Our Best Ideas for Using Up Your Last Few (Wilty) Herbs

June 13, 2016

It's like they want my herbs to get wilty, you might have thought, once or twice, lifting the ever-limper stems of an enormous bouquet of parsley or dill or cilantro. It doesn't take long for a perky bunch of herbs to droop—sometimes, it seems like they barely make it home from the store, and they'll almost certainly begin to bow their heads before you can use the whole bunch—but luckily, there are about a million ways to make even the wiltiest among them disappear. Here are a few ideas:

  • First, just how wilty are your herbs? You might be able to bring them back from the brink.
  • Pack an ice cube tray with leaves and pour olive oil over the top, then freeze! Your herbs will stay fresh this way for a long while, and you can just pop a cube out whenever you need one. Think how happy your next omelet will be.
  • Or use a different fat to preserve them—butter! Compound butters make toast even more appealing than usual (hard to believe, we know) and are infinitely adaptable.
  • Or dry them by hanging them, and then pack away in jars.
  • Make an herb rub for your roast chicken (or whatever you're throwing on the grill this week).
  • Or dry them in the oven with salt and then blitz into an herb salt for sprinkling on to anything—roasted vegetables, poached fish, popcorn...
  • Steep less-than-perfect leaves in a simple syrup, and then use that simple syrup in the Spanish beer spritzer Clara con Limón (or just straight-up lemonade).
  • Toss a handful of herbs into the juicer and rethink your juice game.
  • Nearly any soft, leafy herb plays well with salad greens. Just toss the leaves in with your spinach and arugula for a much more interesting salad.
  • Beans love herbs—in dips or refried beans or soups.
  • Get well-acquainted with green sauces. Parsley, basil, cilantro, tarragon—all can become punchy, spoonable sauces like pesto and salsa verde and chimichurri. And then you can put them on eggs or steak or wipe them up with bread.
  • Herb jam? Herb jam! Not the kind of thing you'd put in your PB&J, but very good on crackers (or in a grilled cheese).

How do you make the most of herbs at the ends of their days? Tell us in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Mark Harrison
    Mark Harrison
  • Windischgirl
  • Coco et Cocoa
    Coco et Cocoa
  • AntoniaJames
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


Mark H. June 14, 2016
Make gratin toppings, blitz the herbs with some bread, hard cheese and seasoning to produce a tasty topping for fish, vegetables etc.
Windischgirl June 13, 2016
I chop the herbs finely, pack into a plastic container, and freeze for later use.
Scrape the surface with a fork to loosen and add to whatever dish.
Not all herbs are suitable, but the ones that do best are parsley, dill, chives, Rosemary, thyme, and sage. (Basil darkens but can be whizzed into a pesto that freezes; cilantro is so subtle and delicate it loses it's pizzazz.)
Freezing helps retain the color and the flavor that get lost in drying.
Coco E. June 13, 2016
Bouquet garni (tied up bunch of herbs) for stocks and stews where they get the heck cooked out of them anyway.
AntoniaJames June 13, 2016
Much easier to do, and takes less time, and yields much better results, if you dry those herbs in your microwave. ;o)