6 quick-and-tasty ways to use fresh dill

Dill is a summer herb you can play with – it’s hard to overdo it.

Words: Jenny Somervell

How to use the dill-icious seeds, leaves & flowers

The piquant flavour is similar to capers, a fresh, pungent mixture of fennel, citrus, and mint, with a touch of sea air. Dill is the perfect complement to fish, and this is its main claim to fame. It’s superb with salmon. One of my favourite pizza toppings is salmon, dill, capers, and sour cream.

The delicate, sour-fresh leaves enhance summery potato and green salads, coleslaw, courgettes, carrots, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, broad beans, eggplant, cucumber, eggs, cream cheese, and meat. It adds a bright, verdant flavour to grain salads, such as couscous, brown rice, macaroni, and chickpeas.


The leaf flavour is delicate, and much of it is lost when dried or cooked. If you’re adding it to a hot dish, do it just before serving, as you would with coriander.

1. Use it with chives, parsley, mint, tarragon, coriander, lemon, cream cheese, sour cream, green salads, and meat.

2. Chop fresh dill into your salad dressings, dips, and spreads.

3. Serve hot beetroot with scissored dill and sour cream or yogurt.

4. Bake fish on a bed of dill sprigs or top your grilled or barbecued fish with delicious dill butter.

5. Sprinkle freshly scissored dill over tomato, potato, pumpkin, and fish chowder.

6. Make dill vinegar with dried leaves or seeds to use in dressings and marinades when fresh dill is unavailable.

Beetroot, feta, and dill salad with cos lettuce.

In the green stage, seeds have a tangy, citrus, and caraway-like flavour. Dried, they are even punchier, a zesty combination of caraway and anise. They’re also rich in magnesium, iron, calcium, and vitamin C.

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unlike the fresh leaf, seeds stand cooking and are delicious baked in crackers, cookies, cakes, and pies.
enhance stronger flavoured vegetables such as beetroot.
add to stews, casseroles, fish cocktails, and salad dressings.
add 1 tbsp dill seeds to bread dough.
use to flavour cakes and cookies.

The flattened umbels of bright yellow flowers are highly decorative, with a distinct dill flavour.

whole umbels can decorate home-made pickled gherkins and cucumbers.
add to home-made vinegars.
small flowers make a delightful dill-flavoured garnish – snip florets into green salads, coleslaw, butter, egg dishes, and potato salads.


Dill Cream

This is delicious on crackers or sliced baguettes with smoked salmon, avocado, sliced tomato, or pickles. Spread on baked fish, steak, or grilled chicken just before serving.


1 packet cream cheese
rind & juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup dill leaf, chopped finely
salt & pepper to taste


Beat the cream cheese to a smooth paste, add the grated rind and juice of a lemon, and the dill. Mix in a good grinding of salt and black pepper.

Dill Dressing

Great for salads and vegetables. I used a Sauvignon blanc.


¼ cup dill leaf, finely chopped (or combine with coriander, parsley, and/or tarragon if not enough dill)
1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
⅓ cup dry white wine
⅓ cup good olive oil
salt & pepper


Whisk all ingredients in a jug until well mixed. Keep at room temperature until serving.

Dill Pesto


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1 cup loosely packed dill
½ cup chopped fresh chives
½ cup cheddar cheese
½ cup walnut pieces
4 tbsp (60ml) light olive oil or vegetable oil
salt and pepper


Remove any tough stems or stalks from the dill. Wash and chop chives into short lengths. Grate the cheddar cheese – it doesn’t have to be too fine.

Place dill, cheese, walnuts, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Blend until well chopped.

Slowly drizzle in the oil in a thin stream and blend to form a paste. If you’re adding it to a hot dish, do it just before serving.

3 other quick-and-easy ways to use dill

1. Dill Butter

How to make: mix 1 tbsp chopped dill with 60g butter and ½ tsp of lemon juice
How to use:  delicious on grilled steaks, fish, new potatoes and carrots, hot French bread.

2. Dill Salt

How to make: grind dill seeds with coarse salt. Store in a tightly-closed container.
How to use: sprinkle on vegetables and fish. Ground dill seeds on their own make an excellent salt substitute for a salt-free diet.

3. Dill Water

The old Norse name for dill was dilla, which means ‘to lull’. The oil from the leaves and seeds contains a gentle sedative.

Dill water was an ancient remedy for indigestion, flatulence, and babies with wind (colic), and is still used in gripe water today. The ancient Greeks used it to cure hiccups.

How to make: steep 50g bruised dill seeds in a cup of cold water overnight. Strain, then sweeten with a little honey.
How to use: for children, 1 tsp dill water, sweetened with honey for indigestion or colic; for adults, take 1 tbsp after a meal to calm the stomach.

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NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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