If you’re looking to make your next meal a little more zesty, lemon is surely a great place to start.
But here’s the thing about lemon: it doesn’t play well with just anything.
When you’re zesting that sucker up, you need herbs that can take the sharpness of lemon and make it sing in your mouth.
Lesser-quality herbs won’t cut it.
You’ll end up with an unbalanced meal that doesn’t quite have that je ne sais quoi you were looking for.
So, what herbs go well with lemon?
While there are many herbs that would pair well with lemon, I would recommend parsley, mint, oregano, basil, and thyme.
Parsley is a classic pairing with lemon and can be used as an addition to any number of entrees; mint is a great herb to mix with lemon for desserts; oregano pairs nicely with the acidity of lemon, and it can be combined with both savory and sweet dishes; basil’s peppery bite lends itself well to the tartness of lemon juice; and thyme’s earthy flavor complements the tanginess of lemons.
What Herbs Go with Lemon? 16 Best Herbs
If you’re looking for a way to take your cooking to the next level, try adding some herbs!
Here’s a list of 16 herbs that go perfectly with lemon:
If you have ever had a baked potato with sour cream and chives on it, then you already know how amazing these two taste together.
With lemon, we think the contrast between the tangy citrus and sharp onion flavor of chives really shines through, especially in seafood dishes and light pastas like linguine (check out this collection of linguine pasta recipes) with clam sauce.
This popular herb has been used for thousands of years in cooking around the world.
Nowadays, it’s popular in Italian dishes like pesto and tomato sauces.
But this plant can also be used to make a refreshing herbal tea when mixed with lemon and honey!
What could be better than a fresh slice of lemon, squeezed over your meal?
The answer is: a fresh slice of lemon, squeezed over oregano.
While it may not be as popular these days as it used to be, oregano is one of the most versatile herbs and flavors around.
While it’s often used in Italian dishes like pizza and spaghetti sauce, it can also help kick up the flavor in other meals—like a salad made with fresh greens and lemon juice.
Another herb that pairs well with lemon is thyme, which has a distinctively savory taste.
It’s a great addition to roasted vegetables, especially when paired with lemon and other common roasting herbs like rosemary.
This herb goes particularly well with poultry dishes and also makes a great addition to lemon-based sauces for chicken or fish.
The slight anise flavor of tarragon pairs really nicely with the tartness of lemon juice, making this herb a perfect addition to your next chicken recipe!
Parsley is another herb that goes well with almost anything, but especially when paired with a squeeze of lemon juice or zest.
It works especially well in dishes featuring chicken or fish because of its light taste.
Try using parsley and lemon together next time you whip up some chicken salad or grilled fish fillets.
7. Lemon balm (and yes, it’s more than just lemon!)
While the name of this herb is a bit of a giveaway, lemon balm is actually a great way to infuse some extra flavor into your lemon recipes.
The two flavors complement each other well, but don’t overpower one another.
Lemon balm is also great at helping you fight off insomnia, reduce stress, and ease headaches if you ever find yourself suffering while making an incredible meal.
Mint is another herb that works well in combination with lemon in both savory and sweet dishes.
In particular, we love the way mint tastes in combination with the tart sweetness of lemons in desserts.
Mint is often used as a garnish in conjunction with lemons: think cocktails or fruit salads!
Rosemary is one of the more common herbs you’ll find in the kitchen, and it’s a great herb to use with lemon because they’re both so bold.
You can cook with rosemary and lemon together, but they also go well in drinks—like iced tea or cocktails—and desserts, like lemon bars.
If you’re going for a Mediterranean vibe, this aromatic herb will help you get there.
10. Fennel seed and leaves
Fennel has a slightly anise-like flavor, but it’s not quite as licorice-y as its cousin anise.
It pairs really well with lemon because the citrusy brightness of the lemon accentuates the sweetness and earthiness of fennel, while the fennel lends its own freshness to the dish.
Fennel seed is often used in Italian sausage, and the leaves are delicious in salads with citrus vinaigrette dressing.
