In part three of the series, Flavor Without FODMAPs, we dive into adding flavor with low-FODMAP herbs, spices, and seasonings.
Plus we discuss other methods of adding flavors including the addition of low-FODMAP vegetables or fruit juice. So read on, take note, and start experimenting! There is a world of low FODMAP flavor awaiting you!
*This article includes affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Low FODMAP Herbs
Aromatic herbs are a great way to add flavor to a variety of dishes. According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, the term aromatic is defined as “having a noticeable and pleasant smell”.
So why are aromatic herbs so great for cooking? Because the flavors we taste are actually created by combining our senses of taste and smell. The Institute of Culinary Education has a nice article on the topic if you are interested in learning more about how this works.
And for those of us on a low FODMAP diet, aromatic herbs can be especially helpful in flavoring our foods because two of the most common flavoring agents, onions and garlic, are off-limits. So, we need other potent flavors that will do the job.
Since many herbs and spices are low FODMAP, we have plenty of options to choose from. Of course, not all herbs and spices have been tested for FODMAP content, so there are still some unknowns.
The following are a list of Monash tested low FODMAP herbs at the time of writing. Please note that as more testing is done, this list may change. Always refer to the Monash low FODMAP app for the most up-to-date information.
Chives (regular and garlic chives)
Herbs de Provence
Kaffir lime leaves
Pandan or Rampa leaves
Low FODMAP Spices
What’s the difference between herbs and spices? It comes down to the part of the plant. Herbs are the green leafy part of the plant. Spices come from the root, stem, seed, or even the bark of the plant.
Both are excellent options for flavoring foods when you are trying to limit FODMAPs. But spices generally have a stronger flavor than herbs. And whole spices are more potent than ground.
So, if you don’t mind going through a little more effort, grinding your own whole spices will give you the best flavor. But it’s certainly not necessary and I tend to go for the easier ground options myself.
The following are low-FODMAP spices you can experiment with:
Chili powder (FODMAP content may vary)*
Chili flakes (1 tsp)*
Gochugaru (1 tsp)*
Juniper berry (1/4 tsp)
Nutmeg and Mace
Sumac (1 tsp)
The items with an asterisk (*) contain capsaicin. Although not high in FODMAPs, capsaicin is the part of peppers that give it heat. For some with IBS, this triggers symptoms. For more information check out my article on Peppers, Spicy Foods, and IBS.
High FODMAP Spices to Avoid
Although technically vegetables – garlic and onion are often categorized with spices and should be avoided on a low FODMAP diet. This includes onion and garlic powder, onion and garlic salt, black garlic, and shallots.
There are not many true herbs or spices that have tested high for FODMAPs. But for some, portion size matters. The following are high FODMAP spices in the portion listed:
2 tablespoons of chili flakes
1 teaspoon of currywurst powder
3 teaspoons of gochugaru (Korean red chili powder)
¼ cup of juniper berries
½ cup of sumac
Tips for Using Low FODMAP Herbs and Spices
- Low FODMAP herbs can be used fresh or dried.
- Dried herbs often have a more potent flavor.
- If a recipe calls for fresh herbs and you plan to substitute with dried, use about 1/3 of what the recipe calls for.
- Add fresh herbs toward the end of cooking.
- Fresh herbs have a more delicate flavor that can be lost if cooked too long.
- Add dried herbs and spices early in the cooking process.
- The flavors of most dried herbs and spices will develop as the dish cooks.
- Crush dried herbs in your hand to release their oils and improve flavor.
- Use a combination of low-FODMAP herbs and spices to build a complex flavor.
- Store fresh herbs with the stems in a jar of water, covered with a sandwich bag.
- They usually keep for about a week, or until the leaves start to wilt.
- Store dried herbs and spices in a cool, dry place (not above the stove!).
- They can last anywhere from months to years.
- Toss them out when they reach their expiration date or start losing their flavor or smell.
Combining Herbs and Spices
There is a true art to combining herbs and spices to develop unique and complex flavors in your cooking. I can’t claim to be an expert here, but you don’t need to be an expert to experiment!
The following are Low FODMAP herbs and spices that are commonly used in cuisines around the world. Of course, this is not a complete list! There are countless cultures and culinary traditions in every corner of the world. Each with unique foods and flavors to offer! So, learn, explore, and enjoy!
Chinese: Galangal, Garlic Chives, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Lemongrass, Pandan Leaves, Sesame Seeds, Star Anise, Sichuan Peppercorns
French: Bay Leaf, Cloves, Ginger, Nutmeg, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme
German: Bay Leaf, Caraway, Cinnamon, Curry Powder, Dill, Ginger, Juniper Berries, Nutmeg, Mustard, Paprika, Parsley, Thyme
Indian: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Curry Leaves, Fennel Seeds, Fenugreek, Tamarind, Turmeric
Mediterranean: Allspice, Basil, Bay Leaf, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Fennel Seeds, Ginger, Marjoram, Mint, Mustard Seeds, Oregano, Parsley, Paprika, Poppy Seeds, Red Pepper, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Sumac, Tarragon, Thyme, Turmeric
Mexico / Central America: Cilantro, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Oregano, Chile Peppers
Middle Eastern: Anise, Allspice, Caraway, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Fenugreek, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Oregano, Thyme, Turmeric, Saffron, Sumac
Herbs and Spice for Specific Meals
The following are spices that are common to popular dishes, minus the onion and garlic of course. They might not all be used at the same time, but usually some combination of them (plus salt and often black pepper).
