Herbs: Dried vs. Fresh

Posted Apr 21, 2023

Herbs really are one of my favorite topics, especially this time of year. These underrated little superfoods are anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral, even anti-aging. Add in the cardioprotective benefits of herbs and you get a tasty recipe for better health.  

With two forms to choose from, it’s pretty easy to get herbs into your diet. So which form is better, dried herbs or fresh herbs? Or does it even make a difference? If you are looking for some quick wins for the food on your plate, keep reading. 

Dried herbs: 

  • Convenient – look for organic dried herbs from reputable sources. 
  • Keep in a dark, cool place. Sniff often to see if they have lost any of their potency. 
  • Won't spoil but they can lose their potency over time. Think about replacing your dried herbs every one to four years (when stored properly) for the best flavor and nutrient density.  
  • More concentrated so you use less, typically one-half to one-third of the fresh amount. There are four tablespoons in ¼ cup, so if a recipe calls for ¼ cup of fresh cilantro, you will use 2 tablespoons or less of dried cilantro.  
  • Dried herbs take longer to cook so add in early while cooking to maximize the flavor. 

Fresh herbs: 

  • Can be grown in a pot on a windowsill or back porch. Buying a small plant allows you to have fresh herbs any time and can save you trips to and money at the grocery store.  
  • More perishable but also more flavorful because they are at their peak. 
  • Delicious tossed raw into a salad or other dish. 
  • Fresh herbs are already bursting with flavor and don’t need as long to cook, so add in later while cooking or they may lose some of their flavor.  
  • Thyme, rosemary and sage can be grown all year round and work well together. 
  • Run under hot water for about seven seconds to release the flavor. 
  • Roll them up together and cut to desired size. 
  • Strip the leaves from the stems to use in your favorite dish. Then use the woody stems when you grill veggies or make broths. 
  • Softer herbs like basil and mint can be put in a glass of water to plump so they will be both pretty and flavorful in your dish.  

Both dried and fresh herbs have their place in cooking and should be used in place of table salt as much as possible to enhance the flavor of your meals. Start cooking with herbs today and see how much more you enjoy your food with all the health benefits. You’ll never miss the salt; I promise! 

By Julie Hartley, RD, CHC, LDN