Best 10 Rosemary Substitutes for Cooking

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Rosemary is an aromatic herb that has its origins in the Mediterranean area. Even though it comes from the same family as mint, rosemary has an evergreen appearance. Now, as for its flavor, there is no plant similar to it.

Rosemary brings to the plate a vast palette of aromas such as sage, citrus, mint, pine, lavender, and evergreen. The more you cook it, the stronger the flavor. This is why chefs use it all around the world to prepare stews or other slow-cooked dishes.

However, this herb is known to have many health benefits such as anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and fertility increasing results. [1]

Among the ailments that rosemary makes a great match with are beans, potatoes, lamb, pork, poultry, chestnuts, and butternut squash.

But what if you want to prepare a meal and just can’t get a hold of some fresh rosemary even though the recipe specifically says to use some?

Should you think of another dish or find a way to use some substitutes that will taste as if the recipe is not lacking anything?

I suggest the latter, and to back this statement up, I have prepared a list of herbs you can use for precisely this purpose.

1. Dried rosemary

J G Melon

If you can’t get a hold of fresh rosemary, the next natural choice would be the dried one. You can find and buy dried rosemary in any supermarket in the spices sector.

As a kitchen rule, you should use ¼ tsp of dried rosemary for every tsp of the fresh herb. However, it is recommended to crush it using a mortar and pestle before adding it to your dish. By doing so, you will release the natural oils that provide rosemary its fantastic flavor.

If you want only rosemary aroma and not actual needles in your dish, you can use a sachet and infuse the meal.

Now, I would recommend drying out your rosemary whenever you have the opportunity. It will hold in a better aroma, and you won’t buy rosemary that has been dried who knows how many years back.

To do so, you can:

  • Hang it in a very well ventilated room and allow it to dry for a couple of weeks;
  • Bake it at the lowest possible heat for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Dehydrator method. If you have a dehydrator, use it and leave the fresh herb to dry for 1-4 hours.

Regardless of what method you choose, once they are completely dry, store them in an airtight container.

Tip: Keep in mind that dried rosemary has more calories than the fresh one. So, if you are on a diet, be sure to measure even your spices.

2. Sage

J G Melon

Just as rosemary, sage is also a perennial herb that offers the dish a pine-like aroma. Because of this, it is probably the best substitute for rosemary. The only thing you should remember is that with sage, a little goes a long way.

So, if you are lacking rosemary and want to use sage instead, be sure to use only half of the amount required by the recipe.

From a health perspective, then you should know that sage, just as rosemary, offers impressive health benefits, such as improving glycemic control. [2]

Tip: sage usually goes well with fat foods, so the best dishes you can use to replace rosemary should contain butter, lamb, pork, or poultry.

Personal opinion: One of my favorite kind of dish to add sage instead of rosemary is pan-roasted pork chops. You can find many sources of inspiration here.

3. Marjoram

J G Melon

Marjoram has the capacity to bring the pine taste of rosemary and also its citric aroma.

Be advised that marjoram has a very distinct taste, so better to add it little by little and see if you like the taste or not. It combines very well with plants such as sage, so you can even use a mix of these two.

Tip: the best match as a substitute for rosemary is when used in chicken stews or with roasted potatoes.

Warning: Marjoram is known to interfere with hormones and regulate the menstrual cycle. However, pregnant women should avoid consuming it. [3] [4]

Personal opinion: If you love oven-roasted rosemary potatoes, then you will love marjoram ones.

4. Thyme

J G Melon

Thyme has that floral note that you can also find in rosemary and lavender. However, it is milder, so if you want to use it as a substitute for rosemary, you should double the quantity. The best way to do this is to add it little by little and see how much more the dish requires.

If you look at thyme from a health perspective, then you should know that the essential oils found in this herb are known to have antibiotic properties. [5]

Thyme is a versatile herb, so you can use it with any recipe that has lots of olive oil, such as salads. You can use it even if you do have fresh rosemary since they complement each other so well.

