Fresh Rosemary vs Dried, How to Use Fresh Herbs & Dried Herbs

What is the difference between fresh and dried rosemary? Is one more nutritious than the other? Let’s take a closer look at this beautiful herb and find out more!

Fresh Rosemary vs Dried

The main difference between fresh rosemary vs dried is that dried rosemary has a much more concentrated flavor than fresh rosemary. The standard conversion ratio is one part of dried rosemary for three parts fresh rosemary or 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary = 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary.

Fresh vs Dried Herbs

Herbs can add great flavor and nutrition to any dish, and most herbs can be used either fresh or dried. Soft herbs with tender leaves, such as fresh parsley, basil, and cilantro, are generally better when used fresh. Woody herbs with stems, such as rosemary or thyme, tend to add more flavor when dry.

Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor, so you will not need to use as much when cooking with them. A general rule of thumb that you can use is about one-third as many dry herbs as you would for fresh herbs. So, if your recipe calls for 1 tbsp. of fresh rosemary, you can use 1 tsp. of dried rosemary instead.

If your recipe calls for fresh rosemary sprigs, you can assume that one small or medium sprig is equivalent to about one teaspoon of dried rosemary. So, a recipe that calls for three sprigs of fresh rosemary would correspond to roughly one tablespoon. In which case, you would use one teaspoon of dried rosemary to replace it.

However, it is important to note that exchanging dry herbs and fresh herbs is not a perfect science. Think of the conversation ratio of one-third as a reference point rather than an exact ratio. The general starting place would be one tablespoon of fresh herbs to 1 teaspoon of dried herbs. But, you might find that a certain herb or recipe demands more or less dried herbs, depending on the herb and recipe.

sprigs of Fresh  Rosemary, green with brown stems

Fresh Rosemary

Fresh rosemary is best used when you want to finish off a dish. It can be added as a garnishment added towards the end of cooking. When used this way, you should gently crush and squeeze the rosemary sprig before adding it to the dish. This will release some of the oils and bring out the flavor more.

dried rosemary are short, small pieces of hard rosemary.  It is a greenish, tan color.

Dried Rosemary

Dried rosemary is perfect when used in oil, butter, fat, water, or other liquids and will infuse the liquid with its flavor. When using rosemary this way, it should be added at the beginning of the cooking process, so it has time to release flavor into the dish’s other ingredients.

Lightly crumble dried herbs before adding them to your dish to release the flavor that was sealed in during the drying process. If you use ground rosemary or other ground herbs, you can lightly rub the dried herbs between your hands to activate and improve the flavor.

Rosemary Taste

Rosemary, in both the fresh and dried varieties, has a unique lemon-pine flavor. Some species of rosemary have a more distinct pine flavor. Rosemary offers a pop of flavor when used in cooking but can also turn a dish bitter if too much is used. When using a lot of rosemary, you can add a small bit of honey or another sweetener to keep the dish from becoming bitter.

Rosemary Nutrition

Like most herbs, rosemary is packed full of vitamins and minerals. Because herbs are so flavorful, we tend to use a small amount, so it is unlikely that you will get most of your essential nutrients from herbs. However, they are an excellent way to add a pop of flavor and nutrition to other dishes when cooking. 

Rosemary is low in sodium and cholesterol and contains only two calories per fresh sprig. 

Rosemary is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron, and manganese. It is considered a good source of vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and copper.

Fresh Rosemary – 2 tbsp.

Health Benefits of Rosemary

In addition to its flavorful taste, rosemary has been used for thousands of years for its many potential health benefits, such as helping to improve liver and digestive health, improving memory, and increasing blood flow and circulation.

Is Fresh or Dried Rosemary Healthier?

That depends on what your health goals are. Both dried and fresh rosemary use the same part of the same plant, and the nutrients tend to be well-preserved when the plant is dried. Dried rosemary is about three times as potent as fresh, so the amount of nutrients by weight is higher for dried rosemary. Antioxidants do degrade to some extent during processing, so the antioxidant levels of dried rosemary is not three times as high as fresh, but they are still higher levels than fresh.

Despite this, many people prefer to eat fresh herbs simply because they prefer fresh herbs and produce. When using fresh rosemary, simply use three times the amount you would use of the dried variety to ensure you are getting the same level of nutrition.

How to Eat Rosemary

Rosemary can be used fresh or dried for most recipes. For many people, the choice of which to use depends on the season. Dried rosemary can be used in place of fresh rosemary during the winter months when fresh herbs are harder to find.

Rosemary Substitutes

If you cannot get either fresh or dried rosemary, there are a couple of other herbs with a similar taste that can be used in its place depending on the dish you are making.

The best choice overall for substituting rosemary is sage. Sage makes a good substitute due to its similar pine-like flavor that rosemary also has. Dried sage or fresh sage will both work.

Other good substitutes for rosemary are savory, tarragon, marjoram, and thyme. As with most other herbs, these options can also be used both fresh and dried. For garnishing dishes, fresh basil or fresh thyme make great substitutes.

Storing Dried Rosemary

Time and exposure to air degrade the flavor and potency of dried herbs the most, including rosemary. To extend the shelf life of dried rosemary, you want to limit the surface area of the herb that is exposed to air.

Whole herbs will last longer than ground herbs as the more surface area the herb has exposed to air, the shorter its shelf life. Whether you buy your herbs at the store or dry your own herbs out, it’s best to keep herbs whole until you are ready to use them, then you can grind the herb and make your own powder right before using it to get the most flavor out of them.

The best way to store rosemary that has been dried is to store it in airtight containers at room temperature or in a cool, dry place. Ideally also a dark place, away from direct sunlight. A pantry or a kitchen cabinet is a good choice.

The Takeaway

Rosemary is a beautiful herb with a lemony-pine flavor. It can be a great addition to your favorite recipes that your taste buds will enjoy. They can be enjoyed equally in dried or in fresh form.

The good news is, regardless of whether a recipe calls for fresh rosemary or dried rosemary, it’s easy to swap out one for the other.

Rosemary offers many health benefits. It is a good source of several vitamins and minerals and contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor properties. Rosemary is generally easy to find at grocery stores and easy to incorporate into cooking.

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Author Biography

Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about coaching with her here.