What are Juniper Berries?
Juniper berries are a small round berry that grow on conifers. They’re most notably known for flavoring gin. They have a piney, fresh flavor that’s often used in Scandinavian and Eastern European cuisine.
All juniper shrubs and trees grow these berries, but some are too bitter or toxic to eat. You can forage for juniper berries, but make sure to check that they are one of the edible kinds.
Personally, I buy them from a reputable source, just to make sure I have the right berry!
Juniper berries are quite potent and have been used for their medicinal purposes for hundreds of years - they’re a great source of vitamin C (like most berries), known for their anti-inflammatory effects as well as their antibacterial properties. (source)
Uses for Juniper Berries
Because of their strong flavor, juniper berries aren't eaten on their own like other berries. Rather, they're used like a spice or a flavoring for a dish. The most prevalent way they're used is to flavor gin.
Other uses for juniper berries include in teas, meat dishes, brines, and in sauerkraut.
Recipes Using Juniper Berries
Juniper berries are a popular ingredient in many Eastern European and Scandinavian dishes. Here are some of our favorite recipes with juniper berries.
- Juniper Berries Salmon - salmon combined with butter, juniper berries, and lime zest for a flavorful sauce.
- Chicken with Ale and Juniper Berries - a hearty and rich chicken recipe
- Pork Chops with Port and Juniper Berries - sweet oranges flavored with juniper berries and port, accompany these juicy pork chops.
- Garlic Potatoes with Juniper Berries - crispy and creamy potatoes that have a delicious juniper berry topping.
- Juniper & Smoke Marshmallows - juniper + smoke marshmallows get a piney, smokey flavor from a simple syrup made with peat-smoked scotch whiskey and juniper berries.
Where to Buy Juniper Berries?
We recommend the juniper berries from The Spice House. It's the brand we use in our recipes.
If you'd prefer to get it on Amazon, we also like these juniper berries from Spice Way.
Juniper Berries Substitutions
If you can't find juniper berries, you can substitute rosemary or black pepper - they have similar flavor profiles.
More Interesting Spices to Try
If you love interesting spices and flavors, check out some of our other favorite ingredients.
- Sichuan Peppercorns - Sichuan peppercorns (also known as Szechuan peppercorns or Chinese peppercorns) are an aromatic spice from the Sichuan region of China.
- Aleppo Pepper - Aleppo pepper (or Halaby pepper) is a Middle Eastern spice made from a dried chili pepper that’s crushed into flakes.
- Mahlab - Mahlab is the pit of a small sour cherry tree (St. Lucy’s) found in the Mediterranean. The pits are cracked and then ground, to form a powder.
- Star Anise - Star anise is the prettiest of spices! The iconic star shape has eight points and is actually fruit harvested from an evergreen tree native to China and Vietnam.