How to Substitute Dried Herbs for Fresh

Dried herbs

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If a recipe calls for fresh herbs, but you only have dried herbs on hand (or you don't want to spring for fresh), replace the fresh herbs in your recipe with one-third as much of the dried equivalent. The flavor is much more concentrated in dried herbs, so less is required.

Substitution Example

Suppose your recipe calls for a tablespoon of fresh thyme. To swap it out, use 1 teaspoon of dried thyme in its place. Bay leaves are the only exception to this rule. Since they lose much of their flavor when dried, you should replace one fresh bay leaf with two dried bay leaves.

fresh thyme to dried
The Spruce Eats / Hilary Allison

Substituting Ground Herbs for Fresh

If you don't have the fresh herb that you need, and you don't have its dried herb equivalent either, you can also substitute fresh herbs with ground herbs. As a general rule, 1 teaspoon of dried herb is equal to 1/2 teaspoon of ground, according to The Reluctant Gourmet. So, do a bit of simple math: Since 1 teaspoon of dried herb equals 1/2 teaspoon of ground, replace the tablespoon of fresh thyme (from the previous example) with 1/2 teaspoon of ground.

Of course, there's an exception to this rule. According to The Reluctant Gourmet, "If you are working with dried ground herbs like ground ginger which is going to be even more potent than the dried flaky herbs, the general ratio is 4 to 1 or four parts fresh to one part dried."

If you're out of an herb in all forms, just use an ingredient substitution chart to look up other herbs that you can use in its place. It sure beats having to make a special trip to the store.

Growing Your Herbs

Most herbs are easy to grow from seeds and are just as easy to dry or freeze for later use. Nurseries also sell herb plants, particularly those that are difficult to grow from seeds. And, if you have a shady yard, grow herbs that don't require much sun.

Many herbs are perennials, meaning they'll come back year after year. But most annual herbs self-seed. Just let them go to seed at the end of the season, and new plants will emerge on their next spring.

Drying or Freezing Your Herbs

Preserve the fresh herbs that you grow, so you can enjoy them when they aren't in season. To dry herbs, hang them upside down in small bunches in a warm, dry spot. Check on them for a week or two; then, transfer them to an airtight container when they feel scorched to the touch. If you want to dry them faster, use a dehydrator or an oven set to the lowest temperature.

Freezing herbs is also a good option, as it allows you to enjoy the taste of fresh herbs anytime. Add them to cooked dishes, and you won't even be able to tell they aren't fresh from the garden. Some herbs you can freeze include basil and dill.