Dried Oregano Vs Fresh Oregano: Best Choice And Substitutions

Have you ever tried to make a recipe that called for fresh oregano, but you only had dried on hand? Or maybe you prefer using fresh over dried and your dish is calling for this herb to be dried. If you want to learn more about the differences and similarities between dried oregano to fresh or fresh to dried oregano, then we’ve got some answers for you.  This article will first explain how to dry out oregano leaves and the many methods you can use. Then, once you know how to dry your oregano, we’ll discuss it better: dry oregano or fresh oregano leaves.

For instance, we’ll go over the similarities and differences between dried oregano and fresh oregano. Then, we’ll talk about their appearance, taste, health benefits, and more. Then, we’ll go over how you can use each one in your recipes. Finally, we’ll share the pros and cons of using dried oregano and fresh oregano before discussing whether you can substitute one for the other in your recipe. 


How To Dry Fresh Oregano

Oregano leaves can be used fresh, or they can be dried. Fresh leaves come from harvesting them in the garden or buying them from the store.

You can also buy dried oregano at the store (click here) or do it yourself.

So first, let’s talk about how to dry fresh oregano leaves. You can do so in a few different ways, such as using:

  • A dehydrator
  • The Oven
  • The Microwave
  • Natural Air

For example, a dehydrator, oven, and microwave all get the same job done in different amounts of time. You simply place the oregano leaves on a single layer on a baking sheet (or a microwave-safe plate) and let the leaves dry out in warm temperatures.

These methods need to be checked on periodically. The dehydrator and oven, for example, may take anywhere between four and eight hours.

In other words, you’ll want to set aside about a day to stay home with your oregano. The microwave is the quickest option, only taking about two to three minutes. However, it could also spark a fire if not watched carefully enough.

For instance, if you use the microwave, you’ll want to dry out the herbs in 30-second increments. This way, they won’t get too dried out and possibly start a fire or become too cooked. 

Learn more about drying out your oregano leaves in the microwave.

Also, you want to make sure that the oregano leaves do not cook. So, be on standby to ensure the oregano leaves dry out as they should don’t become too crispy.

Learn more about drying out your oregano leaves in the oven.

On the other hand, you can allow your oregano to dry naturally. This method will take the longest, but you won’t need to worry about keeping an eye on your oven.

For instance, you can lay the oregano leaves flat, leaving them in a sunny spot. Then, every hour or so, flip them over, so each side gets equal sun.

Hanging oregano to dry
Hanging oregano to dry

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After a few days, once your herbs are crumbly to the touch, you’ll know the oregano is thoroughly dried out. 

Another way to go about it is to hang up your oregano leaves on twine. Think of hanging out your laundry to dry, and you can do exactly that with your herbs. This method will still take a couple of days, but you won’t need to worry about flipping each leaf over every hour.

Click here to buy dried oregano.

Dried Oregano Vs. Fresh Oregano

Oregano can be used in a few different ways. For one, you can use fresh oregano in your dishes, which means that you use the oregano leaves straight from the garden.

On the other hand, you can take the time to dry out the leaves.

But which one should you use: dried oregano or fresh oregano leaves? First, let’s talk about their similarities and differences.

Fresh Oregano Vs. Dried Oregano: Taste Differences

In most cases, herbs will lose some of their flavors once they’re dried out. Luckily, this isn’t the case for oregano.

Dried oregano will retain the same flavor as it was still fresh. So, whether you decide to dry out the herb or not, you can be sure your recipe won’t suffer from a lack of flavoring.

Dried Vs. Fresh Oregano: Appearance

Fresh oregano leaves look as though they were just harvested from the garden, even if they’ve been sitting in your fridge for a few days.

For instance, fresh oregano has bright green leaves. On the other hand, dried oregano is brown and crumbled.

Most of the time, dried oregano will be crumbling to the touch, feeling like a powder. But, on the other hand, fresh oregano will look like regular, small leaves. 

just harvested oregano - does it go bad

Fresh Vs. Dried Oregano: Price And Availability

Believe it or not, you’ll be able to find oregano – both fresh and dry – at your local grocery store. However, it’s more common for grocery stores to carry dry oregano because it’ll keep longer.

On the other hand, if you go to an organic grocery store, you should find fresh oregano leaves in the produce section. You’ll also be able to order fresh oregano online.

Fresh oregano leaves will be a little more expensive than dried oregano. 

Fresh Vs. Dried Oregano: Health Benefits

Unfortunately, if you’re using oregano for its health benefits, then you’ll want to use fresh oregano over dried.

Once dried, the herb loses some of its nutritional value. For example, dried oregano has little nutrition in it.

On the other hand, fresh oregano has many nutritional benefits. For example, it has many antioxidants, fiber, calcium, and vitamins and minerals.

Over time, dried oregano loses some nutrients, especially if it’s not stored properly.

Fresh Vs. Dried Oregano: How It Is Used In Cooking

Either type of this herb can be used in many different dishes. It depends on your preference and aesthetic.

For example, fresh oregano leaves look much better garnished atop a dish than dried oregano leaves would look.

However, this herb is often used in various recipes, and some prefer dried oregano over fresh and vice versa.

For instance, dried oregano is often used in Italian, Mexican, Turkish, and Greek recipes. On the other hand, Greek dishes also use fresh oregano. However, fresh oregano is often used to make oils. 

What Is The Winner?

In a nutshell, dried oregano vs. fresh oregano leaves doesn’t have too much competition. However, each certainly has its pros and cons, and which one you decide to use for a recipe is entirely up to you.

For instance, if you’re having trouble choosing which one to use, take a look at this table below. You can see the pros and cons of each herb and decide which would suit your recipe best.

How Oregano Is PreparedProsCons
Dried Oregano1. Great for flavor
2. It can be found in grocery stores and online
3. Affordable
4. Shelf life of 2 to 3 years
1. Loses some nutritional value
2. Will begin to lose flavor potency after about six months
Fresh Oregano1. Great for flavor
2. Great for garnish
3. It can be found in grocery stores and online
4. Holds more nutrients
1. More expensive
2. Shelf life of 10 to 14 days

Can You Substitute Dried Oregano For Fresh?

If you don’t have the time to dry out your oregano leaves, then the answer is yes. Substituting dried oregano for freshness is acceptable for your dish. You can also substitute fresh oregano leaves for dried ones as well.

No matter what the recipe calls for, you can use either that you have on hand. Also, you can use your own preference because the flavor will be the same. 

How Much Dried Oregano Equals Fresh?

Overall, you’ll use less dried oregano than fresh oregano. Also, dried keeps longer, so you can have this dried herb for a long time to come and still use it well.

For example, how much dried oregano for fresh should you use? A general rule of thumb is that you only need about one-third of dried oregano for the amount of fresh oregano. So, the ratio for fresh oregano to dried is about 3:1.

For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh oregano, you only need to add about one teaspoon of dried oregano. The dish will still come out similar with the same flavor.

Final Words on Dried Oregano vs Fresh Oregano

So, is using fresh oregano over dried better? Overall, it comes down to what you like to use in your own recipes. If you want to take the time to dry out the herbs yourself, you can do so. If you’re going to use your newly harvested fresh oregano leaves from the garden, you can do that too. On the other hand, if you can only find dried oregano at the store or can only find fresh oregano but don’t have the time to dry it out yourself, use what you have. The recipe will still come out the same.

Want to learn more? Read my dried vs ground oregano comparison here or learn if oregano goes bad here. You can also find all my oregano guides here.

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