6 Best Herbs for Mexican Cooking

Grow These Herbs for a Spicy Flair

There is nothing quite like a spicy bean and rice dish or enchiladas for a tasty meal without a lot of prep time. Grow these delicious herbs and add them to your cooking to create the authentic taste of Mexican cooking. Try making a dried blend of your favorites to keep it in a jar in your spice cupboard for a quick flavor addition. 

  • 01 of 06
    Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) 'Caribe', September.
    Cora Niele/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Cilantro adds a cooling taste to dishes that turn up the heat. This annual herb is an absolute must-have for Mexican dishes. It reseeds well throughout the growing season and grows from seed quickly. Cilantro does not like heat though. If you live in a dry, hot area, plant cilantro in a movable pot. Move it out of the sun after four hours each day to allow multiple harvests. No matter what, during the hottest weeks of summer, your cilantro will not be happy. 

    Cilantro is a plant with a split...MORE personality. In its early vegetative stage, it is the familiar cilantro whose leaves season Mexican dishes, but when it forms seeds, it is known as coriander. Those seeds are ground for use in curries, pickles, soups and stews—not necessarily Mexican cooking.

  • 02 of 06
    Oregano. ©2008, A. Jeanroy

    Oregano is a part of the three-herb Latin bouquet garni—oregano, thyme and marjoram—popular in both Mediterranean and Mexican kitchens. Try this flavorful bunch and turn up your culinary style for the next Mexican night at your house. 

    A blend or oregano, thyme and marjoram fits well in your herbal stash too. Mix it up as you harvest and dry your herbs for an endless supply throughout the winter. 

    Note: If your recipe calls for Mexican oregano, that's a different plant altogether. It is a...MORE small shrub, not true oregano, and is found in Mexican markets. The taste is more delicate that common oregano. If you must substitute, start with a third less of common oregano which is more pungent.

  • 03 of 06
    Thyme. ©2008, A. Jeanroy

    Thyme is featured in many Mexican dishes. Its warm, distinct taste pairs well with spicy foods. A little goes a long way though, so use a light hand when seasoning with it initially. 

    When you freeze thyme, the flavor becomes more pronounced. Keep that in mind if you are using thyme in a dish headed for the deep freeze. 

  • 04 of 06
    Parsley. ©2008, A. Jeanroy

    Parsley is another wonderful cooling herb. Its bright, green taste rounds out salsa or other richly flavored dishes perfectly.

    Parsley doesn't dry well at all. It's best used fresh, but you can grow it indoors pretty easily as long as you have sufficient indoor lighting. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06
    Mint. ©2008, A.Jeanroy

    You may be surprised to think of mint as an important cooking herb. It is! Delicious and full of depth, mint is a powerful addition to Latin based cooking. Use mint in the smallest portion of your Latin mixes. The flavor goes a long way, and you can easily overdo the profile with a strong mint. 

  • 06 of 06
    Marjoram. ©2008, A. Jeanroy

    Marjoram is an incredibly full-flavored herb, with depth and taste like no other. It is no wonder that it fits so well in the many faceted flavors of Latino cooking. This a must have in the kitchen of anyone who likes to cook Mexican dishes.