How to Cook with Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs might not keep long, but they're a great way to add flavor and freshness to just about any dish. If you've ever been intimidated by using fresh herbs in your cooking, don't worry! We have all the information you need to add basil, mint, rosemary, and more into recipes. Plus, we'll share a few tips for storing fresh herbs to keep them fresh, and substituting in dried herbs if you don't have fresh on hand.

Fresh herbs add spark and life to food, whether you grow them in your garden or buy them from the market. Choose herbs that have fresh-looking leaves without brown spots. Fresh herbs don't last long, so buy (or pick) only as you need them.

stripping leaves from herb stem

Stripping Fresh Herbs

Thoroughly rinse fresh herbs under cool water. Blot dry with paper towels or use a salad spinner. Remove tiny leaves from herbs such as thyme by holding onto the stem with one hand and stripping the leaves into a bowl using the other hand.

cutting herbs with scissors in measuring cup

Snipping Fresh Herbs

To cut larger clean and dry fresh herbs, place leaves in a measuring cup or bowl and snip them with kitchen scissors, using short, quick strokes. For herbs with tough stems, such as rosemary, strip the leaves from the stem first.

cutting chiffonade herbs on cutting board

How to Chiffonade Fresh Herbs

A chiffonade is a bunch of thin strips or shreds. To create a chiffonade of herbs, roll up larger leaves, such as basil, and cut across the roll.

covering herbs with plastic

Storing Fresh Herbs

To store fresh herbs, cut leaves from bottom 1/2 inch of the stems. Stand stems in a small jar with some water. Loosely cover leaves with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Don't refrigerate basil—it may blacken. Discard wilted leaves as they appear.

Learn about more methods for preserving your herbs

measuring spoons filled with dried herbs

Substituting Dried Herbs for Fresh

Even though some recipes may specify using fresh herbs, they aren't always available or you may not want to buy an entire bundle just to use a couple teaspoons. In many cases, dried herbs can be substituted for fresh. To do so, use one-third the amount of dried herb for the fresh herb called for in the recipe. For example, substitute 1 teaspoon of a dried herb for 1 tablespoon of a fresh herb. When substituting a ground herb for dried leaf herb, use about half of the amount of the dried leaf herb called for in the recipe. Also, add the dried herb to a recipe at the beginning of the cooking time. This allows its flavors to seep into the dish.

Check out these herb substitutions for when you're out of the herb you need

Fresh Basil Salad

Now that you know all about them, it's time to start adding fresh herbs to your recipes! Try using fresh herbs in salads, to flavor meat, or even in baking. Get started by trying a couple of our favorite recipes!

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