Lemon balm is an easy and versatile plant to grow that will provide an abundant harvest throughout the growing season. It’s also a perennial herb so will return year after year.
Take cuttings frequently to keep your plants productive. Each time lemon balm is harvested, the plant will bounce back with even more vigorous growth.
As its name certainly suggests, this herb has a mildly lemon flavor and fragrance. For a subtle hint of citrus, toss in a few leaves when preparing soups and sauces, salads and vinaigrettes. Add it to meat marinades, cookie dough, smoothies, herbal butters, jams, and homemade breads. You can even chew on the leaves for an instant breath freshener!
Read on to discover the many ways you can use lemon balm in the kitchen and beyond…
1. Lemon Balm Tea
Calming and aromatic, lemon balm tea is easy to make with either fresh or dried lemon balm leaves.
- 1 cup of water
- 10 fresh lemon balm leaves or 1 rounded tablespoon of dried lemon balm. (Here’s how to dry lemon balm at home)
- 2 teaspoons of honey
Using a teapot or infuser, pour 1 cup of boiling water and add lemon balm. Allow the blend to steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Strain and add honey. Stir well and enjoy.
You can elevate this basic recipe by adding in cloves, lavender, orange zest, mint, or other herbs and spices during the steeping process.
2. Lemon Balm Iced Tea
An excellent pick me up on a hot summer day, lemon balm iced tea is a wonderfully refreshing bevvie.
- 8 cups of water
- 1 cup of lemon balm leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons of honey
Place chopped lemon balm into a large bowl and add boiling water and honey. Cover and let it steep for at least two hours. Using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, carefully pour into a pitcher to remove plant bits.
Stir well and store in the refrigerator. Serve over ice with a slice of lemon or lime to garnish.
3. Lemon Balm Lemonade
For a stronger, zestier, lip puckering refreshment, this lemonade recipe is both tart and sweet.
- 8 cups of water
- 3 cups of fresh lemon balm
- 6 lemons, for zest and juice
- ¾ cup of honey
With a large pot on the stovetop, add water, lemon balm, and zest of 6 lemons. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Add honey and lemon juice, stirring well. Allow mixture to steep until the liquid has cooled. Strain and transfer to a pitcher. Chill lemonade in the fridge or add ice and serve right away.
4. Fruity Lemon Balm Shrub
Drinking shrubs are concentrated syrups made from fruit, sugar, and vinegar.
Allowed to steep for days to weeks, they impart bold, deep flavors when mixed with plain water or seltzer. Since any type of fruit (or combination of fruits) will do, it’s a fantastic way to use up your bumper crops.
You can also collect fruit scraps (apple cores, orange peels, peach pits, and the like) for a zero waste brew.
To make, you will need:
- Quart sized canning jars (like these)
- 2 cups of fruit, chopped
- ½ cup of lemon balm, chopped
- 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
- 1 to 2 cups of sugar
- Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
Add fruit, lemon balm, and sugar to the jar. Mash it up with a wooden spoon to release juices and screw on the lid. Place in the fridge for 24 hours. Add vinegar and stir well. Replace lid and store in a cool, dark place for up to one month – the longer you leave it, the more intense the flavors will be.
Using cheesecloth and another clean jar, strain the mixture until all fruit bits have been removed and the liquid is clear and unclouded. Screw on the lid tightly and store in the fridge. Drinking shrubs will last for six months.
To serve, dilute shrubs to taste. Start with a glass of flat or fizzy water and add 1 tablespoon of shrub and stir well.
5. Blueberry + Lemon Balm Kombucha
A flavorful, functional, and fermented beverage, this kombucha recipe is rife with probiotics and antioxidants, thanks to the blueberries and green tea. A teaspoon of fresh lemon balm leaves gives this brew a lovely citrusy note.
Get the recipe from Kombucha Hunter.
6. Lemon Balm Mead
An infusion of honey and fresh lemon balm, this artisanal mead is given body and character with a slice of lemon, strongly brewed black tea, and chopped raisins.
Ferment, bottle, and allow this brew to rest for at least one month before imbibing.
Get the recipe from Practical Self Reliance.
