Infuse your favorite herbs with this easy recipe that's perfect for sharing.

If you’ve ever cruised your local farmers market during the height of summer, you’ve likely seen a stall featuring flavored oils and vinegars. Maybe you’ve even sampled a few, wondering to yourself, how do they get these amazing tastes?

The secret isn’t as complicated as you might think. Fresh herbs carry all the flavors of the spectrum, from sweet to smoky to pungent. With a little time, attention and freshly grown ingredients, you can make your own vinegars for salads, stir fries and marinades. Herbal vinegars also make great gifts!

Choosing the right vinegar

While there are many vinegars on the supermarket shelf, not all are ideal for making herbal vinegars. The key is the amount of acetic acid, which shouldn’t exceed 6 or 7% and is better suited around 5%. Most culinary vinegars contain somewhere between 4 – 10% acetic acid, so be sure to check the fine print on your vinegar bottle.

White vinegar 5-10%
Wine vinegar6-7%
Balsamic vinegar6%
Pickling vinegarat least 5%
Apple cider vinegar4-5%
Rice vinegar4-5%

White wine and rice vinegars have a subtle, pleasant taste that pairs well with most herbs and falls within the recommended acidity range. Apple cider vinegar is strongly flavored and suitable for earthier-tasting herbs (sage and thyme come to mind), though many chefs use it with a range of herbs. White or distilled household vinegar varies widely in acetic acid content but works well with most herbs. In general, stick to vinegars low on the acetic acid scale.

Choosing your herbs

While most herbs do well when infused in vinegars, there are some that impart their taste better than others. Here are some of our favorites:

tarragon herb


Fine leafed and with a hint of licorice, tarragon is a mainstay in French cuisine, pairing well with salads, meat and green beans. Tarragon vinegar adds depth to any vinaigrette, appearing golden and translucent when mature.

basil close up


Basil vinegars bring with them a taste of summer, particularly when added to salad dressings and marinades. Drizzle over fresh tomatoes or use as the basis for a refreshing picnic drink. Vinegars featuring this herb help preserve its fleeting, fresh taste for use throughout the year.

garlic bulbs after harvest


Garlic vinegar is a great addition to Asian-style dishes including stir-fried noodles and rice. Infuse fresh, full garlic cloves in rice vinegar for a perfect pairing. Add to white or wine vinegars with an array of herbs for Italian or French cuisine.

lemon verbena

Lemon verbena

For a clean, citrus flavor, try this easy to grow plant that smells strongly of lemon. Commonly grown for tea, lemon verbena is also the perfect herb for culinary vinegars. Pair with lavender for a distinctive flavor or brew in white vinegar and add a splash to your cleaning sprays for a lemony scent.

sage on white background


If you’re looking for a smoky flavor reminiscent of Thanksgiving dinner, try sage vinegar for marinades and meat dishes. Sage goes well with apple cider vinegar. Sage-infused vinegar also pairs well with whitefish and roasted root vegetables.



Verging on earthy, fresh rosemary tastes best scattered across roasted vegetables or infused in white sauces. In vinegars, rosemary works well for salad dressings, marinades and added to carbonated water with a twist of lime.

fennel flowers forming seeds


For an easy-to-grow licorice taste, fennel fronds and seeds are a great option. They go well with white and wine vinegars. Harvest the fern when full and lush or harvest seeds late in the season, just before they fall. Crush gently in a mortar and pestle before brewing for best flavor.

anise hyssop blossoms and leaves

Anise hyssop

In the absence of fennel, anise hyssop is another licorice-sweet flavor that is also commonly brewed up for tea. The purple flowers and leaves are suitable for brewing and look beautiful when added fresh to bottles for decorative gifts.

mint plants


Who doesn’t love a cold, minty drink on a hot day? Adding a dose of mint vinegar to ice water or juice is one way to capture this summery flavor. Mint-flavored vinegars also go well in salads and soups. They make lovely gifts all year round.

lavender blossoms on plants


This European favorite is so versatile, it goes well with anything needing a soft, floral flavor. Add to dressings and salads or a few drops in carbonated lemon water for a fizzy, floral drink!

Related: 3 Recipes That Will Make You Love Cooking With Lavender

When to harvest herbs for vinegar-making

The best time to harvest herbs for use in vinegar-making is before they bloom. If possible, pick in the afternoon when flavors are most concentrated. Snip main or side stems, depending on the size of the plant.

If you don’t have the luxury of an afternoon harvest, try to pick your herbs as close as you can to the time when you’ll be making the vinegar. This will ensure maximum flavor.

Most fresh herbs bought at market are suitable for vinegar-making as well.

Making herbal vinegar

The following recipe can be doubled or halved, depending on how much you want to make. If you’re adding garlic to your vinegar, use 2-3 cloves per quart of vinegar.

  1. Use 2 cups of herbs to 4 cups of vinegar. Crush herbs slightly to release flavors.
  2. Using a large glass jar or crock, pack with chosen herbs and close with lid. Place in a dark cupboard for two to three weeks.
  3. Strain out herbs and discard into compost. Your vinegar is now ready to use. Pour into decorative jars or decanters, adding a sprig of fresh (uncrushed) herbs if available.
  4. Vinegars don’t need special sealing for storage since their acetic acid content will fend off bacteria. Use within six months for the best flavor.

herb vinegar brewing in jars and bottles
Related: 10 Culinary Herbs to Grow and Dry This Summer

Herbal vinegar tips

  • For a milder taste, dilute herbal vinegar with water at a ratio of one part vinegar to two parts water. Diluted vinegars should be stored in the fridge and used within one month.
  • For spicier varieties, add a chili pepper or two.
  • If you can’t find fresh herbs, dried herbs can offer a different, more subtle flavor. Heat vinegar to near boiling before making vinegar from dried herbs. Brewing times are about the same.
  • Mix multiple herbs together for layered flavors. Rosemary-mint is an Eartheasy favorite.
  • Try growing your own herbs indoors with one of our indoor herbal grow kits!

Have you made your own herbal vinegar? Send us a photo or tag us on Instagram @eartheasy with details!

Responses (0)