Cooking Tips

Don't Toss Leftover Herbs. Turn Them into Flavored Salt.

Homemade finishing salts are cheap, easy, and a great way to give purpose to your half-finished clamshell of herbs.

Published Sept. 6, 2022.

I like fresh herbs in just about everything—sprinkled on noodles, stirred into fresh tomato sauce, even atop desserts. The one place I hate to see them? Languishing at the bottom of my produce drawer. 

Unfortunately, this scenario happens much more often than I’d like. Recipes usually call for just a few leaves or sprigs, but grocery stores primarily sell herbs in large bunches or plastic clamshells. And, unless I fastidiously plan to cook several parsley-centric recipes in one week, for example, I find that half the bunch ends up in the compost bin.

That is, until my colleagues tipped me off to a genius trick: using those extra herbs to make finishing salt. Herb-infused salts are used as a final flourish for a dish, providing freshness and crunchy, mineral salinity. Store-bought versions are always expensive—but you can make your own using nothing but sea salt and whatever herbs you happen to have on hand. The method is easy: Chop your herbs; mix them with the salt; and sit back as the salt works its magic, drawing moisture out of the herbs via osmosis. 

(And if you do make salt and still have surplus herbs in the fridge? You can always freeze them in an ice cube tray for later use.)

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How to Make Fresh Herb Finishing Salt

1. Combine: Add ½ cup of coarse or flake sea salt to a bowl with one of the following:

  • 1½ cups finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh makrut lime leaves

2. Rub: Pick up a handful of the salt mixture and rub between your hands to disperse the herb throughout the salt. Repeat until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. 

4. Dry: Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and let mixture sit in a cool location away from direct sunlight for 36 to 48 hours.

5. Rake periodically: Rake the mixture with a fork every 12 hours to ensure that the herb dries evenly.

6. Repeat rubbing: Rub the mixture between your hands to break up any clumps of dried herb and evenly distribute the herb throughout the salt.

7. Transfer to airtight container: Store at room temperature for up to 2 months.

How to Use Fresh Herb Finishing Salt

Because this method never heats the herbs, their flavor remains potent and bright. Add this salt to any dish that could use a hint of salinity and verdant freshness. Here are a few ideas.

  • Sprinkle atop meat or fish
  • Rub onto the rim of a cocktail glass
  • Dust over popcorn


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