It’s easy to see why rosemary is so popular. It’s a delicious aromatic herb that’s fantastic in countless different recipes, not to mention all the ways it can be used around the home. You’ll often see it served with roast potatoes, lamb, or beef, to name just a few options.
Learning how to use fresh rosemary is important, especially if you’re growing the herb yourself. Seriously, you can easily end up with a huge plant and countless sprigs of rosemary that you’ll need to find uses for. Some of these can be used to propagate rosemary, but you’ll still have plenty of rosemary left over.
So, what else can you do with it? In this post, we’re digging into all the ways you can use fresh rosemary, including familiar and unusual options. Some of the approaches will be relevant if you have dried rosemary as well. Or, you can check out our post on uses for dried rosemary for more ideas.
Knowing how to use both types is important, as you might end up drying some of your fresh rosemary. Don’t forget that you can buy fresh rosemary online too. This is fantastic if you have limited garden space or simply don’t feel like growing herbs (let’s face it, we don’t all have green thumbs).
How To Use Fresh Rosemary (9 Ways)
Make Herbal Tea
Rosemary tea is incredibly easy to make. You simply need to add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary to a mug of boiling water and leave them to steep for roughly five minutes.
After five minutes, add a little honey and lemon juice, or perhaps some agave syrup with lemon juice. These extras offset the flavor of the rosemary and make the tea much more enjoyable. You can also experiment with other ingredients, like in this Rosemary Tea with Blueberry and Pomegranate.
You can leave the rosemary in longer, for up to ten minutes, if you want. Doing so may provide more health benefits from the rosemary, but could give you a more bitter brew.
Make Rosemary Compound Butter
Compound butter is simply butter with added herbs, spices, and/or salt. It’s a great ingredient to use when cooking steak – or when cooking almost anything, for that matter.
The simplest approach is to soften your butter, then mix in some sprigs of fresh rosemary and allow the mixture to harden. However, the best recipes include other ingredients, such as ground pepper or garlic.
Build A Rosemary Wreath
Fresh rosemary isn’t just useful for cooking. You can also use it around the home, like making a rosemary wreath. These wreaths can be as simple as tying sprigs of rosemary with twine to form a circular shape. You can even buy wreath shapes to be more precise.
Fresh rosemary should keep its freshness for a few weeks, while releasing a lovely aroma throughout this time. The wreath will gradually dry, giving you dried rosemary that you can use in other ways.
Include Rosemary In A Bouquet
Rosemary sprigs are a fantastic way to add aroma to a flower arrangement. Their green leaves tend to look pretty cool too.
The catch is that you need long rosemary sprigs for this to work, longer than you’ll find at a grocery store. So, using rosemary in a bouquet works best if you grow your own rosemary.
Use It As A Cocktail Ingredient
Strange as it may sound, the aromatic herb is a fantastic way to elevate cocktails and make them even more interesting. The simplest approach is be to include a sprig of fresh rosemary in the cocktail before it is served, allowing some of the flavors to diffuse into the drink.
You can get a more noticeable flavor by making rosemary simple syrup instead. To do so, you simply make regular simple syrup, then add some rosemary and allow the herb to steep for half an hour or so.
Once you’ve removed the rosemary, you end up with a flavored syrup that can be used in place of simple syrup in many cocktails.
Strip The Leaves And Make Skewers
The strong woody rosemary stems make surprisingly good skewers for vegetables and sometimes even meat. You’ll need to strip the leaves off first and then soak the stems so that they don’t burn. After this, they’re ready to use.
The stems will add a slight rosemary flavor to anything you cook on them, which is fantastic. You also get to use the stripped leaves for something else.
Make Rosemary Infused Oil
Infusing herbs or spices into oil gives it a more interesting flavor profile and can also look stunning in the bottle. Infused olive oil is the most common approach, as the flavors of rosemary and olive oil work together well.
Some care is needed in making this product. You need to make sure the rosemary has been washed and is free from any bugs, but you also need to completely dry it afterward. Doing so gives you a safer product that should also last longer.
Make Rosemary Salt
Adding herbs to sea salt is a great way to make it taste more interesting. Rosemary salt is a simple example of this. You’re generally just using fresh rosemary leaves, sea salt, and some lemon zest. That’s it. No other ingredients are needed.
Because you’re using fresh herbs, the salt should be stored in the fridge and will just last a few weeks. This means it’s best to prepare a small amount of rosemary salt at a time. You can always make more later.
Make Your Own Rosemary Essential Oil
This approach is a little more complicated, as you need to distill rosemary leaves and flowers to get rosemary essential oil (notably, doing so isn’t illegal, even though distilling moonshine is). However, you can certainly make your own rosemary essential oil, if you have the right equipment.
