Often used in Latin American Cooking, Epazote can be an Acquired Taste.
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Epazote (ey-pah-ZO-tay) is a member of the Goosefoot family (Chenopodium ambrosioides) and is an annual herb, native to Latin America, that re-seeds vigorously, so much so that Aliza Green's Field Guide to Herbs & Spices labels it as invasive. Its nicknames include: Skunkweed, Wormseed, Mexican Tea (its leaves are often brewed after a heavy meal as a digestive tea) and Goosefoot.

Epazote has a  lemon musky "turpentine-ish" scent that is hard to describe and can be an acquired taste. Some attempts to capture the flavor have included words like "anise", "citrus", "resinous", "savory", "mint", "putty" and even "petroleum."


Epazote is available year round.


It grows fairly easily in temperate climates or during the summer months in cooler climates.


You can find fresh Epazote at most Latin markets, (especially Mexican ones) where it is usually sold in thick bundles like oversized bunches of parsley. Its leaves are oblong and most times have a somewhat serrated edge. The leaves can be stripped from the woody stalks and chopped. or sprigs can be added whole to a pot of beans (remove sprigs after cooking before service).


Store fresh Epazote as you would any other fresh herb, with stems in water in the refrigerator, or loosely in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer. It may wilt but it will still be good for cooking for a few days.

Store dried Epazote in a cool, dry place. If you don't use your fresh herb, it is easy to dry; just leave it in the oven on a cookie sheet at 200° F (93° C) for a few hours or until the leaves become brittle.

Culinary Uses

Mexican and Latin American cooking makes prodigious use of Epazote in things like bean dishes (it is reputed to reduce bloating and flatulence with beans), quesadillas (toss in a handful of mince leaves), tamales, chilis, mushroom dishes, enchiladas, moles, corn, eggs, soups, stews and shellfish. Used in other cuisines, it blends well with oregano and cumin. Rick Bayless of the Frontera Grill in Chicago claims that it is his favorite herb.  

Many cooks believe that the dried herb is interchangeable with the fresh herb but that has not been our experience. If a recipe calls for fresh Epazote, try to use fresh. If you must substitute for the less effective dried Epazote, use 2 T in place of 2 sprigs or consider leaving the Epazote out of the dish all together.  Use Epazote either as sprigs added to a cooking dish (2 large sprigs for a pound of beans for example) or by removing the leaves from the woody stalks and chopping or mincing them.

Nutritional Value USDA
Amount Per 100g
Calories 32
%Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 43mg
Potassium 633mg
Total Carbohydrate 7g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Gluten Free


Low Fat


Low Calorie