Homemade potpourri recipes

There are two basic types potpourri: dried and simmering. Making dried potpourri – the kind that sits around in a bowl, letting off its wonderful scent – is a great hobby. It costs less than buying it at a store,  and you get to come up with your own custom fragrances and mixes. It also makes for a lovely and inexpensive gift. But there’s a lot to the process.

Homemade potpourri recipes

If drying and curing and stirring is more hassle than you want to get into, or if you just want to be able to whip up a lovely scent spontaneously, you should look at instant simmering potpourri recipes. I’m going to cover recipes for both kinds here, starting with the easy kind.

Instant simmering potpourri

You can make instant simmering potpourri from anything that smells good while it’s being simmered, and you probably have a lot of stuff on hand already that qualifies:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Extracts of vanilla, almond, peppermint, etc.
  • Dried spices and herbs – thyme, basil, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, nutmeg, clove, lemongrass, etc.
  • Dried carob or carob chips
  • Apple cider

Easy Simmering Potpourri Recipes

These recipes can be ridiculously simple. Just cinnamon sticks simmering in a cup of water on low heat makes a wonderful cinnamon smell. Add vanilla extract to some clove and you’ve got vanilla spice. You don’t really need specific amounts – you just combine the ingredients slowly, letting your nose tell you when you’ve got the blend just right.

Here are some suggested recipe combinations for simmering on the stovetop in a saucepan, or in a potpourri burner:

Cinnamon Buns

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Vanilla extract
  • Almond extract
  • Nutmeg (optional)

Add a little apple cider to your simmering water, and you get a whole new flavor.

Coffee Potpourri

  • Fresh ground coffee beans (ideally – instant coffee will do, too)
  • Optionally, any or all of the following: vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon sticks, orange peel, dried carob, chickory. Anything that tastes good in coffee will work, (except for creamer and cocoa powder, which don’t simmer very well).

Mint Potpourri

You could fancy it up with lemon verbena or rosemary or almost anything, but seriously: a few drops of peppermint extract or essential oil in a cup of water, simmering. That’s all you need.

Fresh mint from the garden is another way to go. This can yield a slightly more “green” scent than you get from peppermint extract or oil.

Cilantro Mint Potpourri

Put mint extract and dried cilantro into your simmering pot. It makes one of those scents you can’t stop inhaling because it’s wonderful and fascinating.

Chai Tea Potpourri

  • Black tea bags
  • Vanilla extract
  • Chai spices include the following, so use any or all of them: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, ginger, coriander seed, mace, star anise, fennel, bay leaf.

When you’re done simmering, you could strain this into a cup, add some milk, and enjoy a chai tea latte.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Sprinkle dried versions of these into simmering water and you get a wonderful green herbal scent.

Dried potpourri recipes

If you want to do a little more work, you can create dried potpourris which will let off scent from a bowl, a sachet or even from simmering. (In fact, simmering is a great way to get one last burst of scent from dried potpourri that’s losing its aroma.) Here are some dried potpourri recipes to get you started:

  1. Citrus Zing – lemon verbena, lemon balm and lemon thyme, with marjoram and other common household spices and some essential oils
  2. Velvet Winds {scroll down} – peony, rosebud, jasmine and other flowers combine to make a smooth floral scent
  3. Apple potpourri – dried apple slices, cinnamon, cloves, pine cones and berries
  4. Kitchen potpourri – apples, oranges, limes, lemons, cranberries, vanilla and spices. This is guaranteed to get the smell of last night’s cooked salmon out of there!
  5. Orange Spice Potpourri – zesty citrus rinds, anise, cinnamon and cloves make for a lovely scent
  6. Pine Potpourri {scroll down} – pine cones and other fragrant evergreen elements, with pine and cedar oils
  7. Orchard Peach Potpourri – bael nuts, bay leaf and various flowers form the backdrop for peach essential oils
  8. A summer and a winter recipe – scroll down for two wonderful recipes featuring mixed flowers and herbs for summer, and evergreen scents with anise for winter.
  9. Purple Haze – lavender with carnations and marigolds
  10. Essence of Rose – a colorful assortment of rose petals with chamomile, eucalyptus and rose oil
  11. Primitive Potpourri Bricks: these “fixins” are essentially little baked beads of potpourri that you can use to accent a potpourri dish, hang from a car windshield, or put just about anywhere you want to scent things. Very neat idea!
  12. Blend #1 – a simple citrus blend of jasmine, sandalwood, grapefruit and other essential oils, which you can put over dried flowers


  1. says

    Hi there, I stumbled on your blog while looking for dried potpourri recipes and find myself fascinated with all of your simmering potpourri suggestions. So many wonderful and easy/practical ways to add a graceful touch to the daily grind. Thank you thank you for a super informative entry and I can’t wait to try all of these!

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