What To Use as a Substitute for Rosemary?

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Rosemary is an incredibly distinctive and complex-smelling herb or spice thanks to its strong scent that makes dishes complete. But, you may not always have it at hand and finding a substitute can be challenging.

There’s also the possibility that you want to use an alternative herb that works as well as rosemary but without its strong flavor.

So, what can you use instead of rosemary when preparing all those dishes that the herbs is commonly used in?

rosemary substitute

Dried Rosemary Instead of Fresh Rosemary

If you’re out of fresh rosemary, use dried rosemary which is more concentrated in flavor and in a lower amount than stated in the recipe. For example, a teaspoon of fresh rosemary equals ¼ – ¾ teaspoon of dried rosemary.

Sometimes, using dried herbs is better than fresh herbs. You can even make your own dried rosemary by drying some fresh rosemary sprigs while hanging in a ventilated area tied up at the base.

Or, you can freeze some dry, rosemary sprigs on a lined baking sheet and put them into a Ziplock bag or a container. Store it in the freezer for long time usage.

Here are some other great substitutes for fresh rosemary if you don’t have or like dried or frozen rosemary.

Best Substitutes for Rosemary

Here are a few herbs you may want to consider using instead of rosemary, depending on the type of dish you are cooking:

Savory

savory

The peppery flavor of savory with hints of thyme goes excellent with fish, meats, and eggs, and boosts the flavor of peas, beans, and lentils. The two types of this herb are winter and summer savory. The first has hints of sage and pine, while the second has a lightly sweet and spacy flavor.

If you’re using savory instead of rosemary, use ½ teaspoon for each teaspoon of fresh rosemary. You can always add some more if needed.

This herb helps relieve digestive issues and acts as a natural antiseptic. No wonder it’s often used in bean dishes.

Thyme

thyme

There are multiple varieties of thyme, but all of them have sweet, mint, pungent, earthy, and citrus-y flavors that pair well with other herbs.

Thyme and rosemary are members of the same mint family, so these are often used interchangeably, especially in vegetable dishes, fish, soups, beef, breads, lamb, chicken, and pork.

If you’re preparing a lamb dish, use a mixture of thyme, peppermint, and bay leaf in equal amounts and use the same quantity of this spice mix for your lamb as you’d use rosemary.

Be careful not to overpower your dishes with this herb, as thyme has an even stronger flavor than rosemary. Therefore, it’s always better to use less thyme than rosemary. For each teaspoon of rosemary, use ½ teaspoon of thyme. Feel free to add more if needed.

Even though thyme can be used as an alternative to rosemary, rosemary may not always be used as an alternative to thyme. That’s because of the characteristic flavor of rosemary that may not go as well in some dishes as thyme.

Marjoram

majoram

This versatile herb may look like oregano, but it doesn’t taste like it. Marjoram has a sweet flavor with pine and citrus hints, so it can be used as an alternative to rosemary in some dishes.

For example, it can be added to sausages and poultry stuffing, as well as mushroom-based dishes instead of rosemary. Also, it can be a great rosemary substitute in tomato-based dishes and other vegetable-dishes.

This herb is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C, and it also contains significant amounts of iron and calcium. It is said that it has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects.

Sage

sage

Even though this herb has a pretty different aromatic aroma and bittersweet taste to rosemary, it pairs well with similar dishes that rosemary is commonly used in.

For example, sage can be used as a rosemary substitute in egg and meat dishes, especially in poultry dishes. Use the same amount of fresh or dried sage as you would use fresh or dried rosemary.

This herb is considered to help improve blood glucose levels in people with diabetes and overall mental performance.

Bay Leaf

bay leaf

The aromatic flavor of bay leaves works well with chili and similar spices. This herb complements poultry and meat dishes, as well as tomato-based sauces.

Add some bay leaves in the pan while cooking, and remove them before serving. Tearing them before putting them to the pan will release more of their oils.

When it comes to sauces and stews, one or two bay leaves should be enough. Bay leaves are best used in dishes that simmer since they release their aroma and flavor gradually.

Tarragon

tarragon

The intense and bittersweet flavor of tarragon with its citrus hint pairs well with poultry and fish. It’s often used in French recipes for cheese and egg dishes.

Due to its intense flavor, use half the amount you would use of rosemary. In fact, you should rarely need more than a teaspoon of this herb.

Tarragon is said to have anti-microbial and blood pressure-lowering effects. Need a replacement for tarragon? We’ve covered that on our site also.

Basil

basil

Basil is a great substitute for rosemary in tomato-based or Italian dishes. However, you would probably need more of this fresh herb than rosemary.

Have in mind that there are several varieties of this herb, some of which are lemon-scented and others cinnamon-scented. Therefore, it best to try one or two leaves before you add fresh basil in your dish.

The dried basil found in stores has the standard basil flavor.

Conclusion

The characteristic aroma and bitter, astringent taste of rosemary complement many dishes, sauces, and salads. Even though it has unique flavor and aroma, it can be substituted for herbs such as sage, thyme, basil, etc.

Which rosemary substitute you would choose depends on the dish as some herbs work better with certain dishes. Therefore, consider all flavors that go into your meal and combine that with your rosemary alternative.

Work with small amounts and add some more gradually to get the perfect taste.

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