Texas Living

How to Dry Your Own Herbs

By Jillian Kring 9.7.22

Do you have an abundant herb garden that you would love to preserve for the winter months? Learn how to dry herbs in this guide to harvesting, air-drying, oven-dehydrating, storage, and usage so you can enjoy the herbs from your garden all winter. You won’t believe how easy it is!

Harvesting Herbs

You can dry and preserve almost anything that grows in your garden, but these classic herbs are a great starting point. When you pick aromatic herbs to dry, midmorning is the best time to harvest. At this point in the day, early morning dew has already evaporated but fragrant morning oils are still strong. Do not remove more than a third of your selected plant when you harvest. Homegrown and pesticide-free herbs do not need to be washed — simply shake them off. This will ensure they keep their strongest flavor and scent when dry.

  • Basil: Harvest only after the plant has at least six sets of leaves.
  • Oregano: Cut the leaf two-thirds of the way down the stem.
  • Rosemary: Trim individual sprigs.
  • Thyme: Harvest just before the plant flowers.  
  • Parsley: Harvest when the plant has had between 70 and 90 days to grow.
  • Sage: Harvest before the plant flowers.
  • Chamomile: Harvest when flowers are at full bloom.
  • Lavender: Harvest after at least 50% of the plant has flowered.
  • Lemon balm: Harvest before the plant flowers.
  • Rose: Harvest when the roses are in full bloom and the petals are loose, open, and brightly colored.
  • Hibiscus: Harvest the red calyx at the base of the petals when it turns red and petals start to fade. Remember to remove petals after the harvest; remove seeds after it is dried.

Air-Drying Your Herbs

Air-drying herbs is the best drying method to preserve flavor. It is done best by tying small bundles of herbs together with twine (five stems to one bundle). Leave a small loop at one end to allow for easy hanging. Herb bundles are often hung from hanging rails, over fireplaces, or on wall hooks. Let them dry for one to two weeks. Hibiscus may be spread out on a baking pan and left to dry on the countertop. Leaves will be easily crumbled between fingers when ready.

Best suited to air-drying: hibiscus, basil, lavender, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano

Oven-Dehydrating Your Herbs

Place parchment paper over a baking tray and spread herbs or petals evenly. Ideally, herb drying is done at 120-150 F; however, many ovens do not go below 170 F. Set your oven to the lowest possible temperature if the ideal temperature is not available. Bake for 25 minutes on each side with the door closed. If the temperature is above 150 F, leave the door slightly ajar and bake for only 15 minutes on each side. Keep a watchful eye on the herbs and check frequently to avoid browning. They are ready when the leaves can be easily crumbled by hand.

Best suited to oven-dehydrating: roses, lemon balm, chamomile, parsley 


After drying your herbs, remove the stems and break the remaining dried leaves apart with a mortar and pestle. These dried herbs can be used throughout the winter for cooking, homemade spice mixes, and homemade teas.

Try these combinations:

  • Italian spice mix: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary
  • Poultry spice mix: sage, oregano, parsley
  • Relaxing tea: 2 parts lemon balm, 1 part chamomile, 1 part rose petals, 1 part lavender
  • Fruity tea: 1 part hibiscus, 1 part lavender

Storing Your Dried Herbs

Store dried herbs in airtight containers in a cool and dry place for ideal preservation conditions. Dried herbs may last one to three years under ideal circumstances, or about six months in less-than-ideal circumstances. Airtight spice containers such as these would be great for storing individual herbs or spice mixes.

Find more tips for your spice cabinet here.

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