Buying herbs is always a bit of a risk—yes, they make your food delicious, but will you use all of them before they wilt? Unlikely.
Luckily, you can freeze them! Yes, they may wilt a bit, but they will retain their flavor for cooking, expanding its usable life exponentially. And garlic will keep its original flavor and texture when frozen, which is especially helpful if you’re like me and choose to buy three heads of garlic at a time, then feel regret when they begin to sprout.
Can You Freeze All Herbs?
Some herbs are better suited for freezing than others. Generally, heartier herbs with thick stems, which would be cooked with the dish rather than added afterward, freeze nicely. Rosemary, oregano, sage, and thyme are all good examples. These can be frozen in oil and used for sauces, soups, poultry, and more. Melt the oil in a warm pan, and enjoy the aroma of roasting herbs as you add your ingredients. Alternatively, warm the blocks of herbs in your hands to rub over a delectable roasted chicken or put under the skin of your holiday turkey.
However, fresh, soft herbs, such as parsley, basil, mint, and dill can still be frozen successfully. You just need to treat them a little differently. Add these blocks after cooking and melt the oil on top and stir it into the dish as finishing touch. You can also bring the blocks out to sit at room temperature for a few minutes, then spread the oil and herbs on toast. This also works well with butter and garlic to create some quick and easy garlic bread.
How to Freeze Garlic & Herb Blends
So for this experiment, I made a variety of garlic and herb mixtures. I started with blocks of pure garlic, which I use to cook when I’m too lazy to mince a fresh clove. I simply chopped up a few cloves with the Tovolo Chop N’ Spin Mini Chopper and placed them in the first row of my freezer tray. Easy peasy.
Next, I added parsley to the mix. I used the same Tovolo Chop N’ Spin Mini Chopper to prepare the garlic and parsley, so it took no time at all. Again, into the tray, the mixture went.
After those two basic mixes, I wanted to play with herb mixes for more specific applications. I created a basic poultry mix with garlic, rosemary, parsley, and thyme. I removed all the leaves from the stems first, then chopped away. This smelled heavenly—almost like Thanksgiving dinner. Plus, I plan to use these for our upcoming Friendsgiving dinner, which will save me loads of time on a chaotic day in the kitchen.
I also wanted to make something I could use to finish pasta or Italian dishes with herbaceous excellence. I minced garlic, parsley, and basil, which I plan to use to stir into pasta with some roasted vegetables. You could also throw them in a homemade marinara sauce or mix them into some hummus.
From there, I tried something a little more experimental: I created pesto starters. I LOVE pesto, but I rarely use it quickly enough. Because of the moisture in it, I find that it begins to mold after a couple of days in the refrigerator. So I tried freezing it, and it totally worked.
The cubes are small, but they pack a flavorful punch. I chopped up garlic, basil, a little bit of parsley, and walnuts—which I honestly prefer to pine nuts in pesto. Untraditional, I know, but they’re easier to find and delicious, so I’m willing to take that shortcut.
When I’m ready to use the pesto blocks, I simply pop them out of the tray and toss one or two into cooked pasta or soften it at room temperature before spreading it on bread or pizza dough. I add a splash of lemon juice to add a bit of brightness, and it tastes like I made it fresh for that meal. It’s magical.
Once all my herbs were in the tray, all I had to do was pour olive oil on top. Super easy and straightforward. The oil preserves the flavor of the garlic and herbs while imparting its own tastes onto the mixture. Choose high-quality olive oil for the best results.
Freeze & Enjoy Fresh-Tasting Herbs Year-Round
Place the tray in the freezer for a few hours—mine felt firm after about 4 hours, but it may depend on how cold your freezer is.
The beauty of this experiment is that you can do all your herb prep in a short period of time, then enjoy the benefits for weeks afterward. Just make sure you use a covered tray to freeze the garlic and herb blocks to prevent freezer burn. The tray I used is Tovolo’s Garlic Freezer tray, which has a lid that locks on. If you don’t have an ice tray with a lid, you can always cover yours with plastic wrap until frozen, then pop the blocks out of the tray and store them in a sealable bag or freezer-safe reusable container.
Of course, I made these to my liking. I would recommend all of these herb blends, but I also encourage experimentation! Mix and match leftover herbs and try something new. If you find something you love, let us know in the comments!