Herbs is a catch-all term to denote plants that are used to either flavor food, perfume the air, or alleviate illness. One of the oldest documented culinary herbs was Gingko biloba, which has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years.

The use of herbs in cooking is universal, with each culture having their own unique herbal repertoire that is used to make recipes more intriguing to the palate. Depending upon the plant, its flowers, roots, stems, seeds, and blossoms can be used to create aroma, intensify flavor, and conjure nuance.

Dried herbs are a way to retain a fresh plant’s flavor virtues long after its growing season has passed. The general measurement rule is one tablespoon of coarsely chopped fresh herbs is equivalent to one teaspoon of dried herbs. To fully release their flavor before adding dried herbs to a dish, rub them between your fingers to release their oils first.

It’s typically best to add dried herbs to a dish towards the end of its cooking time in order to retain as much flavor as possible. In general, air-drying works best because it enables the fresh herbs to retain more flavor than dehydrating them in an oven.

  1. Gather approximately seven to eight fresh plants together and bind them with a rubber band or a piece of cooking string.
  2. Place the herb bundle, leaf-side up, in a clean brown paper bag and gently fold over the top of the bag to form a loose seal. Using a knife tip or a toothpick, poke several holes in the bag to encourage air circulation.
  3. Set the bag aside in a dry place at room temperature until the herbs are completely dehydrated. They have reached this stage when they are brittle and break apart easily.
  4. Crumble the herbs between your fingers onto a dry plate.
  5. Store dried herbs in a sealed container in a cool, dark place at room temperature. They will typically keep at full flavor intensity for up to three months.

Here are some ideas on using them:

Cinnamon Thyme Tea

Recipes to Nourish

Cinnamon tea energizes the palate and enlivens the senses. The addition of dried thyme is an unexpected way to heighten the flavor and add even more healthful properties to this easy to prepare cup of comfort. Get the recipe.

Mashed Sweet Green Peas with Shiitakes

Of Goats and Greens

This side dish is easy to put together, but the addition of shiitake mushrooms packs a powerful umami punch. The dried sage deepens the flavor and the addition of bacon and your favorite cheese transforms a simple side into a substantial main dish. Get the recipe.

Lemon Dill Tartar Sauce

Tasteful Venture

Dried dill and just three other ingredients combine to create a tartar sauce that is bright and creamy all at the same time. It’s the perfect accompaniment for fried and grilled fish and even works well as a dip for fresh vegetables. Get the recipe.

Dried Basil Pesto

This recipe is an economical twist to pricier pesto made from fresh basil and is a cinch to pull together. For a twist, substitute roasted hazelnuts or pecans for the pine nuts. Get the recipe.


Joff Lee/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Stuffing doesn’t have to be reserved for Thanksgiving. The dried parsley and sage in this stuffing recipe add depth that can be brightened with the addition of coarsely chopped Granny Smith apples that are added at the same time as the bread cubes. Get the recipe.

Salmon with Lemon and Oregano

The Lemon Bowl

This easy summer recipe incorporating dried oregano is brightened with lemon zest and is ready for the dinner table in just over ten minutes. It’s elegant enough for a dinner party but also lovely on a rushed weekday evening. Get the recipe.

— Head photo: Flickr.

Jody Eddy is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. She has cooked at Jean Georges, The Fat Duck, and Tabla and is the former editor of Art Culinaire Magazine. Her most recent cookbook was "Cuba! Recipes and Stories From a Cuban Kitchen", published by Ten Speed Press. Her cookbook "North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland" was published by Ten Speed Press in 2014 and won the 2015 IACP Judge's Choice Award. She is the author of the James Beard nominated cookbook "Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants" and her upcoming book for Ten Speed, "The Hygge Life", will be published in November, 2017. She is writing a cookbook for W.W. Norton profiling the cuisine and food traditions of monasteries, temples, mosques and synagogues around the world which will be published in 2019 and a cookbook with the Food Network chef Maneet Chauhan profiling the cuisine of India via an epic train journey throughout the country. She writes for Travel+Leisure, Saveur, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Plate, and VICE, among others. She is the author of JodyEddy.com, leads culinary trend tours for food and beverage corporations in Iceland, Peru, Mexico, Ireland and Cuba and is the Vice President of Marketing, Partnerships and Events at Hop Springs, an 85 acre agritourism destination opening in Nashville in May, 2018.
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