Cooking Tips
Everyone Should Have Herb Ice Cubes in Their Freezer
Win the battle against past-their-prime herbs.
02-18-2021
Mari Levine

There are few kitchen-related things I hate more than throwing out food that’s past its prime. The worst is when it's food that I never got around to using. (The guilt and the wasted money!)

In the race to use perishable items before they go bad, herbs are my Achilles’ heel. There are days I open my fridge’s crisper drawer and discover a forgotten bag of parsley or container of thyme, now turned slimy and unusable.

Storing herbs correctly is the key to prolonging their shelf life. But there’s also a way to preserve herbs before they go bad: turning them into ice cubes.

Here’s the simple approach: 

  1. Sturdy herbs such as rosemary, sage, and thyme work best here. Place 2 tablespoons of chopped herbs in each well of an ice cube tray, barely cover each well with water or oil, and freeze.
  2. Once the cubes are frozen, transfer them to a zipper-lock freezer bag and keep them stored in the freezer.

Whether you use water or oil depends on how you plan to use the cubes. We find that water is best for cubes that you plan to add straight to pan sauces, soups, and stews. If you’re going to use them as the first step in sautés or stir-fries, use oil. Oil cubes are also great defrosted and then drizzled over tacos or fluffed into rice pilaf.

This herb and liquid formula is endlessly adaptable. Mix and match different herbs or try some baby greens such as arugula or spinach. Add some lemon zest or grated ginger. Throw in a handful of chopped nuts or grated cheese for a pesto-style cube.

Frozen herb cubes

Give herbs a second life by turning them into frozen cubes.

For one creative take that saves her time during the week, ATK cookbooks test cook Nicole Konstantinakos, who worked on the new Ultimate Meal-Prep Cookbook, creates picada-like herb cubes inspired by the Catalan cuisine her husband grew up with.

Here’s how she does it:

  1. Throw a bunch of chopped parsley, some garlic, and a splash of oil into the blender and blitz until smooth. (You may need to add more oil to really get things going.) Pour or spoon the mixture into the wells of an ice cube tray. Transfer to the freezer. 
  2. Once the cubes are frozen, transfer them to a zipper-lock freezer bag and keep them stored in the freezer. Depending on how you plan to use them, defrost them first or use them straight from the bag.

One final note: If you’re using plastic ice cube trays, the oil makes them a pain to clean. You can get an herb cube–only ice cube tray (our favorite is this one from OXO), or you can skip the tray altogether and use a freezer bag. Just transfer the mixture to a freezer bag, get out as much air as possible before sealing, and freeze the bag flat. When you’re ready to use it, just break off a piece.