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6 Different Types of Garnishes + 18 Garnish Ideas (Photos)

Garnishing a gourmet dish.

What does garnish mean?

It’s a decorative element that should simultaneously elevate the taste of a dish or drink.

Too often appearance is given more importance than taste. This is a mistake. A garnish should elevate appearance and taste.  In other words, the garnish should be in line with the flavor of the dish.

The main types of garnish are herbs, leaves, roots, greens, fruit (often the peel), vegetables, purees, sauces and syrups.

Related: Types of Condiments | Types of Food | Types of Herbs | Vegetables and Herbs | Types of Fruit Trees | Types of Beans and Legumes | Types of Mushrooms | Types of Bread | Types of Milk | Types of NutsTypes of Mayonnaise | Types of Spices

Why Garnish?  Benefits of Garnishing Dishes and Drinks

Female chef garnishing a dish.

As mentioned above, garnishing is an effective culinary method that comes with numerous benefits. Before we move on to garnish ideas for your dinner party, let’s first look at the importance of garnishing food.

Visual Appeal

We can’t stress enough on how important it is to make your food look visually appealing. Remember, it is always your eyes that experience the food first. Garnish adds a pop of color and excitement to any platter that catches your eye and makes you want to taste the food. Garnish does not have to be fancy. Something as simple as sprinkled parsley over steamed rice will make your food look more appetizing.

Enhancement of Flavor

You don’t just add an element for garnishing. An element that is relevant to the food and the platter is usually added. For example, adding a slice of lemon to a seafood platter will add a tint of yellow to it. Not only does this give the meal a pop of color, but the lemon juice serves the purpose of enhancing the flavor, thus making the meal even more enjoyable.

Filling the Plate

Sometimes, even after the food has been plated, the plate looks empty and hence, unattractive. Nobody wants to be served with an empty-looking platter for dinner. This is where garnish can behave as plate filler. Adding a few sautéed vegetables with steak is a perfect example. Also, if you are served a single slice of cheesecake placed on the middle of a dish, it might look a little empty and may not even seem worth the price, but when served with strawberry sauce, you will enjoy the same slice with a lot more interest.

Identification of a Dish

Have you ever found yourself wondering what the orange-colored soup served at dinner is? Have you found yourself wondering whether it is a carrot soup or a pumpkin soup? Well, we all have been in the same boat at least once in our lives. Garnishing can sometimes help in the identification of dishes. In this case, a sprinkling of carrot or pumpkin over the soup will help the diner identify the dish.

Different Types of Garnishes

A lot of different ingredients can be used as garnishing. Let’s look at the most common types of garnishes used to enhance the look and flavor of a dish.

1. Herbs and Leaves

Chef garnishing with herbs and leaves.

Many green leaves and herbs are used for garnishing purposes.

The most popular leaves and herbs used for garnish include:

  • spring greens (usually as a base),
  • parsley,
  • cilantro,
  • thyme,
  • oregano,
  • dill,
  • basil,
  • mint leaves,
  • chives,
  • chervil,
  • spinach (as a base),
  • coriander, and
  • bay leaves.

These leaves don’t just add additional color but also a tempting aroma and a characteristic flavor to numerous dishes.

2. Roots and Greens

Most of the time, greens are used as side salads on platters to fill up the empty space.

Popular roots and greens used for garnish, often as a base for the plate include:


Butter crisp, 

Spring greens,

Spinach, and

Romaine lettuce (any lettuce actually).

3. Edible Flowers

Chicken dish garnished with edible flowers.

Elevate and make colorful your plates by garnishing with edible flowers.

Many flowers like Calendula, Pansies, and Jasmines are edible and can be used as a garnish in many dishes. Examples of the numerous ways in which edible flowers are used are discussed in detail ahead.

4. Fruits and Vegetables

Lemon, lime, oranges, berries, grapes, radish, asparagus (think Caesar drinks) and tomatoes are the most common fruits and vegetables that are used as garnishes. They can be used as slices, wedges, or used for their zest.

5. Purees

Top view of a dish with green puree garnishing.

