Can you eat bay leaves in soup?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can you eat bay leaves in soup?” and will discuss some health benefits of consuming bay leaves.

Can you eat bay leaves in soup?

Yes, you can eat bay leaves in soup but it’s not recommended. In many soups and sauces, bay leaves enhance the taste and complexity of the meal. They have a somewhat bitter, minty flavor when dried.

Eating bay leaves is feasible, but it’s important to exercise caution. Bay leaves possess a firm and rigid structure with sharp edges that do not soften when cooked. 

This can make them challenging to chew and swallow, and even grinding them can lead to an unpleasant gritty texture.

In culinary practices, dried bay leaves are frequently employed in soups, rice dishes, teas, and sauces. 

Nonetheless, it is common to remove them before serving due to the potential risk they pose for choking. Despite their removal, the unique flavor of bay leaves tends to infuse into the dish, leaving a distinct taste.(1)

How to Cook with Bay Leaf?

Using bay leaves is a simple process. All you need to do is add two to three leaves to your soup, stew, sauce, rice, or tea, and let them cook along with the dish to infuse a subtle aroma and flavor.

If you have access to fresh green bay leaves, they can provide a richer flavor. However, it’s important to note that they have a shorter shelf life of approximately one week when stored properly. Fresh bay leaves are commonly used to enhance the flavor of tea.

For longer-lasting usage, dried whole bay leaves are generally preferred. When stored correctly in a cool and dry place, they can maintain their quality for years. 

Whole dried bay leaves are typically added to dishes during cooking. Using whole leaves is advantageous as they can be easily removed after cooking.

In some cases, crushed or ground bay leaves are used instead of whole leaves. While this can impart a stronger flavor, it may also introduce a gritty texture to the dish, which is not easily removable. 

To address this, it is recommended to use crushed or ground bay leaves inside a muslin bag or tea infuser, allowing for easy removal while still infusing the desired flavor.(1)

What are the health benefits of bay leaves?

Bay leaves boast an impressive nutritional profile, containing abundant amounts of vitamins A, B, and C. 

Moreover, they are a rich source of essential minerals such as copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, and selenium. Additionally, bay leaves contain folic acid, further contributing to their nutritional value.

Given their high nutrient content, bay leaves offer various health benefits and are recognized for their potential positive impact on well-being. (2)

Effects on the microorganisms

Bay leaves contain antibacterial characteristics that prevent germs from developing near them. Staphylococcus aureus (the bacterium responsible for Staph infections) and Escherichia coli are both inhibited by bay leaves. 

Bay leaves have also been shown to be effective in the battle against the bacterium H. Pylori, which may lead to stomach ulcers and even cancer. (1)

Regulation of blood sugar levels

Bay leaves have shown potential benefits for individuals with diabetes. Several studies suggest that consuming bay leaves can help lower blood sugar levels and potentially reduce the risk factors associated with diabetes.(3, 4)

Treatment and prevention of cancer

The unique combination of antioxidants and organic compounds in bay leaves, including phytonutrients,catechins, linalool, and parthenolide, which has shown to specifically restrain the proliferation of cervical cancer cells and helps to protect the body from the effects of free radicals.

Free radicals can cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells and bay leaves are particularly adept at preventing this activity. (2)

What are the side effects of bay leaves?

One potential side effect of consuming whole bay leaves is the risk of choking. Unlike ground bay leaf, which eliminates this risk, whole bay leaves cannot be easily digested and may remain intact while passing through the digestive system.

Regarding the safety of bay leaf consumption during pregnancy or breastfeeding, there is insufficient reliable information available. Bay leaf has the potential to interfere with blood sugar control, making it potentially unsafe for individuals with diabetes.

Another consideration is that bay leaves might have a slowing effect on the central nervous system (CNS). This raises concerns about potential excessive CNS depression when combined with anesthesia and other medications used during and after surgery.

To ensure safety, it is recommended to discontinue the use of bay leaf as a medicinal product at least two weeks prior to a scheduled surgery.(2)


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can you eat bay leaves in soup?” and discussed some health benefits of consuming bay leaves.


  1. Batool S, Khera RA, Hanif MA, Ayub MA. Bay Leaf. Medicinal Plants of South Asia. 2020:63–74.
  2. Aparna, Kuna.  Health Benefits of Bay Leaf, Health Action, 31 (7), 24 – 26. 2018.
  3. Abdulrahim Aljamal, Effects of Bay Leaves on the Patients with Diabetes Mellitus. Research Journal of Medicinal Plants, 5: 471-476. 2011.
  4. Khan A, Zaman G, Anderson RA. Bay leaves improve glucose and lipid profile of people with type 2 diabetes. J Clin Biochem Nutr.  44(1):52-6. 2009.