UPDATED DECEMBER 31, 2019
While dried herbs are easily available in our kitchen, fresh herbs might not. Unless you have your own herbs garden. Since fresh herbs do not last, most of us will only keep the dried version. How many times have you used a recipe only to find out that fresh herbs are needed? Sometimes, this put me off. Therefore, it is good to know how to substitute fresh herbs with dried.
Knowing how to substitute, you will always be able to cook your favourite dish without omitting the herbs. It does make a difference in taste and aroma. Furthermore, you will reduce wastage too. Buying fresh herbs, mostly come in a bundle. What to do with leftovers? May end up in waste.
Actually, there are ways to extend the life of fresh herbs and things we can do with leftover herbs. Read on to find out.
How to substitute fresh herbs with dried
The general rule of thumb to substitute fresh herbs with dried is a ratio of three to one.
3 portions of fresh herbs = 1 portion of dried herbs
Following the cooking measurement conversion, 1 tablespoon equals 3 teaspoons. Therefore, when a recipe called for one tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of fresh oregano, substitute it with one teaspoon of dried oregano.
Dried herbs are more concentrated in flavour. This is the reason why we use them in a smaller amount. Having said that, they can lose its flavour over time. If so, you need to measure out a bit more than the recipe called for.
When substituting fresh herbs with dried or vice versa, it is advisable to continuously taste your dish during cooking and adjust the ingredient to get the best flavour that suits your taste buds.
REMEMBER: LESS dried herbs ; MORE fresh herbs
On a separate note
In the beginning, I find it extremely confusing with the below sentences.
- Substituting fresh herbs for dried
- Substituting fresh herbs with dried
In case you feel the same too, I will explain it here.
Be careful with the underlined words “for” and “with” as they give a different meaning altogether.
In sentence no. 1 => it means USE fresh herbs, NOT dried.
In sentence no. 2 => it means REPLACE fresh herbs with dried. In this case, USE dried herbs.
USING FRESH HERBS VS DRIED
Before we go further, let’s define herbs between soft and hard.
Soft herbs have tender stems and leaves. The common ones are basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley and tarragon.
Hard herbs have woody stems with firm leaves. The common being chive, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme.
Soft herbs are best used fresh and should NOT be replaced with dried. Usually, they are added at the end of the cooking process to bring out the soft, aromatic flavour without destroying the freshness of the herbs. I like to see greens in my dish. Am sure you do too.
Hard herbs are mostly added in the early stages of cooking to allow them time to infuse flavour into the dish. Whole sprigs can be added to soup, stews, casseroles or roast.
REMEMBER: Use soft herbs at the end of cooking; use hard herbs at the beginning of cooking.
Dried herbs, similar to hard herbs are best used at the beginning of the cooking process. As long as we cook them long enough to soften and allow them to release their flavour, the dish will taste similar if not better.
So, the most common question asked – Can I substitute fresh herbs with dried?
YES to hard herbs; NO to soft herbs.
How to Store Herbs
Now we know – to substitute fresh soft herbs with dried is NOT a good option. Thus, we should look into ways to extend the life of these fresh herbs.
Soft herbs are like a bouquet of flowers. Trim the end of the stems and put the bundle in a glass filled with water. Depending on the temperature of your environment, if it is cooling, you may leave it on the kitchen counter. If it is a warm day, you should cover the herbs loosely with a plastic bag and put it in the fridge.
Hard herbs are firmer and therefore can be stored differently. Wrap loosely with a paper towel, put it into a plastic bag or airtight container and store it in the fridge.
Dried herbs are easier to store and I see many of them in my pantry. There are 3 things to remember when storing them.
- Keep them in an airtight container or jar. Glass is the best option because metal and plastic can affect the flavour of some herbs.
- Keep them in a cool place. The heat will speed up flavour loss.
- Keep them in a dark place, away from light to conserve the colour.
To check its freshness, crush the dried herbs between your fingers and smell it. If the scent is light, the herbs have lost their flavour and need to be replaced.
REMEMBER: Moisture, temperature and light can affect the freshness of the herbs if not destroy the beneficial properties of the herbs.
Need to stock up your herbs and spices?