Pizza Spices: basil, fennel, oregano, paprika, parsley, thyme
Barbecue Spices: asafoetida (or garlic chive powder), brown sugar, cayenne, cumin, mustard, paprika
Jerk Spices: allspice, chili flakes, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, sugar, thyme
Marinara Sauce: basil, chili flakes, oregano, paprika, rosemary, thyme
Poultry Spices: basil, lemon, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
Red Meat: basil, chives, coriander, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme
Fish or Seafood: chives, dill, ginger, lemon, paprika, parsley, tarragon, thyme, turmeric
Learn More with These Books
I am a dietitian by trade and cannot claim to be a culinary expert. Therefore, I would like to point you to some resources to learn more. But bear in mind these books are not low FODMAP specific.
But even more important than reading about spices– get out there and experiment to learn firsthand which low FODMAP spice combinations you most enjoy!
Commercial Low FODMAP Seasoning Blends
If figuring out your own low FODMAP herb and spice combinations is too daunting, I give you permission to simplify your life and use products that are already created for you!
There are a good handful of companies that are now making certified low-FODMAP seasonings. And many of their websites have recipes too!
Here is a list of companies with certified low FODMAP spices or seasoning blends:
*some of these are affiliate links. I earn a small commission at no cost to you when you purchase from an affiliate link.
And while I haven’t tried them all, here are a few of my favorites!
No discussion on flavoring foods can be complete without a mention of salt. Salt is a flavor enhancer. So go ahead and add a bit to bring together the flavors of your low FODMAP creations.
But be careful. Excess salt in the diet is associated with negative health outcomes including high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.
Low FODMAP Condiments
Condiments are another way to add flavor. Many condiments are high FODMAP, but fortunately we have some low FODMAP options. Listed below are condiments that have been tested by Monash University.
Or look for certified low FODMAP condiments by companies like FODY Foods to expand your options!
Fish Sauce (2 Tablespoons)
Horseradish (2 Tablespoons)
Mayonnaise (2 Tablespoons) – check for added onion or garlic
Mint Jelly (1 Tablespoon)
Miso Paste (1 Tablespoon)
Mustard, yellow (1 Tablespoon)
Mustard, Dijon (1 Tablespoon)
Oyster Sauce (2 Tablespoons)
Shrimp Paste (2 teaspoons)
Soy Sauce and Tamari (2 Tablespoons)
Sriracha (1 teaspoon)
Tahini (2 Tablespoons)
Vinegar – apple cider, malt, red wine, rice wine, white (2 Tablespoons)
Vinegar – balsamic (1 Tablespoon)
Worcestershire Sauce (2 Tablesoons)
Other Ways to Add Flavor Without FODMAPs
The following are low FODMAP flavoring agents that are alternatives to herb, spices, and seasonings.
Fennel. Fennel has a nice licorice-like flavor that, in the right recipe, will make you forget you skipped the onion! It works well in many soups, or in recipes with roasted meat or fish.
Fennel bulbs are low FODMAP in a portion of ½ a cup. The leaves, or fennel fronds, are also low FODMAP in a serving of ½ cup. Small portions of fennel can also be used to replace celery, which is high in mannitol.
Bell Peppers. Red, green, yellow, or orange, bell peppers can add a nice variety of flavors to a dish. Red bell peppers add a sweet flavor, while green bell peppers add a more bitter flavor.
But use in moderation – bell peppers do contain FODMAPs. The FODMAP types and portions vary depending on which color bell pepper you use. Check out this article for more on peppers and IBS.
Carrots. Carrots are a staple in many dishes. They can taste slightly sweet, but sometimes bitter and more earthy. They are low FODMAP and may be used liberally to add flavor to a variety of dishes.
Horseradish. Horseradish is a root vegetable with a very potent, spicy flavor. You might feel the burn way up in your sinuses. It is most often used with vinegar or in a creamy sauce. It is often paired with meat – think prime rib or steak, but can be used creatively in many other dishes as well.
Capers. These curious round green things in the pickle aisle are actually unripe flower buds that are preserved in a salty brine. They are often used as a finishing touch to add some bite to seafood or chicken dishes.
Olives. Black and green olives can add a hit of salt and tang to your food. Add them during the cooking process, or after. Add them to salads, meat dishes, stews, or pasta. Or simply serve them on the side.
Lemon or Lime. The juice of lemon or lime adds some acidity and brightness. Usually added at the end of cooking to help preserve its flavor.
Zest. Lemon zest and orange zest have both been tested for FODMAP content. Oddly, lime zest has not been at the time of this writing. Zest can be added to sauces, marinades, and salad dressings, or sprinkled on top of a finished dish.
Zest can brighten up a dish, adding a nice citrus taste. Use a zester or microplane for the task, and be sure to capture the topmost layer only – the white pith under the zest has a bitter flavor.
A low FODMAP diet doesn’t have to be boring and devoid of taste. There are numerous options for adding flavor to your meals without FODMAPs.
There are many low-FODMAP herbs and spices that can be combined to make any number of flavor combinations. Plus, you can get creative by adding flavorful vegetables, fruit juices, zest, and some condiments to your dishes.
Or, simplify your cooking experience by leaning into the many certified low-FODMAP seasonings and sauces that are already on the market. These companies have done the work for you, figuring out which low FODMAP flavors to combine.
Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.