Foods That Act as Aphrodisiacs

  • 01 of 20

    A Gallery of Aphrodisiac Foods, Lore & Recipes

    For millennia, humans have sought out aphrodisiac foods, revering their power to increase virility or fertility, enhance sexual pleasure, or inspire fidelity. Scientists may question the existence of aphrodisiacs, but as anyone who's shared a romantic meal can attest, biting into a perfectly ripe berry can spark as much ardor as a kiss.

    Consider cinnamon: Studies have documented that its warm aroma is incredibly arousing. We don't yet know why. But if breakfast in bed involves Cinnamon...MORE Rolls With Dulce De Leche, does it really matter?

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  • 02 of 20

    Vanilla Bean

    Headily aromatic, the vanilla bean's complex flavor isn't easy to come by — vanilla orchids flower just one day a year, and cultivation depends on careful hand-pollination. Vanilla beans take weeks to mature, and months to ripen and cure. Talk about a study in heightened anticipation. Vanilla consumption increases catecholamine levels, including epinephrine (aka adrenaline), a neurotransmitter and fight-or-flight hormone that's elevated when we're excited.

    Aphrodisiac Vanilla...MORE Recipes:

    Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

    Gingerbread Waffles With Apple and Vanilla Bean Compote

    Honey Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Spread

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  • 03 of 20


    Lush, fragrant strawberries have quite a creation myth — they're said to have originated as heart-shaped tears shed by the goddess Aphrodite upon the death of her lover, Adonis. Freya, Norse goddess of love and fertility, was also associated with strawberries.  Studded as they are with tiny seeds, shapely, juicy strawberries are fitting symbols of fertility. That the sweetest berries grow seasonally and wild only adds to their allure.

    Aphrodisiac Strawberry Recipes:

    Strawberry Salsa With...MORE Ginger & Orange

    Strawberry Panna Gelata

    Strawberry Hazelnut Goat Cheese Salad

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  • 04 of 20


    Avocados have been ascribed aphrodisiac qualities — down to their etymology — since ancient times. The Aztecs, struck by the evocative way the fruits hang in pairs, dubbed avocado trees "ahuacuatl," or "testicle tree," and forbade maidens to go outside during their harvest. Avocados are an all-around sensual fruit: their sumptuous flesh is silky-smooth on the tongue, and because the fruit is rich in emollient oils, it is equally prized for use on the skin.

    Aphrodisiac Avocado...MORE Recipes:

    Chilled Pineapple and Avocado Soup with Chipotle Cream and Pepitas

    Avocado Milkshake

    Avocado and Pomegranate Salad With Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

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  • 05 of 20


    Caviar's aphrodisiac status derives from its luxury status, and from its undeniable association with fertility. Enjoying fine caviar is also an unabashedly sensual experience. The tiny eggs roll and burst on the tongue, yielding an almost buttery, elemental taste of the ocean.

    Where to Buy Caviar

    Aphrodisiac Caviar Recipes:

    Baby Potatoes With Caviar

    Warm Oysters With Cucumber & Caviar Butter

    Peekytoe Crab Cocktail with Sevruga Caviar and a Lemon Verbena Vinaigrette

    All About Caviar

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  • 06 of 20


    Honey is so evocative of love, that it's the standard by which we measure its sweetness. And when the sensation of falling in love proves as delectable as the sticky stuff, we even dub our sweethearts "Honey." Newlyweds were once supplied a month's worth of mead, a honey wine, hence the term "honeymoon." Of course, when you get down to it, honey is literally one sexy substance — it's created from the nectar bees collect as they flit from flower to flower, fertilizing...MORE blooms.

    Where to Buy Varietal Honey

    Aphrodisiac Honey Recipes:

    Honey Truffles

    Honey Lacquered Duck Breast

    Greek Honey Pie - Melopita

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  • 07 of 20


    Rosemary's strong pine-like aroma is captivating and instantly recognizable. A whiff of its foresty earthiness can conjure vivid sense memories, so the herb has long been valued as a powerful symbol of fidelity.