Dill is an herb that is commonly used in sauces and dips, such as tzatziki or dill sauce.
It has a gentle flavor that isn’t overpowering when paired with lemon.
It enhances the lightness of the lemon without overpowering it or making it sour, which can be the case when pairing lemon with other herbs.
Cilantro pairs well with lemon because they both have a bright flavor that helps liven up dishes—but cilantro is also a little bit spicy, which offsets the tartness of the lemon really nicely.
The strong flavor of cilantro means you don’t need much to make an impression, so if you’re making something that has lots of other competing flavors, this is one to try out for sure!
Sage is a popular addition to autumn cooking, as it pairs well with butternut squash and other fall vegetables.
It can also add a vibrant touch to the lemon in your dish—especially if you’re looking for a herb that will stand out from the lemon.
Sage has an intense, peppery flavor that can complement or contrast your lemon, depending on what you’re making.
14. Sumac (not to be confused with sumak)
The spice sumac is a tart berry that comes from the mulberry family tree, and it adds just the right amount of kick to your next lemon-based dressing or marinade.
Coriander is the seed from the cilantro plant, but it has an entirely different flavor profile than the leaves.
Coriander has a lemony, nutty taste that pairs well with the actual lemon fruit or juice.
It’s best used in savory dishes like meat or soup recipes.
Lavender is an herb that boasts a distinctive and intense fragrance, with a slightly sweet and refreshing taste.
Lavender looks almost like rosemary, but its leaves are much more delicate.
It has a floral flavor that can be observed in teas, jellies, and liquors.
When combined with lemon it can make drinks more palatable by adding sweetness.
Additionally, lavender pairs well with many different types of meat dishes, including roasted chicken and grilled fish.
Lavender can work well in:
- Chicken dishes
- Marinades and rubs
- Herbal teas
What Herbs Go with Fish and Lemon?
Fish and lemon is a classic combination—so classic that it can seem staid, even boring.
But if you pair that classic combo with the right herb, you can really shake things up!
Here are 9 herbs that work perfectly with fish and lemon:
Maybe you’ve heard of adding rosemary in a chicken dish?
Well, it is just as tasty with fish!
Just toss some sprigs into the pan while the fish is cooking.
Make sure the herb stays on one side of the pan so you can easily remove it before serving.
If you’re not familiar with rosemary, it has a slightly bitter taste, but has a robust flavor that can’t be beat!
Thyme is a great herb for fish and lemon dishes.
It has a slightly peppery taste, but it’s also sweet, so it adds a lot of complexity to your dish.
Thyme pairs well with most fish, but it works especially well with salmon because of its strong flavor profile.
It works well in both cold dishes (like salads) and warm ones (like roasted vegetables).
Here are some dishes/recipes where this combination works well:
- Baked Cod Recipe with Garlic and Lemon
- Lemon Pepper Fish Tacos
- Salmon With Thyme, Lemon Butter and Almonds
Chives are a great herb to pair with lemon and fish because they’re incredibly versatile.
They go well with almost everything, but in particular, there are tons of dishes where chives shine with fish and lemon.
For instance, this recipe for lemon butter baked cod wouldn’t be the same without chives. And have you ever tried lemon pepper shrimp?
It’s pretty good on its own, but add some chives and it gets even better.
Tarragon pairs really well with both fish and lemon in cooking.
And not only that, but it can also be used to make some delicious herbal tea.
When we use tarragon in a dish, it’s usually because we’re trying to make something that tastes like the ocean.
So if you combine lemon with a bit of tarragon, you get a great result: tangy-sweet-tangy flavors going on.
But if you want something really special, you can roast up some salmon with tarragon and serve it with a side of rice pilaf made with lemons, tarragon, and cardamom—it’s kind of like a Spanish meal.
There are lots of other reasons why you might use tarragon in cooking—maybe you want to add a little bit of freshness when cooking with lemons; or maybe you’re looking for an herb that goes well with salmon; or maybe you’re just curious about how to use herbs in cooking.
Dill is a herb that will stand up to pretty much anything.
