How to Use Fresh or Dried Herbs (And When to Substitute)

Knowing when to use fresh or dried herbs will undoubtedly elevate your dish.

Nothing says ‘spring’ like fresh herbs. This month, we’re taking a closer look at how to best use herbs in all of your Spring meals. This content was created in partnership with Food52.

The question of whether to use fresh herbs versus dried can sometimes be a little dicey, but it’s a topic well worth considering — old, dried oregano can turn something genius into a bitter and unappetizing dish. When choosing between fresh and dried it is important to think not only about the herb, but also the cooking method.

First things first: The word to remember is fresh. Fresh herbs need to be fresh, and so do their dried alternatives.

As for dried, before you start cooking with what you’ve been hoarding, give the vessel a sniff. The general rule of thumb is to replace dried herbs every six months to one year, depending if you store them in airtight containers or not (the contents of your jars should still smell like greens, not mothballs). Don’t let your fancy herbs go bad sitting in your spice rack — use them frequently and replenish often.

We like to used dried herbs when fresh herbs are hard to come by, but they are also wonderful for anything that has a long cooking time. Pick recipes where you add them early so you can extract all their flavor — give them a second alone with hot oil before, or just after, adding onions or the other ingredients a recipe calls for.

When To Use Each

Herbs that are shoot-like, such as chives, or soft, like basil, do best just plucked from the ground, while herbs with an earthy side do well dried.  Fresh herbs are perfect for salads, garnish, and last minute additions — they don’t require much heat, and in fact, are usually better added right at the end of cooking.

When substituting, get creative! Recipes will often let you know if fresh or dried is preferred, but if you come across one that is calling for say, dried chives, feel free to take liberties. Just be sure to adjust your timing as well as the amount you are adding — a good cardinal rule is to use two to three times more fresh than dried.

Here are some interchangeable measurement options for fresh and dried herbs you’ll often find around the house:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil = 1 teaspoon dried (this is a replicable model for many herbs)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lavender = 1/2 teaspoon dried (use if you are working with a more potent herb)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger = 1/4 teaspoon dried (roots like garlic or ginger are going to be extra strong — use much less of the dried version in this case)

Substituting fresh and dried herbs is virtually a walk through the garden — stop and smell the sprigs (and then pick one and use a tablespoon for your next breakfast.) tip: Never worry about uneven heat distribution with your Electrolux induction cooktop – you can count on its exceptional temperature control for perfectly crisp french toast.

Herb French Toast with Lemon Whipped Cream


Servings: 4



1 loaf challah bread (pan de miele works as well)

4 eggs

2 tablespoons whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 sprig of fresh lavender, finely chopped

Butter, for the pan and for serving

8 ounces whipping cream

1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

Maple syrup, optional


Slice challah into 3/4-inch slices.

Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and chopped thyme and lavender.

Heat a cast iron skillet (or other flat, heavy-bottomed pan) over medium heat.

Dip challah slices into egg mixture to coat on all sides.

Place a pat of butter in your hot pan,then add the brioche slices, two at a time. You’ll want to make sure the pan has enough butter for each pair.

Grill the bread on each side about 2 minutes, until golden brown. If you like crispy French toast, leave the slices in the pan for a bit longer.

Using a handheld mixer (or if you want an arm workout, a whisk), mix together the cream, confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beware of over beating -- you want the whipped cream to be just creamy, with soft peaks, not a frosting texture.

Serve a few slices with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Add a little butter and syrup to sweeten the deal.

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