Use Rosemary in Cooking

Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that has been used for cooking and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. The warm, spicy scent of rosemary complements many types of dishes, including drinks and desserts. Learning to cook with rosemary should be a delight to the senses.


Choosing, Storing, and Preparing Fresh Rosemary

  1. Choose fresh gray-green-colored sprigs of rosemary that are supple and not woody. Clip them from the bush with shears or pick a bundle of rosemary sprigs from a store display.
    • The needle-like leaves should not look yellow and should not fall off easily.
    • There should be no blackened or mushy areas of leaves or stems.
    • The rosemary should have a sharp, spicy, clean odor.
  2. Wrap the sprigs of rosemary loosely in a damp paper towel and place them in the refrigerator if you are not ready to use them right away. They should keep for 3 to 5 days.
  3. Wash rosemary sprigs right before use.
  4. Pull the needle-like leaves off the stems if the recipe calls for chopped fresh rosemary. Either use your fingers or pull the stem through the tines of a fork.
  5. Chop the leaves with a sharp knife on a cutting board. If the stems are very tender, the whole sprig can be chopped.

Recipe Ideas for Fresh Rosemary

  1. Place whole sprigs of rosemary inside roasting poultry or on top of fish. Remove before serving.
  2. Chop fresh rosemary finely and sprinkle it on bread dough before placing it in the oven.
  3. Chop fresh rosemary and add 1 to 2 teaspoons to a pot of chicken soup as it cooks.
  4. Decorate glasses of lemonade with sprigs of fresh rosemary for a light flavor enhancement.
  5. Make rosemary-infused oil. Use the oil to dress salads or on pasta.
    • Bruise several sprigs of washed and dried rosemary by rolling them under the palm of your hand on a hard surface, like a cutting board.
    • Place the bruised rosemary sprigs in a sterilized glass jar that has a tight fitting lid.
    • Warm olive oil, safflower or sunflower oil in a pan until it is too warm to touch. Don’t let it smoke.
    • Pour the warm oil over the rosemary in the jar until it is completely covered. No part of the rosemary should be out of the oil. Put the lid on.
    • Store the jar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
    • Remove the rosemary sprigs and strain the oil if pieces remain.
    • Store the oil in a closed bottle in the refrigerator.
  6. Make rosemary tea using bruised rosemary leaves and steeping them in hot water for about 5 minutes. You can also add the rosemary to your favorite tea and steep as usual.

Drying Your Own Rosemary

  1. Choose young, tender sprigs of rosemary, and cut them in the morning after the plants are no longer dewy.
  2. Dry fresh rosemary by hanging sprigs tied in bundles with string in a warm, dry, dark place.
    • Place a tray or some newspaper under the rosemary bundles to catch any leaves that fall off.
  3. Remove the remaining leaves from the stems once the bundles have completely dried.
  4. Crumble the rosemary leaves until they are your desired consistency.
  5. Place the rosemary into a jar labeled with the date and the name of the contents.
  6. Store the dried rosemary in a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid and keep in a cool dark place.

Recipe Ideas for Dried Rosemary

  1. Make chicken seasoning. Mix together 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried sage, 1 teaspoon marjoram, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and rub on chicken breasts before baking them.
  2. Make mashed potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary and 2 teaspoons of chicken broth to every 2 pounds of cooked potatoes just before you mash them.
  3. Make pizza. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary on the top of a pizza before baking it.
  4. Make dessert. Add a teaspoon of dried rosemary to an ice cream or gelato mix before making it. It’s particularly good with peach, strawberry, and lemon flavors.
  5. Make an omelet. Add 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary to your favorite omelet as it cooks.
  6. Make salsa. Add 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary to your favorite salsa recipe.
  7. Make rosemary biscuits. Buy a container of large, flaky refrigerated biscuit dough and place the biscuits on a baking sheet. Lift the top half of each biscuit off, brush with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with dried rosemary. Replace the tops and bake the biscuits as directed on the can.
  8. Grill great chops. Mix 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt with 1 cup of pineapple juice. Brush it on thick-cut pork or lamb chops before grilling, and baste them once during grilling with the mixture.


  • Rosemary’s flavor blends well with poultry, lamb, and pork. It also goes well with tomato dishes, pasta, and rice.
  • 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary is equivalent to 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) fresh rosemary.
  • Rosemary can also be used when frying chicken or fish.
  • The pretty blue flowers of rosemary are edible and can be added to salads or used as cake decorations.
  • Rosemary is hardy outside to planting zone 7. It can be brought inside in the winter as a potted plant in colder zones. Keep it in a cool, sunny window and let it dry between watering.
  • Dried rosemary should be discarded after a year.

Things You’ll Need

  • Shears or garden snips to cut fresh rosemary
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Jars with tight lids
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • String

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Sources and Citations