Substitute for Rosemary: Best Fresh and Dried Substitutes to Use

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If you’re a home cook who loves to explore the world of flavors, you’ve probably found yourself in a situation where you’re out of a key ingredient. One such popular herb that often seems to run out at the most inconvenient times is rosemary. Fresh or dried, rosemary’s unique flavor is hard to replicate, but don’t worry. If you’re looking for a substitute for rosemary, you’ve come to the right place!

There are many herbs that can take the place of rosemary and still make your dish just as delicious.

Why Substitute for Rosemary?

Rosemary, scientifically known as Salvia rosmarinus, is a common herb with a distinctive taste. Its needle-like leaves have a strong, pine-like flavor and an earthy, woodsy aroma. Rosemary is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes, especially in Mediterranean cuisine. However, its strong flavor might not suit everyone’s taste buds.

Whether you find it overpowering — or just don’t have any on hand, knowing the best substitute for rosemary can save your dish and your day.

A bunch of fresh rosemary on a wooden table.

Substitute for Rosemary: Fresh Herbs

If your recipe calls for fresh rosemary, the best rosemary substitutes are fresh herbs with a similar flavor profile. Fresh thyme, fresh oregano, fresh sage, and fresh marjoram are all great alternatives. They belong to the mint family, like rosemary, and offer a complex flavor that can complement a variety of dishes.

Thyme: The Top Choice

Thyme is a great substitute for rosemary. This perennial herb has a minty flavor that is less piney than rosemary but still adds a robust flavor to your dishes. It’s a commonly used herb in French cuisine and a great addition to meat dishes, root vegetables, and tomato-based dishes. The general rule for substitution is one tablespoon of fresh rosemary is equivalent to one tablespoon of fresh thyme.

Fresh thyme sprigs on a wooden chopping board.

Oregano: The Italian Substitute

Oregano, a staple in Italian seasoning, can also be a good substitute for rosemary. It has a stronger flavor than rosemary, but its earthy notes can beautifully replace the taste of rosemary in a variety of dishes, especially those involving tomato sauces. A tablespoon of fresh rosemary can be replaced with the same amount of fresh oregano.

Marjoram: The Milder Alternative

Marjoram is a good alternative to rosemary. It is a member of the mint family and has a milder flavor, but it still imparts a savory flavor to dishes. Marjoram is a great rosemary alternative for those who find rosemary’s flavor too strong. When substituting, use equal parts fresh marjoram in place of rosemary.

Fresh marjoram leaves in a wooden bowl.

Sage: The Woodsy Herb Substitute

Another woody-tasting herb, sage is a great substitute for rosemary. Although sage has a more robust flavor and can be somewhat bitter, it works well in hearty, savory dishes. To use sage as a substitute, opt for a smaller amount than the recipe calls for rosemary. Try starting with a half teaspoon of fresh sage for every teaspoon of fresh rosemary and adjusting according to your personal preference.

Fresh sage leaves on a wooden table

Substitute for Rosemary: Dried Herbs

If your recipe calls for dried rosemary, you can use dried herbs as a substitute. Dried thyme, dried oregano, and summer savory are among the best substitutes. Dried herbs have a stronger flavor than their fresh counterparts, so you’ll need less. A general rule is to use one-third of the amount of rosemary called for in the recipe.

Caraway Seeds: An Uncommon Substitute

Caraway seeds are an uncommon but effective substitute for rosemary. They are one of the primary ingredients in sausage dishes, offering a distinct flavor that can somewhat mimic the pine-like flavor of rosemary. To use caraway seeds as a substitute, use equal amounts of caraway seeds in place of dried rosemary. Caraway seeds can be a great addition to your spice cabinet.

Bay Leaves: The Aromatic Substitute

Bay leaves are another good substitute for rosemary. They are aromatic herbs that add a distinct flavor to your dishes. While they have a different flavor profile than rosemary, bay leaves can still enhance the taste of your dishes in a similar way. Use one bay leaf for every teaspoon of rosemary called for in the recipe. Remember to remove the bay leaf before serving, as it can have a sharp, bitter taste.

Dried bay leaves in a wooden spoon over a rustic background.

Conclusion: The Best Substitute for Rosemary Depends on Your Dish and Taste

The best substitute for rosemary depends on the dish you’re preparing and your personal preference. Whether you choose a common herb like thyme or oregano, or an uncommon one like caraway seeds, remember that the goal is to complement the flavors of your dish. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different herbs and spices. You might discover a new favorite combination along the way!

Have a look at our other ingredient substitution recommendations:

Sage 🌱 Orange Zest 🌱 Jalapenos 🌱 Mint 🌱 Cashews 🌱 Paprika 🌱 Mango

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