14 Refreshing Mint Recipes You Don't Want To Miss Out On

Of all the types of herbs that you could cook with or use to garnish your plate, you'd be hard-pressed to find one more bright and refreshing than mint. Most of us are familiar with mint's flavor almost exclusively in the context of toothpaste or candy canes, but when you strip back any artificial ingredients and focus on the green herb itself, you'll find that it really does add an invigorating flavor profile to even the dullest of dishes.

Now, we're not suggesting that you swap out cilantro for mint in homemade pico de gallo, or top off your plate of spaghetti with a sprig of mint, but rather incorporate it in food and drink recipes that could use a pop of brightness. For example, there are plenty of cocktails that showcase mint quite nicely — from juleps to mojitos — so why not filter some of those recipes into your repertoire? And if you want to get really creative, you can start including mint in places less expected, including fruit salads, milkshakes, and lamb skewers. Long gone are the days of shoving this herb to the sidelines, as our best mint recipes prove that mint deserves a place beyond your toothpaste flavoring — it belongs in your regular recipe rotation, too.

1. Mint Limeade

If you've ever enjoyed a refreshing glass of lemonade or limeade, then you know just how refreshing those bright, sour-and-sweet citrus flavors can be. Because mint offers a certain brightness and sweetness of its own, it only makes sense that you might garnish your glass of limeade with a sprig or two. While herbs might not be the first thing you'd consider adding to limeade, they really do play up the refreshing aspect of the beverage, and they certainly help add some flavor complexity that limeade is otherwise lacking.

This recipe for mint limeade doesn't veer too far from the formula you might expect — water, sugar, and lime juice — though it does feature mint leaves for a final touch of freshness. Because the mint only serves as a garnish here, you don't have to worry about it overpowering your entire beverage. Of course, if you want to amp up the minty flavor, you can easily stir some leaves directly into the glass for a more potent herbal addition.

Recipe: Mint Limeade

2. Classic Mint Jelly

Of all the types of jelly out there, from strawberry to blackberry to classic grape, there's a good chance that mint isn't the first flavor that comes to mind ... or possibly even the last. Whereas most types of jelly lean on the heavily sweet, fruity side, mint jelly doesn't have any fruity flavor to it (other than some lemon juice), though it is plenty sweet.

You could use this jelly in the same way you'd use a fruit one, be it for topping a slice of toast or using it in thumbprint cookies, but mint jelly is actually best suited for savory contexts. So, if you're a big fan of lamb and cook it often, you can't beat pairing it with some of this mint jelly. You could also use this jelly as a glaze, which opens up the minty window of opportunity to just about any protein, including chicken or even pork chops.

Recipe: Classic Mint Jelly

3. Classic Mint Julep Cocktail

The mint julep is a cocktail with a lengthy history, and one that most people associate with the Kentucky Derby. While this minty tipple may never fully escape its ties to the Derby and horse racing, there's no stopping you from enjoying it outside of Churchill Downs. In fact, if bourbon is your liquor of choice, you might be so inclined to whip up a mint julep for no reason other than the fact that it tastes good and is relatively easy to make.

Compared to cocktails that require a long list of ingredients or a special preparation method, the mint julep requires a mere four ingredients, and you don't even need a cocktail shaker to make it. This recipe walks you through the steps of making a mint-infused syrup, but if you've already got a batch of the syrup on hand, then you can skip right to assembling. The key is to use fresh mint and a quality bourbon for a cocktail that somehow manages to balance both cool and warming flavors effortlessly.

Recipe: Classic Mint Julep Cocktail

4. Spiced Honey Mint Lamb Skewers

If there's one type of meat that pairs with mint better than the rest, it would absolutely be lamb. The rich, slightly gamey flavor of lamb is ultimately a blank slate when it comes to flavor, and there's something about the coolness of mint that harmonizes with this delectable protein quite beautifully. Of course, the cut of lamb is important to consider, as mint might not pair so well with ground lamb ... but leg of lamb, cut into chunks and transformed into skewers — well, that's a whole different story.

These spiced honey mint lamb skewers manage to pack quite a few flavors into one dish, and despite the lengthy ingredient list, they're easy to make — we're talking busy-weeknight easy. Most of the ingredients go into the marinade, including mint, lemon juice, honey, garlic, cumin, and chili flakes. You'll also make a creamy tzatziki sauce (which also features mint) to pair with your grilled lamb skewers, resulting in a dish that is incredibly indulgent yet remarkably simple at the same time.