Tip: Best dishes to replace rosemary contain either pork or beans.

Personal opinion: I love thyme and beans regardless if you need to substitute rosemary or not. This being said, here are some great beans and thyme recipes.

5. Savory

J G Melon

Savory, also known as summer savory, is also a perennial herb from the mint family that has its origins in the Mediterranean region. Just as the aromatic plant in the discussion today, savory has almost a thyme-like aroma, but with a bitter aftertaste.

Tip: The best dishes to use savory instead of rosemary are meat stews and beans.

Personal opinion: I personally like using summer savory for the moments when I want a little kickback aftertaste, in slow cooked dishes.

6. Tarragon

J G Melon

Tarragon is a fascinating herb. It has a robust flavor that reminds you of anise or fennel.

The best way to replace rosemary is with dry tarragon and use the same proportions as you would dry rosemary.

Tip: Tarragon goes best with dishes such as chicken stews or recipes that contain smoked meats and potatoes.

Personal opinion: My favorite way to use tarragon instead of rosemary or a mix of both is when preparing a smoky potato soup.

7. Oregano

J G Melon

Oregano is similar in smell to thyme, but the taste is quite different. The two herbs actually go very well together, and you should not hesitate to use them both in the same meal.

Since oregano has a more pungent taste than rosemary, you should try to add it little by little and see how it adjusts with the rest of the ingredients. However, you can usually use the same amount of oregano as you would rosemary.

From the chemistry point of view, oregano contains similar components as rosemary. So, this goes without saying that oregano has anti-inflammatory properties. [6]

Tip: It is best used along with lamb, beef, or chicken as a replacement for rosemary.

Personal opinion: I absolutely love the association of oregano and chicken. So here are some great sources of inspiration.

8. Basil

J G Melon

Basil is one of the most beloved herbs out there. It has a peppery but also sweet taste that works well with a significant number of other ingredients. Even though it doesn’t taste like rosemary, you can still use it as a substitute for it. Use a 1:1 ratio when making the replacement.

Basil is used in many holistic and unconventional treatments. However, it is also known to also have science-based results such as an antifungal one. [7]

Tip: Basil usually goes well with vegetables rather than meat, so you should use it to replace rosemary in vegetarian dishes.

Personal opinion: Regardless of the time of year, I love a fresh salad with multiple aromatic herbs. I suggest trying some of these recipes.

9. Caraway seeds

Caraway seeds
J G Melon

Caraway seeds are also known as Persian cumin or meridian fennel. As you can imagine, they bring some Fennelly aroma but also offer some citrus aftertaste that, when cooked, can resemble the one of rosemary.

If compared with rosemary, caraway seeds have a milder aroma. Yet, since they bring other flavors along, you should consider adding them little by little.

You should know that caraway seeds are great for your digestion system as health inside.

Tip: They go along with many ingredients, but if you are looking for a substitute for rosemary, the best dish you can use caraway seeds is either fried or baked potatoes.

Personal opinion: if you should use caraway seeds instead of rosemary, you should better use them in a dish containing potatoes such as a stew.

10. Dry dill

Dry dill
J G Melon

Dry dill is similar in smell and taste to caraway seeds. Moreso, the taste is even more pungent when heated.

Probably the most important nutritious fact you should know about dill is that it is full of vitamins and minerals. [9]

Tip: You can replace the rosemary with dry dill when preparing potatoes, but also sausages.

Personal opinion: I personally like to roast in the oven fresh sausages with rosemary. However, if I have to replace the herb, I always use dill for this task. Here are some sausage and dill recipes from which you can get your inspiration.

Final thoughts

As you can see, you can find many substitutes for fresh rosemary when cooking. You can use just one or a mix of herbs, dried or fresh. The idea is to understand how flavors go with one and another and play with the taste as you seem fit.

In the end, you are the Masterchef of your kitchen.

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