It doesn’t matter how tangy or bold your flavors are, dill never gets scared off.
Try it in a classic dill sauce alongside salmon and lemon—the contrast between the sweetness of the salmon, the tang of the lemon, and the bite of the dill is truly mouthwatering.
Dill works well with these kinds of fish:
Dill also pairs nicely with other ingredients that are often found in seafood recipes.
- Cucumber (another classic pairing)
- Sour cream (a popular sauce base for fish or seafood)
- Parsley (another common pairing with fish)
Parsley is often used to season meat, but it’s also great for fish!
It’s a versatile herb that works well in different dishes, even ones you might not expect.
The best way to use parsley with your fish is to chop up a handful of leaves and sprinkle them on top once the dish is cooked.
This will give your meal an elegant flare that will impress any guest!
Cilantro is great for adding extra flavor to fish dishes.
It has an earthy taste that complements the lemon perfectly and makes you feel like you’re eating something more than just fish and lemon—even when it is just fish and lemon!
Basil adds a bit of sweetness to the lemon taste in fish dishes.
It’s great for when you want something milder than cilantro but still want some depth of flavor beyond chives’ subtlety.
You might try using basil in combination with cilantro for an extra kick!
Oregano is another herb that likes to hang out with bold flavors.
It blends in with other herbs easily, but it also has its own unique flavor profile that makes it perfect for pairing with things like lemon and fish.
Try cooking up some halibut filets seasoned with salt and pepper, along with lemon slices and fresh oregano leaves… yum!
What Herbs Go with Lemon Chicken?
Lemon chicken is a hit in any kitchen—and it’s not hard to make!
There are plenty of recipes available online, but we wanted to take it one step further and create a list of the 9 best herbs to use when cooking lemon chicken:
Rosemary goes great with chicken because it’s got a strong and woody taste, which means it can hold its own against the strong flavor of the lemon.
It also has a little bit of a minty flavor, so mixing it in with lemon and chicken makes it stand out more—and that’s never a bad thing.
You’ll find this herb most often in dishes where you want to complement the taste of chicken without overpowering it, like soups and stews.
But it also pairs well with more intense flavors like garlic and mushrooms, as well as potatoes and other root vegetables.
Thyme can be found in many different cuisines around the world, but it’s especially popular for Mediterranean dishes like lemon chicken!
It’s important to note that the herb can have strong flavor if used too liberally or not cooked properly—so go easy on thyme when adding it into your dish for maximum enjoyment!
Oregano is a classic, and it’s easy to see why.
It has a very distinct flavor that pairs well with the citrusy tartness of lemon.
Try adding some oregano to your marinade, or sprinkle it on top of your finished product.
Basil isn’t just for tomato sauce!
This versatile herb can be found in dishes from around the world—and one of our favorites is Thai basil, which has a spicy kick that makes it an ideal complement to lemon chicken.
Plus, like all forms of basil, Thai basil is incredibly easy to grow in your own garden—just place it somewhere sunny, water regularly, and enjoy!
This herb has a lovely fresh taste, like a bite of springtime on your tongue.
It also pairs well with other Mediterranean flavors such as thyme and oregano, so if you’re looking for something hearty and flavorful, this is the recipe for you!
Marjoram is similar in flavor to oregano, but it has a more delicate taste and is less pungent.
If you like the taste of oregano but find it overpowering, try replacing it with marjoram in your recipes.
Mint is a versatile herb—it works well with vegetables as well as meat dishes like chicken and lamb.
When added near the end of cooking time, it gives your dish a fresh flavor.
Sage pairs beautifully with lemon chicken because it has a very pungent flavor that complements the tartness of the lemon juice.
If you’re looking for something less intense, try using basil instead!
The combination of sweet basil and tart lemons will create an amazing flavor profile.
16 Herbs That Go with Lemon
- Lemon balm (and yes, it's more than just lemon!)
- Fennel seed and leaves
- Pick any of the herbs on this list to pair with your lemon dish.
- Prepare the rest of your ingredients.
- Be ready to munch in no time!