What can I Substitute for Rosemary?

Rosemary is a very common ingredient. A lot of people use this versatile herb in lamb, pork, chicken, and shellfish dishes. It is also used in sauces, marinades, and salad dressings. Rosemary complements herbs like thyme, chive, and parsley.

Rosemary has a distinct flavor that a lot of people appreciate. Unfortunately, it can be a bit difficult to find. Therefore, it is important that you know the possible rosemary substitutes. 

Savory, thyme, caraway seeds, marjoram, sage, bay leaf, tarragon, and basil are good substitutes for rosemary. You can also use dried rosemary in place of fresh rosemary.

Before we get into the details of these substitutes, let’s have a small discussion about rosemary. The key to choosing a good substitute is knowing exactly what flavor and texture you will replace.

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For starters, rosemary belongs to the mint family. However, its flavor is completely different from that of mint. A lot of people describe rosemary’s flavor as piney with a hint of citrus.

A little rosemary goes a long way, so you always need to ensure you do not use too much as it will overpower your dish.

Rosemary is known for its medicinal use. As early as the 16th century, people used it to ease digestion problems. Rosemary contains antioxidants which, scientifically speaking, promotes heart health, and prevent cancer. Additionally, rosemary is believed to have anti-aging properties.

Rosemary substitutes

  1. Dried rosemary

Like most herbs, the dried equivalent of rosemary is your best bet. Dried rosemary is readily available so you will not have any problem purchasing it. However, you should know that the flavor of dried rosemary is concentrated.

Therefore, you will need to use a considerably less amount when using it as a substitute for fresh rosemary. If your recipe calls for one teaspoon of fresh rosemary, use half a teaspoon of dried rosemary.

Another thing you need to know is that dried herbs work best when used at the start of cooking. This way, the dried rosemary will have enough time to release the rosemary flavor. Remember to use a small amount at first, then if you feel the flavor is too mild you can always add more.

Making your own dried rosemary at home is very easy. All you need is fresh rosemary and a little bit of patience. The first thing you need to do is wash the rosemary properly. Once clean, tie the bases with strings and hang them up to dry in a ventilated area.

Alternatively, you can just chop off the rosemary spring, wash them, dry them, and then place them on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into your freezer overnight and you will have your rosemary the next day.

If you do not have any rosemary on hand, no need to panic. There are several other substitutes that you can use.

  1. Savory

Savory is one of the best substitutes for rosemary.  Being a member of the mint family is always a plus. There are two main types of savory, the winter savory, and the summer savory. 

The two have slightly different flavors. Summer savory has a mild sweet and spicy flavor while the summer savory has hints of sage and pine. Summer savory is commonly used in casseroles, sauces, vegetables, and scrambled eggs.

Interestingly, Ancient Romans used savory as an ingredient of love portions. It is believed to be the herb of love.

Savory generally has a peppery flavor that is very similar to that of thyme. In fact, most people tend to confuse one for the other. Savory is a great addition to fish, meats, and eggs because it elevates the dish by adding flavor to it.

When substituting rosemary with savory, you will need to use a small amount because a little savory goes a long way. For every teaspoon of rosemary that a recipe calls for, use half a teaspoon of savory. If the flavor is too mild for your liking, add more.

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  1. Thyme

Thyme is another member of the mint family that can act as a substitute for rosemary. It has a very attractive whitish/pinkish flowers.  Thyme has a lemony aroma with a hint of eucalyptus. It also has an irresistible flavor.

Thyme complements several dishes including; lamb, pork, chicken, fish, beef, and soups. It is also a great addition to vegetable dishes like roast potatoes.

Just like rosemary, thyme can easily overpower a dish if used in excess. Therefore, be careful not to use too much. Therefore, for every teaspoon of rosemary that a recipe calls for, use half a teaspoon of thyme.

If you are making lamb, I suggest adding a little bit of peppermint and bay leaf to the thyme. The results will blow your mind, I promise.

Although you can easily substitute rosemary with thyme, you cannot substitute thyme with rosemary. This is because rosemary has a very distinct flavor that may not go well with most dishes that require you to use thyme.

Thyme is very easy to find. You can either buy it at a grocery store or from an online herb store. Thyme has numerous health benefits, the main one being that it is useful in cancer management.

  1. Caraway seeds

Caraway seeds are also a good substitute for rosemary. However, you need to be sure you like the flavor before using them as a substitute.

Caraway seeds are from the Apiceae family. The plant mostly grows in North Africa, Europe, and Asia. The flavor of caraway seeds is not as strong as that of rosemary, so you may need to use a little bit more in your dish to achieve the flavor that you want.

For every teaspoon of rosemary that your recipe calls for, use one and a half teaspoons of caraway seeds.

Caraway seeds have a distinct, pleasing aroma that lasts for a very long time. Although caraway seeds are very different compared to the other substitutes which are herbs, they work just fine. I recommend using them in fish dishes and salads.

  1. Marjoram

Marjoram is another great herb that can be a rosemary substitute. It mostly grows in cold areas and is from the Origanum family.

Marjoram has a mild citrus flavor with a hint of pine which makes it a perfect addition to stews, sauces, and soups. It also makes for a good salad dressing.

Try using marjoram as a rosemary substitute in poultry stuffing and mushroom-based dishes. The results will amaze you.

Marjoram contains vitamins A, C, and K. It also contains iron and calcium which are essential nutrients for the body.

  1. Sage

Sage is known for its bittersweet taste and irresistible aroma.  Since it is similar to rosemary, it can easily act as its substitute in various dishes.

Sage works best as a rosemary substitute when used in egg and meat dishes. I particularly like using it as poultry seasoning because of the flavor it adds.

Substitute sage with rosemary in equal amounts. For instance, if a recipe requires you to use one teaspoon of rosemary, use one teaspoon of sage instead.

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  1. Bay leaf

Bay leaf is another rosemary substitute that is a favorite to many because of its pleasing aroma. It also contains several nutrients that are essential for the body.

Bay leaf comes from laurel trees. The flavor of bay leaf is mild and therefore mixes well with other spices. I suggest using a bay leaf as a rosemary substitute in poultry and meat dishes. You can also use it in tomato-based sauces for that amazing flavor.

When using bay leaf as a substitute, please note that you should only use it while cooking and remove it before serving your dish.

Bay leaves work best when used in dishes that are left to simmer for some time before serving. This is because the leaves release the flavor over time as the dish simmers.

  1. Tarragon

Tarragon is a member of the sunflower family which can be an alternative to rosemary. It has an intense flavor that is bitter and sweet at the same time. Tarragon originates from Eurasia and North America, but it somehow became a popular ingredient in French cuisines.

The flavor of tarragon goes well with fish dishes. It is also a good addition to poultry dishes, especially the egg and cheese ones.

Since tarragon has an intense flavor, you should use it sparingly. For every teaspoon of rosemary that a recipe calls for, use half a teaspoon of tarragon.

Also, Check out: What is a Suitable Tarragon Substitute?

  1. Basil

Basil is one of those herbs that is always readily available. This makes it one of my do-to substitutes for basil. There are several different types of basil in the market. Most have that flavor hint of lemon that complements various dishes.

In terms of flavor, basil is less flavorful compared to rosemary. Therefore, you may need to use more than your recipe calls for when using it as a rosemary substitute.

If you do not have fresh basil, you can use the dried version in its place. However, keep in mind that the flavor is a bit concentrated and adjust accordingly.

No rosemary? No problem. Just select one of these many substitutes to use in its place. You will not be disappointed.

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