Fresh is always nice but there will be wastage. Unless we store them properly or have a herbs garden of our own. Storing them properly isn’t hard to do. Just a little effort will help. It is worthwhile because nothing beats to using them fresh as in from market or garden to cooking pot.
You may consider growing your own herbs. Thus, you will have fresh herbs at your fingertips all year round. Click here to find out how to grow herbs indoor year round.
Remember not to substitute fresh soft herbs with dried. However, you may do so with fresh hard herbs. The ratio to substitute is easy to remember – three to one (3, 2, 1)
3 portions fresh = 1 portion dried.
Dried herbs are to be used in the slow cooking method and added at the early stage of the cooking process. Whereas, fresh are added last.
No matter what we cook, how we cook, taste the dish continuously along the cooking process in order to achieve the best taste. Some of us like it mild, some like it stronger, so it really depends on our own taste buds. When adding herbs especially dried, remember to do it bit by bit because we cannot take out what has been added but we can add more if needed.
Knowing how to substitute fresh herbs with dried makes your cooking experience easier. No need to rush out to the neighbourhood grocer at the last moment. Yet, still able to cook up flavourful dishes.
Should you want to improve your cooking skills, consider taking an online cooking course at Rouxbe. Learn at your own pace from the comfort of your home with just $9.99 per month. Start your 30-day free trial here.
What was your experience with fresh vs dried herbs? Which version do you prefer using? Tell us about it in the comments section below. If you have a better way storing the fresh herbs, share with us.
Related articles that you may find useful
If you have some leftover herbs, there is a healthy way to use common cooking herbs. Click here to find out.
Additionally, herbs can be used for homemade remedies. Check out the below posts.
- Herbs and Spices for Bloated Stomach
- Herbs and Spices to Reduce Stress
- How to Lose Weight with Herbs
- Teenage Acne Treatment
- Best Herbs for Healthy Hair
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From the Corner of My Home – Spice Up Your Life with Herbs and Spices
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25 Replies to “Fresh Herbs VS Dried Herbs – How to Substitute Fresh Herbs with Dried”
I always had a confusion on what is the difference between fresh herbs and the dry one since we tend to use both of them pretty extensively.
I do feel that the fresh ones are more aromatic, however, it really depends on the kind of herbs that we are using. Very informative post. Thanks.
Thank you for visiting my site.
I love fresh basil. No substituting with dried for this herb.
Enjoyed your article very much, for informative on herbs both dried and fresh. I am a big herb lover, I keep planning to start my own herb garden but it just never happens.
I am wondering do you think the dried herbs gives the meal the same flavor as the fresh herbs, maybe I just do not use enough dried herbs but I always have a tastier meal with the fresh herbs?
Thank you for visiting my site.
When substituting fresh herbs with dried, the ratio of 3 to 1 is the general guideline. Do take into consideration the freshness of the herbs. Have they been kept for quite some time? They may lose their flavour too if not properly stored. Also, depends on personal taste, being a herb lover (me too), you may need to add a bit more.
Do try to grow your own herbs. Start small. The best herbs come from your garden. From my experience, the taste and aroma is totally wonderful, much much better than store bought. I have basil and mint which grow quite easily.
Happy planting and cooking!
This article is very interesting. I never knew there were so much variations and differences between fresh and dried herbs. I have learned a lot from reading this. I also stand corrected as I always assumed that I should use more dried herbs than fresh but its the opposite way around. tfs, I’ve learned so much from this! 🙂
I am glad you found this an interesting read and also able to improve your understanding on this topic.
At first, I thought so too – use more dried than fresh, till I found out otherwise.
I’m glad I found your article to learn more about fresh herbs and dried herbs.
I’m a herbs lover and I love to cook with them, it’s good to know the basic rule on herbs now.
3 portion of fresh herbs = 1 portion of dried herbs
I grow every year my own herbs garden, right now I have lots of coriander, do you know how I can keep it? would be a good idea to try to get the leaves dry?
Good to know that you have your own herbs garden. I have not try growing coriander but basil is abundant and a bit of mint.
You may try to dry the coriander using the oven. Firstly, wash and dry the coriander using a salad spinner or kitchen towels. Remove the discoloured leaves and stems. Cut the coriander into a quarter inch and place them onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Spread out the leaves in a thin layer. Place it into a preheated oven set to the lowest temperature. Depending on how much coriander you are drying, it can take from 20 minutes till 2 hours or so. Check the progress after 20 minutes and every 10-15 minutes thereafter till the leaves are dry and flaky. Remove from oven and leave to cool. Store the dried coriander in a clean, dry and airtight container or jar. Place it at a cool dark place.
