“When you lack rosemary but want to replicate its distinct flavor in your recipes, a rosemary substitute is your solution. Keep reading as this article presents eight top alternatives to rosemary.
Belonging to the Lamiaceae family, rosemary is a highly aromatic herb known for its unique flavor: earthy and slightly bitter, with hints of pine, citrus, sage, lavender, evergreen, pepper, and mint. Some liken it to a blend of camphor and eucalyptus. A suitable rosemary substitute should possess at least some of these characteristics.
Rosemary is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine, complementing stews, vegetables, seafood, poultry, pork, lamb, grilled meats, dressings, marinades, dry rubs, and herbes de Provence. An alternative to rosemary should also complement these dishes.
Fresh and dried rosemary both find use in cooking. Consequently, dried rosemary is the best substitute for fresh rosemary, and vice versa. Dried rosemary has a more concentrated aroma due to the drying process, whereas fresh rosemary retains natural moisture. Hence, dried rosemary is preferable unless a recipe specifically calls for fresh rosemary.
When substituting fresh rosemary for dried rosemary, use a 1:1 ratio (1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary = 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary). This herb loses flavor quickly during cooking, so add it near the end to avoid bitterness.
Thyme, sage, bay leaves, basil, Italian seasoning, marjoram, summer savory, and caraway seeds serve as excellent rosemary alternatives. Below, you’ll find detailed information about each of these options:
Thyme is a fantastic rosemary substitute, offering a slightly sweet, warm, and peppery woody flavor with hints of mint and citrus. Interestingly, the reverse is true as well, as rosemary can be an excellent substitute for thyme. Compared to rosemary, thyme imparts a milder taste.
Hailing from the same Lamiaceae family as rosemary, thyme is native to the Mediterranean region. It can withstand prolonged cooking, making it a common ingredient in bouquet garni. Both fresh and dried thyme make suitable rosemary replacements.
Use thyme to replace rosemary in stews, sweet potatoes, roasted meats, grilled veggies, soups, pasta, salads, marinades, dressings, and vinaigrettes.
When substituting thyme for rosemary, apply a 1:1 ratio for fresh and dried. For example, 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme equals 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme equals 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary. Alternatively, use 3 teaspoons of fresh thyme for 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary, or 1⁄3 teaspoon of dried thyme for 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary.
Sage makes an excellent rosemary substitute with its distinctive aroma and earthy, slightly peppery flavor, featuring hints of citrus, eucalyptus, and mint. It’s worth noting that sage possesses a bold aroma and taste, so it’s wise to use it sparingly.
Like thyme, sage belongs to the Lamiaceae family, the same family as rosemary. It’s native to the Mediterranean region and is a key component of bouquet garni due to its ability to withstand high temperatures. Thus, it can be added at the start of cooking when replacing rosemary.
Use sage as a rosemary alternative in turkey dishes, sauces, bread, fish, soups, stuffing, chowder, and sauces. In Italian cuisine, sage is used to infuse tomato sauces and creamy pasta dishes. Both fresh and dried sage work well.
When substituting sage for rosemary, use a 1:1 ratio for fresh and dried. For instance, 1 teaspoon of fresh sage equals 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon of dried sage equals 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary. Alternatively, use 3 teaspoons of fresh sage for 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary, or 1⁄3 teaspoon of dried sage for 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary.
3. Bay leaves
Bay leaves serve as a decent rosemary substitute, imparting an herbaceous flavor when simmered for extended periods. Add bay leaves at the beginning of cooking to allow them to meld with other ingredients.
Bay leaves belong to the Lauraceae family and are native to the Mediterranean region. While fresh bay leaves have a strong aroma and bitter taste, dried bay leaves are commonly used. Use bay leaves in place of rosemary when marinating fish and meat, especially lamb. They also enhance the flavor of stews, broths, crab, and shrimp.
When using bay leaves as a rosemary substitute, use 1-2 leaves per 1 teaspoon of rosemary.
Basil stands out as an excellent rosemary substitute, offering a sweet, peppery, and slightly minty flavor. Basil belongs to the same Lamiaceae family as rosemary and has a low tolerance for heat. Therefore, it’s best to add it toward the end of cooking or after turning off the heat to preserve its flavor.
Replace rosemary with basil in Italian cuisine, sauces, pasta, soups, pesto, and smoothies. Both fresh and dried basil are suitable options.
When substituting basil for rosemary, use a 1:1 ratio for fresh and dried. For instance, 1 teaspoon of fresh basil equals 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon of dried basil equals 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary. Alternatively, use
3 teaspoons of fresh basil for 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary, or 1⁄3 teaspoon of dried basil for 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary.
5. Italian seasoning
Italian seasoning works as a decent rosemary substitute, offering a blend of flavors from thyme, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and basil.
