Herbs and Spices That are Good for Seasoning Chicken

Nothing allows as much space for culinary experimentation and improvisation as chicken. It is easy enough for amateur cooks to make mouthwatering dishes with chicken. At the same time, it is a main ingredient for countless gourmet dishes that any expert chef would be proud to serve.

But even a clean slate like chicken requires an understanding of the best ways to season it. It goes equally well with about two dozen herbs and spices, making things even more interesting.

Spices for Chicken Seasoning

Herbs and Spices That Go Well With Chicken

Along with the virtues mentioned above, chicken also takes a relatively short time to cook, making it perfect to whip up a hearty dinner any day of the week. To make the job easier, here is a list of herbs, spices, and other condiments that bring out the best in this lean meat.

The first things to come to mind are black pepper, paprika, oregano with lemon juice, onion, and garlic. These are the most common herbs and spices used when cooking chicken, whether you are planning to grill, roast, fry, or do something completely different. So, they appear high on the list.

Check the table to pick your spices based on what you are cooking and whether you have the spices (or their substitutes) at hand. It also gives an idea about how to put them on the meat.

NameFlavor ProfileUsed forAdded asCombines Well WithSubstitutes & Alternatives
Black PepperPeppery, pungentGrilling, frying, roasting, stir-frySeasoning, dry rubGarlic, paprika, thymeWhite pepper, red pepper
PaprikaSmoky, sweetBarbecueing, grilling, roasting, stir-fryingSeasoning, dry rub, marinadesCumin, garlic, cayenne pepperAncho chili powder, red pepper
OreganoEarthy, mintyRoasting, grilling, salads, stir-fryingSeasoning, marinadesBasil, thyme, rosemaryMarjoram, Italian seasoning
Cayenne pepperSpicy, smokyBarbecuing, grilling, roasting, stir-fryingSeasoning, dry rub, marinadesPaprika, garlic, black pepperRed pepper flakes, chili powder
Garlic PowderSavory, pungentFrying, stir-frying, grilling, barbecuingSeasoning, marinades, rubsOnion powder, black pepper, cuminMinced garlic, onion powder
Onion powderSweet, savoryRoasting, grilling, stir-frying, soupsSeasoning, sautéingGarlic powder, black pepper, cuminMinced onion, garlic powder
GingerWarm, pepperyStir-frying, grilling, roasting, soupsMarinades, stir-fry, seasoningGarlic, onion, soy sauceGalangal, cardamom
Chili powderSpicy, smokyBarbecuing, grilling, frying, stir-fryingSeasoning, dry rub, marinadesCumin, paprika, cayenne pepperAncho chili powder, chipotle powder
CuminEarthy, nuttyStir-frying, grilling, roasting, soupsSeasoning, dry rub, marinadesCoriander, paprika, chili powderGround coriander, garam masala
ThymeWoody, floralRoasting, grilling, soups, saladsSeasoning, dry rub, marinadesOregano, rosemary, basilMarjoram, sage, savory
BasilSweet, pepperySalads, pasta, grilling, stir-fryingSeasoning, pesto, marinadesOregano, thyme, garlicCilantro, mint, Italian seasoning
RosemaryPiney, resinousRoasting, grilling, frying, soupsSeasoning, dry rub, marinadesThyme, sage, garlicSavory, marjoram, oregano
Dried DillFresh, anise-likeSalads, soups, grilling, stir-fryingSeasoning, dressings, marinadesLemon juice, garlic, onionFresh dill, tarragon, chervil
SageEarthy, pineyRoasting, grilling, stir-frying, soupsSeasoning, stuffing, dry rubRosemary, thyme, garlicSavory, marjoram, poultry seasoning
Celery SeedsEarthy, bitterSoups, salads, stir-frying, grillingSeasoning, pickling, marinadesMustard seeds, cumin, paprikaCelery salt, caraway, fennel seeds
NutmegWarm, sweetPies, soups, grilling, roastingSeasoning, dry rubCinnamon, cloves, allspiceMace, cardamom
CorianderCitrusy, sweetStir-frying, grilling, roasting, soupsSeasoning, marinades, dry rubCumin, chili powder, gingerCilantro, caraway seeds, fennel seeds
Lemon JuiceCitrusy, tangyGrilling, roasting, stir-frying, saladsMarinades, seasoningDill, garlic, basilLime juice, white wine vinegar
FennelSweet, anise-likeRoasting, grilling, stir-frying, soupsSeasoning, picklingCoriander, garlic, lemon juiceAnise, caraway, dill seeds
MarjoramSweet, citrusyRoasting, grilling, stir-frying, soupsSeasoning, dry rub, marinadesOregano, thyme, basilItalian seasoning, savory, sage
Note: While the term 'seasoning' might bring to mind only table spices, in today's culinary world, it encompasses all the spices and condiments that enhance your food — whether added before, during, or after cooking.

The list does not include salt because it is an essential ingredient in whatever you cook rather than a ‘spice’ (unless you avoid it for medical reasons).

Other herbs and spices good for chicken dishes include allspice, cardamom, tarragon, mustard, cilantro, and parsley. You could also make your own spice blend and store it for a quick dry rub or seasoning.


How to get the spices to stick to the chicken?

The first thing to mention here is that water does not help. Even though it might seem like having the chicken a bit wet would help the spices, the moment you put the chicken in the pan, the water evaporates, leaving the spices to fall off the meat. So, dry the chicken and rub it with some butter or olive oil before putting on the spices. It will help them stick. Otherwise, you can marinate it so the lime juice or vinegar helps the spices penetrate the meat well.