Doing so is fantastic, given that the oil smells fantastic and can be used in countless ways. You might also blend it with other essential oils to create a personalized scent.
5 Delicious Recipes Using Fresh Rosemary
Rosemary Cream Sauce
This Rosemary Cream Sauce is simple to prepare and relies on common household ingredients like butter, parmesan cheese, heavy cream, and a little cornstarch for thickness. Despite being easy, the recipe gives you a flavorful sauce that can be used with vegetables, chicken, pasta, or in many other situations.
The cream-based sauce can be prepared in advance, but only by a day or so. As such, it’s best prepared in small batches when needed. That’s okay though, as whipping up a batch shouldn’t take long.
Lemon Rosemary Cake
Rosemary is often overlooked as a dessert ingredient, which is a shame, as it can be delicious. This Lemon Rosemary Cake is just one example of that style. The cake includes classic flavors of lemon, rosemary, and vanilla, which all work well together.
Beyond this, the cake uses classic ingredients and steps, so it should be familiar and easy to make. The powdered sugar glaze is simple, but also a great way to bring the cake together and make it look more exciting.
Spiced Rosemary Bacon
If you love bacon, why not experiment with variations to the classic recipe, like this Spiced Rosemary Bacon? The recipe relies on a sweet and sour combination of ingredients, which includes rosemary, brown sugar, chili powder, allspice, and cinnamon.
Needless to say, these ingredients create an interesting balance of flavors and a delicious bacon treat. Also… this is a baked bacon recipe, which makes it less messy than cooking bacon on the stovetop.
Baked Rosemary Chicken
Speaking of baked recipes, here’s another one you can make in the oven. This Baked Rosemary Chicken uses just a few ingredients, including garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
But, don’t be fooled. Simple recipes can still be incredibly delicious, especially when made using quality ingredients. You can also experiment with the herbs and spices to create your own unique version.
Dark Chocolate Rosemary Bark
This Dark Chocolate Rosemary Bark is another way to use rosemary for dessert. There are just a handful of ingredients in the recipe, including rosemary, almonds, dark chocolate, and sea salt, but that’s really all you need.
With so few ingredients, quality makes a huge difference to the recipe. You’ll need decent chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa and no concerning ingredients.
Can You Use Rosemary Directly From The Plant?
Yes, you can grab a rosemary sprig straight from the plant and use it as-is or strip the leaves. However, it’s best to rinse the rosemary first to be on the safe side.
When doing so, be sure to remove the stems with sharp pruners rather than trying to tear rosemary off the plant. Using a pruning tool helps to keep the plant healthy and alive for longer, giving you a regular supply of fresh rosemary..
The tip leaves from the plant are the most tender, so they’re perfect for recipes where texture makes a huge difference. However, older leaves are worth using too, as they bring plenty of flavors to your meal.
How Do You Store Fresh Rosemary?
Fresh rosemary will last longest stored in the fridge. It helps to roll the stems up in a slightly dampened paper towel, place this in a plastic bag, then store the bag in the fridge (the same approach works for other hard herbs too).
Rosemary stored this way should last at least a way, if not longer. To extend the shelf-life further, you could dry the rosemary.
Can You Freeze Fresh Rosemary?
Rosemary is actually hardy enough to withstand being frozen. Doing so is as simple as placing the sprigs in a freezer bag or an airtight container, then throwing them in a freezer. Try not to include too many sprigs or leaves in the same container though, as they will stick together.
You can place fresh rosemary leaves and olive oil into ice cube trays and freeze these. Freezing the rosemary in oil like this makes it very easy to use later.
Fresh Rosemary Vs Dried Rosemary
The Flavor Profile
Drying rosemary gives it a stronger flavor and helps it to last much longer. Some of the flavor nuances are lost in the process, but dried rosemary can still be substituted for fresh rosemary in many recipes. Because of intensity difference, you’ll need to use a teaspoon of dried rosemary for every three teaspoons of the fresh version.
The Texture Of Rosemary
Fresh rosemary is much more tender than dried rosemary, especially when first harvested. This is relevant for any recipe where the texture of rosemary makes a difference, like for rosemary bread or potato salad.
In fact, dried rosemary ends up with fairly tough and sharp leaves that can be difficult to manage. You might get as far as adding rosemary leaves to your soup or stew in a small cheesecloth bag, so you can easily remove them later.
This texture doesn’t matter as much if you’re blending the rosemary. Doing so reduces it to a powder and makes it easier to use.
Which Is Best?
Fresh rosemary tends to be best, as it has a more complex and nuanced flavor profile. Rosemary is also a robust herb, so there aren’t many cases where you actually need to use the dried version. That said, dried rosemary is still viable if you don’t use rosemary often. After all, growing every type of herb under the sun isn’t realistic and buying fresh herbs can get expensive fast.