The famous fragrant blend of herbs commonly used in the Provence region of southeastern France. Easy and quick to prepare, this Herbes de Provence recipe will bring the fragrance and flavor of the sunny hills of southern France right to your table!
I have always been very sentimental and cling to nostalgia. Among the treasured souvenirs I collect on our travels are things like shells and pebbles from a favorite beach, pine cones from an enchanting forest, flowers picked from a beautiful meadow and pressed between the leaves of a book, and of course unique local food items – ones that I could easily order online but somehow taste better for having been bought in person on location. My dried lavender flowers along with the sachets of dried rosemary, summer savory, oregano and thyme are among the treasures I’m still savoring from our most recent trip to Provence, France. For this recipe I have combined them to make a classic Herbes de Provence and as I close my eyes and take in fragrance, I imagine I’m standing on the sunny hills of southeastern France.
The beautiful village of Vence in the Provence region of southeastern France, one of the many adorable towns we visited.
Arles, France. We picked up a beautiful vintage kitchen scale at this antique shop. And see that copper saucepan hanging on the wall? That also took long trip in our suitcase back to the U.S. where it’s now lovingly featured in my kitchen.
What is Herbes de Provence?
Herbes de Provence, or herbs de Provence, is a blend of dried herbs that are commonly used in the Provence region in southeastern France, including savory, rosemary, oregano and thyme. It’s used to flavor a variety of dishes, everything from roasted meats and fish to vegetables, soups and stews, salad dressings and marinades.
Traditionally the term “herbes de Provence” was simply a descriptive term that referred to the herbs commonly used throughout Provence and not to any specific blend of herbs or mixture. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that spice wholesalers started formulating blends and labeling them under that name. Today, Herbes de Provence is readily available in many grocery stores and specialty food shops.
Which Herbs Are Used in Herbes de Provence?
The specific combination of herbs varies widely from one producer to the other but the mixture typically and traditionally includes rosemary, savory, thyme and either oregano or marjoram. However some brands also add any combination of basil, sage, tarragon, fennel, bay leaves, and lavender. It should be noted that blends sold for the French market do not usually include lavender. The inclusion of lavender in Herbs de Provence is largely geared towards the U.S. market.
The trouble with many recipes and some of the commercial blends on the market is that they cram in as many different herbs as they can; the result is that the very simplicity that characterizes the herbes de Provence blend is lost.
And so in 2003 Herbes de Provence obtained a Label Rouge, which is a sign of quality assurance that is defined by law. In the case of Herbes de Provence the Label Rouge dictates its ingredient composition as: 27% savory, 27% rosemary, 27% oregano, and 19% thyme. For the purposes of our recipe that roughly equates to 3 teaspoons savory, 3 teaspoons rosemary, 3 teaspoons oregano, and 2 teaspoons thyme. That’s it, a very simple blend. You’ll also notice that lavender is not included. As noted earlier, lavender is not a standard addition in herbes de Provence but because of its popularity in some markets I am including it as an “optional”. I also sometimes like to swap out the oregano for marjoram depending on what I’m using it for. They are both in the mint family and can be used interchangeably, but marjoram is milder and sweeter and so I’ll opt for that if I’m wanting something slightly more delicate.
To summarize, under the Label Rouge legal designation, Herbes de Provence includes:
- Savory: specifically summer savory, which is sweeter and more pleasant than the pungent winter savory. It has a slightly peppery taste with hints of mint, thyme, and marjoram and is commonly used in French cuisine.
- Thyme: a fragrant herb with a slightly minty flavor that is commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine.
- Rosemary: a woodsy aromatic herb with hints of pine, citrus, sage, pepper and mint that is often used to flavor roasted meats and vegetables.
- Oregano: a robust and pungent herb with a peppery and slightly bitter bite and minty fragrance.
Does Herbs de Provence Include Lavender?
As discussed above, blends sold for the French market do not typically include lavender. The inclusion of lavender in Herbes de Provence is largely done so for the U.S. market. See previous section for more detail.
How to Use Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence is often used to season meats, poultry, and fish, as well as vegetables, soups, and stews. It can also be used to add flavor to breads, dressings, and marinades.
It is a versatile seasoning blend that can be used in a variety of ways to add flavor to your dishes. Here are a few popular ways to use it:
- On roasted meats and poultry: sprinkle it over chicken, duck, beef, pork, or lamb before roasting or grilling.
- On fish and seafood: Season fish and seafood: sprinkle it over fish or shrimp before baking, pan-frying, or grilling.
- On vegetables: add it any variety of roasted or sautéed vegetables such as potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and squash.
- Season soups and stews: stir a little of this herb blend into your soups and stews for added depth and flavor.
- Added to breads and pizza crusts: mix some of this herb blend into bread dough or pizza crust before baking for a flavorful twist.
- Season roasted potatoes or fries.
- Add some to olive oil for a flavorful dipping sauce for bread.
- In salad dressings and marinades: whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, Dijon mustard, and some of this herb blend for a delicious and fragrant salad dressing or marinade.
Herbes de Provence Recipe
To make your own homemade Herbs de Provence seasoning blend simply place 1 tablespoon each of dried summer savory, rosemary, oregano and 2 teaspoons of thyme in an airtight jar and shake to combine. Feel free to increase the quantity if desired. Store the blend in a dark, cool place where it will keep for a few months.
For more delicious homemade seasoning blends be sure to try our:
- Old Bay Seasoning
- Greek Seasoning
- Curry Powder
- Creole Seasoning
- Garam Masala
- Chinese Five Spice
- Chili Powder
- Shichimi Togarashi
- Taco Seasoning
Herbes de Provence
- Place all of the herbs in an airtight jar and shake to combine. Store the blend in a dark, cool place where it will keep for a few months.This makes just under 1/4 cup. Feel free to double, triple, etc if desired.