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Bouquet Garni

Herbs and Seasonings for French Recipes
bouquet garni

What is a bouquet garni? More than likely, you know it is a bundle of herbs and French seasonings, but which ones and how is it made?

Typically it is added at the beginning of a soup, sauce or stew recipe and allowed to simmer for a long time with the other ingredients. At the finish of the cooking time, it will be removed and discarded. It might also be included in marinades.

How to Make a Bouquet Garni

With Kitchen Twine. Just take four or five sprigs of herbs and tie them securely together with a length or two of cooking twine. Sometimes a leek leaf is used to envelope the herbs before tying them together.

Tip: When tying your herbs together, leave a long length of string which you can attach to the handle of your soup pot. When your ready to remove it, the bundle can be easily fished out.

With Cheese Cloth. If you are using dried herbs or small bits of seasonings, wrap them up in a square of cheese cloth before tying them together. I have also seen people recommend using a tea ball, but I think that might give nightmares to a French chef.

With a Bag. Some cooks like the convenience and neatness of a bouquet garni bag. You just pop your herbs in the little pocket and pull the strings to close it.

Already Made. Here in France, I frequently buy my bundles of herbs already tied up for me. If you are a busy cook, you too may appreciate the speediness of ready to go flavor.

Recipe Ideas

Use the freshest seasonings you can find for the best results. You might include any of the following depending on what dish you are going to flavor:

  1. Robust Herbs:
    anise, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
  2. Mild Herbs:
    basil, bay leaf, chervil, dill, marjoram, parsley
  3. Other Seasonings:
    celery, cloves, fennel stalks, garlic, ginger, leek, lemon or orange zest, peppercorns

Note that strong flavors such as rosemary or garlic can overwhelm milder ones such as parsley and basil, so use them in appropriate proportions.

Le Classique: Wrap one sprig of thyme, one bay leaf, and three sprigs of parsley in a leek leaf, then use long thin strips of leek to tie the bundle together.

Some other suggestions:

  • Beef: marjoram, oregano, orange zest, parsley, thyme
  • Pork: marjoram, rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • Lamb: garlic, mint, rosemary, savory, thyme
  • Fish: basil, cilantro, fennel, parsley, thyme
  • Chicken: marjoram, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme,

You'll find a bouquet garni called for in many recipes on EFF, including:

I don't specify what sort to use in these recipes, and I think you can safely use the classic combination in just about any French recipe without doing it much harm.

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