13 Fresh Herbs That Will Upgrade Your Sandwiches

Sandwiches and fresh herbs
Sandwiches and fresh herbs - Static Media / Getty

A sandwich is undoubtedly a convenient way to ease your hunger at lunchtime, but it is easy to fall into a rut with the same bland, boring fillings each day. A simple way to upgrade your sandwich is with the addition of fresh herbs. From well-loved classics like cilantro and mint to the lesser-known chervil and lovage, these vibrant culinary companions have the power to elevate even the most simple filling to something special. They are also packed with a variety of micronutrients, meaning that they can benefit your health as well as your taste buds.

Let's explore some of the best herbs you can use to level up your sandwiches and the fillings they complement best. No matter how experienced you are in the kitchen, fresh herbs need virtually no preparation and can transform your sandwiches in seconds. With these trusty green heroes by your side, your days of drab and repetitive sandwiches are finally over.

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking


Basil growing in pot
Basil growing in pot - PandaStudio/Shutterstock

If you are looking to elevate the flavor profile of virtually any dish, basil is a great herb to add. Its aromatic flavor and slightly peppery notes mean it can transform a dish when used with restraint. Popularly used in Italian cooking, there are more than 60 varieties, and many are used in Asian cuisine, as well.

Basil is a soft herb, meaning you will get the most out of it by using it raw or by adding it at the very end of the cooking process. It is a delicate little thing, and even chopping with a knife can bruise the leaves, ruining both the appearance and the flavor. Instead, tear the leaves or simply leave them whole when adding to your dish.

There are many sandwiches that can be upgraded with the addition of basil, as it goes brilliantly with lots of flavors. Add a few torn leaves to a chicken panini, or mix up a vibrant basil mayo and add to a tuna baguette. The perfect combination for basil, though, is the famous Caprese salad. Basil pairs beautifully with both mozzarella and tomato, adding zing and freshness that elevates those simple ingredients to something special. To make the perfect caprese sandwich, tear up some basil leaves and layer with the cheese and tomato on a rustic ciabatta before heating them in a panini press to allow the mozzarella to melt slightly. Forget boring sandwiches; a sprig of basil will ensure your lunch will not disappoint.


Person chopping fresh cilantro
Person chopping fresh cilantro - New Africa/Shutterstock

When it comes to controversial foods, herbs are unlikely to be near the top of the list. However, cilantro is the one herb that famously divides opinion. Those who love cilantro can't get enough of its citrusy flavor and freshness, but there is a large section of people who detest it, claiming it resembles soap. A recent study found that this distinction may be genetic, so for those of us who love the herb also known as coriander, we can happily add it to our sandwiches without fear of flavoring them with detergent.

Cilantro is often used in Indian and South American cuisine but can add a bright flavor to a wide range of dishes. In most cases, the leaves are used, especially for garnish, but the stems contain loads of flavor and can be chopped up and added to soups and stews.

If you are whipping up a sandwich with leftover roast beef or a roasted vegetable wrap, add some cilantro to the mix to liven up the flavor. For an even better combo, match up some chicken breast with citrus mayo and mix it up with a generous handful of cilantro leaves. The combination of citrus and cilantro will contrast the creaminess of the mayonnaise and create a delightful sandwich that will become a lunchtime favorite.


Bunch of fresh parsley
Bunch of fresh parsley - New Africa/Shutterstock

You have to feel a bit sorry for parsley: This vibrant soft herb has so much potential in terms of flavor and nutrition, and yet it tends to be underused and relegated to the side of the plate as a garnish that most people don't even eat. Since it is rich in antioxidants and helps to stabilize blood sugar, parsley definitely deserves a more regal role in our kitchens. With a clean flavor and a hint of pepper, parsley is a great herb to add to salads to give them a fresh lift.

When it comes to sandwiches, parsley is a herb that can upgrade a huge number of fillings. Its mild flavor means it won't overpower delicate flavors, so it can be used with seafood or vegetarian fillings and will complement, rather than swamp, the rest of the ingredients. Pairing it with a creamy melted cheese, however, will let you see parsley at its best.

Many different kinds of cheese will go well in this sandwich, including brie, Gruyère, and Emmental, but the little-known Italian cheese taleggio is a perfect match. It has a creamy texture and mild flavor, with a slightly tangy note, which complements the fresh and floral flavors from the parsley beautifully. A touch of sweet chutney and some Italian bread will result in a unique but satisfying sandwich that brilliantly mixes comfort food with fresh flavors.


Mint growing in pot
Mint growing in pot - Paul Maguire/Shutterstock

Mint has always been synonymous with freshness, and it can add a bright floral note to any dish it graces. It is often used in desserts, paired with fruit, chocolate, or coffee, but it makes a great addition to savory dishes, too, cutting through rich flavors and leaving the palate feeling refreshed.

When it comes to roast meat, mint is lamb's best friend and will often be found beside it in the form of a sauce. For this reason, a sandwich using leftover roast lamb and some fresh mint would be a match made in heaven. If you want to try something a little different, though, we have to head to the streets of Mumbai.