Recipe: Spiced Honey Mint Lamb Skewers

5. Refreshing Mojito Cocktail

The mojito is a classic, no-frills cocktail that packs big flavor largely due to one star ingredient: mint. While a simple mojito may consist of nothing more than rum, sugar, fresh mint, lime juice, and club soda, this recipe takes things a step further by incorporating a mint simple syrup, resulting in a cocktail that doubles down on the mint flavor and refreshment factor.

Aside from the mint syrup, this recipe is as classic as a mojito can get. White rum and club soda make up the bulk of the cocktail, while that mint syrup adds the perfect hit of cool sweetness. When preparing the cocktail, you'll muddle fresh mint with the syrup as the first step, because in case you couldn't tell by now, this recipe is playing up mint in all the ways that it possibly can. Lime juice adds an acidic touch, and the final garnish of mint sprigs adds a beautiful flair to the beverage while simultaneously letting you know that you're in for a bright, minty ride.

Recipe: Refreshing Mojito Cocktail

6. Baked Ginger and Mint Cod

Cod is a very neutral, mild fish that can take on seasonings as simple as salt and pepper or as complex as ginger and mint. While mint may seem like an unusual herb choice for fish, it works well in this recipe because it's combined with other big flavors like fresh ginger, cilantro, and cumin. If you avoid cod for fear of it being bland, this recipe proves that mild-flavored seafood can become something spectacular with the right herbs.

A big perk to this recipe is that it's incredibly easy to prepare, making it as ideal for busy weeknights as it is for a more refined dinner. You'll start by making an herby marinade, then you'll coat the fish with it and let it soak in for at least five minutes — if you aren't in a rush, then you can let those flavors meld for a bit longer. Finally, the oven handles most of the heavy lifting as it bakes the cod to tender, flaky perfection. Pair your flavorful fish with a simple bed of rice or roasted vegetables to round out the colorful and healthy meal.

Recipe: Baked Ginger and Mint Cod

7. Minty Mango Mojito Cocktail

It's hard to beat a classic mint mojito, but this mango-infused recipe proves that improvements can be made to even the most tried and true recipes. You'll find all of the classic mojito players here — white rum, lime juice, mint, and club soda — though the obvious star is the mango flavor, which comes in the form of mango nectar.

Aside from its strong minty taste, a mojito is an otherwise neutral cocktail, with the prevailing flavor deriving from the rum or perhaps the lime juice. Because it's neutral by nature, the mojito proves to be a good candidate for switching things up. And, aside from purchasing one extra ingredient, this cocktail isn't any harder to prepare than your average mojito. The mango nectar adds a sweet, fruity, tropical flavor to the cocktail, and paired with the mint, this is the type of beverage that screams summertime but can be enjoyed year-round.

Recipe: Minty Mango Mojito Cocktail

8. Cranberry and Mint Crostini with Brie

Whether you're looking for the perfect holiday appetizer or you just happen to be a big fan of finger food, these cranberry mint crostini with Brie are the perfect sweet-savory treat. Sweet and tart flavors from the cranberries, rich goodness from the Brie, and an unexpected but very welcome coolness from the mint — what more could you ask for in an appetizer?

Unlike many cranberry recipes that put the tart fruit to use by way of sauce, this recipe switches things up with a cranberry salsa. You'll blend fresh cranberries, jalapeños, red onion, and mint together to make the base of the salsa, and additions like lime juice, apple cider vinegar, and sugar help balance the flavors into something equal parts sweet, spicy, and tangy. Paired with a crusty bread and creamy Brie, these crostini add a flair of elegance to a tried and true appetizer without being unapproachable or too elevated. 

Recipe: Cranberry and Mint Crostini with Brie

9. Peppermint Ice Cream

This peppermint ice cream recipe may not feature fresh mint, but that doesn't mean that it isn't absolutely inundated with minty flavor. Now, making ice cream at home is no easy feat regardless of the flavor, and this recipe does call for an ice cream machine. So, if you happen to have one of those collecting dust in your kitchen, then there's no better way to put it to use than with this festive peppermint ice cream.

Much like the taste of a candy cane, this ice cream is sweet and minty — perfect as a classic holiday flavor. The ice cream itself gets its taste thanks to peppermint extract (only a teaspoon is needed — a little goes a long way!) and crushed-up candy canes. Otherwise, the ice cream will have a creamy vanilla flavor, so even those who aren't typically keen on mint might just enjoy this homemade creation. Be sure to top off your bowl with some extra crushed candy cane to hone in on the minty flavor and give your ice cream that final touch of festive flair.

