Even though herbs have their own distinctive flavor, there's no culinary rule that says you can't substitute one herb in place of another. Try something new to spice up your cooking or find our parsley substitute suggestions if you're in need of a swap asap. We'll also share some tips for converting fresh herbs to dried herbs in your kitchen.

By Katlyn Moncada
Updated October 15, 2020
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Although summer is the season of fresh herbs (either from your own garden or the farmers market), you're likely to find a variety available in supermarkets any time of the year. But what if the fresh herb supply is slim and you need to figure out if there's a substitute for thyme (or whatever fresh herb you need)? Unless you're growing your own herb garden, it's hard to keep a stock of all the fresh herbs you'll need for any particular recipe. And given how expensive fresh herbs can be when you only need a little bit, it can be hard to justify buying one type of fresh herb when you have others to use up. Use this guide to know how to substitute herbs with other herbs without compromising the flavor of your dish.

Credit: Jason Donnelly

Fresh Herb Substitutes

When you're out of a fresh herb and don't have dried herbs to substitute (more on that below), follow these substitutes for parsley, fennel, thyme, and more. They're the closest match when substituting one fresh herb for another. Is your ingredient missing from the list? Hop over to our emergency ingredient substitutes page where you'll find a substitute for spices and more.

  • Basil: oregano or thyme
  • Bay leaf: For 1 bay leaf, substitute ¼ tsp. crushed bay leaf or ¼ tsp. thyme
  • Chervil: tarragon or parsley
  • Chives: green onion, onion, or leek
  • Cilantro: parsley
  • Dill (weed or seed): Use an equal amount of tarragon
  • Fennel: anise seed
  • Italian seasoning: basil, oregano, or rosemary
  • Marjoram: basil, thyme, or savory
  • Mint: basil, marjoram, or rosemary
  • Oregano: thyme or basil
  • Parsley: chervil or cilantro
  • Rosemary: thyme, tarragon, or savory
  • Sage: poultry seasoning, savory, marjoram, or rosemary
  • Savory: thyme, marjoram, or sage
  • Tarragon: chervil, dash fennel seed, or dash anise seed
  • Thyme: basil, marjoram, oregano, or savory

How to Substitute Dried Herbs for Fresh Herbs

In general, you can substitute 1 tsp. dried herb for 1 Tbsp. fresh herb. Check out our full guide to substituting dried herbs for fresh herbs.

Cooking with Herbs

No matter which herb you choose, fresh herbs are a great way to bring bold flavors to your cooking. Because heat diminishes the flavor when cooking with fresh herbs, our Test Kitchen recommends adding in chopped or snipped herbs just before serving your dish. Choose herbs that have fresh-looking leaves without brown spots. Fresh herbs are not long-lasting, so only buy or pick them as needed.

Want to know more about herb storage and cooking? Discover more of our best tips on how to store herbs so they'll stay fresh for longer or dry your fresh herbs to make the most of your summer haul.

Download Our Free Ingredient Substitutions Chart

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