Fresh herbs and dried herbs can often be used in place of each other in most recipes. The main thing to remember here though is that fresh herbs and dried herbs are not one-for-one replacements for each other.
In other words, if a recipe asks you to put in two tablespoons of fresh thyme, you cannot put in two tablespoons of dried thyme. Doing that is a recipe for disaster (yes I said that!)
This is because fresh herbs differ in strength and potency from dried herbs, and if you want to impart the correct flavor to your recipes, it’s important to remember useful equivalents.
If that’s the case, how will I know how much to use? For example, how much dried thyme equals 2 sprigs?
Dried herbs are generally more potent and stronger in flavor than fresh herbs, and you’d generally want to use less of them in recipes.
In general, 1 tablespoon of a fresh herb would impart the same flavor strength as 1 teaspoon of dried herbs. Another way of putting it is, that you only need 1/3 as much dried herbs as fresh herbs when substituting in a recipe.
So if your recipe calls for 2 sprigs of thyme, how do know how much dried thyme to put in? How much dried thyme equals 2 sprigs of thyme? Read on to find out.
How Much Dried Thyme Equals 2 Sprigs?
2 sprigs will yield 1 – 1 ½ teaspoons. One average sprig of thyme will yield about ½- ¾ teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves. Using the general formula of 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs = 1 teaspoon of dried herbs, it can be said that two sprigs of thyme are equivalent to 1/3 – 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme.
What is Thyme?
Thyme is an herb with a distinctively strong aroma that was originally cultivated in the Mediterranean region. It is related to oregano and basil, but still distinct from them, and it is also part of the mint family. It is a perennial herb, which means that it only needs to be cultivated once and it will last for several years.
It is often used in French and Italian cooking and is a main ingredient in bouquet garni and herbs de provence. Thyme pairs really well with different kinds of meat, fish, and even vegetables. It is also often also used in savory baking.
Aside from culinary applications, it also has medicinal uses.
What is A Sprig of Thyme?
A sprig refers to a small stem from a plant or an herb that usually carries flowers or leaves. In the case of herbs, it is what carries the fresh herb leaves that we use in cooking.
A “sprig” is a term often used in recipes to pertain to fresh herbs. However, because stem length and size vary from herb to herb, it is a very subjective unit of measurement.
Sprigs of thyme would have a different size from say, a sprig of rosemary. It can also even vary within the same herb, and thus, it is a very imprecise unit of measurement.
This is a very similar case to when recipes say “a bunch of cilantro” or “a bunch of parsley”. How much is this exactly?
It is no wonder then that this question is often asked in many cooking circles, especially for cooks who want to do everything precisely, in exact measurements. How much exactly is a sprig? How do I know the right amount to add to my recipe?
Usually, when (good) recipe writers use measurements like this, they know that if you add a little bit more or a little bit less of that herb to the recipe, it will not alter the taste very much and you will be fine either way.
They know it isn’t a big deal and use it for the convenience of the regular cook who happens to have bought some sprigs of thyme from the grocery store.
But for the super-precise cooks, it is understandably a little disconcerting. And you cannot fault them for wanting to know how to quantify it somehow.
Thankfully, some have actually done the research and have come up with workable values as to how much a sprig of thyme actually is.
How Much Dried Thyme Equals 2 Sprigs of Thyme?
Because sprig sizes vary from plant to plant, it can be difficult to precisely figure this out. Thankfully, some very dedicated cooks have tried to accurately quantify these measurements for the benefit of the general public.
One 4-inch sprig of thyme yields anywhere from ½- ¾ teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, when loosely packed. This means that 2 sprigs of thyme will yield about twice that amount at 1 – 1 ½ teaspoons.
We know that the general guide we use for converting fresh herbs to dried herbs is that we only use 1/3 as much dried herbs as we do fresh. This means that for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs, we only use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs.
From this, we can say that two sprigs of thyme will be equivalent to 1/3 – 1/2 teaspoons of dried thyme.
Dried Herbs Vs Fresh Herbs: Which is Better?
In cooking, fresh is generally preferred over dried. But does it apply to herbs? It depends.
Certain herbs that are more delicate are just better used fresh. Examples are parsley, cilantro, mint, and dill. Usually, their uses are for dishes that have shorter cooking times or where the flavor of the herb needs to be more pronounced.
For example, Cilantro Lime Rice, a Dill Tuna Salad, or a Chimichurri sauce would taste better if fresh herbs were used. The dried versions just would not capture the essence and the taste of the recipe.
On the other hand, dried herbs impart a distinctive and deep flavor to slow-cooked stews or roasted meats. Dried herbs would intensify and develop a depth of flavor over the higher heat and longer cooking process. The reason is that dried herbs are more potent and concentrated and are more heat stable than fresh herbs.
Dried herbs can also come in ground version, as in dried oregano and ground oregano. The ground version is usually more concentrated than just the dried flakes. The article Ground Oregano vs Dried Oregano – What’s The Difference? explores this difference more.
Dried herbs also have the added benefit of being more shelf-stable and being able to last much longer compared to fresh herbs, although the lifespan of fresh herbs can also be prolonged through proper storage.
Ultimately, it would just depend on what you are using it for. Both dried herbs and fresh herbs offer advantages in use and are both good to have in your kitchen.
Other Uses of Thyme
Thyme is a wonderfully aromatic herb that can be used to flavor a lot of dishes, and also has a lot of non-culinary uses.
Some of those uses are:
- Cosmetics and aromatherapy
- Essential and medicinal oils
- A component of natural pesticides
- A natural preservative to ward off bacterial contamination in food
It truly is a versatile and useful herb both in and out of the kitchen.
Conclusion to How Much Dried Thyme Equals 2 Sprigs
Fresh herbs and dried herbs can generally be substituted for each other in many recipes, although sometimes, it is better to use the fresh version depending on the recipe.
There is a good guideline to follow when substituting dried for fresh. You usually would only need 1/3 the amount of dried herbs to substitute for fresh herbs.
Adding more might make your dish too overpowering. Of course, it would really depend on the dish and the recipe, but it is always good to have some sort of quantifiable amount and formula for a greater chance of success in your recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions on How Much Dried Thyme Equals 2 Sprigs?
How Much Dried Thyme Equals One Sprig?
One sprig of thyme makes ½ to ¾ teaspoon of fresh leaves, which is equivalent to 1/8 – ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme.
Which Is Better, Fresh Herbs or Dried Herbs?
It depends on the recipe. Delicate herbs like parsley, cilantro, and dill are sometimes better used fresh, while other herbs like thyme and rosemary, which will be used to flavor roasted meats do very well in their dried forms.
What Are The Best Thyme Substitutes?
Depending on the recipe, oregano and marjoram are acceptable substitutes for thyme.