What Is Herbes de Provence and How Do I Use It?
If herbes de Provence is good enough for Julia Child, it should definitely be in your spice rack. Here's everything you need to know about this French herb blend.
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If you’ve ever wanted to travel to the South of France but haven’t been able to swing an airplane ticket, herbes de Provence might belong on your grocery list. A staple in French and Mediterranean cooking, this floral and slightly woodsy herb blend can transport your taste buds to a French café with a shake of a spice jar.
Let’s go over the basics of this traditional herb mix, plus suggestions for how to use it.
What is herbes de Provence?
Herbes de Provence is a multi-purpose spice blend that is made with dried herbs that are commonly grown or used in France’s Provence region. There isn’t a standard blend, so the ingredients and their proportions vary from person to person and brand to brand.
That said, herbs de Provence typically contains:
It can also have chervil, oregano, mint, parsley, tarragon, and in North American blends, lavender. The combination gives food a uniquely herbal and floral flavor, especially when lavender is included.
Julia Child is credited for introducing herbs de Provence to American home cooks with her recipe for poulet saute aux herbes de Provence. The chicken skillet dish appeared in Child’s 1961 Mastering the Art of French Cooking ($18) and included thyme, savory, basil and ground fennel.
What do you use herbes de Provence in?
Herbes de Provence pairs well with classic dishes like vegetable or beef stew, roast chicken and fish. Or, you can use it to zhuzh up a homemade vinaigrette or veggie side dish. Unsurprisingly, herbes de Provence is used in many of our favorite French recipes.
With the region’s location on the Mediterranean Sea, the blend also works well with many foods included in the Mediterranean diet like baked tomatoes and olives, couscous salads and as rub or marinade for grilled lean meats. In fact, herbs and spices like herbes de Provence are the key to a successful (and tasty!) Mediterranean diet.
What is a substitute for herbes de Provence?
There isn’t really an herb blend that’s a direct substitute for herbes de Provence. But if you don’t have the blend on hand, you can easily make your own. This could mean mixing together a few pinches of thyme, rosemary and tarragon for a roast chicken or savory, basil and marjoram in a lentil stew. Play with what you have!
Hebes de Provence Recipe
As noted above, there’s no strict recipe for herbes de Provence, so this is just a starting point. Once you become more familiar with the flavors of the blend, you can adjust it to your tastes, increasing or decreasing the proportions and adding or removing herbs as you like.
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried summer savory
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon culinary lavender, optional
Instructions: Mix the herbs well and store in an airtight container for up to a year.
Speaking of herbs, here are some herbs you might not have heard of but should definitely be cooking with.
Now that you have your herbes de Provence, it’s time to get cookin’! You can start with any of these recipes use herbes de Provence.