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Grilling with Fresh Herbs

Grilling with Fresh Herbs

When it comes to grilling, where there's smoke... there's delectable flavor! Using fresh herbs on the grill is a great way to add some spice to your life and layers of flavor to your food. If you do not already have an herb garden, it's time to get one started! Herbs are very easy to grow and nothing compares to having fresh herbs readily available during the grilling season.

Some of the more common herbs to get you started might include:

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Visit your local garden centre, pick up some of your favourite herbs, and get them potted up! If growing your own fresh herbs does not appeal to you, many herbs may be found at most farmers markets and in the produce section of the grocery store.

There are countless ways to use herbs when grilling. However, just beware; trying these suggestions could cause your neighbours to wander over and ask; “What's for dinner?"


Grilling alone adds delicious flavor to meats and veggies. To add a subtle, herbal layer of flavor to your grilled food, start by gathering a bunch of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, sage, and thyme and tying them with twine to one of your wooden cooking utensils to create a savoury basting brush. Use your aromatic brush to apply oil, butter, or barbeque sauce while grilling.

To add an herbal smokiness to 'culinary creations', soak a bundle of fresh herbs in water, once the coals are ready for cooking, place the bundled herbs on the coals along with the food you are grilling and promptly close the lid to trap the smoke inside. The smoldering herbs will infuse the grilled meats and vegetables with flavor beyond measure.

For a tasty and unique twist on kebobs, use sturdy rosemary stems about 6-8" (15-20 cm) long as an herbal skewer. Simply remove the leaves from the bottom 2/3 of the stems, reserving what you remove for future use in marinades or rubs. Next, skewer the vegetables such as mushrooms, eggplant, summer squash, and cherry tomatoes from the bottom up. Brush the kebobs with a marinade or olive oil and season with salt and pepper.


Marinades add juiciness, tenderness, and flavor to your food. Creating a fresh herb marinade can be as simple as plucking fresh leaves from the stems of herbs such as rosemary and cilantro, approximately 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) each. Combine them with ¼ cup (59 ml) of oil and 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) of balsamic vinegar. Then season with ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Let your meat marinade anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. You only need enough marinade to cover the meat completely with a thick layer. When selecting a marinade recipe look for flavors that will complement the food you will be grilling.

Rubs are a combination of spices and herbs that add colour, flavor, and texture to grilled foods. The purpose of using a rub is to enhance the flavor of the food without overpowering it and, they are a healthy alternative to using salt! There are two categories of rubs: dry rubs, which consist of spices and herbs only and wet rubs, which contain some moist ingredients. Making your own rub using fresh herbs can be as easy as sprinkling fresh, chopped herbs on your meat, and lightly pressing it in. Wrap the meat in plastic and place in the refrigerator before cooking. This allows the meat time to absorb the flavor from the various herbs. Go ahead and experiment with different mixes of herbs to create your very own tasty rub. You really can't go wrong combining freshly cut herbs with a day at the grill.

Companion Plants

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

The premier herb for Italian cooking! Basil’s spicy sweet leaves are the base for pesto but it’s smooth, rich flavor is a perfect compliment to any dish. Basil’s aromatic foliage adds an… More Details »

Greek Oregano (Origanum heracleoticum)

The intense peppery-flavored leaves of this compact perennial herb are superb for adding an unforgettable taste to Greek, Italian and Mexican cuisine. This selection is very nice for growing in… More Details »

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

This familiar perennial herb is native to the Mediterranean region and northern Africa, but has naturalized throughout the world. Sage has been grown for centuries as a medicinal herb, and was one of… More Details »

Culinary Thyme, Garden Thyme (Thymus species)

A fantastic multi-purpose plant! Thyme is best known as an edible herb, but it is available in a vast array of foliage colors, textures and fragrances that all provide a rich palette for landscape… More Details »

Rosemary (Rosmarinus species)

Rosemary is most popular as a culinary herb but it’s also a lovely ornamental plant. The silvery, finely-textured foliage creates a great contrast planted among garden flowers. Use the needles, but… More Details »