Purees like tomato puree are often used for garnishing purposes. They can be spread artfully on the platter or poured over the food item. They add vibrant color, texture, and flavor to your dish.

6. Sauces and Syrups

A number of sauces and syrups are quite popular when we talk about garnishing. BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, and other similar sauces are often used with steaks and main courses while chocolate and strawberry syrups are popular garnishes for desserts.

Garnish Guidelines

  • The garnish should be edible and noticeable.
  • Its flavor should be aligned with the overall flavor of your dish. For example, don’t use an herbal garnish in desserts, and don’t use fruit garnish in curries.
  • Don’t overdo the garnish: I get annoyed when there’s a pile of leaves or herbs I have to remove from a plate because it’s too much. I then have to find some sidedish and dump it there.
  • The objective of a garnish is not just to add a pop of color or style to a dish but also to enhance the flavor of the dish.

Garnish Examples & Ideas (photos)

Now that you are convinced that garnishes for food are something you should never overlook, let’s have a look at some of the best garnish ideas that you can use to spice up any dish that you make! If you’re throwing a dinner party, these ideas will come in handy!

Always remember that garnishing is all about adding a little ‘extra’ to the food to make it look tastier than it actually is!

1. Lemon Decoration on Glasses

Glass decorated with a lemon slice

You will be serving your guests with some welcome drinks at the dinner party, right? Why not leave an impression from that point onwards? Garnishing your guests’ glasses with a lemon slice is a great idea to start with. Instead of serving a glass of lemonade, a cocktail, or wine, add a slice of lemon as a decoration to the glass and impress your guests.

2. Salmon Canapés with a Cream Garnish

Salmon canapés on a plate.

Salmon canapés are wonderful entrees to keep your guests busy and entertained while they wait for dinner to be served. However, do you think your guests would like to appetizers that don’t look appetizing? The brain tells a person that what doesn’t look good won’t taste good.

Don’t forget to garnish your salmon canapés. If you are wondering how to go about it, the addition of cream is the simplest thing you can do! Not only will it enrich the flavor of the salmon, but it will also add a lot of visual appeal to the dish by adding a bit of a neutral color to contrast with the bright pink/orange salmon. This will take it from a boring appetizer to a must-eat item on the menu.

3. Salad Cake

Salad for parties

The salad is a very important part of any dinner menu. Although it may not be counted as a dish in itself, its absence is strongly felt. This is why you cannot miss out on including a salad option in your dinner party menu. Salads are colorful most of the time, and that makes them aesthetically pleasing. But you can garnish and decorate a salad further in the form of a cake to leave your guests in awe.

4. Salad with a Thai Veg Flower Garnish

Thai garnishes are some of the prettiest, most artistic, and the most complicated of all garnishes. They involve the transformation of simple vegetables into pieces of art. A vegetable flower is one of the most commonly used types of garnish. Adding a tomato flower in the center of your salad dish will deliver a powerful impact, not only in appearance but in the impression that you leave on your guests as well.

5. Soup with Cream and Parsley

Cream and parsley garnishing on soup

Carrot and pumpkin soups are quite popular and are often a part of dinner menus. People love the rich and heavy flavor of carrots and pumpkins. However, what would make your guests want to try the soup immediately? Garnishing your carrot and pumpkin soup with cream and a sprig of parsley will do the trick. The addition of different colors will make the soup visually appealing, and your guests will want to dive into it right away!

6. Soup with Croutons and Parsley

Garnished tomato soup

Another great way to make your soup look as tasty as possible is to top it with croutons and fresh parsley. Any garnish that adds color, aroma, and enhances flavor is sure to make a dish as simple as a soup a super hit!

7. Pasta with a Tomato Puree and Cheese Garnish

Garnishing with tomato puree and cheese

One of the most common main dishes that people include in their dinner party menus is pasta. Like salads, pasta gives you an incredible space to experiment. Pasta dishes themselves are quite colorful dishes that often include meat, vegetables, and the pasta itself. However, garnishing pasta can make your dish look a whole lot more appetizing.