Recipe: Peppermint Ice Cream

10. 5-Minute Almond Mint Pesto

If you're a pesto pro then you already know that basil is typically the star herb of the sauce, providing that earthy flavor and vibrant green hue. Believe it or not, you actually can make pesto with other herbs, and this mint pesto recipe also incorporates another unusual ingredient — almonds — for a refreshing take on pesto that looks and tastes as good as the basil-infused stuff.

As the name of the recipe suggests, this pesto also comes together in just five minutes, and there's absolutely no cooking required. All you need to do is toss all of the ingredients into a food processor and hit blend, then give your creation a taste and adjust seasonings if needed. You can use your almond mint pesto in a similar way that you'd use basil pesto: as a pasta sauce, on pizza, or as a sandwich spread. 

Recipe: 5-Minute Almond Mint Pesto

11. Watermelon Mojito Cocktail

Watermelon is such a delightful fruit, arguably one of the most refreshing types out there, so it only makes sense that it join forces with another refreshing ingredient — mint — to create a cocktail that is, well, extremely refreshing. This watermelon mojito cocktail recipe puts a juicy twist on the classic creation, with the sweet melon not only enhancing the flavor of the beverage, but also giving it a beautiful pink hue.

The most difficult part of this recipe is making the watermelon juice, but even that is a breeze so long as you have a blender. You'll just blend up the watermelon chunks and strain out any seeds and lingering pulp, then combine the juice with mojito classics: lime juice, rum, simple syrup, and of course, mint. If you follow this recipe as-is, you'll whip up a batch that can serve upwards of six people, so this is great to have on hand for parties ... or for those times when you want to escape into a sweet, fruity, minty paradise.

Recipe: Watermelon Mojito Cocktail

12. Peppermint Bark

There are all sorts of barks out there, from classic chocolate to toffee to banana split chocolate, though when the holidays roll around there's only one type of bark that we have in mind: peppermint. Indeed, there are fewer treats more quintessentially holiday-themed than peppermint bark — and while you could buy a batch from the store, it really is quite easy to make your own right at home.

While some types of peppermint bark may feature only white chocolate or only semi-sweet chocolate, this recipe puts both types to good use, making for a balanced treat that isn't too sweet or too bitter. You'll start by melting the semi-sweet chocolate and layering it on a baking sheet, then follow that up with a layer of white chocolate (just make sure that the semi-sweet layer is adequately chilled and hardened). 

Of course, it wouldn't be peppermint bark without the peppermint candy, and crushed candy canes help ensure that your treats look and taste plenty festive. As if the crushed candy canes on top weren't enough, you'll also infuse candy cane dust into the white chocolate layer, ensuring that your peppermint bark tastes as minty as could be.

Recipe: Peppermint Bark

13. Mint and Melon Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is a classic side dish — one that offers a sweet touch amongst a sea of savory sides, and most importantly, one that isn't difficult to make. While fruit salads can come in quite a few variations, this recipe focuses on an oft-overlooked category of fruit — melon — along with some blueberries for a delightful dish that veers away from the typical medley. And, as if melon wasn't unexpected enough in a fruit salad, this recipe also incorporates mint for a cool, herbaceous touch that pairs remarkably well with the mild fruit.

Mint wouldn't necessarily work in every fruit salad, but since cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon all have pretty neutral flavors on their own, the herb is able to step in and help amp up the freshness. While this fruit salad will definitely have a minty flavor to it, the main flavor profiles here are sweet and cool. After you enjoy a serving of this mint and melon fruit salad, you won't feel like you've just brushed your teeth, but instead your mouth will feel pleasantly refreshed with lingering notes of subtly sweet and juicy fruit.

Recipe: Mint and Melon Fruit Salad

14. Homemade Shamrock Shake

Those who frequent McDonald's might be familiar with the chain's iconic Shamrock Shake — love it or hate it, the bright green treat ultimately maintains a steady stream of loyal enthusiasts. Of course, as any Shamrock Shake lover knows, this ice cream confection is a seasonal item, so for most of the year, the item is unavailable. There's no reason to panic, however, because you can easily make the minty concoction right at home, and it will look every bit as vibrant as the one you'd get from McDonald's.

The key to getting the shake's iconic flavor is mint extract, a potent addition that packs a mighty minty punch in just a few drops. Somewhat surprisingly, however, the key to the milkshake's green hue isn't mint ice cream, but instead pistachio ice cream. This recipe even gives you an option to booze things up with tequila, which is definitely a homemade-specific perk that you won't find at the drive-thru.

Recipe: Homemade Shamrock Shake