Parsley is one of those essential herbs that your kitchen’s pantry should never be without. However, parsley is also a very delicate and fleeting herb. Even when you store it correctly, it will only remain fresh for around a week at most.
This is why, if you enjoy cooking with this earthy herb, you need to learn how to dry parsley. Once dried, parsley will keep for significantly longer. In fact, dried parsley will remain usable for 2-3 years.
Here is everything you need to know.
Why Should You Dry Parsley?
The obvious benefit of drying parsley is the longer shelf-life. Each jar of dried parsley will easily last for years if stored correctly. You won’t have to spend as much on fresh herbs every few weeks.
Furthermore, fresh parsley is limited to the warmer months and seasons (from spring through summer). It will be a little bit more difficult to come by once the cold weather sets in.
Dried parsley ensures that you have a constant supply in the kitchen all year round.
1. Fresh vs. Dried Parsley: Which Tastes Better?
In many herbs, drying causes a concentration of their flavoring chemicals, intensifying the taste. This is due to the loss of the leaves’ water content.
Water can dilute flavoring chemicals and organic oils which reside inside the leaves. As a result, the leaves will taste ‘cleaner’ and milder.
You can observe (and taste) this phenomenon if you use dried basil or dried thyme in your cooking. You can find more information on this in our guide on how to dry basil and our intro to the best ways to dry thyme.
Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said for dried parsley.
Unlike basil or thyme, instead of becoming stronger, you will find the flavor of dried parsley to be more muted. This is because volatile oils — the unique agents that give parsley its herbaceous flavor and aroma — vaporize at high heat. Basil and thyme aren’t affected as such because their flavoring and aromatic chemicals are less vulnerable to heat.
This makes dried parsley — regrettably — an inferior seasoning compared to its fresh counterpart. Still, if you don’t have fresh parsley readily available, it is still better than nothing.
2. How to Substitute Dried Parsley for Fresh
Although not a perfect stand-in, dried parsley can be substituted for fresh parsley. If you have other herbs that taste similar to parsley (chervil or tarragon, for example), use them. Only use dried parsley when you have no other option available.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re deciding between dried and fresh parsley is, once again, intensity. Dried parsley has a weaker profile, so, in order to substitute it for fresh parsley, you will need to up the measurement.
For every tablespoon of fresh parsley required by the recipe, add either 1 ½ or 2 tablespoons of dried parsley. You can be flexible depending on the recipe.
The Best Ways to Dry Parsley
Although there are many different methods of drying herbs like parsley, we’ll only introduce two in this guide, those being the simplest and quickest.
The two methods are either drying in the oven or drying in the microwave.
Of the two methods, the best is to dry in the oven. The better controlled and uniform heat of the oven will dry the parsley more evenly and carefully than the harsh heat of the microwave. However, compared to the microwave, the process is much longer, taking the parsley up to 30 minutes to dry out properly.
Not just for parsley, but for all kinds of herbs, the oven is the preferred method for drying. You will find it features heavily in our herb drying guides, including those for oregano and rosemary.
On the other hand, while drying in the microwave isn’t ideal, it’s quick. You only need to zap the leaves for a couple of minutes. But there is a caveat: the harsh heat of the microwave could potentially burn the leaves.
Like the oven, however, the microwave is versatile when it comes to drying fresh produce. It is, for example, the best way to dry peppers. If you like snacking on dried berries, you can reheat cranberries in the microwave pretty effectively.
How Do You Dry Parsley?
1. In the Oven
Before drying, you will need to prep the parsley. First, inspect the leaves for dirt. If you’re fortunate and the leaves are not too dirty, you can just shake them to remove any loose dirt.
If they are very dirty, wash the leaves under a cold tap and rub off all of the dirt and soil residue. Place on a dry towel and leave overnight to dry. Before you start the drying process, the leaves must be totally moisture-free on the outside.
Preheat your oven to the lowest temperature available. It will be different from one model to another, but it’s typically between 170°F and 200°F.
The best temperature range for drying is between 170°F and 180°F. If your oven’s lowest temperature doesn’t go this low, you’ll have to pay more attention to the leaves as they dry.
Arrange the parsley leaves on a baking sheet. Leave plenty of space between each leaf and don’t layer them on top of one another. This will encourage airflow and the drying action.
Bake the leaves for 25 minutes, then check on the leaves after.
If they still haven’t dried fully, bake for another 5 minutes. Keep on baking in 5-minute increments until you’re satisfied with the result.
You will know when the parsley leaves have dried properly when you can easily crumble them in the palm of your hand.
Take the parsley leaves out of the oven and place them in a bowl. Crush with your hands, or if you have a mortar and pestle, use it instead.
Store in a glass jar away from direct sunlight and somewhere that’s cool and dry.
2. In the Microwave
Take out a microwave-safe plate and line the bottom with a paper towel.
Place your clean parsley leaves on top, then cover them with another paper towel.
Put the plate in the microwave. Heat at the lowest temperature for 1 minute.
Even at the lowest temperature, however, the heat will be quite intense. In some cases, the parsley leaves may only take a single minute to dry.
If they haven’t dried fully, heat in 10-second bursts until they are. Typically, drying parsley in the microwave takes only a minute or two.
You will have to be very careful, though. Like we said, the heat is quite intense in the microwave. Observe the parsley carefully as it dries. Stop the heat immediately if they begin to wilt excessively and show signs of burning.
You’re now equipped with all that you need to know about how to dry parsley! Go ahead and test it out in your kitchen.
In the meantime, if you have some time for some reading, we have a couple more drying guides for you to check out. The list includes not just other kinds of herbs, but also fruits:
- How to Dry Cilantro: cilantro — or coriander — is famed for its citrusy, potent aroma. Like most herbs, it doesn’t last very long. You will only be able to keep fresh cilantro for 7 to 10 days. Our guide can show you how to dry it, which — like parsley — will be good on the shelf for years.
- Can You Dry Orange Slices? — Best Orange Drying Methods: dried orange is a beloved healthy snack. You can also add dried orange slices to your morning tea. If you’re looking for more information on how to make dried orange slices, you can count on us to show you how.
- The Best Ways to Dry Mushrooms: mushrooms will turn slimy in as little as 10 days in the fridge. Here’s the kicker: if you dry your mushrooms, they will last indefinitely, kept somewhere cool and dry. Interested? Enclosed in this article is all of the information you will need.
- How to Dry Mint Leaves: mint leaves can be added to tea, used as an ingredient for sauces, or added to salads, among many other different dishes. Fortunately, you can use both fresh or dried mint leaves for all of these purposes, and here you’ll find all the methods used to dry them.
- How to Dry Dill: dried dill’s flavor can be used to enhance many different dishes. From eggs to pickles, there is no shortage of uses for it. Refer to this article to make your own dried dill at home.