10 Tips for Using Dried Herbs

By Sally Cameron on March 24, 2013

food for thought,


Dried herbs and spices are an important backbone of every pantry. With dried herbs and spices you can transform simple dishes into something special, flavorful and different each day. Here are 10 tips and helpful information about using dried herbs and spices, plus how to enter the Cooking Planit Spice Giveaway!

10 tips for buying and using dried herbs and spices:

  • Date the bottles. When you open new bottle, be sure to write the date on the container. Dried herbs and spices last from 6 months to 1 year. They don’t spoil, but they do lose their potency and flavor.
  • Freshness. How to tell if your herbs and spices are old? The smell test. If they don’t have a strong fragrance, the flavor is likely gone. Toss them and buy a new bottle.
  • Buy new-to-you herbs and spices in small quantities to experiment, then in larger quantities to save money when you find the ones you use most frequently.
  • Storage. Store herbs and spices in a cool dark place, away from sunlight and heat. Sun and heat accelerate their expiration. Some people store them in the freezer for longer staying power. And make sure the container is airtight.
  • Dried herbs and spices need time and moisture to rehydrate during cooking to release their flavor. Add dried herbs around the start of cooking to help them rehydrate and release their flavor. With spices it will depend on the recipe. One example, I will add mine to sautéing onions and oil to release their scent and flavor when making a chili, stew or sauce.
  • The rule for substituting dried herbs for fresh is 1:3. Example, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs versus 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of a fresh herb. Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor, so you use less. Their taste can also be a bit different than the fresh version. As always, taste and adjust for your personal preference. Use more if needed.
  • Rub dried herbs between your hands to release the natural oils before putting into the pot. A trick my mom taught me years ago.
  • Herb or spice? Dried herbs are the leaves of the plants. Spices are from the stems, bark (like cinnamon) and seeds of plants. Some plants produce both. Cilantro is the leaf form of the plant and coriander is the seed which is ground into a spice (or used whole)
  • Spices are most often used in dried form. Some come in whole and ground forms, such as nutmeg, mace and cinnamon. Whole spices can stay aromatic for longer periods, but you have to grind them yourself. Ground is usually more convenient to use.
  • To reduce sodium in your diet, ramp up the flavors with herbs, spices and salt-free blends to make up for less salt that you won’t miss because of the great flavors.

herbs and spices

The Cooking Planit Spice Giveaway!

Win a fantastic quality, high herb and spice collection from Cooking Planit! The collection includes 26 of the most commonly used herbs and spices every kitchen should have. The retail value is over $100. It’s a great chance to try some new things or refresh your collection (and we can all admit to having old stuff in the pantry). What’s included? Here’s the list! Many of these are favorites that I could not live without.

While you are at it, check out the Cooking Planit application. This award-winning app helps cooks with planning, shopping and even the cooking process so everything comes out on time.

The top 26 spices every kitchen should have:

  • Ground Cumin
  • Basil
  • Saigon Cinnamon
  • Bay Leaves
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Thyme
  • Garlic Powder
  • Mediterranean Oregan
  • Onion Powder
  • Rosemary
  • Nutmeg Powder
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Coriander Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Ground Cloves
  • Chinese Five Spice
  • Turmeric
  • Curry Powder
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Pennsylvania Pepper
  • Cardamon Powder
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Allspice Powder
  • Hill Country Chili Powder
  • Ginger Root Powder
  • Manzanillo Mexico Seasoning

 Three Chances to Enter and Win!

Want more chances to win? Each participating site listed below will run their own unique week-long contest with a winner being announced on the eighth day. That’s 50 total contests and 50 chances to win this terrific giveaway! Be sure to check them out.

3/6/133/12/13SophistisheField and Feast
3/7/133/13/13The Wicked NoodleThe Cooking Planit Blog
3/8/133/14/13The Aliso KitchenSlow Down & Savor
3/9/133/15/13Chicago Foodie SistersJessiker Bakes
3/10/133/16/13My Happily Ever After the EndThe Food Yenta
3/11/133/17/13Notes from Maggie’s FarmFood Fash
3/12/133/18/13My Kitchen AddictionsWhat Jew Wanna Eat
3/13/133/19/13Bite Sized BlogNicole’s Nickels
3/14/133/20/13A Busy Mom of TwoFood Squeeze
3/15/133/21/13Kasey’s KitchenKitchen Concoctions
3/16/133/22/13Daily Ups & PoundsLisa Cooking
3/17/133/23/13Ditch the BoxHuppie Mama
3/18/133/24/13Hungry HutchFood Fetish
3/19/133/25/13Cook the BlogThree Diets. One Dinner
3/20/133/26/13Sugarfoot EatsGear Live
3/21/133/27/13CopyKat RecipesThe Mouthy Housewives
3/22/133/28/13Burnt AppleThe Butterfly Mom
3/23/133/29/13The Mama ReportAncestral Chef
3/24/133/30/13A Food Centric LifeWe Like To Cook
3/25/133/31/13Dixie Chik CooksBaby Boomster
3/26/134/1/13Unorganized Mommy of 3Much Ado About Fooding
3/27/134/2/13Staten Island FamilyThe Primlani Kitichen
3/28/134/3/13Mother Would KnowCalifornia Country Gal
3/29/134/4/13Yi ReservationNY Foodgasm
3/30/134/5/13ME RedoneCreative Cullinary


The Official Rules (You know, these days the legal stuff has to be listed, below)

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Giveaway is open only to legal residents of the 50 states of the U.S. and the District of Columbia, with a U.S. shipping address, who are physically located and residing therein, and who are 18 years of age at time of entry.

