If you're trying to incorporate wholesome foods into your diet, your first thought might be "the fresher, the better." While this is an excellent rule to follow with many foods, when it comes to herbs, depending on the recipe, fresh herbs may not always be the best choice when cooking at home.
Unless you have a garden that you're growing fresh herbs in, buying them at the grocery store can be inconvenient. And if you do purchase them fresh, you must store them properly so that they don't spoil quickly. While there's nothing quite like fresh herbs, there are several recipes in which dried herbs can lend their own unique flavor. To help you better understand the differences between both and when to use each, we've created this guide that compares dried vs. fresh herbs. Keep scrolling to discover more about these flavorful ingredients!
What Are Dried Herbs?
Simply put, dried herbs are herbs that have been intentionally dried to help preserve their flavor and create a shelf-stable herb that will last for a longer time. Herbs that have been recently dried usually have a stronger flavor, which means that you can use less of them to achieve the same result. If you purchase dried herbs that are lacking in flavor, it may be worth checking when they were packaged. Dried herbs that have been sitting on a shelf for longer than a year tend to lose their flavor and not be as potent.
When to Use Dried Herbs
The rule of thumb is that if you are cooking a dish on the stovetop for more than a few minutes, it's best to use dried herbs. While you can use fresh herbs, after cooking them for 10 minutes or longer, the natural oils that make the herbs taste fresh are released. This means that even if fresh herbs are used, they will have the same impact as dried ones. In stovetop recipes, dried herbs generally work the same, or better than fresh herbs. Plus, you might even save some money!
When adding dried herbs to a stovetop meal, it's best to add them to the recipe during cooking. Doing so will allow time for their flavor to infuse the entire meal. If you add dried herbs later in the cooking process, their flavor won't be as potent. When choosing which herbs to purchase dry, it's worth noting that some dried herbs hold their flavor better than others. A few of our favorite dried herbs include:
- Bay Leaf
- Curry Leaf
- Fennel Seed
When stored at room temperature, in a dry and dark place, dried herbs will keep for a long time. However, they do have an expiration date. Over time dried herbs lose their potency and should be used within a year of purchase.
Delicious Recipes That Use Dried Herbs
Gluten Free Yeasted Focaccia with Sourdough Starter
If you're craving homemade focaccia bread, then this recipe is sure to hit the spot. This tasty Gluten Free Yeasted Focaccia is made with a sourdough starter and various dried herbs. Its traditional focaccia texture yields a soft crumbly interior with a crispy exterior. Made with a combination of millet flour and sorghum flour, this bread is easy for those with a gluten intolerance to enjoy. Top it off with olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste, and you have a delicious bread ready to eat!
Gluten Free Savory Breakfast Muffins
What's a more delicious on-the-go treat than breakfast muffins? We understand that mornings can get busy, especially when you have a full week of work ahead. To help make busy days easier, try preparing these Gluten Free Savory Breakfast Muffins before the week begins and freeze them for an on-the-go breakfast that everyone will love. Full of flavor and easy to grab, they're the perfect breakfast to eat when you're in a rush. A mix of dried cilantro, parsley and dill are used in these muffins to amp up their savory flavor. Just one batch of this recipe will serve up to six people. Serve as is or for even more of a flavor boost top these muffins with cream cheese.
Socca, a wheat free and grain free flatbread, is a popular dish in France and around the Mediterranean coasts of western Europe. Easy to fix, it has a delicious flavor and can be topped with nearly anything. Use it as a base for pizza or as a sweet and savory flatbread. To boost the flavor of the dish, add the dried herbs at the beginning of the cooking process. Made in just 30 minutes, this flatbread can be served and enjoyed immediately. Just wait for it to cool off before diving in!
What Are Fresh Herbs?
Fresh herbs are a healthy way to take some of your favorite dishes to the next level. Adding fresh herbs at the end of the cooking process, or using them to garnish a meal before serving, adds a delicious depth of flavor to a recipe. Fresh herbs are usually classified into two categories: hard herbs and soft herbs. Rosemary and thyme are hard herbs and often too potent to be eaten raw. While they can be enjoyed fresh, hard herbs taste best when cooked into the meal they're flavoring. Soft herbs like basil and parsley often have a lighter flavor and are best enjoyed raw when added to salads or when stirred into cooked dishes.
Though many grocery stores carry fresh herbs, they're also easy to grow! Whether you live in an apartment in the city or have a garden of your own, with the right supplies, you can quickly grow fresh herbs to pull from when cooking.
When to Use Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs can be used in just about anything! When making a raw dish like salad or ceviche, it is best to use fresh herbs. Soft herbs are best used uncooked as they have a light, refreshing flavor. Some of the most commonly used soft herbs are:
When using fresh herbs in cooked meals, you can use both soft and hard herbs. Due to their strong flavor, hard herbs will taste best when added to a heated recipe. The heat allows their flavors to mix with the meal without becoming overbearing. Some of the most common hard herbs are:
- Bay Leaves
When it comes to herbs, certain herbs are always better fresh. Often, more delicate herbs lose a lot of their flavor when dried. When cooking with delicate herbs like parsley, tarragon, cilantro, chives, mint and dill, if possible, it is recommended to use them fresh.
Recipes That Use Fresh Herbs
Fresh Herb, Feta and Quinoa Cauliflower Patties
Loaded with fresh herbs like parsley, oregano and dill, these quinoa patties are overflowing with flavor. A great dish to make ahead and store as a quick meal, this Fresh Herb, Feta and Quinoa Cauliflower Recipe can help you stick to your healthy diet, even on the busiest of days! Top them with a dollop of hummus or pest and serve them on a whole grain bun for a truly satisfying meal!
Fines Herbs Quiche
Who doesn't love a great quiche? If you're craving french food, then this Fines Herbs Quiche is the perfect dish. Made with our Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix and flavored with fresh chives, parsley and tarragon, this quiche blends healthy and wholesome ingredients to create a truly nutritious meal. Enjoy this as is, or serve alongside a soup or salad for a more filling meal!
Substituting Dried and Fresh Herbs
While some herbs are best used fresh, others can easily be substituted for their dried version. Generally, when swapping dried herbs for fresh herbs, you should use ⅓ of the amount of fresh herbs called for in the recipe. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, then you would add 1 teaspoon of dried thyme. The same rule replies in reverse when swapping fresh herbs for dried herbs. In raw and uncooked recipes, dried herbs have a dusty taste and should not be substituted for fresh herbs.
Now that you better understand the difference between dried herbs vs. fresh herbs and when to use each, we hope that you're inspired to hit the kitchen and add this delicious ingredient to your recipes! Knowing the proper way to use herbs in your meals, will help you create flavorsome healthy meals daily. Whether you choose to grow your herbs or purchase them at the market, we're confident that your meals will taste delicious!
Have a favorite herb of your own? Let us know what you love about it in the comment below!