By simply adding some tomato puree and capsicum and shredding some Parmesan cheese, you can transform your pasta platter into a rainbow! Such a beautiful dish would look wonderful on your dining table and would definitely be most people’s favorite dish of the night.

8. Roasted Turkey with Lemon, Cranberry, and HerbsLemon, cranberries, and herbs for garnish

Are you planning on including roasted turkey in your dinner party menu? If yes, go ahead and do it because people love roasted turkey. However, to make your roasted turkey look more appealing and appetizing, adding garnish is a necessity. Without any garnish, the dish will just end up looking dull, boring, and unappetizing. You can add lemon slices, cranberries, and herbs to add a pop of color, aroma, and an added flavor to the roasted turkey. The pop of color will surely make your platter look attractive and delicious from the very first glance!

9. Oysters with a Lemon Garnish

Garnish with lemon wedges

Place a dish full of oysters on the table, and people will forget the rest of the items. Oysters are a highlight of any menu. However, when you plate a dish of oysters up, it doesn’t always look like the dish is complete. What we’re trying to say is that the platter, more often than not, looks boring.

The grayness of the dish (because of the color of the oysters) does nothing to make it appetizing and appealing. Well, you don’t have to leave it that way. By simply garnishing the platter with lemon wedges, you can make your dish come to life. The incorporation of a little color is all your dish needs sometimes!

10. Pork Ribs with Vegetables and Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce garnish

If you want to make a juicy pork ribs platter visually irresistible, garnishing it with sautéed vegetables and teriyaki sauce will do the job. Spreading teriyaki sauce artfully on the platter and arranging the pork ribs and vegetables neatly can make your dish look as if a world-class chef has prepared it.

Ideally, you don’t want to serve pork meat alone because it will look dull and boring. Nobody wants to try a dish that looks boring. So, spice up the look of your dish with sautéed vegetables and teriyaki sauce.

11. Baked Trout Fillet with Rice and VegetablesVegetable garnish on baked trout fish

Serving just a baked fillet of trout is not a very good idea. If there aren’t any fish lovers in your guest list, this dish will be most likely be left untouched. Everyone likes to have food that looks interesting. Food that intrigues a person to try it is what you should serve, and that is why, we suggest that you garnish the baked trout with sautéed vegetables and some interesting sauces, keeping steamed rice as a side dish. You will get a perfectly balanced and visually appealing platter ready to serve.

12. Grilled Veggies Garnished with Fresh Herbs

Skewed grilled chicken and vegetables

If you want to keep your dinner party menu simple yet attractive, try serving grilled veggies served on skewers, and garnished with fresh herbs. Decorating and presenting the simplest of foods in a creative way will surely make it a hit. You don’t always have to serve fancy dishes. Sometimes, serving simple food items in a fancy way is good enough, too.

13. Chicken Steak with a Vegetable Garnish

Colorful platter of chicken steak and vegetables

A vegetable garnish is the most common type of garnish that is used to decorate and enhance the visual appeal of many dishes. Whether you are serving seafood fillets or chicken steaks, a vegetable garnish works well. Garnishing your chicken steak with a colorful variety of vegetables is a great way to make a colorful platter that is hard to resist.

14. Cheesecake with a Fruit Garnish

Cheesecake with berries

Everyone loves cheesecakes! To make your guests happy, you have to have this delicious item on your menu. A cheesecake garnished with small pieces of fruits like berries, and sauces like a strawberry or chocolate sauce make for the most elegant dessert!

15. A Brownie with a Chocolate Syrup Garnish

Chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream garnished with chocolate syrup

Just when you think your food is ready and the dish is all set to be served, give it one final look and ask yourself – does the dish look visually appealing? Will it leave the guests wanting more? Your dish might taste great, but if it doesn’t look equally as amazing, people might not even give it a try to know how good it tastes.

That is why it is important to focus on the aesthetics of your dishes as well. If you have a brownie on your menu, serving it straight from the oven is not an option. If you can’t think a fancy way to present this dessert item, simply garnishing the brownies with chocolate syrup will do the job well.

