How to Cook with Fresh Herbs and Store Them for Maximum Flavor

Brighten up any meal when you learn to prepare and store fresh herbs (and how to substitute dried herbs when necessary).

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 needed or follow our guidelines for substituting dried herbs when you don't have fresh ones on hand. When you do find fresh herbs like basil, mint, rosemary, and more, try these tips for storing your fresh herbs to keep them flavorful as long as possible.

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
Kritsada Panichgul

Storing Fresh Herbs

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

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 for a couple of 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 a 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.

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, flavoring meat, or even baking. Get started by trying a couple of our favorite recipes!

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