How to Use Rosemary in Cooking

by Susan Lundman ; Updated September 28, 2017

Rosemary brings a strong woodsy flavor to dishes from appetizers to desserts. Look to traditional Italian and southern French cuisine for inspiration on cooking with rosemary, a native herb in the dry areas throughout the Mediterranean region. A small amount of rosemary goes a long way, because it has a pungent taste either fresh or dried.


  • For classic Mediterranean cuisine using rosemary, try herbes de Provence, a southern French herb blend that includes rosemary, marjoram, basil, savory and thyme. Use it to flavor stews, meats and vegetables; or cook an Italian-style chicken with fennel, rosemary and garlic.

Soups, Stews and Egg Dishes

Add dried rosemary to dishes during cooking and add fresh rosemary, finely chopped, at the end of cooking. The possibilities are endless:

  • Stews. Use dried rosemary with beef, rabbit, lamb or pork along with bay leaves and oregano.
  • Rosemary adds interesting flavor to cauliflower, potato and vegetable soups like minestrone.
  • Use either fresh or dried rosemary in grain dishes, such as polenta and risotto.
  • Add dried rosemary to white beans in a casserole or a dip. Or try the traditional Italian dish N' Capriata,¬† or fava bean puree with chard, escarole, spinach¬† or broccoli rabe.
  • Add rosemary either during cooking or sprinkled over finished dishes for souffles, omelets, quiche and scrambled eggs.

Meat, Fish and Poultry

Rosemary works well with strongly flavored foods such as lamb; poultry of all sorts; pork; beef; sausages; and fish with potent flavor, such as swordfish, tuna or mussels. Use the herb in different ways when cooking the proteins:

  • Crush dried rosemary into a marinade for meats or fish.
  • Sprinkle dried or fresh rosemary needles on grilled meats or fish and on oven roasts.
  • Use whole rosemary sprigs for skewering cubes of meat or vegetables on the grill.
  • Place whole sprigs on the coals when you grill to give whatever you cook a woodsy, herbal flavor.


  • Use fresh rosemary to make cocktails with gin or vodka, or make a refreshing summer drink with sparkling water and crushed fresh rosemary needles.


Toss oven-roasted vegetables with dried rosemary before cooking and sprinkle chopped fresh rosemary on vegetables that you don't plan to cook. The herb's lemony flavors pair well with:

  • Roasted potatoes
  • Roasted sweet potatoes and winter squash
  • Gratins or roasted vegetables such as ones made with fennel or cauliflower
  • Sauteed green beans, bell peppers or zucchini.


  • Give olives new flavors by marinating them for 15 minutes in a mixture of warmed olive oil, lemon zest, a sprig of rosemary and sliced garlic, a recipe created by chef Marc Murphy and published at the Food and Wine website.


Rosemary brings savory flavor to baked goods and adds interesting flavor to desserts. Add a small amount to:

  • Shortbread cookies to serve for dessert with sliced fruit or for a tea party
  • Crackers, with rosemary alone or combined with other herbs and spices such as salt, pepper, thyme and fennel seeds
  • Dinner rolls, with the rosemary mixed into the dough
  • Apple or pear tarts, with chopped rosemary added before cooking
  • Slices or chunks of oranges served for dessert dressed with honey and topped with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.

About the Author

Susan Lundman began writing about her passions of cooking, gardening, entertaining and recreation after working for a nonprofit agency, writing grants and researching child development issues. She has written professionally for six years since then. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.