technique

Fresh herbs make food look and taste better. Planting herbs in the garden or in window pots is a great way to make sure you always have them on hand, but you can find them in the grocery store, too. Below are four common herbs used in America’s Test Kitchen Kids recipes—­along with notes on what they taste like and how to use them.

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Basil

Basil tastes a little like licorice with notes of orange. Italian recipes often call for basil, in everything from tomato sauces to pesto. Basil is very perishable—­the leaves shrivel or blacken in just a few days—­so don’t buy too much at a time and don’t chop until you’re ready to use it.

Parsley

Parsley adds color and grassy flavor to dishes from around the globe. There are two types of parsley—­flat leaf (seen here, with dark green, flat leaves) and curly leaf (with frilly tops that are lighter in color). Flat-­leaf parsley has more flavor and is the better option.

Cilantro

Cilantro is used in many Mexican, Asian, and Mediterranean dishes. Its flavor is lemony and even a bit flowery. Some people find cilantro soapy-­tasting. If you’re in this camp, use parsley in its place. Cilantro stems are tender and flavorful, so it’s fine if you chop them up with the leaves.

Thyme

Thyme has a woodsy, almost minty flavor that’s pretty strong, so a little goes a long way. Thyme works really well with chicken, meat, and potatoes. Although delicate basil, parsley, and cilantro are typically added just before serving, thyme is quite hearty and usually cooked.