Plus, learn how to substitute one for the other.
Fresh herbs including basil, dill, and mint
Credit: Christopher Testani

Fresh or dried, herbs can add flavor, color, and aroma to any dish, instantly elevating it from ordinary to extraordinary. When cooking with herbs, keep a general rule of thumb in mind regarding the ratio of fresh to dry: Because dried herbs are often more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs, you need less if they're dry. That means the correct ratio is 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs to 1 teaspoon of dried herbs. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, you need only 1 teaspoon of dried oregano. The same goes for basil, dill, parsley, and any other herb that you fancy.

Here, we're sharing how to properly store herbs, plus our favorite ways to cook with the most common varieties.

How to Store Herbs

Hearty fresh-cut herbs, such as rosemary or thyme, should be wrapped in a damp paper towel, stored in resealable plastic bags, and then put into the refrigerator. Delicate fresh herbs, such as mint or basil, should be stored in a glass with 1 inch of water (much like flowers), covered with a plastic bag, and left at room temperature.

Dried herbs should be stored out of the light and in a cool, dry place. Keep an eye on how long your herbs have been open—if they've been open for too long, they'll smell and taste less potent. Note the date that you open the container of dried herbs to make it easier to distinguish if they're still usable.

Cooking With Herbs

When cooking, it's always easier to add more flavor than it is to take it away, so taste as you go to make sure the dish is properly seasoned.


The sprigs of this Mediterranean herb are known for their woody fragrance and are delicious when used on meats, especially barbecued meats. In fact, its fragrance is so potent that you can hold rosemary sprigs over burning coals on your barbecue to infuse your meats with their distinct flavor. In addition to being an aromatic ingredient, rosemary has antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties, so it can be a natural healer, too. Some of our favorite recipes that use this earthy herb are Fougasse with Rosemary and Seeds, Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak With Peppers and Onions, Tuscan Ribs, and even this delicious Victory Garden Cocktail.

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are often used whole in soups, stews, and sauces. They have a dark, floral scent and should be used sparingly, as their flavor goes a long way. For this reason, they're often used in curries, too. Some of our favorite recipes using bay leaves include Olive-Oil-Fried Potatoes with Aioli, Quick-Brined Corned Beef and Vegetables, Pink Grapefruit-White Cranberry Sparkling Punch, and a spectacular holiday Citrus-Roasted Heritage Turkey.


Fresh basil is known for its aromatic appeal, particularly in Italian cuisine. Basil is the main ingredient in pesto, and is often used to add fresh flavor to dishes ranging from sauces to fish. Some of our favorite recipes include this sweetened Basil-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelèe, Turkey-Pesto Meatball Soup, and Shrimp with Spicy Green Rice.

Comments (5)

Martha Stewart Member
January 6, 2019
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Martha Stewart Member
February 18, 2018
can I frece cilantro to use later? It seems to me it is much too delicate. More so than rosemary.
Martha Stewart Member
October 2, 2017
Hallo. I make cookies from rosemary and thay are fantastic. I always have a problem of how many rosemary to put into the cookies. I know for fresh rosemary from, and I will try the frozen to compare. With best regards.
Martha Stewart Member
June 23, 2013
Yes you can freeze a few sprigs of fresh rosemary but you don’t want to stuff the whole bunch in a bag to freeze. I've placed dried rosemary from in the freezer and pulled it out to use with no problem. Using dried rosemary instead of fresh means you'll need to use less - remember 1 teaspoon of dried equals 1 tablespoon of fresh. Dried rosemary tends to have a strong, concentrated flavor; it is easy to overdo it. I make dried rosemary Paleo crackers everyone loves!
Martha Stewart Member
August 12, 2012
I have a big pot of rosemary. How can I dry it and can I freeze rosemary? Or just put in a jar like the other herbs? Thanks in advance. I really need to know what to do with the herb.