Lavender Is The Floral Herb You Probably Didn't Think To Use With Chicken

Aside from seeing the herb featured in lattes and teas at your local hipster coffee shop, you may not give much thought to lavender's culinary capabilities. However, you definitely should. The floral herb can be your secret weapon in the kitchen, even when cooking chicken.

While lavender may sound uncommon as an herb for cooking, you're probably familiar with it. Grown in rows of sun-drenched soil, the delicate purple flowers are typically used for aromatherapy and skincare, but can bring a sweet zing to food, as well. Lavender is sometimes found in herbs de Provence alongside rosemary, basil, marjoram, and tarragon, and it offers a citrusy, woodsy flavor to the herb blend. And when you strip it back to just lavender, your poultry gets a bright touch of earthy sweet flavor.

As a member of the mint family, the fragrant herb has a strong taste and smell that can easily overpower a dish, so limit how much you add to a chicken dish. A pinch of it is all that's needed to imbue poultry with a bright flavor. Crush some dried lavender buds and rub them onto the chicken before cooking, or whisk a small amount of them into a marinade with other herbs like sage, rosemary, and thyme.

How to cook chicken with lavender

Because of lavender's potent flavor, it works well with ingredients that complement or tame it rather than making it overly pronounced. The floral herb is excellent with berries and would be the perfect addition to blackberry-glazed sage roast chicken. Lavender can boost blackberry's sweet, rich flavor while working with sage to give the chicken an herbaceous tinge. Cook the crushed lavender down with the blackberries and sage to infuse the glaze with its citrusy taste.

You can also play up that citrus kick by adding lavender to roasted orange and nutmeg chicken. Orange isn't as sour as lemon or lime, so its sweet, mellowed out flavor helps to temper strong lavender. Whisk crushed lavender into the marinade along with nutmeg, which gives the herb a richer, spicier flavor.

Lavender can also easily be incorporated into your salads, lifting up the dishes overall. Cook some lavender down in honey before using it as a glaze for chicken in a strawberry arugula salad or an orzo salad with kale, blueberries, sunflower seeds, and goat cheese. If you don't want to use it for the chicken itself, make a quick vinaigrette with the lavender. Pour olive oil and white wine vinegar in a bowl and stir in the herb with honey, minced garlic, poppy seeds, and Dijon mustard.