HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Only ONE Herb?

If you could only ues ONE herb for the rest of your life, in any form (or combination, e.g., fresh, leaf, seed, dried, powdered, candied, etc.), what would it be?

I guess mine would have to be cilantro, in all its forms. Mint would come a close second.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
      1. re: pikawicca

        if i base my answer upon what i always have in my refrigerator, then i would also have to go with fresh italian parsley. it just seems to be a basic ingredient in so many dishes that i would cook. It is something that i always have on hand, along with lemons, garlic and olive oil.

        1. I would say cilantro also. The more I use it the more I can't get enough.

                  1. re: TexasToast

                    Garlic is not an herb. Technically, I think it's a vegetable.

                    There are very few questions like this that I absolutely cannot answer, but this one has me in a quandry.

              1. Fresh thyme, followed by fresh marjoram.

                4 Replies
                  1. re: Cpt Wafer

                    Freash marjoram really is wonderful to have around, and it is so versatile as well. I can see substituting it for any number of other herbs (oregano, mint, parsley, sage, tarragon, fenugreek, etc.) and getting great, though different, results. On the other hand fresh basil and cilantro really have no substitutes and I use them most often. Those would be my top three and if I really had to pick one it would be basil- I'm just glad that I don't ;)

                    1. re: TongoRad

                      I'm edging towards the marjoram on this one. Have you tried summer savory, TongoRad? Recently I tried it for the first time, and I felt it was a pleasant compromise between fresh marjoram and thyme - both herby-floral, and aromatic-spicy. So wonderful in a pesto...

                      1. re: Gooseberry

                        Last year was my first growing marjoram and I really fell in love with it. Next year I'll make a point to add the summer savory to the collection (there's always room for one more). Thanks for the tip, Gooseberry.

                    1. Thyme, fresh and dried.

                        1. I am sure I posted this earlier today and it disappeared, but put me in the thyme camp. Both fresh and dried. I find fresh basil and cilantro to be very seasonal. I can't imagine not having thyme on hand.

                          1. If you just had ONE herb, eventually - and it probably wouldn't even take that long - you would just get so sick to death of the damn thing that you would never even want to taste it again as long as you lived!
                            Variety is the *spice* of life.

                            1. If we're counting garlic as an herb -- which it isn't, because you eat the bulb -- then it'd be garlic. Otherwise, it'd have to be oregano. I couldn't cook without it.

                              1. Basil for me. The availability of fresh basil year round is a miracle, kind of like the internet.

                                1. Basil, with rosemary a close second.

                                  1. Surprised my choice, oregano, is so unpopular. garlic is not an herb.

                                    5 Replies
                                      1. re: cheryl_h

                                        Tell the Herb Society of America to bite me . Garlic is not an herb . So sayeth my Society .

                                        1. re: GoalieJeff

                                          Garlic is a member of the onion family. So if it's an herb, so are onions.


                                          1. re: Davwud

                                            actually, both garlic and onions are members of the lily family.

                                      2. re: FrankJBN

                                        There are not so many things that can't be cooked well with just a little garlic, salt, olive oil, oregano and lemon juice.

                                          1. Rosemary for me. Followed by flat leaf parsley and basil.

                                              1. I could not choose just one. In order of necessity:
                                                1. Basil
                                                2. Rosemary
                                                3. Tarragon
                                                4. Flat leaf parsley
                                                5. Mint (if you have had sauce Paloise with rack of lamb you know what I mean!!)

                                                Garlic is technically not an herb. Herbs are normally considered to be those plants whose leaves are used for flavoring. Garlic would be considered a vegetable as it's the body of the plant itself that's used. But, for the sake of argument, if herbs are those plant materials that add aroma and flavor, garlic is on my list.

                                                1. wow, did no one pick dill? even in the top3?
                                                  I'll pick dill... after fresh basil :)

                                                      1. I was thinking about this while falling asleep last night - the herb I use most is probably thyme - the cookbooks I've been using lately seem to call for it regularly. But it occurred to me that I never think to myself - "oh, I'd like to cook that with thyme" - the herbs that usually inspire me, and that I love, are chives, basil, rosemary and sage. I don't even know if I'd recognize thyme in blind "smell test".

                                                        1. Tough question. Depends on the circumstance...

                                                          If lost at sea and adrift in lifeboat: Dill, for the fish.

                                                          If locked in a tomato greenhouse for a year: Basil.

                                                          In a Geometry test to identify all those multisided shapes: Tarragon

                                                          In a Singles bar: A toss up... either Ginger or Rosemary.

                                                          If suffering from Loss of memory and all accumulated wisdom: Sage

                                                          If stranded in an elevator with enemies: Garlic

                                                          In a bad dream of knocking repeatedly on friend's door and no answer: Cumin

                                                          God forbid, if transformed into an Irish lawyer: Sumac

                                                          1. Surely you jest, FoodFuser :)


                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: TexasToast

                                                              Nawww, not a Jester. Just Chivin' ya.

                                                            2. If black pepper qualifies...then black pepper