    Aphrodisiac Rosemary Recipes:

    Rosemary & Red Wine Flat Iron Steaks

    Rosemary Toasted Nuts

    Rosemary Pear Crisp

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  • 08 of 20


    Oysters may be the quintessential aphrodisiac food. Casanova purportedly ate 50 each day. They're incredibly rich in zinc, a nutrient key to testosterone production. They're downright sexy looking. Eating them is a thoroughly tactile experience; lifting shell to lips, feeling the oyster's firm slip, its hint of crispness, a wash of flavors from saline, mineral, sweet, fruity, and buttery, to the elusive umami. Ultimately, each individual oyster is as mysterious as a new lover, and we...MORE learn its textural landscape and flavor only as we savor it. 

    Buying & Serving Oysters:

    Where to Buy the Best Seafood

    How to Open an Oyster

    Aphrodisiac Oyster Recipes:

    Grilled Oysters With Miso & Wasabi

    Fried Oyster Po'Boy

    Drago's Charbroiled Oysters

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  • 09 of 20


    Perfumers capitalize on ginger's warm, woodsy aroma when they want to create particularly seductive blends. And there's something incredibly captivating about the way ginger's heat blooms in the mouth, with spicy notes that nip the tongue gently. Ginger plays nice, heightening other flavors, and stimulating our perception of them. And it gets the blood flowing, quite literally, which may be why it garnered an aphrodisiac mention in the Kama Sutra, among other ancient tracts.

    Where to...MORE Buy, and How to Use Crystallized Ginger

    Aphrodisiac Ginger Recipes:

    Banana Rum Food With Candied Ginger

    Sweet & Savory Pear Ginger Chutney

    Chilled Ginger Soba Noodles With Spinach & Raspberries

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  • 10 of 20


    Chiles not only get our blood pumping in a very perceptible way, their heat actually triggers a flood of endorphins, natural opiate-like neurotransmitters that promote feelings of euphoria and excitement. (It's no coincidence that our bodies also release endorphins when we're in love). Eating chiles makes the skin flush the lips plump, so we look as amorous as they can make us feel.  

    Where to Buy & How to Use Chiles:

    A Guide to Poblano Chiles

    A Guide to Chipotle Chiles

    Aphrodisiac Chile...MORE Recipes:

    Chile-Seared Salmon with Sweet Pear Pineapple Salsa

    Grilled Snapper With Chiles

    Aztec Truffles

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  • 11 of 20


    Montezuma consumed copious amounts of hot chocolate, the better to serve his harem of 600. Casanova employed it in his seductions. Countless others followed suit, until chocolate became an obvious, if ever-welcome, a token of affection. As for its aphrodisiac status, chocolate contains several chemicals — including phenylethylamine, theobromine, and tryptophan — that exert powerful effects on the pleasure centers of the brain.

    Aphrodisiac Chocolate Recipes:

    Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee With...MORE Caramelized Bananas

    Chocolate Sorbet

    Fusion Chocolate Fondue

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  • 12 of 20


    Alluringly aromatic, basil was offered as a love token in parts of Italy. Basil has even been ascribed magical properties related to love and fidelity.

    Aphrodisiac Basil Recipes:

    Basil Ice Cream

    Watermelon, Basil, & Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Syrup

    Bucati With Basil Pesto and Peas

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  • 13 of 20


    Both Aphrodite and Persephone (who, incidentally, shared the lover Adonis), were associated with the pomegranate. The fruit is sacred in many cultures as a symbol of fertility, thanks to an abundance of gemlike seeds that burst with sweet-tart juice.

    How to Cut and Open A Pomegranate

    Aphrodisiac Pomegranate Recipes:

    Pomegranate Tapioca

    Pomegranate Glazed Salmon with Apple Horseradish Cream & Baby Shallot Potatoes

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  • 14 of 20


    Asparagus may have initially earned its aphrodisiac status from it phallic shape. But as a diuretic, the verdant veggie stimulates the genitourinary tract, which may have something to do with the amorous feelings it can inspire. Its fresh and grassy flavor calls spring — and its attendant birds and bees — to mind. And asparagus spears are great fun to eat with the hands, a sensual pursuit if ever there was one.

