What to Do with Leftover Herbs


I have a real problem with leftovers.  If they’re contained and refrigerated for more than a night… I am generally more than pleased to forget they’ve ever existed.  Actually… I should say that I do have patience for sexy leftovers.  Sexy leftovers I’m inclined to, not only not forget about, but to wake up in the middle of the night to snack on.

Sexy leftover include pizza, lasagna, and basically anything else Garfield that Cat might consume in excess.

Beyond the weird amounts of brown rice and salsa I have  lazing around in my fridge, I sometimes have a shameful amount of fresh herbs wilting away, asking for forgiveness and such.  I feel so guilty wasting these herbs that I’ve taken a stand, put my foot down, and busted out my olive oil.


We’re quick preserving fresh herbs and garlic in olive oil.  This will create a wonderfully flavorful oil, and extend the life of the herb we’re about to throw away.

I should note, this is not the kind of oil you make, put in a fancy jar, and let sit on the counter for months on end.  Oh no oh no oh no.  This is not that!  This oil needs to be kept in the refrigerator to keep any weird bacteria from acting up.


What will you flavor your oil with?  Have any thyme or rosemary on hand?  Some garlic?  Smash it!  Some black pepper?  Crack it!

For this infused oil, I used my very favorite everyday olive from California Olive Ranch.  It’s fragrant and flavorful.  It’s a fruity olive oil, which is to say that it’s rich, buttery and grassy.   I use this olive oil for both sauteing and drizzling.  It feels like an everyday treat.  Ps… No one is paying me to say this.


Allow oil to meld in the fridge for a day or so.  The oil will last up to four or five days.  In the meantime… use it on absolutely everything!  Pasta, eggs, toast, as a pre-dinner bread dip.  Whatever you fancy!

herb oil egg

If you’ve got butter on hand instead of olive oil, you might try this Super Herb Butter.

The Kitchn has some super great suggestions:  leftover herbs in Simple Syrup and leftover herbs in Olive Oil Ice Cubes.

Waste not, want not…. and whatnot.

Thyme and Garlic Olive Oil

Print this Recipe!

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, smashed and skins removed

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, rubbed from their stems and coarsely chopped

about 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients together and store in a small, airtight container.  Be sure to store this oil in the refrigerator when you’re not using it. Use it on everything from fried eggs, to pizza, pasta, and toast.  I find it best to label and date the jar.  Oil will last up to 5 days in the fridge.  After five days in the fridge the oil needs to be tossed.  No pushing it with this recipe.

51 thoughts on “What to Do with Leftover Herbs

  1. Excellent idea, I don’t know why I don’t do this more often with the herbs I always end up throwing away. Thanks for the tips and reminder to not let them go to waste!

  2. Certainly not as lovely, but to simply save fresh herbs, (I grow many types) I press them flat into a ziplock freezer bag and “file” them flat in my freezer. When I need them in a recipe I have to chop a chunk off quickly before the remainder thaws, but the part I use continues to have fresh herb flavor. I prefer this to drying herbs.

  3. I just started a batch of ghost chili oil yesterday.

    In a cookbook I copied from gazillion years ago (I cannot be the only one who hand copied recipes into their own cookbook as a child), I had a recipe for herbed oils and vinegars. The recipe said that you should acidify the garlic. Is that something you considered with your recipe?

  4. I hate eating leftovers, with two exceptions: Thanksgiving and pizza. but using up leftover herbs I could totally do! thanks for the idea :)

  5. This sounds so good! Too bad I just killed my thyme by forgetting that I should water occasionally, even here in Seattle. Along the same lines, I really liked this super-easy basil oil I made recently to ward off the dreaded bag-of-mushy-black-basil problem. (Oh, that only happens to me? How embarrassing.)

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