Parsley is best known as a garnish that can make even the simplest dishes look attractive and fancy. Perhaps less known is the fact that it is actually a versatile herb with a distinctive flavor and a range of uses. Like most herbs, parsley is available in both dried and fresh forms and there are pros and cons associated with each.
If you are trying to choose between fresh parsley and dried parsley, you will want to consider factors like flavor and shelf life; you may also want to think about the value of each as a garnish. Learn more as we delve into the fresh parsley vs. dried comparison.
Do fresh and dried parsley differ in flavor?
One of the chief concerns with any herb or spice substitution is the difference in flavor. While many herbs had their flavors concentrated by the drying process, parsley is different. The flavor of dried parsley is somewhat muted. While you can use the fresh version to provide a bold and herbaceous note to a range of foods, dried parsley is less useful as a seasoning. In fact, you may want to limit your use of the dried herb to garnishing your dishes.
Can you use fresh parsley in place of dried parsley and vice versa?
You can use fresh parsley in place of dried parsley in most instances, but you will need to remember the differences in flavor level. Dried parsley’s muted flavor is unlikely to clash with other herbs and spices, but the greener herbal notes of the fresh version might. Pay attention to the other flavors in your dish when replacing a subtle herb with a more brightly flavored one. In addition, you will need to adjust the amounts. When using fresh parsley in place of dried parsley, use about half the amount that your recipe requires for the dried herb. You will also want to add it at the end of the cooking time since fresh parsley does not stand up well to long cooking times.
Dried parsley is not an ideal substitute for fresh. If you have another herb like chervil available, you may want to use that instead. If you do decide to use dried parsley, you will want to double or triple the amount that your recipe requires to compensate for the milder flavor.
Is there a difference in the nutritional value of fresh parsley compared to dried parsley?
Unlike the flavor components, the nutrients in parsley are largely unaffected by drying. In fact, research shows that many nutrients are considerably more concentrated in the dried herb. Since parsley is usually dried shortly after harvesting, the polyphenols and carotenoids have less time to degrade.
Best uses for fresh and dried parsley
Finely chopped fresh parsley added to butter can make an excellent sauce for pasta. You can also bake the chopped herb into meatballs to complement other herbs like oregano. Fresh parsley stems can be used when making a stock and you can even blend the herb with cilantro, olive oil and garlic to make a chimichurri sauce.
As noted above, the dried herb makes an excellent garnish and can be used to add a touch of green to an otherwise colorless soup or to a vinaigrette. Unlike the fresh herb, it can handle long cooking times without much of an effect on flavor.