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7 Ways to Freeze Fresh Herbs to Make Them Last all Winter Long

It is coming to the end of the herb growing season for many of us. Did you know that  you can freeze herbs to make them last longer?

When summer turns to fall, the thought of losing those fresh herb flavors in your recipes because of the cold can be disheartening. Fortunately for us, there is a solution – freeze those herbs!

Freezing fresh herbs is a great way to preserve their flavor and fragrance to use in recipes during the cold months when growing herbs outdoors is not possible.

Keep reading to discover five ways to freeze herbs to use this winter.

Fresh herb frozen in olive oil and made into cubes on a gray plate.

There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh basil, rosemary, or oregano harvested at the peak of their flavor. By freezing herbs, fresh from the garden, you can preserve the herbs and continue to enjoy them right through until spring.

Frozen herbs can be used the same way you use fresh herbs, and in the same proportion. Although they will be limp when you defrost them, they will still add a great flavor to your cooking. 

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Before you freeze herbs

Frozen herbs retain their flavor, vitamins and color exceptionally well. The  key is to make sure that they are absolutely fresh. Pick them in the morning, then prepare and freeze them right away.

Before freezing herbs,  you will need to prepare. Washing and drying the herbs ahead of freezing will save a lot of time.

Wash the herbs well and allow them to dry on a kitchen towel. Remove any thick stems before chopping unless you are going to freeze whole stems.

Fresh herbs drying on a kitchen towel.

A small amount of herbs can be chopped by hand, but a food processor makes faster work of a large quantity.

Now, let’s discover how to freeze them!

How to freeze herbs 7 ways

From freezing herbs in ice cube trays to making herb-infused oils and a simple pesto, here is how to make the most of your herbs for winter cooking. 

Try one of these 7 ways to freeze fresh herbs for later use:

Freeze herbs in water in ice cube trays

Some herbs are better suited to freezing in water in ice cube trays than others because of their moisture content and the way they hold up to freezing.

Chopped basil in a yellow ice cube tray with water, ready to freeze.

Basil, mint, chives and parsley are some herbs which freeze well in water since they have a high water content and delicate leaves.

Fragile herbs like these tend to lose their flavor when air dried, so freezing is perfect for them.

After washing and drying the herbs, chop them finely. Place a teaspoon or so of chopped herbs into each compartment of an ice cube tray.

Fill the compartments with water  to cover the herbs and freeze the ice cube tray.

Once frozen, transfer the herb cubes to a labeled freezer bag for easy, single-serve portions. To use the frozen herbs, simply drop a cube into your pan and cook as usual.

How to freeze fresh herbs in oil in ice cube trays

Rosemary, thyme and oregano are just a few of the herbs that freeze well in oil. Herbs  frozen in some oil can be easily used in a soup or in a sauce

Prepare the herbs and chop them. Fill an ice cube tray compartment about halfway with your chosen herb.

Cover the herbs with olive oil or a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed oil, making sure they are fully covered with the oil.

Freeze overnight until solid. Remove the herb oil cubes from the tray and transfer them to a labeled freezer bag for storage.

Fresh herbs frozen in oil in as ice cubes in a frying pan.

When using these herb oil cubes in your cooking, simply drop a cube or two into your pan or recipe directly from the freezer bag. The oil will melt, releasing the herb’s flavors and aroma into your dish.

Blanching and freezing fresh herbs

Blanching herbs before freezing helps to retain their vibrant color and fresh flavor. It stops enzymes responsible for color and flavor deterioration, preserving the herbs’ quality.

Blanching also softens the cell walls of the herbs, which can help maintain their texture when frozen and thawed.

Wash and dry the herbs first.

Orange pot with blanched basil.

Blanch the herbs in boiling water for about 10-15 seconds and then immediately transfer them to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

Pat the herbs dry with a paper towel.

Blanched basil leaves ready to freeze.

Place the whole herbs in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid.

Once frozen, transfer the herbs to a labeled and dated freezer bag.

Make herb butter and then freeze

Herb butter will enhance the flavor of all your fall dishes. Freezing herbs in butter easy and the process can be customized with your favorite herbs and seasonings.

It is made similarly to the herb oil freezing trick above. Here is how to make it:

Blend washed and dried herbs with melted unsalted butter until the herbs are mixed well.