The Bombay sandwich is an iconic street food favorite that brilliantly blends herbs and spices to create a mouthwatering vegetarian treat. The fresh mint used in the green chutney is a refreshing contrast to the robust spices, creating a sauce that dances on your taste buds. No matter how you choose to use it, fresh mint will lift the flavor of your sandwich and leave you with fresh breath at the same time.


Bunch of fresh tarragon
Bunch of fresh tarragon - 5PH/Shutterstock

When you need to elevate the flavor of your dish to an elegant new level, tarragon should be your go-to herb. Its unique flavor, with more than a hint of licorice, adds a distinctive edge to meat and fish dishes, particularly in French cuisine.  A few leaves of tarragon can give sauces and soups a complex new dimension, but it is also a brilliant herb to upgrade your sandwiches.

To prepare tarragon for your sandwich, remove the tender leaves and throw the stem away. To distribute the aniseed flavor evenly, bundle the leaves together and chop them finely. You can then scatter them over your sandwich filling or add to mayonnaise or other sauces. Tarragon goes well with poultry and fish, so will upgrade your chicken or tuna mayo sandwich nicely.

If you really want to push the boat out with your tarragon adventure, make some lobster rolls with a herb garnish. Succulent lobster chunks with a creamy dressing and flecks of tarragon to add both color and flavor, this sandwich recipe will suit even the grandest of lunch dates. A soft brioche bun will be the perfect envelope for these exquisite flavors, as the aniseed subtly lifts the flavor of the shellfish to create the perfect luxury sandwich. With its distinctive aromatic flavor, tarragon will impress your lunch guests no matter what sandwich filling you choose to pair it with.


Fresh and dried oregano
Fresh and dried oregano - catalina.m/Shutterstock

Few flavors evoke memories of sunny Mediterranean days quite as much as fresh oregano. Used in the majority of authentic Italian pizzas and pasta sauces, it is also heavily used in Greek cuisine, lending its bold and delicious flavor to many classic Greek dishes. A small amount of oregano goes a long way, so adding just a few fresh leaves to your cooking will transform your dishes.

The ways in which oregano can upgrade your sandwiches are endless, from a meatball sub with oregano in the sauce to adding it to a tomato and mozzarella panini to give it a more pizza-like flavor. Oregano goes brilliantly in a Greek salad, so using it to create a Greek-inspired grilled cheese sandwich is an excellent idea. Mix up a mini Greek salad in a bowl with olives, feta, red onion, diced tomatoes, and, of course, your fresh oregano. Choose a quality crusty bread as the base, then pile the salad ingredients on top. The feta won't melt very well, so you may wish to add another cheese on top to get the signature gooey texture of grilled cheese. Just be sure to use one with a mild flavor that won't overpower the Greek ingredients.

Once your sandwich is assembled, toast it in a panini press to heat the ingredients and crisp up the bread. The resulting dish is a fabulous mix of fresh Greek salad flavors with the comfort of grilled cheese -- incredible.


Fresh dill on chopping board
Fresh dill on chopping board - Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Bring a touch of Scandinavian class to your sandwiches by adding a few fronds of fresh dill to the filling. With its delicate flavor and unique feathery texture, dill adds a light, fresh note to a variety of dishes.

The dainty leaves of the dill plant can be used, as well as any stems that are not too tough. It has a fresh flavor that works well with both citrus and garlic, making it a great addition to creamy mayonnaise and dressings to add to your sandwiches. Cucumber is also a great match, complementing the fresh, aromatic flavor.

One of the best accompaniments for dill in Scandinavia and beyond is smoked or cured fish. The famous Swedish dish Gravlax sees cured salmon served with a dill and mustard sauce that allows the herbaceous dill to cut through the rich flavor of the salmon. To create a snack that will capture the essence of this dynamic duo, why not try a smoked salmon open sandwich with a dill-infused sour cream? Some Danish rye bread, topped with delicious slices of smoked salmon, some lemon zest, and a spoonful of dill sour cream, will make a fancy brunch or indulgent mid-afternoon snack.


Chives growing in pot
Chives growing in pot - Jana Kollarova/Shutterstock

Chives are delicate herbs with a bold flavor and are often paired with dairy products such as cheese or sour cream. They belong to the same family as onions, and their flavor is similar to that of scallions, though not as strong. Their robust flavor works well in Asian cuisine, though they are used in a wide variety of dishes and are often added as an attractive garnish.

Chives are very easy to prepare, and you don't even need a knife. They can be easily snipped with a set of kitchen shears into uniform pieces, meaning the flavor will be distributed evenly throughout the dish. Chives complement a variety of sandwich ingredients, enhancing the flavor of fish, such as smoked salmon or trout, and sliced turkey or chicken. One old-school classic that really shows off the peppery taste of the chives is an egg and cress sandwich. Simplicity itself, this sandwich is easy to prepare and healthy, with the protein and healthy fats from the egg and antioxidants from the cress.

