What Is Epazote & How Do You Use It?

updated Aug 8, 2022
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

When it comes to beans and lessening their “digestive consequences,” we have two main strategies: one, soak them before cooking and two, add epazote. Not familiar with epazote? Learn all about this pungent Mexican herb, plus how to cook with it.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

What Is Epazote?

Epazote (pronounced eh-puh-ZOE-tay) is an herb native to Mexico and Central America that is perhaps best known for its carminative, or gas-relieving, properties. Cooked with a pot of beans, this herb can lessen the “negative effects” and adds a distinctive savory, earthy flavor. Epazote is available fresh or dried and is also used in Mexican cooking to flavor moles, soups, and other dishes.

How Does It Taste?

Upon first whiff, one might not be inclined to cook with epazote, as it has a pungent, petroleum-like odor. (The word epazote comes from a Nahuatl term meaning “skunk sweat”!) Eaten straight, the leaves can taste like a curious combination of turpentine, mint, citrus, pine, oregano, anise, and mustard greens.

What To Cook With Epazote

For some this may fall into the “acquired taste” category, but we find that epazote really mellows out during cooking and can add a wonderful dimension to dishes like black beans, corn, and even cheese or mushroom quesadillas.

We generally use about 1-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh leaves (younger leaves are better) or 1 teaspoon of dried leaves in a pound of beans. (Be aware that too much epazote can overpower a dish and even lead to nausea.)

How To Store Epazote

In some parts of the U.S., such as Southern California, you can forage for epazote, which grows wild. It may also be found fresh or dried in Mexican, Central American, and Caribbean markets, at farmers’ markets, and from spice merchants. Fresh stems should stored upright in a glass of water or in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp towel and placed in a plastic bag.


Good Question: How Can I Make Beans More Digestible?