Rosemary is an evergreen herb that has a distinctive flavor and pungent aroma. This aromatic herb has a woodsy scent and notes of evergreen, citrus, pine, sage, pepper, and even mint.
The needle-like leaves herb is used in Mediterranean cuisine like Italian, Greek, and French recipes. And it is often used in pasta sauce, paired with roasted lamb dishes, roast potatoes, poultry seasoning, vegetable dishes, and infused to make rosemary oil.
So when a recipe calls for rosemary and you don't have any, here are a few of the best substitutes for rosemary. And most likely, you already have these substitutions right on your spice rack.
The Best Fresh Rosemary Substitute
The best substitute for fresh rosemary is dried rosemary. The brittle dried rosemary offers the best rosemary flavor in cooking.
Dried herbs are always more concentrated in flavor and aroma than fresh herbs. This also applies to rosemary. The best ratio to swap fresh rosemary with dried rosemary is for every teaspoon of fresh rosemary your recipe calls for, simply substitute ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary. Note that dried rosemary is very brittle and not the best substitution for garnish.
Best Substitutes For Rosemary
Marjoram has a delicate, sweet, and slight bitterness undertone. Like rosemary, marjoram has distinctive flavors. This herb isn't commonly found at the grocery store, so you may not have them on hand. But if you can find them, both fresh or dried herbs are great rosemary substitutes.
This herb goes with many meat dishes and pairs well with other spices like cumin, sumac, and basil.
Sage is a great rosemary substitute because this herb also has a hint of mint, eucalyptus, lemon, and pine-like flavor and intense herbal aroma. And because sage is a stronger flavor herb than rosemary, start your substitution with a small amount and work your way up.
Sage is native to the Mediterranean region and is commonly used in sauces, sausage filling, and egg dishes. Pair well with other aromatic herbs like parsley, bay leaf, sweet basil, and summer savory.
Compared to rosemary, thyme has a much more mild flavor. But both dried and fresh thyme can still work as a rosemary substitute.
If you are making a dish like crostini or roasted vegetables and the recipe calls to use fresh rosemary leaves as garnish, fresh thyme is the best option. Using this herb as a substitute in recipes, you can use equal parts of fresh or dried thyme as a replacement. This means you can use one teaspoon of dried thyme for one teaspoon of dried rosemary.
Savory is a culinary herb that belongs to the mint family and has a robust and peppery taste with a pleasing aroma. Summary savory has a hot and peppery flavor. While winter savoring has earthier and more subdued. Both types have notes of thyme, marjoram, and mint.
Savory can be a great addition to a variety of dishes. It is a herb commonly used to flavor beans, season meat, helps pungent oils, and even be used as a salt substitute.
Bay leaf is an aromatic leaf with a pungent, sharp, and bitter taste with a pleasant aroma. When dried, it has a very similar herbal and slightly floral aroma similar to oregano and thyme.
This dark green leaf herb is often used in Mediterranean and parts of Asian dishes and in long-cooking dishes like soups, stews, and braises.
Many recipes call for rosemary for its distinctive and complex flavor. If you find yourself without this ingredient, there are a few substitution herbs you can use for your home cooks. With any substitution, remember to consider the specific flavor you are going for that would be the best pair with your dish without overpowering other ingredients. When using dried and concentrated substitution, add the substitution slowly into your dish and work your way up. Remember to always go for the fresh before using dried.