Choose a soft bread and mix up your mashed eggs with mayonnaise and a generous helping of chopped chives. Add it to the bread, then top with the delicate cress leaves. The fresh, herbal flavor of the chives contrasts with the rest of the creamy filling, giving you a sandwich that is a true classic for a reason.


Thyme growing in pot
Thyme growing in pot - nblx/Shutterstock

Thyme is a woody herb that has a fragrant smell and earthy flavor, making it a versatile addition to a number of different dishes. It famously pairs well with roast chicken, but its floral notes mean it complements fruit and sweeter dishes, too.

Preparing fresh thyme to use in your sandwiches is an easy task. Hold the stem in one hand and run your thumb and forefinger of the other hand down the length of the stem from bottom to top. Dozens of tiny thyme leaves will come away in your hand, leaving the stem behind for you to throw in the compost bin. Thyme is often used when roasting vegetables for Sunday lunch, so adding it to a vegetable sandwich will definitely go down well. But the best way to bring out the depth of flavor in this delicious herb is to pair it with both chicken and fruit.

A chicken and pear panini makes an ideal midweek meal, with plenty of protein from the poultry and added nutrition from the fruit. The thyme matches both of the main ingredients perfectly, and with some cheddar cheese melted over the top, it's the ultimate addition to comfort food, too.


Person preparing fresh rosemary
Person preparing fresh rosemary - Caterina Trimarchi/Shutterstock

A stalwart of culinary herbs, rosemary is a widely used woody variety that gives a Mediterranean flair to many dishes. It's the perfect herb to add to roast meat and vegetables to impart an aromatic depth and savory quality. Rosemary is easy to prepare -- just pull the leaves from the stem and chop finely -- and is straightforward to grow at home, meaning you'll have access to it all year round.

Roast pork is a classic match for rosemary, so exploiting this to make an awesome sandwich is a great idea. Marinate the pork in a rosemary-infused oil before roasting, then slice the meat finely. Add the meat to whichever bread you like, then add broccoli rabe for some extra nutrition and provolone cheese to add the gooey factor. Serve your roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich to guests for a delicious, filling lunch, or have it with a salad for a midweek dinner.


Bunch of fresh chervil
Bunch of fresh chervil - yoshi0511/Shutterstock

If you're a fan of parsley, chervil may just be the herb you didn't know you needed in your life. Also known as French parsley, it looks like a more delicate version of the more popular herb but has mild aniseed notes. It is used widely in French cuisine and is part of the herb blend known as "fines herbes" alongside parsley, chives, and tarragon.

Chervil's subtle flavor lends itself to pairing with various ingredients, including eggs and creamy salad dressings, and it can also be added to garlic butter to elevate your garlic bread. It is the perfect herb to add to a tuna mayo sandwich to add a more complex flavor profile to a straightforward lunch. Add a generous handful of chopped fresh chervil to the mayonnaise, along with the canned tuna. Slices of raw red onion will add a delightful crunch, and the combination of the fish and the aromatic chervil creates a well-balanced sandwich. So, why not add this underused herb to your next shopping list and see how it can help to upgrade your sandwiches?


Close up of lavender plant
Close up of lavender plant - Ga_Na/Shutterstock

Lavender is probably not a herb that many of us cook with regularly. While its use as an essential oil and fragrance is widely known, it's a culinary secret that its floral taste can bring a touch of elegance to your sweet and savory dishes. However, it has a robust flavor, so less is definitely more if you don't want to overpower the other ingredients.

In advance of creating your lavender-infused dishes, be sure to purchase the correct type. There are over 40 species of lavender and most of them are far too pungent for cooking with. English lavender is the best option, as it doesn't contain as much oil and, therefore, has a more subtle flavor.

Lavender goes extremely well with chicken, so this is a great place to start when constructing a gourmet sandwich. Marinate your chicken in olive oil infused with lavender and citrus, then cook until tender. Slice your herby chicken breast and place it on a piece of ciabatta bread before adding some crumbled goat cheese as a tangy element. You could even add homemade lavender syrup to a salad dressing and drizzle across the top of your sandwich for a sweet note that will take the flavor to another level.


Fresh lovage on spoon
Fresh lovage on spoon - ElenVik/Shutterstock

When it comes to adding intriguing new flavors to your gastronomic creations, lovage is a herb you will want to know more about. With its bold flavor profile, lovage is used more in Europe than it is in America, but it undoubtedly deserves to be a part of your culinary arsenal, as it has some classic herby notes of parsley, celery, and curry.

It can be used across a range of soups and sauces, bringing a vibrant burst of color and flavor. While the stalks can be used if cooking the herb, it is best to stick to the soft leaves to add a refreshing aroma to your sandwiches. It goes particularly well with shellfish, and a crayfish sandwich is the perfect way to showcase its unusual flavor. Add some finely chopped lovage to the creamy sauce, mix the crayfish tails in, then top the sandwich with some larger lovage leaves to finish it off. The result is a luxurious sandwich that will keep your taste buds satisfied.

Read the original article on Tasting Table