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14 Christmas herbs & holiday seasonal spices for a fragrant festive season
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Hoping for a holiday filled with festive herbs and spices? Here are 14 of the best Christmas herbs to grow and enjoy, as well as the classic seasonal spices.
Rosemary is a classic herb for the Christmas season. The fragrant scent of pine and the needle-like leaves make this plant perfect for the holidays. Use it in your holiday decor, cooking, or in a stovetop potpourri.
Melinda Myers, gardening expert and host of the online course “How to Grow Anything”, says:
“Rosemary represents love and remembrance, a great sentiment to share during the holidays. Give the plant a pet and you are sure to lift your spirits. Or pluck a sprig to add welcome flavor to your winter meals and beverages. Then move it outdoors in the garden when danger of frost has passed.”Rosemary: A Christmas Tradition, by Melinda Myers
Parsley is a versatile holiday herb that adds a touch of much-needed fresh greenery during the winter season. Parsley is not only a common garnish for special meals, but is also added to butter to make spreads more festive. It’s also a mainstay in gravy and in turkey stock. To give parsley top billing this season, try Gordon Ramsay’s wonderful recipe for Roast Turkey With Lemon, Parsley, and Garlic.
“When it comes to seasonal herbs that are frequently used in holiday cooking whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’m reminded of the song “Scarborough Fair.” The herbs listed in the song — parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme — are by far the most popular herbs when it comes to seasoning Christmas dinner. These also tend to be some of the more cold hardy herbs and may still be growing in your garden now (even if they’re buried in snow.) Depending on my holiday menu, I also like to have fresh chives and mint on hand as well.”Amy Enfield, Horticulturist with Bonnie Plants
Sage is another classic turkey herb. This meaty-scented fragrant herb pairs very well with poultry and is a mainstay of Christmas cooking. To feature sage in this year’s meal, try this recipe for Roast Turkey With Orange And Sage.
Thyme is a beautiful little fresh herb that’s as versatile in Christmas decorating as it is in the kitchen. Use it to flavor gravy or side dishes, or to make unexpected treats like these Christmas Thyme Cookies. For more dinner-time herb ideas, check out this big list of culinary herbs.
“These herbs can also be grown indoors by a bright, sunny window (south- or west-facing windows will give them the most light) or under a grow light. Plant them in well draining soil; water them whenever the top 1-inch of soil is dry to the touch; and keep them away from any draft. While they might not be quite as lush as the plants you’re used to seeing outside (due to the lower light levels), they will still give you plenty of fresh herbs for your holiday dinner.
Many of these herbs are available for sale on https://shop.bonnieplants.com/ year-round.”Amy Enfield, Horticulturist with Bonnie Plants
What would the holidays be without peppermint!? Whether you like to enjoy peppermint in a candy cane, cocktail, or diffuser, peppermint certainly brings on the holiday cheer. I like to diffuse organic peppermint oil to liven up our home during the holidays. It’s perhaps the cheeriest Christmas herb!
“…you can never go wrong with mint during the holidays. It adds a great flavor to cookies and can also be used in holiday cocktails.”Amy Enfield, Horticulturist with Bonnie Plants
Cinnamon is another tried-and-true holiday spice. Whether you like to use cinnamon sticks in crafts, stovetop potpourri, or Christmas-morning cinnamon buns, there’s always a place for this yummy spice during the festive season!
Nutmeg is the perfect seasonal spice to enjoy with hearty drinks like eggnog or festive plant-based alternatives. Most nutmeg is sold powdered, but many households are now opting to purchase whole nutmeg nuts to make Christmas extra special. Use a nutmeg grinder to gently dust the top of your eggnog with freshly-grated spice!
8. Star anise
Star Anise is not only a beautiful spice for holiday crafts, it also really peps up your turkey gravy! These lovely little star-like pods are more than a beautiful garnish! To use star anise in your Christmas meal, try Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Get-Ahead Gravy.
Cloves are ubiquitous at Christmas. They’re perfect in orange pomanders (pictured above), and lovely in all sorts of holiday herb & spice blends. You can use dried whole clove buds or add the scent to a diffuser with clove bud essential oil.
Ginger is a warming spice perfect for the cooler months. Whether you’re enjoying gingerbread cookies (or a whole gingerbread house), or having a cup of hot ginger lemon tea, it’s sure to bring warmth during the holidays. Ginger also pairs very well with many other Christmas herbs.
Frankincense is an aromatic resin from Boswellia trees. Frankincense brings memories of childhood nativity scenes and the Wise Men. These days, most of us enjoy this extra-special aromatic in the form of oil. Try frankincense essential oil for a special holiday scent treat.
Myrrh is an aromatic resin from Commiphora trees. Myrrh is the other fragrance associated with the Wise Men of Christmas Eve. Pure myrrh essential oil is pricey, but another lovely aromatic indulgence to enjoy as part of your at-home holiday.
Lavender is a small woody shrub with gorgeous, scented purple flowers. Lavender plants are sometimes shaped into festive mini-trees. The dried flowers can be used in potpourri or in holiday crafts. Lastly, bunches of lavender can be used to decorate wreaths or evergreen centerpieces.
14. Lady’s Bedstraw
Lady’s Bedstraw is a flowering plant native to the holy land that was commonly dried and used to stuff mattresses as an air freshener. It is said that forage animals avoided the plant, and therefore it was available as a bedding material. While it’s not the most common Christmas herb, it certainly is a meaningful one!
What herbs do I need for Christmas dinner?
This totally depends on the menu, but rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, and bay leaves are featured in many Christmas dishes.
What spices are associated with Christmas?
Rosemary, parsley, sage, thyme, peppermint, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, cloves, ginger, frankincense, myrrh, lavender, and lady’s bedstraw are 14 of our favorites.
What spice smells like Christmas?
The 14 mentioned in this post (Rosemary, parsley, sage, thyme, peppermint, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, cloves, ginger, frankincense, myrrh, lavender, lady’s bedstraw) all make for a fragrant Christmas (and amp up your recipes, too!).
Here are some other festive plants you may want to grow for the holidays:
- Rosemary Christmas Tree Plant Care Tips & Ideas
- Paperwhites For Christmas: Growing White Holiday Blooms
- Mini Christmas Tree: Live vs Faux, Care Tips, And Tiny Ornaments
And, here are some other resources for you:
- Get my free garden planner here!
- Want garden tips, updates, and freebies? Sign up for my newsletter
- Watch my DIY Christmas decor playlist here!
- Rosemary: A Christmas Tradition, by Melinda Myers
- Amy Enfield, Horticulturist with Bonnie Plants
Let’s celebrate Christmas together!
Christmas crafts, activities, plants, herbs, decor, tree ornaments, and more tips to celebrate the festive holiday season!