Fresh mint is often overlooked in American cuisine, but it's an amazing seasoning that can be used in everything from drinks to dinners and desserts. It's also surprisingly easy to grow yourself—you may even have some springing up of its own accord in your backyard as we speak.
There are many varieties of mint, including chocolate mint, apple mint, and corn mint, but the kinds you're most likely to find at the store are common peppermint and spearmint.
Spearmint is particularly common in the US as well as globally and is the mint of choice for many drinks, salads, and dinner entrees, while peppermint can be an excellent choice for desserts and herbal teas.
Different mint varieties prefer slightly different treatment when it comes to gardening, but most are very hardy and will tolerate some shade, meaning they can be grown indoors by a mostly sunlit window.
They do best in moist but well-drained soils and can grow to be 1 to 2 feet tall. If planted outside, they will sprawl out horizontally as well, and you'll quickly have large beds of mint (though they can easily be reined in by physical barriers, unlike pesky ivies).
Whether the mint in your life comes from the grocery store or the backyard, do yourself a favor and pick up a few sprigs today, because there are tons of awesome recipes waiting for you when you do!
If you're struggling to find mint inspiration (mint-spiration, if you will)* then check out these 18 recipes for everything from drinks to dinners and desserts. We promise you'll find something to tickle your fancy.
Mint is perfect in everything from cocktails to teas to lemonades. A simple mint tea can be made from hot water, fresh mint leaves, and a little sugar, and is excellent either hot or cold (cold mint tea is amazingly refreshing on a summer afternoon). Or throw some mint into one of these delicious beverages.
Mint juleps just got even more Southern...and even more refreshing! While Southern sweet tea typically uses plain old black tea, the early grey in this recipe adds a floral citrusiness that goes beautifully with the rest of the ingredients.
Mint makes a great addition to a lot of salads, especially summer salads with fresh fruit. It's also perfect for mediterranean and middle eastern salads; since these cuisines often use mint to excellent effect.
This summer salad with grilled peaches pairs wonderfully with a mint and basil pesto. In fact, mint pairs well with a lot of grilled fruits. If you're looking for more grilled fruit recipes, check out these 13 Grilled Fruits For a Sweeter Summer.
Mint is abundant in South and Southeast Asian Cuisine, as these examples from Indian, Malaysian, and Vietnamese cuisines demonstrate. If you're looking for ways to incorporate mint into a main dish, take a cue from some of the places where they do it best.
This slow cooker Indian chicken is amazingly savory and well-spiced with onions, garlic, ginger, garam masala, tomato, and plenty of other seasonings. Adding the mint just before serving allows it to add something really special to this comforting and rich dish.
As a side note, fresh cilantro AKA coriander is also hugely popular in these cuisines, but mint-lovers can rejoice in knowing that in most places you might find fresh cilantro, mint makes a fine substitute! This is particularly helpful for those of us with that set of genes that makes cilantro taste like soap.
You probably already know that lamb and mint are best friends for life. Here are a couple great ways to take advantage of this classic combo.
Did you know that many seafoods go great with mint too? There are a few shellfish that are particularly well-suited to accompani-mint* and here are a couple great recipes to prove it.
Mint and dessert were meant to be. Mint goes amazingly with fresh fruit and makes a tasty garnish for simple ice creams like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. While many minty baked good and candies use mint extracts or syrups, there are still plenty of dessert options that use fresh mint leaves instead.
We know it says "salad" in the title, but this dish is more like an ambrosia, with sweet orange, pomegranate seeds, and additional added sugar. With fresh mint leaves, this dessert is even more refreshing, perfect for a hot summer evening.
One more shout out to mint juleps, in case they were feeling neglected. These mint julep-inspired shortbread cookies are light and refreshing, great for afternoon tea. Bonus points if you enjoy them with a mint julep in the other hand.
What's your favorite way to use mint? Let us know in the comments, and have a wonderfully minty summer!
*Our wordplay is bad; sorry, not sorry.