Four Reasons to Use Dried Herbs Over Fresh Herbs

with Samuel Garrett
Spice Trainer
March 2, 2016
Tags: dried herbs fresh herbs herb recipes recipes

Many chefs agree that fresh herbs are superior to dried herbs, and they’re right…some of the time.

Most herbs contain flavor compounds that are more volatile than water, which means the drying process that removes water also ends up removing some flavor. But dried herbs are not always less flavorful than fresh, and here’s why: Savory herbs that tend to grow in hot, relatively dry climates – like oregano, for instance – have flavor compounds that are stable at high temperatures and are well protected within the leaf. They have to be, in order to withstand the high temperatures and lack of humidity in their natural environment. As long as you cook these dried herbs  long enough to soften them, the flavor is just as good as fresh – and they’re a whole lot less expensive and more convenient to use.

Why use dried herbs over fresh herbs?

It’s hard to give a steadfast rule on when to use dried over fresh herbs, as it depends on the herb and the dish you are creating. Here are four of the biggest reasons you might choose dried over fresh.

1. Convenience: Easy to use and store

As with numerous other spices, it’s easy to keep dried herbs on hand to use at a moment’s notice. Additionally, using dried herbs requires zero prep time when compared to fresh herbs. If you’re using fresh thyme or rosemary, you need to tediously pick off each individual leaf or needle before you can add it to your dish. What a pain! Dried herbs allow you to simply grab a jar, give a couple of shakes over your dish, and you’re on your way to a great meal.

2. Concentrated flavor: Can use less than fresh herbs

Because of their intense concentrated flavor, dried herbs can be substituted for fresh herbs at a ratio of 1 to 3. For example, if a recipe calls for 3 tsp. fresh oregano, you can use 1 tsp. of dried oregano. In order to realease the full flavor of dried herbs, they need to be heated and rehydrated. That’s why they’re great for recipes like soups and stews that sometimes require extended cooking times.

3. Longevity: Will stay 'fresh' longer than fresh herbs

Ensure dried herbs are still fresh by checking to see if they are green and not faded, and by crushing a few leaves to see if the aroma is still strong. Always store your dried herbs in an airtight container away from light and heat. Always store your spices in an airtight container away from light and heat to prolong their shelf life.

4. Price: More affordable than fresh herbs

Considering you only need to use a third of the dried herbs versus fresh herbs, in most recipes and applications, using dried herbs should be much easier on your budget. Since dried herbs last far longer than fresh herbs too, you don’t have to worry about fresh herbs going bad before you can cook with them.

Wondering how exactly to use dried herbs in a recipe?

Now that you have the scoop on dried herbs, here are some of our favorite recipes that make the most of those dried herbs in your spice cabinet:

When does using fresh herbs make more sense?

There are instances when you’ll want to use fresh herbs over dried herbs, because the flavor or consistency of the fresh herb just makes more sense for some dishes. When making pesto, for example, using fresh basil over dried is going to give you the most flavor impact and that beautiful green color we associate with this herby, garlic-y sauce. When garnishing dishes like dips or salads, using fresh herbs like parsley, mint, or cilantro makes more sense than using dried since you’re not giving the herbs a chance to release their flavor through a rehydrating or cooking process.

Do you have a favorite recipe using dried herbs? Submit it to our test kitchen so we can share it with our Savory Spice friends and family.


Comments on this Article

Kay Farmer (guest), on April 18, 2016

This is a great article. I always wanted to know which way to go dry or fresh. This is very useful also will look into the recipe links especially for ranch dressing so that i can avoid MSG so prevalent in most commercial ranch dressings

Kay Farmer (guest), on April 18, 2016

This is a great article. I always wanted to know which way to go dry or fresh. This is very useful also will look into the recipe links especially for ranch dressing so that i can avoid MSG so prevalent in most commercial ranch dressings

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