16. Edible Flower Garnish on Desserts

Carrot cake garnished with Pansies

Did you know there are many flower varieties that are edible and can be used for garnishing? Pansies and Jasmines are just a few examples of edible flowers. Edible flowers make for beautiful garnishes on desserts, especially on cakes. Their use in garnishing is not limited to deserts only. They can be used in different salads and side dishes as well.

17. Rice with Nuts and Dried Fruits

Cashew garnishing on rice

Nuts and dried fruits as a garnish are often seen with rice and meat dishes. Roasted almonds, cashews, and pistachios are the common nuts that you will often see being used as garnishes in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines. They add the perfect crunch to any dish. The roasted flavor dominates the entire dish, which is loved by many people. Serving rice with roasted nut garnishing will be a unique dish at your dinner party that people will surely love.

18. Spicy Curry with Powdered Spice

Spicy chicken curry

If you wish to spice up the party, try garnishing your curry dishes with some powdered spices like paprika and herbs like basil and bay. A hot curry dish with rice will be the winner in your upcoming dinner party.

Garnishing is the little extra that is needed to make your dishes stand out and taste even better. If you want the food you prepare to leave a lasting impact, always finish it off by garnishing it with suitable ingredients.

The visual appeal of food has a major impact on your appetite. It is your eyes that make you either want to taste the dish or skip it. The better a dish looks visually, the more eager you are to taste it.

You may think that the garnishing of the dish is an afterthought, but in reality, garnishing is a very important factor in making your dish look presentable and desirable. It may look like a decoration that was tossed on the plate just like that, but thinking in such a way is wrong, and it doesn’t do justice to the art of garnishing a dish.

A garnish consists of an edible component like vegetables, herbs, sauces, berries, or chopped fruits. It doesn’t just enhance the appearance and the flavor of the food; it also adds additional nutritional value to it.

Imagine two different situations – In one, you get served bread and eggs for breakfast, and in the second, you are served a beautifully decorated platter that consists of bread and eggs that have been garnished with herbs and different seasonings. Which one would you prefer to eat? Although the main items of both dishes are the same, you will probably opt for the garnished platter because of its visually appealing aesthetics.

When we say that a garnish is a powerful tool that you can use to make a simple dish stand out, we mean it. If you’re going to be hosting a dinner party any time soon, we suggest you go through the garnish ideas we’ve listed below. These ideas will make your party a hit, and something that people will continue to discuss in the days that follow.

With the correct garnish, you can enjoy restaurant-like meals at home. As far as your upcoming dinner party is concerned, garnished dishes will make your guests feel the same way.


Is parsley a garnish?

Parsley is often used as a garnish, but it can also be used as an ingredient in recipes. When used as a garnish, parsley adds color and flavor to dishes.

When used as an ingredient, parsley can add a fresh, herby flavor to recipes. Parsley can be used in both cooked and raw dishes. It is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

What to garnish butternut squash soup with?

Parsley is a good option for garnishing butternut squash soup. Other options include croutons, chopped nuts, or shredded cheese.

Why do we garnish cocktails?

Cocktails are often garnished for both aesthetic and flavor purposes. Garnishes can add color, texture, and flavor to cocktails. Common cocktail garnishes include fruit, herbs, and skewers.

Why do we garnish food?

Food can be garnished for both aesthetic and flavor purposes. Garnishes can add color, texture, and flavor to dishes. Common food garnishes include herbs, spices, nuts, and fruits.

What to do with drink garnish?

There are many ways to use drink garnishes. Garnishes can be used to add flavor, color, or texture to cocktails. They can also be used as decoration. Cocktail garnishes can be eaten, used as stirrers, or thrown away.

Do you eat or drink garnishes?

It depends on the garnish. Some garnishes, like fruit, can be eaten. Other garnishes, like herbs, are used for flavor and aroma. They are not meant to be eaten.

Garnishes can also be used as decoration. It is up to the individual to decide whether or not to eat or drink a particular garnish.

Why are garnishes used in meat dishes?

Garnishes are often used in meat dishes to add flavor and visual appeal. Common meat garnishes include herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables.

Garnishes can be used to add color, texture, and flavor to a dish. They can also be used as decoration.