7. Lemon Balm – Peach Popsicles
A sweet and sour summer treat, these homemade popsicles are made with fresh peaches, Greek yogurt, milk, sugar, and lemon balm.
You don’t necessarily need proper popsicle molds to try this – just small plastic cups and thick wooden skewers.
Get the recipe from Strudel & Cream.
8. Lemon Balm Ice Cream
It’s so much healthier to make ice cream from frozen bananas, which perfectly mimics the creamy richness of heavy creams.
Add in some frozen mangoes, fresh lemon balm, almond milk, and a pinch of sea salt, and you can whip up this dessert in just 15 minutes.
Get the recipe from Southern Vegan Kitchen.
9. Lemon Balm Granita
Similar to sorbet, this icy treat is a simple combination of water, honey, fresh lemon balm, and lemon and lime zest. Once mostly frozen, fluff it up with a fork and serve.
Get the recipe from The Nourishing Gourmet.
10. Lemon Balm Cookies
Two tablespoons of fresh, minced lemon balm leaves gives the average sweet cookie a little bite.
Get the recipe from Farm Flavor.
11. Lemon Balm Cashew Pesto
A pesto of a different sort, this creamy and rich version substitutes lemon balm for basil and cashews for pine nuts. Use it on pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and steamed veggies for a jolt of lemony zest.
Get the recipe from Healthy Green Kitchen.
12. Lemon Balm Butter
Terrific on toast, drizzled over vegetables, and brushed on meat, this lemony butter can be made in the mixer, blender, or creamed by hand. Try it with these optional add ins: garlic, basil, onion powder, cayenne, honey, or cinnamon.
Get the recipe from Cloverleaf Farm.
13. Lemon Balm Salsa Verde
As far as green sauces go, this one is super aromatic – made with lemon balm, basil leaves, chives, mint, lemon zest, sumac, and grated garlic, mixed with olive oil and black pepper to taste. Use it on anything and everything – as a dip, condiment, meat topper, and salad dressing.
Get the recipe from Feed Feed.
14. Seared Lemon Balm Chicken
So simple and yet so delicious, this 20 minute recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken breasts seared with a yummy coating of lemon balm, green onions, salt and pepper.
Get the recipe from A Musing Foodie.
15. No Bug Balm
Lemon balm is among the herbs that naturally repel mosquitos and other bugs.
If you already grow citronella, peppermint, lavender, basil, catnip, or thyme in your garden, you can make an herbal medley by infusing these fresh herbs in oil. Then mix it up with some beeswax, shea butter, and essential oils for a spreadable salve that is actually good for your skin.
Get the DIY from Grow Forage Cook Ferment.
16. Lemon Balm Soap
A blend of olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, castor oil, and lemon balm tea, this cold pressed soap recipe is scented with lemongrass and lime essential oil.
For a light yellow color, add a touch of turmeric powder before pouring the soap batter into molds.
Get the DIY from The Nerdy Farm Wife.
17. Lemon Balm Lip Balm
Soothe dry, chapped lips with this lip balm recipe, made from an infusion of fresh lemon balm leaves in a carrier oil of your choice. Let this mixture infuse for two weeks before blending it with beeswax, honey, and lemon or mint essential oils.
Get the DIY from Scratch Mommy.
18. Lemon Balm Potpourri
A wonderful way to naturally scent your home, this clean and crisp herbal assortment includes lemon balm, lemon verbena, thyme, bay leaves, orange peel, mint leaves, as well as lemon, neroli, and mint essential oils.
Get the DIY from Mother Earth Living.
19. Herbal Bath
For a soothing soak, fill a muslin bag with fresh lemon balm leaves, rose petals, lavender, yarrow, and other pleasant-smelling herbs. Hang it over the faucet as you fill the tub so the water runs through the herbal pouch.
Toss in a cup of Epsom salts for the ultimate relaxing bath.
20. Lemon Balm Hair Rinse
Because of lemon balm’s astringent qualities, it can be used as a hair rinse and scalp clarifier.
To make, pour 2 cups of boiling water over 3 to 4 tablespoons of dried lemon balm and let it steep overnight. Strain out the plant bits and then shampoo and condition your hair as normal.
Slowly pour the rinse over your head, massaging it into your scalp and along the entire hair shaft. No need to rinse!