The sweepstakes starts at the time of this post Sunday March 24, 2013 and ends Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 11:59 PM PST. Winners will be chosen by the luck of the draw, via a random number generator, at that time. The winner will be chosen on day 8 and notified via email. Winner must respond within 5 days or the prize will be forfeited. Another random number will be generated and a new winner announced. This prize has been gifted to A Food Centric Life for the giveaway from Cooking Planit.


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Leave a Comment
Sharon | 03/24/2013 at 7:45 am

I am one of your email subscribers. What a wonderful giveaway! I’d love to update my spice collection.

Sharon | 03/24/2013 at 7:46 am

I’m one of your facebook followers and cumin is one of my favorite spices (there are so many!)

Tiffany K | 03/24/2013 at 7:53 am

I am one of your email subscribers. This is a fantastic giveaway, I cook all the time and love to have a large collection of herbs and spices on hand to punch up the flavor of everything that I make!

Tiffany K | 03/24/2013 at 7:54 am

I also follow on FB

Angela M | 03/24/2013 at 8:06 am

I subscribed. 🙂

(Thanks Angela, I removed your email)

Angela M | 03/24/2013 at 8:07 am

I like you on FB. Angela M

One of my favorite spices to use is garlic powder. I love garlic on/in anything.

    sally cameron | 03/31/2013 at 11:04 am

    Angela! You won! Number 7 by the random number generator! Congratulations! Please email me your address so we can ship your herb and spice collection!

Michelle K | 03/24/2013 at 8:26 am

Favorite spice? That is like asking my favorite outfit… Depends, lol. I guess of the list above the one i use the most is garlic powder, but I lately I have been loving cumin and cinnamon.

Michelle K | 03/24/2013 at 8:27 am

I am also a Facebook fan of your blog already. Thanks! 🙂

Michelle K | 03/24/2013 at 8:29 am

I get your wonderful weekly Food Centric email too, and it’s great. Lots of wonderful recipes with beautiful photos and great tips.

Susan Broughton | 03/24/2013 at 8:29 am

I subscribe to your blog. (thanks Susan, removed your email)

Susan Broughton | 03/24/2013 at 8:31 am

I follow you on FB (thanks Susan, removed your email)

Susan Broughton | 03/24/2013 at 8:33 am

I tweeted a message about giveaway. Here is the link: https://twitter.com/SusanBroughton5/status/315847692699987969

Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon | 03/24/2013 at 8:59 am

I liked you on Facebook, and I am already a follower. Thanks for the tip about dating the spice container. Time gets away and I end up keeping my spices way too long.

Margot C | 03/24/2013 at 9:57 am

I subscribe to A Food Centric Life to this box:

Margot C | 03/24/2013 at 9:59 am

I “Like” A Food Centric Life on Facebook.

This week Cumin seems to be my favorite spice; it really changes a dish a lot!
(I’m with you Margot, LOVE cumin!…Sally)

Margot C | 03/24/2013 at 10:00 am

I posted a tweet too: https://twitter.com/AnnaZed/status/315869458742800387.

Carol Y | 03/24/2013 at 11:58 am

I subscribe!

Nadya Kotik | 03/24/2013 at 12:01 pm

i liked A Food Centric Life on Facebook and my favorite spice is curry powder!

Carol Y | 03/24/2013 at 12:02 pm

I liked you on FB. I really like celery salt, which wakes up most flavors. From the list above, I use smoked paprika a lot. And thyme. It’s too hard to pick only one!
(agreed Carol! And I too LOVE smoked paprika!)

ronalee | 03/24/2013 at 12:53 pm

I subscribe to A Food Centric Life


thank you

ronalee | 03/24/2013 at 12:55 pm

I like you on facebook (Ronalee Duncan)

garlic powder is my favorite spice


ronalee | 03/24/2013 at 1:02 pm


tweeted @RonaleeAKArose


Kristine E. | 03/24/2013 at 1:18 pm

Liked on fb. My favorite spice is garlic.

Joan | 03/24/2013 at 4:03 pm

I just became an email subscriber and I’d like to enter the contest. Thanks!

Joan | 03/24/2013 at 4:04 pm

I like you on Facebook and one of my favorite spices is smoked paprika. It gives many dishes and great zing. Thanks for the oppoturnity to win.

(me to Joan! LOVE smoked paprika!)

Mary Beth Elderton | 03/24/2013 at 4:32 pm

I’m a new subscriber
(thanks Mary Beth!)

