Skip to main content

Drying herbs is easy and inexpensive. Here’s when and how to do so

Drying herbs at home is one of the best ways to make use of your bountiful herb harvest. It’s a simple undertaking that doesn’t require too many high-end gadgets — in fact, you can go about it many different ways with tools that are probably already inside of your kitchen. Ahead, we go over how you can dry your herbs in addition to how to store and use them.

Dried rosemary
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why dry herbs from your harvest

So why dry herbs at home? On a practical level, you may have a big harvest of herbs, which tend to grow prolifically during spring and summer. Since you need to prune herbs to keep them from getting leggy, you may have more than you know what to do with. On a personal level, you may prefer the herbs from your own garden to store-bought offerings. Luckily, drying herbs is easy. So how do you plan the process of drying them? When you’re thinking of when to harvest your herbs, the best time is usually right before they flower during the growing season. This window frame is when your herbs will be the most robust and flavorful.

Drying thyme
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ways to dry your herbs

There are a few different ways to go about drying your herbs. Here’s a rundown of how to execute each method for delicious results.

Microwave your herbs

Using the microwave is the easiest way to go about preserving your herbs. All it takes is lining your herbs on a paper towel on a plate. Heat your herbs in the microwave at 30-second intervals for about two or three minutes, or until they look dry and crisp. Keep this in mind: Microwaving your herbs is definitely the fastest way to dry them, but you may not get as much wanted flavor from this method.

Place your herbs in the oven or dehydrator

The oven-drying method is slow, but it can be better for the texture, flavor, and nutritional value of your herbs. First, place your herbs in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a baking pan. Pop them in your oven for about two hours, using the lowest temperature possible — try not to go above 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Setting your temperature too high can cause your herbs to burn, so be sure to check them periodically when baking them. A similar alternative to the oven is a dehydrator. Most dehydrators have an “herb” setting, but you can also set yours to the lowest temperature possible and leave it on for a few hours until your herbs look dry and brittle.

Air dry your herbs

With the air-drying method, lay your herbs in a single layer on a drying rack or tie them with string and hang them upside down from an overhang. Air drying herbs is the most traditional way to preserve them, and it’ll also give you that rustic cottagecore ambiance. But as opposed to taking a few minutes or hours, air drying your herbs can take about one or two weeks. With this technique, you want to give your herbs sufficient air circulation and warm temperatures, periodically checking for signs of sunburn or mold.

How to choose herbs for drying

When drying your own herbs at home, the best plants to use are woodier ones, such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Plants with higher moisture content, such as parsley or basil, may be harder to preserve and may not retain their flavor as well when dried. If you want to try drying these herbs, stick to using an oven or dehydrator instead of zapping them in the microwave or letting them air dry. That said, these tender herbs, for the most part, will taste best when you freeze them.

Dried oregano
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to store dried herbs

After cooling them, store your herbs in airtight containers — suitable vessels include lidded plastic containers, glass canning jars, and sealed freezer bags. Make sure to label the containers with your herb names to know what you’re working with when cooking. It also helps to jot down the date; herbs should be good for a year after you dry them.

How to use dried herbs

When it comes to using your dried herbs, the possibilities are limitless. Sprinkle them into your meat dishes, porridges, omelets, and more. Really, you can use them to spice up any savory meal where you’d bring in fresh herbs; this way, you’ll save a couple minutes of washing and chopping. To get the most out of your dried herbs, use them while you’re cooking as opposed to sprinkling them on at the very end. Rubbing and crushing your dried herbs while cooking will also release their remaining oils and maximize their flavors.

One of the easiest ways to use up your growing season herbs is to dry them for future use. It’ll likely be more delicious than the store-bought stuff, and it won’t require too much effort on your part. You won’t have to invest in too many gadgets and gizmos to dry your herbs, either; chances are you probably have everything you need in your kitchen. Whether you’re using a microwave, oven, dehydrator, or plain old air, drying herbs is a straightforward process with tasty results!

Editors' Recommendations

Stacey Nguyen
Stacey's work has appeared on sites such as POPSUGAR, HelloGiggles, Buzzfeed, The Balance, TripSavvy, and more. When she's…
This DIY Mason jar herb garden is the perfect weekend project
How to get fresh herbs from a jar year-round
Herbs in Mason jars

Those new to indoor gardening may find it challenging to get started on growing edible plants inside, but this endeavor is a lot easier than you might think. One straightforward and fun way to get started on kitchen container gardening is putting together a DIY Mason jar herb garden. This project is accessible in every way — in addition to being relatively uncomplicated, it's also affordable and quick to assemble. Plus, you'll get a beautiful result and a consistent supply of fresh herbs at the end. If you've always wanted to try growing herbs in Mason jars, keep reading to learn how.

What materials you'll need
For this project, you'll need four items: a Mason jar, bag of potting mix, supply of rocks or pebbles, and packet of seeds. Part of the appeal with Mason or glass jars is that you can see your plants root and grow over time. While Mason jars are relatively inexpensive, you can also save money by upcycling glass containers that previously stored pasta sauce or jam. Since you do want the roots to have space, make sure your jar is at least 4 inches long. The bigger your vessel, the more room your plants will have to grow.

Read more
Gardening 101: 7 easy seeds to grow in cups for a tiny, adorable, and low-maintenance indoor garden
How to choose seeds to start inside of cups
Two hands side by side, one holding seeds the other holding a seedling

Many gardeners start seeds indoors during the last weeks of winter or early spring to get a head start on the growing season. Vegetables, flowers, and even fruit trees can be started this way. If you want to start your seeds indoors, but don't have anything to plant them in, why not try growing your seeds in plastic cups?

Recycling these cups provides the perfect temporary (or even permanent) homes for your plants, and you'll get the cutest container garden in the process. In this guide to easy seeds to grow in cups, we'll explain how to choose your seeds, care for them, and avoid common pitfalls.

Read more
Do ZZ plants cause cancer? Here’s the definitive answer
ZZ plants can be toxic to people and pets, but this is usually mild
Woman waters ZZ plants

The ZZ plant is a terrific option for those in need of a new leafy companion that isn't picky about watering or maintenance. But if not handled properly, the ZZ plant can be toxic to people and pets. In fact, rumors have circulated in some corners of the Internet that ZZ plants cause cancer. If you're a ZZ plant owner or are thinking about investing in a ZZ plant, do you have cause to worry? What are the precautions you can take to ensure that you, your children, and your animals stay safe? Here's everything you need to know about the ZZ plant, its toxicity profile, and how to maintain it safely.

ZZ plant care: The basics
Although these plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight, they are of several indoor plant varieties that can thrive in lower lighting conditions. They are also highly resistant to drought and forgiving of owners who forget to water or are away from the home or office for extended periods of time. Ideally, you should water ZZ plants every week, but they can survive for longer without water. Overwatering can cause the roots to rot, so make sure your setup provides effective drainage.

Read more