10 Tips for Using Dried Herbs and Spices

By Sally Cameron on March 24, 2013

Living Well

Dried herbs and spices are an important tool in any 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.

10 Tips for 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.

Note – The original post had a giveaway of herbs and spice which ended long ago. This post is now updated to remove the giveaway.

71 Comments
  1. Sharon - March 24th, 2013

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

  2. Sharon - March 24th, 2013

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

  3. Tiffany K - March 24th, 2013

    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!

  4. Tiffany K - March 24th, 2013

    I also follow on FB

  5. Angela M - March 24th, 2013

    I subscribed. 🙂

    (Thanks Angela, I removed your email)

  6. Angela M - March 24th, 2013

    I like you on FB. Angela M

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

  7. Angela M - March 24th, 2013

    Tweeted

    https://twitter.com/thisisme79/status/315843326442106881

  8. sally cameron - March 31st, 2013

    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!

  9. Michelle K - March 24th, 2013

    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.

  10. Michelle K - March 24th, 2013

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

  11. Michelle K - March 24th, 2013

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

  12. Susan Broughton - March 24th, 2013

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

  13. Susan Broughton - March 24th, 2013

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

  14. Susan Broughton - March 24th, 2013

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

  15. Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon - March 24th, 2013

    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.

  16. Margot C - March 24th, 2013

    I subscribe to A Food Centric Life to this box:

  17. Margot C - March 24th, 2013

    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)

  18. Margot C - March 24th, 2013

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

  19. Herbs & Spices Giveaway from Cooking Planit! | Big List of Giveaways - March 24th, 2013

    […] Link to enter giveaway: https://afoodcentriclife.com/tips-for-using-dried-herbs-spices-and-a-giveaway-from-cooking-planit/ […]

  20. Carol Y - March 24th, 2013

    I subscribe!

  21. Nadya Kotik - March 24th, 2013

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

  22. Carol Y - March 24th, 2013

    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!)

  23. ronalee - March 24th, 2013

    I subscribe to A Food Centric Life

    ronaleeduncan{at}aol{dot}com

    thank you

  24. ronalee - March 24th, 2013

    I like you on facebook (Ronalee Duncan)

    garlic powder is my favorite spice

    ronaleeduncan{at}aol{dot}com

  25. ronalee - March 24th, 2013

    https://twitter.com/RonaleeAKArose/status/315916260326129664

    tweeted @RonaleeAKArose

    ronaleeduncan{at}aol{dot}com

  26. Kristine E. - March 24th, 2013

    Liked on fb. My favorite spice is garlic.

  27. Kristine E. - March 24th, 2013

    tweeted https://twitter.com/KristinePhot0_j/status/315920825616314368

  28. Joan - March 24th, 2013

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

  29. Joan - March 24th, 2013

    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!)

  30. Mary Beth Elderton - March 24th, 2013

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

  31. Mary Beth Elderton - March 24th, 2013

    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!

  32. Gianna - March 24th, 2013

    I subscribed by email.

  33. Mer - March 25th, 2013

    I’m an email subscriber!

  34. Carol - March 25th, 2013

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

  35. Leslie S. - March 25th, 2013

    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!

  36. Brandi - March 26th, 2013

    I am FB follower – I love paprika!

  37. Dianne - March 26th, 2013

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

  38. Monchel - March 26th, 2013

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

  39. Monchel - March 26th, 2013

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

  40. Monchel - March 26th, 2013

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

  41. Jenn McCormick - March 26th, 2013

    I love cooking with Rosemary right now!

  42. Austin Baroudi - March 27th, 2013

    Subscribed to A Food Centric Life.

  43. Austin Baroudi - March 27th, 2013

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

  44. Austin Baroudi - March 27th, 2013

    Tweeted @Austieb7
    https://twitter.com/Austieb7/status/316962524077625344

  45. Linda F - March 27th, 2013

    subscriber

  46. Michael Jones - March 28th, 2013

    I subscribed

  47. Michael Jones - March 28th, 2013

    I follow on FaceBook

  48. mrsshukra - March 28th, 2013

    https://twitter.com/mrsshukra/status/317482071683645442

  49. mrsshukra - March 28th, 2013

    Subscriber!

  50. Lynn - March 28th, 2013

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

  51. Laura Jacobson - March 28th, 2013

    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!

  52. Laura Jacobson - March 28th, 2013

    Im an email subscriber

  53. Jennai - March 29th, 2013

    I subscribe
    JenniferAnne74 @ aol.com

  54. Jennai - March 29th, 2013

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

  55. Jennai - March 29th, 2013

    I tweeted
    https://twitter.com/Jennai/status/317566453752688640

  56. Cindy Brickley - March 29th, 2013

    I Subscribe to A Food Centric Life

  57. Cindy Brickley - March 29th, 2013

    I follow A Food Centric Life on Facebook.

  58. Cindy Brickley - March 29th, 2013

    I tweeted:
    https://twitter.com/CindyBrickley/status/317705110841085952

  59. Sarah L - March 29th, 2013

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

  60. Sarah L - March 29th, 2013

    FB like you: Slehan
    Love garlic in most things.

  61. Sarah L - March 29th, 2013

    https://twitter.com/slehan/status/317794940627329024

  62. Lynn - March 29th, 2013

    I am an e-mail subscriber.

  63. Lynn - March 29th, 2013

    I posted about the giveaway on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/livelovelynn/status/317816126132334594

  64. Sophia - March 29th, 2013

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

  65. Christopher Sorel - March 29th, 2013

    Subscribe to A Food Centric Life

  66. Christopher Sorel - March 29th, 2013

    Like” A Food Centric Life on Facebook

  67. Christopher Sorel - March 29th, 2013

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

  68. Jenny - February 27th, 2016

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

  69. Jenny - February 27th, 2016

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

  70. Sally Cameron - February 27th, 2016

    Jenny, unfortunately this giveaway was awhile ago! Sorry!

  71. Jenny - February 27th, 2016

    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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