How to use dried herbs

July 18, 2016


how to use dried herbs

dried herbs



Use 1/3rd the volume of when substituting dried herbs for fresh.

  • If a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil, substitute 1 teaspoon of dried basil.


Dried herbs perform best in dishes with a long cooking time and a fair amount of liquid where they will simmer and rehydrate for some time. Dishes like stew, soups, braises, chili and long-simmering curries tend to do well with dried herbs.

Dried herbs are also a superior choice to fresh when you’re making a spice rub for long-cooked, smoked or barbecued meats or fish.

Most dried herbs should be added to your dish earlier in the cooking process than their fresh equivalents would be. This is especially true for leafy green herbs like basil, mint and oregano, which are nearly always added at the very end of cooking when fresh.

For the best flavor, consider briefly cooking dried herbs in a small amount of butter or oil to help bring out the fat-soluble flavor compounds before adding the herbs and cooking fat to the dish. (This is called “blooming” the herbs.) If your dish also includes spices, you should be doing this anyway – feel free to bloom the dried herbs and spices together.

Dried herbs are a must for any quick cooking pantry. They add great flavor, are inexpensive, and are long-lasting. Dried herbs have a different flavor than fresh herbs. They are smokier and more intense. To get the most flavor out of your dried herb collection, follow these tips.

If they don’t smell strong, discard them and buy a new bottle. Make sure you label your herb containers so you know when they were purchased; they should be frequently rotated. Buy small packages of herbs you don’t use often so you don’t waste them. 

  • The ratio for using dried herbs to fresh is 1:3. If a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh basil and you have dried on hand, use 1 teaspoon dried basil. Or you can use a combination of both for intense flavor.
  • Dry herbs are slower to release their flavors than fresh herbs; they will need extra cooking time to impart their full flavors, so add them to the dish sooner. Since they are less delicate and need the moisture, you may also want to add them along with a liquid, to help extract out the flavors. Crushing the larger-leaf herbs up a bit may also help. Use less dried herb than you would with fresh, because they are more concentrated.
  • When cooking in the crockpot, add dried herbs (and fresh herbs too) at the end of cooking time. Long, slow cooking times can diminish the herb’s intensity. Or you can add them at the beginning of cooking time and add more at the end, to your taste.
  • Before adding the herbs to the food, crush the leaves between your fingers. This helps release volatile oils and increases the herb’s fragrance and flavor.
  • One other technique you might use (if there’s minimal cooking of other ingredients) is to soak them in oil for a long time to extract flavors. I would suggest an overnight soak in olive oil. You can get more flavor out if you heat the olive oil before letting it sit to soak; something like 50C/125F is a reasonable temperature to dissolve more flavor compounds, without damaging the more delicate ones.
  • Dried herbs can be combined to make your own personalized seasoning mixes. Use your favorites to create your own personal blends.
  • Store herbs in a cool, dry place. You could also store your dried herbs and spices in the freezer, so they last much longer. Just make sure everything is well labeled. Crushing the frozen leaves between your fingers will release more of the volatile oils and help make the herbs more fragrant.





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