Ask The Chef

Glorious Garnishes!

There's an old saying:"the eyes feast first." After all of the time you spend planning and cooking a special meal; why not take a few extra minutes to present your food beautifully?


A garnish can be any edible or non-edible accent added to a dish. It need not be laid around the dish but may also go into the food itself. A garnish can be as simple as a sprinkling of paprika or a carrot curl. 


When adding a garnish make sure to reflect the food it is adorning. If you are serving a lamb dish with rosemary in the recipe, a garnish of fresh rosemary sprigs is ideal. Or if there's lemon juice in a recipe, use thin slices of lemon twists or strips of lemon zest sprinkled on top. Always try to pull an ingredient from the recipe and use it as part of the garnish.


Listed below are some quick ideas and foods to have on hand to help adorn your dishes. Keep in mind that most hot dishes only require a simple garnish, whereas cold foods, which have more standing time, allow for more garnish and decoration. 

  • Have lots of fresh herbs on hand: tarragon, dill, mint, basil, rosemary, watercress, curly or flat-leaf parsley, or the fern tops of fennel bulbs. These are great to garnish meat, fish, chicken or vegetables.

  • Grapes, kumquats, figs, cranberries and key limes all look great frosted. To frost fruit, spray the fruit with vegetable spray and dip in granulated sugar.

  • Lemon wedges, long strips of lemon, or orange zest are lovely garnishes for fruits or vegetable side dishes and are perfect for garnishing homemade or canned whole cranberry sauce.
  • Kale, curly endive, chicory, and other colorful lettuce leaves make great liners for cold vegetables or salads.

  • Fresh or dried fruits and mint sprigs are lovely colorful garnishes for desserts and cheese platters.