What Do Bay Leaves Do?

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What do Bay Leaves do

What Do Bay Leaves Do? Do They Actually Taste of Anything?!

Since the dawn of time man has asked the simple question off: What Does a Bay Leaf actually do?

The rather dull looking leaf (by leaf standards anyway) is used in recipes worldwide by professional and home chefs alike. However, like the existence of the Illuminati, the purpose of bay leaves is widely questioned & doubted.

Well… You are about to have your mind blown.

Bay Leaves are for real.

We are being serious. They are legit and here is why…

When the leaf is infused in broth, soup, or basically any hot liquid, it produces an almost menthol type flavour, which further develops as the leaf spends more time chilling out in the hot liquid.

The more time it spends stewing away, the more subtle, almost peppery, the flavours will become. This makes them a great addition to soups and hearty stews to add a layer of delicate flavour that cuts through the heaviness of the dish.

Now we are not saying you are able to Gordan Ramsey style taste a dish and identify if a bay leaf has been used or not. But nevertheless, they do compliment a well put together dish and should not be left of your shopping list should the recipe call for the herb.

What is the difference between Dry and Fresh Bay Leaves?

Now then. The plot thickens and the conspiracy continues…

There is actually a notable difference between fresh and dry bay leaves that you should know about if you decide to use either.

The fresh bay leaves which you will find the fresh herb section of your local supermarket will be a hell of a lot more pungent than that of the dry herbs you find in the spice section.

We actually really like the flavours that you can achieve with a fresh bay leaf and would recommend that if your recipe calls for one, you grab yourself a packet from the fresh herb section.

Understanding the Flavours of Bay Leaves

If, before adding them to your next recipe, you want to really understand the flavours offered up by the herb – Follow these simple instructions:

  1. Fill your kettle with water and bring to the boil.
  2. Place about 3 Bay leaves into a mug and pour the boiling water in.
  3. Let them stew whilst the water cools down.
  4. Have a sip.

It’s as simple as that.

Well…What did you think? Did you enjoy the menthol & eucalyptus vibes delivered by this little creature of a herb? If so, don’t forget to utilise this herb in your next recipe!

How Long Should I Cook A Bay Leaf For?

As we mentioned earlier, Bay leaves change flavour after simmering in hot liquid. But exactly how long does it take for them to change?

Well, we found that simmering your bay leaves in say, a hearty soup for an hour or so, really brings out the complex aromas and flavours.

Whilst they may not be the star of the show, bay leaves certainly add a layer of “music” to a dish, which really brings together the whole performance!


Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!