Fresh vs Dried Herbs

Fresh vs Dried Herbs | Pinch of Nom Slimming Recipes

One of your most-asked questions has always been, ‘is it possible to use dried herbs instead of fresh?’ The truth is, for many of our recipes, the short answer is ‘yes!’. 

You’ll just need to bear in mind that it’s not a like for like swap when it comes to changing between fresh and dried herbs. The amounts will have to adjust so that you can get the flavours you’re aiming for, but we’ll talk you through all of that! 

With our handy conversion chart at your fingertips, you’ll easily be able to figure out using fresh versus dried herbs for most recipes.

Converting from fresh herbs to dried (or dried to fresh!)

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 remember, 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 noting 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!

Fresh vs Dried Herbs | Pinch of Nom Slimming Recipes

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. 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!

Creamy Butter Chicken-1 - Pinch of Nom Slimming Recipes

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. Ingredients 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.

Dried bay leaves are so convenient for adding depth to stews and casseroles, and that’s exactly why you’ll find them on the ingredients list for our rich and warming Cuban Beef.

Cuban Beef - Pinch of Nom Slimming Recipes

You could use dried versions of the other herbs in a worst case scenario, but just keep 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. 

Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef Stew - Pinch of Nom Slimming Recipes

Will you be using any of our tips? Let us know!

We’d love to hear all about how cooking with dried herbs is going for you. The next time you whip up something tasty, feel free to show us a picture or tell us all about it in our friendly Facebook group – we have almost 1 million members waiting to support you on your slimming journey!

We’ll also see your creations if you share them on Instagram – just remember to tag us (@pinchofnom) so that we don’t miss it.

Plus, don’t forget to upload any photos you’ve taken of your crispy creations to our PON gallery – you might even win some SWAG.

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