Herbs can make or break a dish. Mint instantly refreshes any kind of sorbet or mocktail. Thyme and rosemary add a woodsy-lemony hint to roast chicken. Green goddess dressing, I've learned from my days at République, is best made with fine herbs: chervil, parsley, chives, and tarragon. Above all else, using fresh vs dried herbs has a huge impact on your dishes. 

When to Use Fresh vs Dried Herbs

vegetable, herb, fresh herbs, local herbs, local farms, shop local, farmer's market
Sam Jesner

Understandably, it can be difficult to figure out when to use fresh vs dried herbs. When substituting dried herbs for fresh herbs, try to pick out herbs that are savory and tend to grow in hot climates. Oregano is a good example that is more commonly used dried–its flavor compounds are stable at high temperatures. Remember only to use dried herbs when cooking foods, whereas fresh herbs are best for salads or desserts. Other herbs that can be used dried include thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary.

There seems to be this misconception that herbs should only be used fresh, which isn't always the case. Most college students gravitate towards dried herbs because they're easier to store. However, the drying process can completely change the flavor of the food. Dried herbs typically are more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs. As a rule of thumb, use a 1:3 ratio for dried herbs to fresh. Volatile compounds come out more in dried herbs because of its exposure to the heat. This can lend a bitter flavor to your dish, so you'd generally want to use less dried herbs in your cooking.

Spice, oregano
Victoria Hoang

On the flip side, when using more aromatic herbs such as basil, chervil, parsley, cilantro, dill, tarragon, and mint, try to use them fresh as much as possible. These herbs are less woody and have a higher water content, so the flavor would be significantly compromised if used dry. 

Herb Recipes to Try

To start you off, here are some recipes to try with dried herbs. If all else fails, my favorite way to dress up anything (cheese, meats, vegetables, etc.) is salt, garlic, olive oil, and oregano.

Marinara Sauce

tomato sauce, homemade, pasta, dorm, Easy
Tess Citron

Marinara sauce is a great way to use dried herbs. The long cooking time and concentration of different flavors allows those herbs to stand out. 

Filipino Chicken Adobo

David Zambuto

One of the core ingredients of chicken adobo are bay leaves. Bay leaves contribute a tea-like aroma, which tempers down the loud flavors of soy sauce and vinegar. 

Beef Roast

Michael Garrett

Like a stew, a roast requires cooking something for a long period of time at a relatively high temperature, which is the best way for the flavors of dried herbs to really stand out. Dried herbs can definitely complement robust meats. 

Herbs are some of the most versatile spices that you could add to any dish. Be it the freshness of mint that will lighten up any dessert or the woodsy appeal of sage that gives depth to any brown butter sauce, you can't go wrong with this extra level of flavor. Use herbs wisely and they'll be real game changers.