Use Italian seasoning in Italian dishes, sauces, soups, and marinades. However, when using Italian seasoning as an alternative to rosemary, it’s best to choose recipes where rosemary isn’t the dominant flavor.
When replacing rosemary with Italian seasoning, use a 2:1 ratio. For example, for 1 teaspoon of rosemary, use ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
Marjoram serves as a good rosemary substitute, thanks to its woody flavor. Marjoram, like rosemary, belongs to the Lamiaceae family.
Marjoram is an excellent replacement for rosemary in mushroom-based dishes. Both fresh and dried marjoram can be used for cooking. When substituting marjoram for rosemary, start with a small amount and adjust to taste.
7. Summer savory
Summer savory is a fair rosemary substitute, offering a sweet, hot, and peppery flavor. Summer savory belongs to the same Lamiaceae family as rosemary.
Use summer savory to replace rosemary in chicken, pork, and vegetable dishes. Both fresh and dried summer savory work well.
When substituting summer savory for rosemary, start with a small amount and adjust to taste.
8. Caraway seeds
Caraway seeds surprisingly make a good rosemary substitute, with their bittersweet sharpness and hints of citrus, pepper, and mild licorice. Caraway seeds come from the caraway plant, part of the Apiaceae family.
Caraway seeds can enhance sausage recipes effectively as a rosemary alternative. When substituting caraway seeds for rosemary, use a 2:1 ratio. For example, for 1 teaspoon of rosemary, use ½ teaspoon of caraway seeds.
Best substitutes for rosemary in specific dishes
Certain rosemary substitutes work better than others depending on the dish you’re preparing. Here are some recommendations:
- Lamb, mutton, and goat: A combination of peppermint, thyme, and bay leaves can mimic rosemary’s flavor. Use a 1:1 ratio. For example, for 1 teaspoon of rosemary, use 1⁄3 teaspoon of peppermint, 1⁄3 teaspoon of thyme, and 1⁄3 teaspoon of bay leaves.
- Steak: Thyme is ideal for roasting or grilling beef steaks.
- Pork: A blend of thyme, sage, fennel seeds, garlic, and apples is excellent for cooking pork, thanks to the combination of aromas. For example, fennel seeds offer a sweet, licorice flavor, while garlic transforms into a creamy, nutty clove taste when roasted and combined with the licorice taste from the fennel seeds.
- Fish: Sage works well as a rosemary substitute when cooking fish. Alternatively, a combination of chives, dill, and parsley in a 1:1 ratio can be used. For example, for 1 teaspoon of rosemary, use 1⁄3 teaspoon of chives, 1⁄3 teaspoon of dill, and 1⁄3 teaspoon of parsley.
- Poultry: Use sage, thyme, or a combination of both to replace rosemary when preparing chicken, turkey, or duck. Sage is also suitable for cooking eggs.
- Mushroom dishes: Marjoram is the top rosemary alternative for flavoring mushroom-based dishes. Combine marjoram with parsley, dill, chives, oregano, or tarragon for an intriguing aroma.
- Sausages: Caraway seeds are excellent for enhancing sausage recipes in place of rosemary.
- Potatoes: Thyme is a great rosemary substitute when roasting potatoes, providing a milder flavor.
Learn more about rosemary with these frequently asked questions:
What is rosemary?
Rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus) is a herb belonging to the Lamiaceae family.
What does rosemary taste like?
Rosemary boasts a unique flavor characterized by its woody taste, with hints of citrus, lavender, pepper, sage, pine, and mint. Its flavor intensifies when cooked in liquid.
How do I prepare fresh rosemary for cooking?
Follow these steps to prepare fresh rosemary for cooking:
- Rinse a bunch of fresh rosemary with cold water to remove any dirt or dust from the stems and leaves.
- Dry the herb with a paper towel.
- To remove the leaves from the stems, gently pull them in the opposite direction.
- Chop the rosemary leaves and use as needed.
How do I prepare dried rosemary for cooking?
You can dry rosemary at home using methods such as air drying, freezing, or using a dehydrator. Once dried, follow the same process as for fresh rosemary to remove the
leaves from the stems.
What is a sprig of rosemary?
A sprig of rosemary is one stem from the rosemary plant, typically measuring two to four inches.
What are the benefits of rosemary?
Rosemary offers various health benefits, including improving mood, memory, alertness, and stress relief.
What foods pair well with rosemary?
Rosemary complements beef, chicken, pork, and tomato-based dishes, as well as various vegetables.
As the popularity of rosemary grows, so does the availability of substitutes. While there are many different options, each has its own unique flavor profile that may or may not be a good fit for a recipe. With a little experimentation, cooks can find the perfect substitute for rosemary to give their dish the desired flavor profile.
Have you tried using any of our suggestions as a rosemary substitute? If so, share your experiences and feedback in the comments below!“