Fresh Dill vs. dill weed: how do they compare?

dill vs dill weed
The main differences between dill and dill weed are the intensity of their flavors and the specific culinary applications. Dill has a mild, slightly sweet flavor with hints of anise and citrus, while dill weed has a more robust, pungent taste with notes of celery and parsley. Dill is commonly used in pickling and as a seasoning for fish and vegetables, while dill weed is common in salads, soups, and garnish. 

What is dill, and what is dill weed?

Dill and dill weed come from the same plant, Anethum graveolens, which belongs to the family Apiaceae, like parsley, celery, and carrots. It is a popular culinary herb known for its distinctive flavor and aroma. 

Dill weed refers explicitly to the leaves and stems of the dill plant, and they look like carrot fronds.

These delicate, feathery leaves are often used as a garnish or seasoning in cooking. Dill weed is a common ingredient in recipes that require a fresh and herbaceous flavor, like creams, sauces, and stews.

They flavor various dishes, including potatoes, yogurt, sauces, fish, soups, bread, and cucumber dill pickle jars. You can also use it to make dill tea, a popular herbal infusion believed to have various health benefits.

Dill usually refers to the seeds of the same plant. They develop in the pods of the plant after the flowers are pollinated. These seeds have an earthy and refreshing aroma.

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What does dill taste like?

The primary flavor of dill is herbaceous and grassy, with a slightly bitter undertone. It also has a tangy, almost citrus-like quality, with a hint of sweetness often described as reminiscent of anise or licorice. Dill seeds are also slightly earthy, similar to fennel or celery seeds.

Overall, the flavor of dill is complex and multifaceted, with a range of different taste sensations and aromas that come together to create a unique and recognizable profile. It adds depth and complexity to various dishes, from salads and soups to sauces and marinades.

What does dill weed taste like?

Dill weed, on the other hand, has a milder flavor than dill. Its subtle taste is slightly sweet with a hint of tanginess. The flavor is similar to parsley with a touch of anise. 

What’s the difference between dill and dill weed?

Dill seeds and dill weed comparison
Dill seeds and dill weed comparison

Dill weed and dill are two entirely different things (the seed and the stem), although grocery stores sometimes label dill weed as simply “dill.” These are other notable differences.

Origin

Dill is now widely grown globally, but its use began in Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean, where it grows abundantly. Conversely, dill weed first emerged in the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia. 

Appearance

Dill seeds and dill weeds vary in appearance. Dill seeds are small, round, and hard, with a brown and gray-like color, while dill weed is the leaf and stem and is softer and lighter in color. 

Flavor

Dill and dill weed have different flavors. Dill seeds have a stronger flavor with citrus and grassy undertones and a camphor-like hint, while dill weed has a fresher, warmer flavor with hints of lemon and anise.

Applications

These herbs are present in various culinary applications. Dill is typically used in potato salad, soups, and seafood dishes, adding a fresh flavor that complements the dish. Adding dill at the beginning of the cooking process is recommended to ensure you can evenly distribute the flavor.

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On the other hand, dill weed can also be used in the same dishes as dill but is better suited for stews, sauces, and lighter dishes. Unlike dill, it is best added toward the end of the cooking process to preserve its flavor. 

Shelf life

Dill seeds have a longer shelf life than dill weed, lasting up to 4 years when stored properly. Due to its stem and leaf composition, dill weed has a shorter life span of about 2 to 3 years (in the freezer). If you store it in the refrigerator, it can last up to 7 days.

Form

Dill seeds are always dried, while dill weed is available fresh or dried.

Comparison Table

Dill seedsDill weed
OriginSoutheastern Europe, the MediterraneanEastern Mediterranean and western Asia 
AppearanceSmall, oval-shaped, hard, brown-gray color seedsSoft, light green leaves
FlavorMostly citrus, a grassy, herbaceous, hint of caraway and corianderFresh, warm, lemony, anise, licorice-type taste
ApplicationsPotato salad, soups, stews, seafood, picklesStews, sauces
Shelf life4 years2 to 3 years
FormDried, seedsFresh and dried

What are some ways to use dill weed?

Here are some ways to use dill weed in recipes:

  • In salads: dill weed can be added to salads to give them a fresh, herbaceous flavor. It pairs well with cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, and lemon.
  • In soups and stews: dill weed can be added to enhance their flavor.
  • In dips and spreads: you can add dill weed to dips and spreads like hummus or tzatziki to give them a fresh, herbaceous flavor.
  • In fish dishes: dill weed is commonly used in fish dishes such as salmon, trout, and cod. It pairs well with lemon and butter, and its sweet and tangy flavor complements the mild taste of fish.
  • In salad dressings: the leaves of the dill plant make a lovely addition to the creaminess of any salad dressing.
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What are some ways to use dill in a recipe?

Here are some ways to use dill seeds in a recipe:

  • Pickles: dill is a classic flavor in pickling. Add dill seeds to brine, cucumbers, garlic, and spices for homemade pickles.
  • Creamy soups: dill adds a bright and herby flavor to creamy soups like potato soup or cream of mushroom soup.
  • Muffuletta sandwich: follow the recipe, mix all ingredients with dill seeds, and serve.
  • Potato dishes: mix crushed dill seeds, salt, black pepper, and red pepper, coat the potatoes, then bake them with steak and veggies.

Can you substitute dill weed for dill?

These two have very different flavor profiles, so they’re not always a good substitute for one another. However, the best recipes where either one works well include soups, sauces, and vinegar.

If you want to look for the best substitutes for both dill and dill weed, consider these options:

Dill substitutesCelery, cilantro, or caraway seeds
Dill weed substitutesFresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, thyme, and rosemary

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, you can use 3 heads of fresh dill or 1 to 2 tablespoons of dill seed for each quart.

Generally, one tablespoon of fresh dill weed equals one teaspoon of dried dill (since dried dill has a more intense flavor).

What is the best way to store dill weed and dill?

The best way to store dill weed and dill depends on whether you have fresh or dried herbs.

  • Fresh dill — refrigerator
  • Dried dill and seeds — an airtight container

I you have fresh dill weed or dill, it’s best to store them in the fridge to keep them fresh. First, rinse the dill under cool water and then pat dry with paper towels. Next, wrap the dill loosely in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and store it in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator. You can store dill this way for up to a week.

Dried dill weed should be stored in an airtight container to preserve flavor and aroma. Glass jars with tight-fitting lids or plastic containers with snap-on lids are the best option. Place the dried dill in the container and store it in a cool, dark, dry place, like a pantry or cupboard. You can store dried dill this way for up to 6 months.

Alexandra

Alexandra is a passionate writer with a deep appreciation for food - not just as nourishment but as an expression of culture, a reflection of history, and a celebration of life. She knows that everything in life requires a little spice - and gets a kick (get it?) every time she achieves the perfect combination of heat and depth.

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