Cooking with Fresh Herbs 

Whether you are a new cook or an experienced chef, using herbs can increase the flavor of any food, and they have natural health benefits. Fresh herbs increase the flavor in food more than dried because of all the oils in the leaves. In addition, fresh herbs are full of antioxidants,

To incorporate fresh herbs into your cooking, wash them first under running water before adding to any recipe. Depending on the recipe, you can chop or leave the leaf of the fresh herb whole. The best time to add herbs for stews, soups, and vegetables is during the last 15-20 minutes of the cooking process. For the best flavor of basil, try adding it at the last minute.

Herbs can add flavor to:

  • Salad dressings and vinegar
  • Sauces
  • Butter, margarine, and spreads
  • Breads or desserts
  • Meat, poultry, fish and eggs
  • Soups and stews

Commonly Used Herbs and their Flavor

BasilSweet, warm, and aromaticMeats, seafood, vegetables
CilantroFresh and earthyTraditional Mexican-style dishes, meats, salads, and sauces
ChivesDelicate onion flavorMaintain color and flavor and may add to baked potatoes, soups, egg dishes
DillSweet and aromaticSeafood, egg dishes, soups, potato salad, vegetables, or vinegar and oil dressing
MintSweet and aromaticSalads, sauces, and stir fry dishes. Also common in baking and beverages
OreganoSavory and earthyMeats and vegetables; complements pizza and soups
ParsleySavory, aromatic, and subtleGrilled meats, vegetables, salads, garnish
RosemaryStrong and fragrantMeats and hearty vegetables
SageStrong and aromaticTaste best cooked, roasted poultry, stews, and casseroles
ThymeFragrant and fresh tastingComplements other herbs like rosemary and oregano. Use with chicken, meat, seafood, hearty vegetables stews/soups

Storing Fresh Herbs

To store herbs after harvesting or purchase, keep them in the refrigerator in a jar of water.”

If you have extra and will not be using them within the week, you can freeze or dry them for future use. For additional information Preserving herbs by freezing or drying | UMN Extension.

No fresh herbs? Do not let that stop you, dried herbs are a great substitution! Dried herbs are still flavorful and have health benefits. When substituting dried herbs in a recipe, decrease the amount by half. For example, if the recipe calls for one tablespoon of FRESH basil, substitute with ½ a tablespoon of DRIED basil.


Cooking With Herbs | Mississippi State University Extension Service (

Cooking with herbs: Part 1 – MSU Extension

Cooking with herbs: Part 2 – MSU Extension

az1686-2015.pdf (

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