Recipes and pro tips provided by Lily Holmberg, Gaia Herbs Director of Learning, dedicated home herbal enthusiast, creator of amazing herbal recipes, and all-around plant fan!
Are you looking for a versatile and delicious homemade herbal gift that’s easy enough for even the most uncomfortable person in the kitchen to make and is sure to delight any recipient on your holiday gift list? Look no further than herbal salts.
What Are Herbal Salts?
Herbal salts are a blend of coarse sea salt and fresh or dried herbs. Herbal salts are typically used as a finishing salt (sprinkled on cooked foods) versus during the cooking process itself. In addition to adding a delicious flavor to cooked foods, the other advantage is that the herbs added into the herbal salt blend remain fresh for a long period of time as a result of being mixed with sea salt.
Making Herbal Salts
I love making herbal salts because it is a simple and tasty way to incorporate more herbs into your food and cooking. Use these as finishing salts, sprinkled lightly over a dish just before serving, and enjoy the fragrant herbal aromatics carried by heat and steam when they mix with hot foods like soup, roasted veggies, or popcorn, creating a special, multisensory experience for both the cook and the person about to enjoy the meal.
Herbal Salts for Homemade Holiday Gifts
I have been giving away little jars of herbal salts as gifts for years, ever since I first learned the basic recipe back in the early 2000s. People love receiving this thoughtful gift, and rest assured that it will be used…you may even have someone try and return the empty jar to you, in an effort to have it refilled, as I once did!
Herbal Salts Are Easy to Make & Customize
Customize your herbal salt blends so they taste the way you like, or the way your gift recipient likes. I love using a lot of Garlic in my salts, but if you prefer more or less Garlic, this recipe will accommodate your taste.
If you have a lot of Basil on hand at the end of the summer, a beautiful Basil salt can be made. Do you have a lot of Parsley leftover from a recent cooking project? Try making a small batch of Parsley salt.
I recently made an herbal salt that contained many herbs (small amounts of Basil, Mint, Oregano, Shiso, and Lemongrass) that were still green in my garden at the end of the growing season. I combined these herbs using the Herbaceous Green Salt recipe below, and it turned out unique and nuanced, like an end-of-the-season gift from my garden. I have been enjoying this special herbal salt sprinkled on salads, over soups, added to omelets, and in many other feasts and meals since late September.
No garden brimming with verdant herbs right now? Grocery stores and co-ops carry many fresh herbs that make tasty, vibrant salts. Feel free to use the recipes below as a jumping-off point for your own flavor preferences. I think my next herbal salt will be flavored with fresh Dill, Garlic, and Lemon zest.
The recipes and videos below feature a few herbs and botanicals that I use as often as possible in my kitchen. Garlic has long been used as a delicious addition to nourishing food. It has been used to support the body in so many ways and easily earns its place in the pantheon of foods that people have been relying on since antiquity to help maintain a healthy body.*
Rosemary and Sage have also been used since ancient times and offer the modern human antioxidant support, fragrant volatile oil compounds, as well as rosmarinic acid, which is often used as a natural preservative to increase the shelf life of foods.*
Chili peppers are warming and stimulating in the cooler months, and I love the combination of Chili peppers with Garlic during the chilliest season of the year.
At-Home Kitchen Herbalism for Beginners & Experts
To me, herbal salts are a beautiful example of kitchen herbalism. Sometimes, when people think about “herbalism” it can seem overwhelming, like a dark forest through which it is difficult to see one’s way through. The reality is, for thousands of years, humans have used plants to nourish their bodies and support wellness, often in the simplest of ways.
Herbalism, importantly, happens in the kitchen and has for millennia. These herbal salt recipes are a delicious way to bring more herbs into your life and to also share something special with friends and family that will add a new layer of excitement and depth of flavor to their meals.
Homemade Herbal Gifts for Everyone on Your List
Enjoy your homemade herbal gift-making and gift-giving this year! These easy and delicious herbal salts recipes are sure to please everyone on your list and make the perfect and thoughtful holiday gift that can be made well in advance or even last-minute. Just be prepared for your gift recipients to ask for these recipes or more herbal salts for their holiday present next year.
Homemade Herbal Salt Recipes
Herbaceous Green Salt
- 1 cup coarse kosher salt
- 1 loosely packed cup Rosemary leaves
- 1 loosely packed cup Sage leaves
- 10 Garlic cloves, peeled
- Remove Rosemary and Sage leaves from stems until you have approximately one cup of each. A little more or a little less than one cup is okay.
- Wash Rosemary and Sage leaves. Dry thoroughly in a salad spinner or on a clean dishtowel.
- Peel 10 cloves of Garlic.
- Add salt, Garlic, Rosemary, and Sage leaves to a food processor.
- Pulse ingredients in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the machine after every few pulses to gently mix all ingredients together. Try to create a uniform blend of salt mixed with chopped herbs and Garlic; try to avoid large chunks of Garlic and whole herb leaves in your final salt. I prefer to pulse mine in the food processor as few times as possible while still achieving a uniform blend of chopped herbs and fully incorporated Garlic (with no obvious chunks of Garlic) in the final salt.
- When finished, the salt should still look white, with lots of freshly chopped green herbs and Garlic incorporated. If you continue to pulse longer, your salt will still be wonderful, but it will start to take on a darker green color.
Pink-Red Chili Salt
- 1 cup Himalayan pink salt
- 1/3 cup dry red pepper flakes, with or without seeds (try using ¼ cup or less if you prefer a less spicy salt; use ½ cup for more heat)
- 10 cloves Garlic
- Peel 10 cloves of Garlic.
- Add salt, Garlic, and dry red pepper flakes to a food processor.
- Pulse ingredients in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the machine after every few pulses to mix all ingredients together.
- This salt will come together quickly because the dry red pepper flakes are dry and crushed already. Try to avoid over-processing your ingredients so that you still see red pepper flakes in your final salt.
- When finished, the salt should look pink, with red pepper flakes visible and Garlic incorporated.
Helpful Pro Tips from Lily:
- The recipes above may be cut in half for smaller batches or doubled for larger batches.
- Wondering about adding extra salt to your food? If you’re cooking, you may want to reduce the amount of salt in your recipe to allow for a more liberal application of your herbal salt just before serving.
- Store finished herbal salt in small jars and keep in the refrigerator.
- Always use caution when working with Chili peppers and/or red pepper flakes. Protect hands and eyes from irritation using gloves and protective eyewear. Avoid inhaling freshly ground Chilis when opening your food processor.
- Don’t have Himalayan pink salt in your pantry? Do you only use sea salt on your table? It is okay to use another type of salt for the Chili Garlic Salt recipe listed above. I personally like using pink salt due to its beautiful color, but please feel free to substitute different salts for either recipe, as it’s fun to try different variations.