Mary Beth Elderton | 03/24/2013 at 4:34 pm

I liked you on FB as Mary Beth Elderton. I don’t know that I have a *favorite* spice, but I do like hot ‘n spicy–cayenne and red pepper flakes 🙂
BTW–thanks for the tip about rubbing the herbs between the fingers to help release the flavor. I remember seeing my grandmother do this but had completely forgotten!

Gianna | 03/24/2013 at 9:38 pm

I subscribed by email.

Mer | 03/25/2013 at 6:01 am

I’m an email subscriber!

Carol | 03/25/2013 at 6:34 am

I am a regular subscriber and would be absolutely delighted to win the spice collection. Thank you very much! C.

Leslie S. | 03/25/2013 at 12:42 pm

I subscribe to your emails and have “Liked” your page on FaceBook (as Leslie Anne). 🙂
I’m not sure I have ONE favorite spice. I LOVE fresh basil and I do use cinnamon and chipotle chili powder quite a bit, but it depends on what I’m making. The Chipotle powder, with it’s nice smokey flavor is amazing on popcorn and in vegan chili. Yummy!

Brandi | 03/26/2013 at 6:58 am

I am FB follower – I love paprika!

Dianne | 03/26/2013 at 12:09 pm

I love many herbs & spices, but two of my favorite are cinnamon and ginger. I especially like the health benefits of each.

Monchel | 03/26/2013 at 12:14 pm

https://twitter.com/ashe_phoenix/status/316629138553319425 – my tweet about the giveaway.

Monchel | 03/26/2013 at 12:15 pm

I am a fan on Facebook, and my favorite spice is rosemary.

Monchel | 03/26/2013 at 12:16 pm

Just subscribed to your blog. Thank you for this giveaway, and I look forward to receiving your recipes!

Jenn McCormick | 03/26/2013 at 4:47 pm

I love cooking with Rosemary right now!

Austin Baroudi | 03/27/2013 at 11:51 am

Subscribed to A Food Centric Life.

Austin Baroudi | 03/27/2013 at 12:00 pm

Liked A Food Centric Life on Facebook as Austin Baroudi and my favorite spice is cinnamon!

Austin Baroudi | 03/27/2013 at 12:10 pm

Tweeted @Austieb7

Linda F | 03/27/2013 at 5:58 pm


Michael Jones | 03/28/2013 at 8:34 pm

I subscribed

Michael Jones | 03/28/2013 at 8:35 pm

I follow on FaceBook

mrsshukra | 03/28/2013 at 8:44 pm


Lynn | 03/28/2013 at 8:58 pm

I am a Facebook fan, and my favorite spice is probably cinnamon or basil!

Laura Jacobson | 03/28/2013 at 9:12 pm

I like you on facebook!
I love working with Red Pepper Flakes! They add so much flavor! So fun! I do have to admit…I am not good with spices! I just have always been afraid to use them….so I really need to start learning more how to cook with spices!

Laura Jacobson | 03/28/2013 at 9:19 pm

Im an email subscriber

Jennai | 03/29/2013 at 2:16 am

I subscribe
JenniferAnne74 @ aol.com

Jennai | 03/29/2013 at 2:17 am

I follow you on Facebook as JenniferAnne Keefer
JenniferAnne74 @ aol.com

Jennai | 03/29/2013 at 2:18 am

I tweeted

Cindy Brickley | 03/29/2013 at 11:27 am

I Subscribe to A Food Centric Life

Cindy Brickley | 03/29/2013 at 11:27 am

I follow A Food Centric Life on Facebook.

Sarah L | 03/29/2013 at 5:43 pm

subscribe email: slehan at myway dot com
Thanks for the contest.

Sarah L | 03/29/2013 at 5:46 pm

FB like you: Slehan
Love garlic in most things.

Lynn | 03/29/2013 at 6:49 pm

I am an e-mail subscriber.

Lynn | 03/29/2013 at 6:51 pm

I posted about the giveaway on Twitter:

Sophia | 03/29/2013 at 7:06 pm

Following Food Centric! My favorite spice is cumin, especially on soups!! Thank you for this contest!!!

Christopher Sorel | 03/29/2013 at 8:03 pm

Subscribe to A Food Centric Life

Christopher Sorel | 03/29/2013 at 8:03 pm

Like” A Food Centric Life on Facebook

Christopher Sorel | 03/29/2013 at 8:04 pm

tweet https://twitter.com/cjsorel/status/317834491475406848

Jenny | 02/27/2016 at 5:43 am

I “subscribed” but my confirmation email didn’t go through

Jenny | 02/27/2016 at 5:48 am

My Tweet: https://twitter.com/jjjaWise/status/703577263246176256 Started @TheDanielPlan and @FoodCentricLife is helping me stick with it – I’m a dips/sauce girl!

    Sally Cameron | 02/27/2016 at 4:30 pm

    Jenny, unfortunately this giveaway was awhile ago! Sorry!

Jenny | 02/27/2016 at 5:51 am

I didn’t realize that my spices only lasted 6-12 months!!! Hoping to win a new set. Thanks for all of the useful information.

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