Traditional Flavor Profiles: French Herbs and Spices | Natural Gourmet Institute

The Natural Gourmet Institute’s health-supportive, plant-based career curriculum is now exclusively offered at the Institute of Culinary Education. Learn more about career training in Health-Supportive Culinary Arts at the new Natural Gourmet Center at ICE. Click here

Recreational classes, certificate programs, and Friday Night Dinners will continue through March 2019 at NGI’s Flatiron location. We have a lot of exciting programs scheduled, which are sure to sell out! We look forward to having the NGI community be a part of the final programs on 21st Street.

Traditional Flavor Profiles: French Herbs and Spices

Posted December 9, 2014

The use of herbs and spices in traditional combinations is often the unique signature of global cuisines. Here, the herbs and spices that define classic French cooking.


Fines Herbes: These include tarragon, chives, chervil and parsley. They’re referred to as such due to their delicate flavors. As opposed to more robust French herbs, like oregano, marjoram, rosemary and thyme, their delicateness make them more suitable for seasoning at the end of a dish, rather than cooked within the dish.

Persillade: A mixture of chopped parsley and garlic (sometimes with oil and vinegar), cooked or added raw at the end of cooking. This is a classic addition to roasted potatoes.

Herbes de Provence: A Provençal mixture of marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and lavender (for the US market). This combination is used for meat, fowl, fish, soups and stews.

NGI-French-Herbs-and-Spices (3)

Nutmeg: Adds nuttiness and fragrance to sauces, such as béchamel, and desserts, like pain d’épices.

Tarragon: This licorice-flavored herb is used in cooking poultry and seafood, but also to infuse vinegar and flavor mustard.

Saffron: Known as the most expensive spice in the world, these bright red threads are used in Mediterranean seafood dishes of Southern France, such as Bouillabaisse.

Bouquet Garni: Usually tied together with string or wrapped in a cheese cloth, the “garnished bouquet” is used to flavor soups and stocks. It usually consists of sage, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns.

NGI-French-Herbs-and-Spices (1)

*Although not photographed, chervil and chives are also common French herbs.