil. 

For a chili powder that will knock your socks off with both heat and flavor, try a pinch of Kashmiri Chili powder in your next spicy dish, especially in an Indian curry!

Cayenne

Cayenne, while still made from a chili, carries a sweeter and smokier flavor than its chili counterpart. 

Warm spices

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are usually used whole and dried, and though their flavor isn’t strong, it’s a must-have for your chicken spice collection. It gives a slightly minty flavor that’s more savory than sweet, so it adds a tang of freshness and depth to any dish it’s added to!

These are one of the few spices that tastes better dried, so just one or two leaves in a soup, a roast, a curry or in a whole chicken can really make a difference! 

Cumin

This rich, smoky, earthy spice is perfect for grilled chicken, curry or any dish with some heat and warmth, so it makes sense that it’s a staple in Indian and Mexican cuisines. Use ground cumin for rubs and marinades, and use seeds for sauces and roasts!

Paprika

Paprika is the savior for all of us who just can’t handle heat. Like, at all.  

This spice is made from the red bell pepper, so it has all the sweetness of the juicy flash but the smokiness of its roasted skins. This is especially popular in Mexican cooking when you’re going for flavor rather than heat, so keep a jar of this to use next time you’re looking to add some smokiness to your dish! 

Also, smoked paprika is on the next level of the spice game, so definitely get some of that next time you’re at the store!

Having a great collection of spices in your kitchen will go a long way to elevating your spice dishes, so keep this list on hand for your next foray into the culinary world!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/Levoqd

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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