There is nothing quite like the clean burst of flavor that comes from fresh herbs. But many of us shy away from buying them after one too many bunches ends up in the trash. Fear the fresh herb no longer! We have five easy ways to ensure your herbs are used as intended before they start to spoil.

Compound Butter

Mince up your herbs, soften a stick of butter and mix them together for a rich herb butter. Slice the compound butter into slabs and freeze them if you're worried about not using it in time. Then you can add the herb butter to steaks, pasta, mashed potatoes, savory porridge, toast, or even into your baked goods recipes for an added complexity and freshness. Bonus points for adding a little minced garlic to the mix.


Whole Herb Salad

We have our Persian friends to thank for this idea. Go to any Iranian restaurant and you'll be presented with a dish of whole basil, mint, and other fresh herbs to munch on with bread and cheese. Don't worry about chopping up the herbs, simply wash them, pull them from the stems and toss them whole into a big salad along with anything in your vegetable drawer.

We especially like combining whole fresh herbs with some peppery arugula, feta, tomato, and onions dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. Take inspiration from the herb itself. Have tons of cilantro? Go with a Mexican or Thai-inspired salad and add some chili peppers and plenty of lime juice to the mix. Have an abundance of parsley? Go for a tabouli-style salad tossed with a little tahini and garlic dressing and your leftover quinoa. The bottom line, don't be afraid to chow down on whole fresh herbs. Think of them as lettuce's more flavorful cousin.

Credit:Food Photographer
Credit:Food Photographer

Herb Syrups

Add the rest of your bunch of fresh herbs to a mixture of equal parts sugar and water and bring it to a boil. Give it one good stir and remove from heat. Cool and strain out the herbs. Boom. That's it. You now have a fancy herb syrup that can add some serious flavor to everything from cake and ice cream to coffee and cocktails.

Basil syrup on strawberry ice cream? Yes, please. Rosemary syrup over nutty banana pancakes? Oh, yeah. Mint syrup in your morning latte or evening gin and seltzer? There is no end to the wonderful uses for these unexpected sweet-savory flavor bombs.  

Herby Breakfast Mix-ins

Another Persian inspiration comes from an intensely herbaceous dish called kuku sabzi (fun to say, right?), which is basically an herb and egg frittata with far more herb than egg. We usually don't have enough herbs left over to make the dish property (we're talking cups and cups of herbs), but the idea still holds no matter how many bunches you have in the fridge.

Simply add all your dying herbs to a scramble of seasoned eggs and cook until just set. They are also a great addition to savory pancakes or muffins. Mix them in. All of them. You won't regret it.


Drink Them

Adding mint and lemon slices to your bottle of water is a no-brainer, but other herbs make amazing infused waters too. Add some parsley to your lemon cumber water, throw in some chunks of pineapple and cilantro, try rosemary with fresh berries and citrus, just be sure to tear the leaves a little to help them release their oils and let the water sit overnight in the fridge to really let the flavors seep out.

Think about flavor combinations that would work well in smoothies, like strawberry and basil. The herbs will add a whole new dimension of flavor, and some people say they have detoxifying benefits as well.


When You Just Need an Extra Couple Days

Okay, you don't want to use all your herbs. You have plans for them! The first thing to do is to wash your herbs and dry them well in a salad spinner. Trim the ends and dead leaves off and place them like a bouquet of flowers in a cup or jar with about an inch of water in the bottom.

It's great to leave them out where you can see them (and will thus be more likely to use them) and they look pretty. This should extend their lives for a couple days. If you want to save them even longer, cover the herb jars lightly and store them in the fridge, just try not to forget they're in there.

About the Contributor
Felicia Campbell
Felicia Campbell is an award-nominated writer, editor, and producer. She is the author of The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia; numerous travel guides; and Chasing Iraqi Chicken: A Memoir (forthcoming). She writes about culture, travel, food, and lifestyle and has held editorial positions at Saveur, Times of Oman, Phoenix New Times, and Edible San Diego. She now works with authors as a developmental editor and writing coach, produces digital videos, and is developing a documentary series about endangered cuisines. Learn more at