Paula’s Guide to Garnishes

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Paula’s Guide to Garnishes

By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Have you ever heard the expression “you eat with your eyes first?”  Making food aesthetically appealing is just as important as making it taste delicious.  A simple way to really enhance the beauty of any dish is with some simple garnishing.  Natural ingredients and a little imagination are all you need to transform any dish into something beautiful.  Color, shape, texture and taste are all things to consider when choosing garnishes for your dishes.

Herbs are one of the most common garnishes used in cooking.  Fresh herbs brighten any dish with a splash of vibrant green color and an added burst of healthy flavor.  Here are some examples of herb garnishes:

imageGarnish pasta dishes with some fresh basil sprigs or chopped parsley.  Paula’s slow cooker cheese stuffed meatballs and sauce is a perfect example of this, the parsley garnish on this dish really brightens it up.

imageSome chives or scallions also add a lovely touch of green.  Smashed potato pancakes are taken to the next level with a few pieces of scallions on an otherwise not so colorful dish.

imageMint is a lovely garnish for desserts or drinks.  The mint sprigs used in mint ice tea really dress up the glass.  Wilmington Island marsh mud cake is completely transformed with a little mint and a pile of fresh raspberries.

imageUse longer stems of rosemary or thyme to garnish platters of meat such as pot roast or roast chicken.  The long sprigs of rosemary with these grilled rosemary lamb chops accentuate the heartiness of the dish.  Or use some fresh thyme sprigs like Paula does with her roast prime rib of beef to add elegant color.

Herbs are fragile and bruise easily, snipping them with kitchen shears instead of chopping with a knife helps to preserve their beauty.

Citrus is another wonderful garnish to accompany food or beverages.  Simply zesting a lime or lemon over a dish adds delicious flavor and great color.  Sliced wedges or wheels added to a plate are another great technique for using citrus, beautiful along side fish or poultry.  The artfully placed lemon slices on these crab cakes add a lovely color contrast, or use halved limes like with grilled salmon with key lime butter.  Not only does it dress up the plate but also it gives your diners something to squeeze over their fish for extra flavor. 

Make large peels using fresh vegetables and a vegetable peeler for another decorative garnish. Paula uses a fresh carrot to dress up her Grandma Hier’s carrot cake.  The whimsical ribbons of carrot on top of this cake are so easy to create and make it look so amazing!

imageNuts & Chocolate
Nuts or chocolate are a great way to garnish desserts.  Chopped pecans on top of the banana nut cake with cream cheese frosting cut some of the sweetness from the frosting while adding a nice crunch.  Using a vegetable peeler to shave chocolate curls over a chocolaty dessert allows the dish to take on a whole new dimension.  Paula’s frozen chocolate mousse pie is a great example of this fun technique.

With your next meal take some of these simple tips to give your dishes that 5 star restaurant quality look. 


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Reader Comments:


I had your Lemon cake at the resturant in Elizabeth IN it was the BEST Lemon cake I had ever eaten

By vicky mccorkle on May 17, 2012


Love the sour cream pound cake , and so did my guest .

By Lavonne Hastings on May 16, 2012


I just started getting your news letter an I Love it .I have just sat here an ran off recipe's.I love fried pie's but never have used the frozen curst I think that will save time .Thanks so much for the tip. PS when I go to Wal -mart the girls say I love to hear you talk you sound like Paula Deen that is not true because I do love to hear you talk an my family say I talk sooooooooooo country an you do not you just sound like South Ga which I love an wish I could talk like that. God Bless you .

By Nan Hendricks on April 25, 2012


One of my wishes; I wish Paula Deen was my neighbor. Now wouldn't that be a great neighborhood. I also want to share my story briefly. I lost both my parents last year. My Mother passed away the day before Mother's Day and My Father died two weeks before Christmas. Both passed in 2011, 7 months apart. They were married 56 years. My Mother had been ill for many years. My brother and I would take turns taking care of them. My brother through the week. Then I would take over on the weekends. My parents and I would watch the Food Network Channel together every Saturday after I made them breakfast. Both of them just loved Paula Deen. My Mother would always say she wished Miss Paula was her neighbor. I was born and raised in Ohio but I was raised the Southern way. My Mother was from Tennessee and My Dad was from Virginia. They were the best parents anyone could have and they were big fans of Paula Deen.

By Maureena Myers on April 24, 2012


Good Afternoon Paula, First off I want you to know that you are my FAVORITE Food Network Chef. I love the way you make real food. I had a lady give me a recipe years ago for a cake and now I can't find it. It took a regular cake and I think that you used pie filling instead of the normal ingredients. And then you made it in a bundt pan. Do you have any idea how it might be made? I knew if anyone would you would. Thank you so much. LOVE LOVE LOVE your shows!!!!! Vickie Gergen

By Vickie Gergen on April 24, 2012

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