    Aphrodisiac Asparagus Recipes:

    Asparagus Risotto

    Roasted Asparagus

    Asparagus Spring Rolls...MORE with Sweet Red Chili Dipping Sauce

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  • 15 of 20


    Oh, those Greek goddesses and their double standards. Never mind that Persephone's boy toy, Adonis, spent part of the year in the underworld just to be with her. When her husband, Hades, took up with the water nymph, Minthe, Persephone turned her into a plant, the better to stomp on her rival. The best Hades could do for Minthe was turn her into an aromatic plant. He did a good job on that count — mint's fresh, sweet, aroma is uplifting and energizing. And thanks to menthol in mint, the...MORE herb creates an intriguing cooling sensation on the palate.

    Aphrodisiac Mint Recipes:

    Mint-Cucumber Raita

    Thai Chicken Salad With Mint

    Moroccan Mint Tea

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  • 16 of 20


    Almonds have had aphrodisiac appeal since biblical times. The gorgeous fragrance of their blossoms is said to arouse passion, which is why Samson employed almond branches in his ill-fated seduction of Delilah. Things may not have worked out so well for Samson, but that hasn't tainted the almond's reputation as a fertility symbol or love token. Sugared almonds' romantic associations make them a popular wedding favor. And we now know that almonds are rich in heart-protective,...MORE fertility-enhancing Vitamin E.

    Aphrodisiac Almond Recipes:

    Green Bean, Tomato, and Potato Salad with Almond and Basil Pesto

    Halvas (Semolina Pudding) with Almonds & Raisins

    Winter Spice Sugar Plum Bonbons

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  • 17 of 20


    Like caviar, truffles derive their aphrodisiac status in part from their rarity, expense, and connotations of luxury. But the real story is about simple animal attraction. Truffles emit a pheromone shared by boars, which is why truffle hunters employ the aid of amorous sows to eagerly nose out and dig up the tubers. The same pheromone that's such a turn-on to sows is found in the sweat of human males, which may explain why we're so drawn to truffles' musky, earthy aroma and flavor.

    Whe...MOREre to Buy Truffles & Truffle Oil:

    Top 8 Places to Buy Truffles

    White Truffle Oil: Sources and Tips for Buying and Using White Truffle Oil

    Aphrodisiac Truffle Recipes:

    Waldorf Salad with Truffles and Candied Walnuts

    Truffled Mac & Cheese

    Truffle Fries

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  • 18 of 20


    Since antiquity, saffron has been one of the most prized — and expensive — spices in the world. Actually, the pistils of Crocus sativas flowers, saffron is hand-harvested, a labor-intensive process that boosts its worth. Cleopatra infused her baths with the spice, both for its perfume and purported ability heighten sensations of pleasure. It takes only a small amount of the spice to color a dish and lends it relaxing, mood-boosting properties. Excessive saffron intake, on the other hand, can...MORE exert deadly narcotic effects; the air of danger associated with large doses of the saffron may have heightened its mystique.

    Aphrodisiac Saffron Recipes:

    Saffron Citrus Fish Kabobs

    Saffron Rice With Pine Nuts & Pistachios

    Golden Saffron Cake

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  • 19 of 20


    Curvy-contoured and velvet-skinned, figs open to reveal soft, luscious flesh that drips with a honeyed floral nectar. Some commentators claim the fruit that tempted Eve was, in fact, a fig, and when Adam and Eve caught wise to their naked state, they covered up with fig leaves. Outside of Mediterranean climes, the delicate fruits have a short season, which only heightens anticipation of their enjoyment.

    Aphrodisiac Fig Recipes:

    Pomegranate Glazed Quail Salad with Maple Cider Vinaigrette and...MORE Grilled Figs

    Chocolate-Covered Figs

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  • 20 of 20


    Champagne's delicate effervescence tickles the nose with volatile aromatics, and the play of its tiny bubbles on the tongue can inspire an almost instantaneous sense of giddy wellbeing. Champagne is inherently festive, at once elegant and fun. Champagne also has a slightly lower alcohol content than many other libations, so to paraphrase the Porter in Shakespeare's Macbeth, it's less likely to "provoke the desire, but take away the performance..."

    Aphrodisiac Champagne...MORE Recipes:

    Melon Trio in Lavender Champagne Syrup


    Champagne Dill Carrots