How to Convert Fresh and Dried Herb Measurements

The Rule of Thumb for Fresh and Dried Equivalents

What do you do if a recipe calls for a fresh herb but you only have dried? Or, perhaps the reverse--you have plenty of fresh herbs, especially in the summertime when the garden is prolific, and would prefer to use them over dried. No worries--there is a formula to follow when converting fresh to dried herbs and vice versa. 

The rule of thumb for most herbs is 1 teaspoon of the dried herb = 1 tablespoon of the fresh.

In other words, you need to use three times the amount of fresh than dried (and 1/3 the amount of dried than fresh). This is because dried herbs are more potent and concentrated in flavor than fresh herbs. 

The one exception to this rule is a bay leaf--bay leaves lose a lot of their flavor when they are dried, so if replacing a fresh bay leaf with dried you actually need to increase the quantity to two dried bay leaves.

Tips When You Swap

It is important to keep a few things in mind when swapping fresh for dried or vice versa. First, dried herbs don't taste quite the same as fresh herbs do--their taste is slightly bitter whereas the fresh herb tastes, well, fresh. There are also some herbs that just aren't very good when dried, such as parsley; during the drying process, it loses most of its flavor and basically everything that is good about fresh parsley. But, considering this herb is available year-round, you shouldn't have a problem finding it in the market.

Other herbs to avoid buying dry are cilantro, chives and chervil--they are nothing like their fresh version. 

Cooking with Dried vs. Fresh Herbs

Dried herbs and fresh herbs need to be added to recipes at different stages. It is important to add dried herbs during the cooking process to allow their flavors to infuse into the whole dish, while it is best to wait until the end of the recipe to include the fresh herbs so they maintain their brightness and vibrant green color.

Sometimes dishes benefit most from a sprinkling of fresh herb right before serving.

Dried herbs are ideal in soups and stews as well as cooked sauces, and perfect for adding to a spice rub. Use fresh herbs when making salad dressings and salsas, and add to salads and fish and chicken dishes for color and flavor.

Storing Herbs

Dried herbs will lose their potency quickly if not stored properly. Keep in airtight jars or containers in a drawer or cabinet. You can store fresh herbs similarly to how you store flowers--in a glass or jar with a few inches of cold water, covered with a plastic bag if you choose, and placed in the refrigerator.