Kalyn's Kitchen

How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme

This post shares tips on How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme. Did you know that many fresh herbs can be frozen in the summer when they’re abundant and then used all through the winter? 

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How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme found on KalynsKitchen.com

Even though it’s still quite warm in Utah, I can feel the nights getting a bit cooler, and I know it’s not that long until the garden goodness has to either be preserved or lost. I hate losing anything that comes from my garden, and try to freeze as much as possible.   Since I have lots and lots of herbs, a few years ago I started to experiment with freezing them to see if I could preserve the flavor enough to make it worthwhile to use the herbs in the winter. I’m no expert, but I’ve learned a few tricks.

If you’re going to try freezing herbs, first it helps to understand the difference between soft herbs and hard herbs. A while ago Helen from Beyond Salmon wrote an excellent post on preserving and using herbs in which she explained this quite well. Basically soft herbs are things like basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, and mint which are either eaten raw or added only for a few minutes of cooking. I’ve written earlier about how to freeze fresh basil, and I suspect that many of the other soft herbs can be frozen that way also, although basil combines especially well with the olive oil.

Hard herbs are things like rosemary, thyme, savory, and sage which are suitable for long cooking times. The two things from this list that I’ve had great luck freezing are rosemary and thyme. I actually discovered how to do this somewhat by accident when I cut the branches off my rosemary and thyme bushes one fall and didn’t have time to pick the leaves off. I washed the herbs, then put the stems into a Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer, not sure what would happen.I was delightfully surprised when the frozen leaves fell off the stems, and even happier when I tried using some of the frozen rosemary and thyme leaves and discovered they were nearly as good as fresh. Try this if you have rosemary and thyme in your garden and live where there’s a cold winter, and I think you’ll like the result.

How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme found on KalynsKitchen.com

Cut some rosemary branches.

How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme found on KalynsKitchen.com

Cut some thyme branches. Herbs should be washed in cold water and either spun dry or blotted dry with paper towels.

How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme found on KalynsKitchen.com

Put rosemary in small Ziploc bag.

How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme found on KalynsKitchen.com

Use a separate Ziploc bag for the thyme. Let thyme and rosemary stay in the freezer for several weeks.

After a few weeks, take ziploc bag out of the freezer and use a rolling pin to roll over the bag containing the herbs. You should see a significant amount of leaves come loose from the stems. If some leaves don’t come off, you can remove the loose leaves and freeze the others a bit longer, or pick the rest off by hand.

How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme found on KalynsKitchen.com

This rosemary has been frozen for nearly a year and is still green and very fragrant.

How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme found on KalynsKitchen.com

Thyme is a bit more fragile than rosemary, but this thyme is still great after nearly a year in the freezer.

How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme found on KalynsKitchen.com

After I’ve separated the leaves from the stems, I like to store my frozen herbs in canning jars which have a lid that seals well. This keeps moisture away from the herbs. (The jars go back in the freezer.)

That’s how easy it is to preserve the rosemary and thyme from your garden to use in wonderful soups and stews all winter long. Use the frozen leaves in any recipe calling for fresh rosemary or thyme. For recipes created using dried thyme or rosemary, use about twice as much of the frozen herbs as you would the dried version.

More Tips for Freezing Things from the Garden:

How to Freeze Fresh Basil
My Favorite Tips for Freezing Garden Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs, and Vegetables
More About Freezing Fresh Herbs: Freezing Thai Basil, Sage, Tarragon, and Mint

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    64 Comments on “How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme”

  1. Great tips, Kalyn. I've been doing some freezer cooking for a while now because it saves me a lot of time. Although I've been meaning to freeze some greens, I haven't been able to preserve their freshness as I mean it to.

  2. You're welcome. I'd love to hear how the "dry" freezing works on basil. I worry that it will turn black.

  3. Kalyn, thanks for such an informative site! I will be freezing my basil and rosemary. I will attempt the "dry" freezing method for basil, though. Love your tips on freezing rosemary 🙂

  4. Noah, I've been doing it a few years now and always had good luck.

  5. Old thread but found through Google. I just tried this with loads of rosemary and thyme. Hope it works out.


  6. Dallas, haven't tried freezing cilantro, which is considered a "soft" herb. You might use the directions for freezing basil since it's also a "soft" herb.

  7. This is a fantastic tip. I'm going to give it a try with some cilantro.

  8. ~M Thanks for letting us know the rosemary stays good in bags as well as jars. Also, love your tip for using the rosemary stalks, just brilliant!

  9. I wanted to follow up on this post. I wash and dry my rosemary and then put it in snack size ziplocs (labeled) and freeze. I just leave them like that until I'm ready to use them and then use my fingers to pick of the rosemary. I don't own a rolling pin or have freezer space in my annoying side-by-side fridge/freezer for jars. This method works great and the rosemary is still very fragrant.

    I also save the "stalks" of the rosemary to put into chicken stock. I figure it helps me reuse/recycle something I'd toss and adds to the flavor. Yum!

  10. Wow, thanks for your herb preserving posts. It looks so easy. 🙂 And your pictures are great.

  11. Debbie, I’ve kept some herbs in ziploc bags (when I had a lot!) and they did okay, but I do think they keep a little better in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

  12. Just came across your wonderful instructions on how to freeze thyme. Thanks!

    Can you keep the frozen thyme in ziploc bags (I make sure to squeeze out the air) or do they need to be transferred to jars after a few weeks?

  13. Carole, how great to hear that you’ll be enjoying your herbs all winter! I love having a freezer full of them myself!

  14. It is October in NYC and my city garden still has beautiful sage, rosemary, thyme and basil. After spending the last two hours surfing the net, I found you. Thanks so much for posting this information. I look forward to enjoying all my herbs all this winter thanks to you.

  15. Thank you Kalyn for this super and helpful blog!

    I just told my family: “I now know how to freeze thyme. Now top that!” 😉


    Seriously, thanks so much.

  16. Thanks Kalyn, I hadn’t thought about freezing herbs until I looked it up on the web, your blog was my most favoutite, and made the most sense, so thanks for that 🙂


  17. Oops, that was obviously a Freudian slip. I would blot dry with paper towels!

  18. You would “blog dry with paper towels?” 😛 That’s adorable, Kalyn!

    Thanks for clearing up my confusion. This is a very inspired use for a salad spinner. 🙂

    I just recently discovered yummy rosemary, and it will be great to have some around for crockpot recipes, roasted veges, and Italian dishes. Thanks so much for the advice!

  19. M, yes I definitely wash the herbs. I use a small salad spinner and spin them as dry as I can before freezing. If you don’t have a salad spinner, I would blog dry with paper towels. Thanks for noticing, and I will edit the post to add that information.

  20. Hi Kalyn,

    Do you wash the rosemary before you freeze it? I’m getting rosemary from the store.

    When I freeze my soft herbs, I definitely wash it first before putting it in the food processor with a bit of water (no oil) and transferring it to the freezer.