5 Ways to Use Fresh Mint Leaves

Orange mint is pretty in containers and it adds citrusy mint flavor to beverages.

Orange mint shines in the garden and offers equally lovely flavor in the kitchen, with hints of citrus and lavender. Garden and lifestyle expert and garden-to-table cookbook author P. Allen Smith suggests using orange mint leaves to add subtle citrusy mint flavor to orange juice. Orange mint and other mints are perfect for pots.

Fresh mint brightens, cools, and refreshes everything from salads to cocktails. Now, with more mint varieties and flavors to choose from, the options for mint virtually never end.  How to narrow down the choices for using fresh mint leaves? We asked garden and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith to share his favorite uses for mint, straight from his kitchen.

P. Allen Smith serves fresh tomatoes and herbs for a garden meal.

P. Allen Smith advocates a garden-to-table lifestyle, using the freshest homegrown vegetables and herbs in his recipes.

Sweet Mint
“One of my favorite and most refreshing drinks is Sweet Mint water. It’s very simple to make. A gallon of water, a bundle of Sweet Mint, add ice, and it’s ready.”

Chocolate Mint
“There isn’t anything that I can think of that Chocolate Mint doesn’t make better. I add it chopped into chocolate cakes, chocolate cookies, chocolate ice cream, chocolate icing, chocolate mousse, chocolate puddings, chocolate sauce, hot chocolate … the list goes on and on.”

Orange Mint
“I like to add Orange Mint to my orange juice at breakfast. Just add the orange mint to a glass, pile in some ice cubes, then pour in the juice for an instantly refreshing, nutritious wake-me-up drink to start the day.”

Use mint in cocktails and other summer beverages.

Mint increases the cool quotient in refreshing summer beverages. Bruise the mint leaves before adding to drinks, and use fresh-picked leaves for garnish.

“Here’s a quick trick for when unexpected company shows up for lunch. I like to use Peppermint to brighten a simple salad. I make the salad with thin strips of Peppermint, lettuce, a quick champagne vinaigrette, dash of salt, and a French baguette — and done.”

Spearmint is the best choice for mojitos that can make any afternoon feel like I’m on a vacation. All you have to do is bruise the mint leaves lightly with a mortar and pestle or with just your fingers before adding it into drinks.”

A special thanks to Allen for sharing these mint ideas. Find more of Allen’s recipes in our In the Kitchen section, on our Videos page, and on the P. Allen Smith website.



I have enjoyed my mint year after year. It is a vigorous grower and comes back in my planters by my kitchen door year after year. Here is a simple, easy sugar free mojito for you – mix Bacardi Limon, a few sweet mint leaves rubbed between your fingers and Diet Sierra Mist or Diet Sprite and presto – sugar free mojitos! It is fantastic and refreshing

Karen Stebbins

I am looking for recipes for my apple aand orange mint plants. Do i make the jelly/jam the same way i would make srtright mint jelly? do i use orange juice for ther orange mint and apple for the apple mint? i am so confused and i have alot of leaves that need picking and i dont want to lose em,, so why not make jelly with it,,, i also have pineapple sage im trying to figure out what to do with,, you help would be great . ASAP

thank you, karen

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Karen,

Yes, you can use orange mint and apple mint leaves like you would use sweet mint leaves, for jellies, drinks, or other recipes. The “orange” and “apple” in the names refers to the subtle flavors of the mint varieties and not necessarily what it should be paired with, though you can pair them up as Allen mentions in the article above, adding apple mint to apple jelly, or using orange mint in a salad with sliced oranges. Look through our mint recipes for some inspiration. You can also search generally online for mint recipes and pineapple sage recipes and lots of ideas come up. Mint is so prolific that you shouldn’t worry too much about losing the leaves. Just snip some, try a few ideas, and enjoy!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Donna Hosea

how do you bruise the leaves? what is motor? Iam growning mint leaves. when can you pick them to use? do you have to let them dry out before use?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Donna,

A mortar and pestle is a cooking tool used to grind up lots of things, like peppercorns, or to mash up foods like avocado to make guacamole. Here is one example from Walmart though you can get them many places. You basically just crush the mint leaves to bruise them. You could even do this with your fingers. It releases the natural oils, flavor, and aroma. You can pick the mint leaves anytime and use them fresh. No need to dry them. Enjoy!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Graciela Ramirez

Bruising just means crushing the mint leaves a bit so the taste and smell are more noticeable. “Motor” is mortar and pestle, the mortar being the container and the pestle is the tool used to crush ingredients. You see these in drugstores, they are kind of old fashioned. You can use a blender or food processor, just go easy or you will have “juice”, not crushed mint leaves.

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