Bay leaves are a fragrant leaf from the laurel tree that is used as a herb. Bay leaves are available whole—either fresh or dried—or ground into a powder. The leaves are added to slow-cooked recipes, such as soups, sauces, and stews, and are removed before serving the dish. They have a floral and herbal scent reminiscent of oregano and thyme and are used more often than any other herb.
What Are Bay Leaves?
Bay leaves come from the bay laurel plant, an evergreen shrub that grows slowly in warm climates. The plants are grown for ornamental use and dried and used in cooking. The thick and leathery leaves are elongated with pointy ends. Most often, recipes call for dried bay leaves, which have a slightly stronger scent than fresh.