Hope this helps. Do let me know how it goes or if you need further help.
Good topic for debate. I always questioned the dry herbs because of the fact that you aren’t getting the same nutrients as they are often water-soluble. You mentioned the hows and the whys but do you know where I can buy any of these products from as I am interested . Thankyou
You can buy them from your neighbourhood grocery store. Alternately, you may buy online from Amazon – plenty of choices to choose from.
Thanks for this post Sharon!
That is the bain of my life. Wastage of fresh herbs, mostly mint when I’m making my alkaline water.
They don’t come in handy ‘one-use’ packets so most of it ends up being wasted.
Is mint classified as a soft herb? Can I also store this in a jar of water without it losing its authenticity?
Yes, mint is a soft herb. You may store them using a jar of water as described. But do not store for too long because fresh is always the best and it does affect its aroma and taste after a few days.
Thanks for dropping by.
Thanks for your reply Sharon.
Yes, I do prefer the fresh herbs. I will try storing the mint in a jar of water.
Thanks for writing about herbs. I am bookmarking your site for future reference. I always wanted an herb garden but have had limited success outdoors. I will be moving soon and will be referring to your site to help me get an indoor herb garden going.
I also had no idea that there were hard and soft herbs and how to use them and how to substitute the dried versus fresh.
Since reading this article, now I have a lot more knowledge about herbs than I did before. Thanks so much.
I am glad you found this article useful.
Hope you have a smooth relocation. And have a herb garden thereafter,
Do visit this site periodically for more articles on herbs and spices.
I love using herbs in cooking so your information on the ratio of using dried to fresh herbs is useful.
I always tend to prefer fresh herbs but as you rightly state fresh are not always available all year round.
It’s good that you suggest books to read on the subject too.
Thanks for dropping by, Ann. Am glad you found this post useful.
I love those books. Many herbs and spices knowledge can be gained from them.
Get one for yourself, perhaps?
I never knew about the hard/soft herbs! I thought they were all the same. I’ve been on a quest to make the most perfect pizza, and maybe adding the basil towards the end of the cooking would help… I’ll start using fresh basil too, thank you so much for this information! I have some of the Simply Organic herbs in my pantry, though — very great quality!
Basil are best used fresh towards the end of cooking. Try it on your pizza and tell me how it goes. I am sure the aroma and taste will be completely different from the dried version.
Drop by periodically for more articles on herbs and spices. There are many ways to use them.
Great article on fresh herbs vs dried herbs. I was just having this conversation with a lady at the grocery store and she was asking me if I knew how to dry herbs because she is always wasting buying fresh ones. I in fact hang my herbs up to dry so I always have “fresh-dried” herbs on hand. you know I never know that they can lose their flavour over time. That is good information to know thanks!
I love cooking with fresh herbs because their aroma and taste are much better. But this doesn’t mean that dried herbs isn’t a good choice. Glad that you have both. Dried herbs are good for stew and soup. The prolonged cooking time brings out the flavour of the herbs.
Good to know that you are drying your own herbs.Nothing goes to waste.
Thanks for dropping by.
I never knew that there was a three to one ratio with fresh vs dry herbs. I guess this makes sense though to me as my wife tried to grow fresh herbs for awhile and it never seemed like they added much flavor. She most likely was following recipes that called for dry herbs so this would be a good thing to point out to those making the recipes.
I am glad that you found out the reason as to why the lack of flavour. The three to one ratio is a general guideline. Taste the dish as you go along with the cooking. You can always add a bit by bit to suit your taste bud but remember not to overdo as you can’t take them out 😉
Hello Sharon, I have often wondered how to figure out dried from fresh. So many thanks for this. And I am a big believer that we have all these beautiful gifts from nature around us.. it is our medicine cabinet.. So do like your blog and all the information you are sharing. Will keep coming back.
in peace and gratitude, ariel
Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comments, Ariel. There are many ways to use these herbs and spices and I am still exploring. Will be sharing more as I go along.
See you again,