Picture this: you open your refrigerator door, frantically searching for that fresh bunch of parsley you just know you have. Once you dig it out, you find that the stems are wilted and the leaves are slimy—your last hopes for your recipe are dashed. You have some dried parsley flakes shoved in the back of the cabinet, but they probably hasn't seen the light of day in months. Can this crispy herb potentially be your saving grace? Here's the rundown on when to use fresh vs dried herbs while cooking.

The Benefits

Smell, Herbs, herb, Fresh, natural, farmer's market
Caroline Ingalls

Determining the different qualities of fresh and dried herbs is vital to learning when to use each in the kitchen. Fresh herbs offer a broad spectrum of flavors to utilize in your dish, but they are very subtle and balanced. Dried herbs tend to have a stronger, refined taste because much of the flavor is lost during the drying process. Some aromas fade while others are more prominent, thus giving dried herbs a sharper flavor.

When to Use Each

herb, vegetable, parsley, dill, condiment, chives, relish
Paula Kreutzer

Because of their varying levels of strength, each herb provides a unique flavor that can't be reproduced by the other. So when is it okay to use fresh vs dried herbs? Dried herbs are stronger, so they should be added to raw or partially cooked foods to provide maximum flavor for your dish during the entire cooking process. Fresh herbs should be added toward the end of your cooking so their flavor does not become suppressed. You can also use both to make salad dressings, soups, sauces, and seasonings.

#Spoon Tip: Different herbs create different flavor dynamics. Here is a list of when and how to use common herbs in popular dishes.

General Ratio to Remember

herb, vegetable
Irvin Mai

Opinion wavers from person to person, but generally fresh and dried herbs are interchangeable. Just remember to be mindful of the dish you're making and the general ratio (i.e. how much dried equals fresh). The rule of thirds states that 3 parts fresh herb is equal to 1 part dried herb. For example, 1 tablespoon of finely chopped basil is equal to 1 teaspoon of crushed dried basil. When in doubt, add in less than you think you need and adjust after you've tasted the dish. 

In the end, the decision to use fresh vs dried herbs really just depends on what you're cooking and how much flavor you want to add to it. If you want a stronger flavor, use dried. If you want a subtle and refreshing flavor, use fresh. No matter what form you use them in, herbs add a delectable flavor to your meal that brings its delicious taste full circle.