Which Herbs and Spices are Helpful in Hot Weather?

A Simple Cool and Refreshing Recipe

Who doesn’t want to eat a light a refreshing meal? Do you know which herbs and spices are helpful in hot weather?

It is helpful to know how to cook with cooling spices. Mint is the only herb that comes to mind when I think of something with a cooling effect. 

There are other spices that I know, which fall in this category, but I mostly avoid them because I am not familiar with how to use them.

In the process of improvising a meal, I decided to use one of them. I chose to use only a small amount to flavor but not overpower the dish. 

It was the perfect meal for a hot summer day in South Texas. 

The dish had a hint of spice from poblano peppers and homemade salsa. The higher ratio of yellow squash to ground turkey and the added spice provided a welcome cooling effect.

I wanted my dish to look like picadillo con papas (groundbeef and potatoes), but I selected the yellow squash because it could make for a lighter dish. 

The squash color brightened the dish, and the added spice rounded out its flavor and refreshing nature.

Herbs and Spices with Cooling Effect

The spice I used was fennel seed. This seed is very aromatic and has a sweet licorice-like flavor. It is extracted from the fennel bulb and then dried. I used it whole, but you can grind it as well. 

Avoid using in large quantities of strong spices you are not familiar with, even if the recipe calls for it. Using less is a good way of testing them to avoid ending up with prepared food that you are not happy with.

Other spices besides mint and fennel can provide a refreshing cooling effect to dishes. 

Using them successfully requires knowing how to pair them with other ingredients.

Others I have tried include anise, dill, tarragon, cardamon, cumin and cilantro.

If you want to know more about spices and how to pair them with ingredients, here are a couple of books that can help. One is The Spice Bible, and another is Culinary Artistry (which you can see below).

I like to refer to these books when I am curious about a spice combination or when I try to improvise a dish with ingredients I have on hand. Spices are not the focus of Culinary Artistry, but it contains a nice section on the topic of pairing spices.



Ingredients: (SERVES 2)

1/2 ground turkey

One large yellow squash, cubed

One small poblano pepper, sliced

3 tbsp homemade salsa

Two large garlic cloves

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp SeasonAll

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

fennel seeds 1/4 tsp

1/4 tsp Mexican oregano

Pinch of cumin


  • In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil on medium heat 
  • Lower heat, add sliced poblano pepper, cover pan, and cook for 2 minutes
  • Add garlic, cover, and cook for 2 minutes
  • Add ground beef, dry spices and mix well; cover and cook for 3 minutes
  • Add salsa and yellow squash. Cover, and cook for 3 minutes or until desired squash doneness.
  • Serve in a bowl and enjoy with a small side salad and or corn tortillas. A quesadilla with queso fresco would also compliment the dish well.

What other Cooling Herbs and Spices Should We Consider In Hot Summer Months?


Here are three other resources about how to use cooling spices. 

The Top 8 Cooling Spices for Summer

Feeling The Heat? 3 Herbs To Help You Cool Down

How to Stay Cool Using Herbs

Stay Cool!