How to Substitute Your Dried Thanksgiving Herbs for Fresh Ones

Photo:  Brent Hofacker (Shutterstock)
Photo: Brent Hofacker (Shutterstock)

The other day I was looking for some sage, probably to make a test batch of this stuffing. It took three whole trips to three whole stores before I found any. This, to me, does not bode well for the coming weeks, at least sage-wise. Maybe it’s just my city, but there have been a fair amount of herbs missing from all of my usual grocery shopping spots recently, which means I might have to pivot to dried for Thanksgiving fare.

Fortunately, dried herbs are fine, provided they still have some flavor left in them, and haven’t been sitting in the back of a dusty pantry since last Thanksgiving. (Use the sniff test if you’re not sure when the dried herbs in question were purchased.) There might be a slight variation in the resulting flavor of your recipe, as dried herbs can be slightly bitter, but I doubt you’ll be able to tase the difference through all the gravy.

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But substituting dried for fresh is not a one-to-one conversion. One teaspoon of dried sage is far more potent than one teaspoon of minced, fresh sage leaves—not to mention that there are two types of dried sage you have to worry about. Luckily, converting dried to fresh or fresh to dried isn’t all that difficult.

Here’s how to make the swap for the most common Thanksgiving-y herbs:

  • Sage: 4 fresh leaves = 1 tablespoon of minced, fresh leaves = 1 teaspoon of rubbed sage = 1/2 teaspoon dried sage

  • Rosemary: 1 sprig = 1 tablespoon of fresh needles = 1 teaspoon dried needle OR 1 tablespoon chopped needles = 1/2 teaspoon dried, powdered rosemary

  • Thyme: 6 sprigs = 1 tablespoon fresh leaves = 3/4 teaspoon dried, ground thyme

  • Parsley: Parsley is one herb that loses a good amount of its flavor when dried, so just skip it if you can’t find the fresh stuff, or substitute with a different fresh herb. (This is also true of chives, chervil, and cilantro.)

Luckily, I haven’t seen any parsley shortages yet, so you should be fine. (I’ve never “missed” the parsley in a Thanksgiving recipe.)

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