Fresh vs Dried Herbs
We often get asked if it’s possible to use dried herbs instead of fresh in many of our recipes and the short answer is ‘yes’!
However, there are some conversions that you’ll need to do around the amount of herbs you’re adding, and it’s also worth bearing in mind that some herbs lose their flavour when dried so should be avoided.
Here’s our handy guide.
Converting from fresh herbs to dried (and vice versa!)
Dried herbs are much more concentrated in flavour than fresh herbs are and so you’ll need to use much less in your recipe to avoid an overpowering, herby taste.
As a general rule of thumb, one tablespoon of fresh herbs is equivalent to one teaspoon of dried herbs which works out at being around a ⅓ less.
This is the case for most herbs, but it is worth noting that there are a few exceptions to bear in mind as some herbs don’t fit into this rule.
For garlic, you’ll need to use ½ a teaspoon of dried garlic powder for every clove of fresh garlic that your recipe calls for, and if you want to use ground ginger instead of fresh then you’ll need ¼ teaspoon for every teaspoon of fresh ginger.
Sage and thyme are both often measured in terms of how many leaves should be added to a dish and so you’ll need 1 teaspoon of dried sage for every 7 leaves, or ¾ teaspoon of dried thyme for every 6 sprigs.
It’s worth bearing in mind that these conversions are very general and that you should start off with less dried herbs than you think you’ll need before tasting and adding more if necessary.
Remember, it’s easy to add flavour but pretty difficult to try and take it away!
Dishes that aren’t suitable for dried herbs
Although most dishes will be fine with dried herbs instead of fresh, they should be avoided in any cold, salad type dishes or garnishes.
For example, our Jewelled Giant Couscous uses fresh mint to bring the Middle Eastern flavours to life, and dried mint wouldn’t have quite the same effect.
If your dish doesn’t need to be cooked then it’s likely that the flavour would end up being massively different to what you expected and your meal might end up being ruined.
For recipes that need to be cooked for over 10 minutes fresh and dried herbs can be used interchangeably with no real impact on the flavour – although you might find that some dishes work particularly well with one or the other.
Curries cooked over a longer period of time are great dishes to use up dried herbs, like our Creamy Butter Chicken!
Again, it’s always best to start with a small amount and then add more if you think it’s needed.
Dried herbs to avoid
The flavour of some herbs just doesn’t translate very well when they’re dried and so you should try and use fresh whenever possible.
Things like parsley, chives, tarragon, dill, mint and even bay leaves tend to lose a lot of their flavour during the drying process.
While dried bay leaves can be used in place of fresh, you’d really need to double the amount of fresh herbs the recipe calls for – so if your dish needs 2 fresh bay leaves, you’ll need to add 4 dried ones.
We use dried bay leaves for convenience and to add depth to stews and casseroles, and it’s an essential ingredient in our Cuban Beef.
You could use dried versions of the other herbs in a worst case scenario, but just bear in mind that the flavour will be altered and you might have to add more to get the desired outcome so taste as you go along.
Making the most of fresh herbs
You can buy fresh herb plants in most supermarkets and herbs are also super easy to grow yourself in your own garden.
If you’re worried that you won’t end up using all of your fresh herbs before they turn bad, then you can pop them in the freezer to use at a later date.
Simply chop your herbs up, add them to an ice cube tray and then top up the tray with water or even oil.
When you’re ready to add them to your favourite soup, sauce or stew like our Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef Stew, you can just grab a cube from the freezer and pop it straight into your dish.
If you’re looking for more ways to keep your food fresher for longer, then make sure you check out our Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze and How To Keep Your Ingredients Fresher For Longer articles for more handy tips.
Still not sure with converting fresh herbs to dried? Head over to our Facebook Group and ask our fantastic community who will be more than happy to help and offer lots of advice!