Melted butter and fresh herbs used to make herb butter.

Spoon the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Once frozen, you can transfer the herb butter cubes to freezer bags.

You can use herb butter for cooking or as a finishing touch for dishes.

Freeze herb pesto

Basil is a herb that freezes best when it is first made into pesto. You can also use other herbs such as oregano or thyme.

Remove the stems and combine about a cup of your chosen herb with 1/4 cup of olive oil in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle.

Using a mortar and pestle to make basil pesto.

Blend well, then transfer the mixture into ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer the pesto cubes to a freezer bag.

Use pesto cubes for pasta, sandwiches, or as a sauce for various dishes. Any dish which likes the addition of oil will work well with pesto cubes.

Flash freezing chopped herbs on baking sheets

Flash freezing works well for many types of herbs, particularly those with delicate leaves such as basil, cilantro, dill and parsley.

It is very simple to do. All you need are some fresh herbs, a baking tray and freezer bags.

Wash the herbs and thoroughly dry them to remove any excess moisture.

Finely chop the herbs with a knife, herb scissors or food processor. Line a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. 

Spread the chopped herbs in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Try to make sure that they do not touch each other. This will keep them from sticking together when frozen.

Place the baking sheet in the freezer and let the herbs freeze for a few hours. Once the herbs are frozen, remove the baking sheet from the freezer, and quickly place the frozen chopped herbs into an airtight freezer bags.

Try to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label the container or bags with the herb type and date.

Frozen basil in a freezer bag labeled with date.

When it’s time to use the frozen herbs, take out the desired amount and return the rest to the freezer. Flash freezing herbs makes it convenient to portion them for various recipes.

When properly frozen and stored, flash frozen herbs can last for several months to a year.

The exact time will vary depending on factors such as the type of herb, how well it was dried before freezing, and how airtight your storage containers or bags are.

Freeze whole herb sprigs in plastic bags

Freezing whole herb sprigs is a great way to preserve fresh herbs for later use, especially if you want to use the leaves and stems together.

It works best for hardy herbs like rosemary, dill, thyme, bay leaves or sage

Harvest herbs in whole sprigs or use store-bought bunches. Rinse them under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris.

Gently pat them dry with a paper towel. Trim any discolored or damaged leaves or stems from the sprigs.

You will be freezing the entire sprigs for this method. Lay the cleaned and trimmed herb sprigs in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure they are not touching each other.

Place the baking sheet in the freezer and allow the herb sprigs to freeze until they are solid. This typically takes a few hours.

Fresh rosemary sprigs frozen on a baking sheet.

Once frozen, remove the herb sprigs from the baking sheet and store them in labeled freezer bags or an airtight container.

Be sure to remove any excess air if using bags. Label and date the herbs.

When you want to use the frozen herb sprigs, you can add them directly to your recipes without thawing. They work well in soups, stews, roasts, and other dishes that benefit from the slow release of flavors during cooking.

Share these tips for freezing herbs on Twitter

If you enjoyed learning about all the ways to freeze herbs, be sure to share this post with a friend. Here is a tweet to get you started:

🌿 Use your garden herbs all year round! Discover 7 easy ways to freeze herbs. From ice cubes to herb butters, we've got you covered. Say goodbye to waste and hello to flavor! Find out more on The Gardening Cook. #HerbFreezing… Share on X

Pin this post for freezing herbs

Would you like a reminder of this post for how to freeze herbs 7 ways? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

You can also watch our video on YouTube!

Bowl of olive oil, rosemary and olive oil herb cubes in an ice cube tray with words 7 ways to freeze fresh herbs.

Yield: 1 printable

Printable -How to Freeze Herbs 7 Ways

Herbs frozen in olive oil on a gray plate.

Freezing fresh herbs will allow you to use them all winter long

This printable lists 7 ways to freeze them. Print it out and keep it in your garden journal.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Difficulty easy
Estimated Cost $1

Materials

  • Heavy card stock or glossy photo paper

Tools

  • Computer printer

Instructions

  1. Load the heavy card stock or glossy photo paper into your computer printer.
  2. Choose portrait layout and if possible "fit to page" in your settings.
  3. Print the calendar and add to your gardening journal.

Notes

Printable showing 7 ways to freeze herbs.

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