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What is Cicely Herb?

Cicely Herb


A culinary herb with delicate green fern-like leaves with patches of grey and petaled white flowers. 

Cicely herb is often referred to as ‘Spanish chervil’ or ‘sweet chervil’ because the two herbs share many similarities. 

What does it taste like?

When the leaves of the cicely herb are crushed they release a sweet-scented flavor and strongly fragrant aroma of anise. 

Cicely Herb Uses

All of the cicely plant is edible, the seeds, stalks, and leaves. 

Leaves should be treated similarly to spinach, used raw or lightly cooked in dishes such as soups, salads, omelets, syrup, tea, jams, stewed fruits, and baking. 

The cicely herb provides a sweet aroma and the anise promotes further natural sweetness in baked dishes. 

The hollow stalks can be eaten raw or cooked with properties similar to celery. 

Cicely Substitutes 

  • Chervil: cicely is more dominant in anise but the two herbs can be used interchangeably in most recipes.
  • Fennel fronds: delicate with mild anise similar to cecily.
  • Tarragon: similar intensity to anise, although the herbs appearances are not alike, meaning they are best used in dishes that chop or lightly cook the herb. 

Compliments and Pairings 

The delicate anise flavoring of cicely herb pairs best with salad greens, potato, fish, shellfish, lemon, juniper, rhubarb, raspberry, yogurt, thyme, tarragon, pea, blackcurrant, redcurrant, and gooseberries.

Expiration and Storage: 

  • Fresh: wrap fresh cicely in a damp kitchen cloth and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • Dried: dry fresh herbs in a cool shaded area then store in an airtight container and use within six months.
  • Frozen: freeze fresh herbs in a ziplock bag and use them within one year.

Fun Facts

  • Cicely herb can be misidentified as the very similar-looking ‘giant hogweed’ which is a poisonous variety.
  • The root of cicely can be used to produce a natural yellow dye.
  • Cicely herb was a popular ingredient for sweetening dishes throughout Britain before the introduction of sugar.

Where does it come from?

Native to the mountainous regions of southern Europe, the word myrrhis is derived from the Greek for an aromatic scented oil from Asia.

Cicely or Myrrhis odorata is a member of the celery family. You can find out more scientific facts about this herb over at wikipedia.

Popular Recipes

  • Foraged herb salad
  • New potatoes in wild garlic and cicely
  • Cicely and lavender herb syrup
  • Rhubarb crumble
  • Sweet cicely and raspberry jelly
  • Cicely shortbread
  • Thyme and cicely labneh
  • Herb tempura
  • Crab and cicely salad
  • Aquavit

Chef Max

Michelin trained professional chef with a passion for recipe writing and all things food. I have worked for over five years at top restaurants across the UK and have gained an ability to create any recipe you desire, from comfort food recipes to fine dining recipes. My experience in food writing includes a placement at Delicious Magazine which involved feature writing, recipe testing, article research, and content creation.

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