Native herbs and seasonings to keep on hand

photo of seasonings on spoons

This post is inspired by the book “The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen” by Sean Sherman 

Keep these herbs and seasonings in your pantry to add flavor and depth to your indigenous recipes.Some of these grow in the wild and can be foraged. For those that aren’t available, visit your local organic market or health food store.


Bergamot can be maroon, magenta or lilac in color and resembles a chrysanthemum atop a two-foot-high erect stalk. It is a member of the mint family and attracts hummingbirds while repelling mosquitoes and gnats. It is a great addition to apple jelly and wine. 


The dusty green leaves in sage can help infuse meats and soups with an earthy, piney flavor. Chopped sage leaves can add flavor to salads or homemade pickles.


Cedar is perfect for braising meats and simmering into grain dishes and stews. Cedar adds a woodsy, smokey flavor to dishes.


After it becomes warm, it tends to lose its punch, so it’s best used when fresh. Mint is a good addition to savory sauces and teas.


Juniper berries add a peppery kick to dishes. They are tart and sharp, with hints of citrus flavor. Rub crushed juniper berries onto meat before cooking to add flavor.

Staghorn Sumac

This northern sumac grows in ditches and along the borders of forests. Its deep red berries have a citrusy, tangy flavor. Ground, dried sumac makes a great rub for meats. The berries can also be used as a salad topping or in sauces.


Mustard adds a peppery taste to salads and is also a great garnish. Collect mustard seeds to create a wonderful homemade spice to add to sauces, salads, meat rubs and stews.

Rose Hips

Rose hips add a light citrus-y note to stocks and soups and can be used dried or fresh.