Best Rosemary Substitutes. No Rosemary left? Here’s What to Substitute it with!
Aromatic herbs are so important in cooking. Mediterranean cuisine uses basil and rosemary, Mexican food is known for the use of cilantro, Oriental recipes are enriched with mint and parsley. Every dish can be enhanced with a touch of herbal goodness.
However, there are times when even though you’d love to prepare a specific recipe, you don’t have that special aromatic plant that simply changes everything. but no fear: you don’t have to forego lamb chops and roast potatoes just because you’ve run out of rosemary! Just switch things up a little bit and find a replacement!
Aromatic, with earthy and refreshing notes, and a great versatility, rosemary is popular because it improves the flavor of your meal. Add it to thick, creamy soups, stuffing’s, roasts and meats, fish and seafood or veggies and your taste buds will thank you for it! And if you’re allergic or couldn’t find any at the grocery store, you can always choose a rosemary substitute.
Dew of the sea. Old man. This is what rosemary is also known as. This Mediterranean aromatic herb is highly appreciated when it comes to roasts, meats, potatoes and thick, rich pies. While rosemary can be found everywhere in Mediterranean countries, it may not be available at all times around the world.
What can you do if you’ve been planning a dish with rosemary and then realize you are out? What other herb or spice can stand as an alternative? Well, there are some aromatic plants and condiments that can replace it. But first…
Before you choose your rosemary alternative: a couple of things about this Mediteranean herb!
Many recipes call for this Mediteranean herb. Its distinct and complex aroma can add a lot of taste to any meal. Meat-based dishes with pork, lamb, beef, chicken, even fish and seafood, salad dressings, thick soups and rich stews, sauces and marinades, roasted potatoes and vegetables, they all flourish when this herb is added.
The Taste and Aroma
What to use instead of rosemary? Well, some other herb that has its complex flavor! Rosemary has a pine-like taste, with a pungent, intense aroma, a hint of the mint’s freshness, a tinge of lemony and citrusy flavor, and a woody, earthy tone. So, keep all these in mind when looking for a substitute!
What’s Rosemary Best for in Recipes
Rosemary has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes since Ancient Rome and Greece. A mint family herb, rosemary is very fragrant and makes a great addition in all kinds of recipes. It’s especially known to aid in thick, heavy, onctuous and complex recipes, since it adds freshness and helps ease digestion.
But you can use it in teas and even ice cream, salads and seafood. It also makes a great addition to drinks, cocktails, and lemonades and it completes the flavor of pasta and bread. If you don’t have it fresh, you can always use the dried version or choose another rosemary substitute.
What can you replace rosemary with to get the same flavor?
Discover the best rosemary substitute to obtain the same mix of warm and cool, citrusy and minty, earthy and minty flavors:
1. Bay Leaf
It comes from the Laurel tree and it’s also a Mediterranean herb. Its taste is similar to rosemary, only milder. It’s usually used in a dry form, to diminish its bitterness and enhance its aroma. When it comes to flavor, it adds a minty touch with subtle pine aroma and black pepper notes.
What’s it best for? No doubt about it, bay leaf’s light yet deep aroma is perfect with meats, such as lamb, for instance. It’s also great with stews, broths, and vegetables, especially cruciferous ones.
Marjoram has a sweet, mild, delicate, gentle flavor so you may require a lot more to substitute rosemary. It’s quite similar to thyme, for that matter. It has a grassy, subtle feel, with a strong, distinct mix of lemony and minty freshness. Its flavor is more intense when used fresh but you can also use it in cooked dishes.
What’s it best for? Use it in mushroom-based recipes to enhance their earthy flavor, any type of soups and stews, meats, fish, salads, stuffings, rice dishes, salad dressings, marinades and spice rubs, spreads, flavored oils and butters, barbeque. Make sure to add it when the dish is cooked so that it maintains its aroma.
Also a Mediterranean herb, sage is very popular for its medicinal properties. When it comes to cooking, sage has a strong, distinctive aroma, being rather similar to rosemary and summer savory. Rather warm, sage is known for its distinctive, pungent and astringent flavor. It has a piny-woody aroma with citrus and mint undertones and a certain musty note.
What’s it best for? For meats and eggs, sage is a great alternative to rosemary, although the flavor differs. You can also add sage to breads, seafood, cheeses and butter. The secret is that sage complements the above-mentioned ingredients just like rosemary does. You can also use it to spice your pickles, for cocktails, add it to soups and chowders, or veggie cooked dishes and casseroles, pasta, risotto and especially meats and fish.
Thyme is also a part of the mint family. It’s pretty similar to rosemary when it comes to taste. Its flavors blend lemony notes, caraway earthy, piny tones and eucalyptus intense, freshness. While they aren’t similar appearance-wise, they do have a warm and peppery tone. The difference? Thyme has a more gentle and mild flavor, compared to rosemary.
What’s it best for? Thyme is intense, yet with a mild and sweet flavor with earthy, warm and citrusy notes and a dry aroma. So use it for soups, stews, barbeque, grilled meats, roasted meats and veggies, herbal tea, Italian cuisine, roast potatoes, marinades, salads, pasta, risottos and bread and even to flavor eggs and omelettes and salad dressings and vinaigrettes.
5. Caraway Seed
Used in Eastern Asia, North Africa, and Europe, caraway seed is also known as Persian cumin and it belongs to the carrot family. This spice will remind you of anise and its pungent flavor easily replaces rosemary. With a peppery, sharp, intense aroma, a slightly bitter touch and a lemony feel, caraway seed can be a great alternative to rosemary. Caraway seed is great in many dishes as it is, in cooked meals and also in fresh ones, especially when powdered.
What’s it best for? Caraway seed is a great substitute in dishes that contain several strong seasonings, such as sausages and shepherd’s pie. It’s also a great addition to any savory baking product and it works great with cheeses. You can successfully add it to desserts, stocks, baked goods, soups, salads, herbal tea, stews.
Oregano is another Mediterranean herb specific to Italian and Greek dishes. It has an aromatic flavor, mixing both warm and minty, cool tones. It’s slightly bitter, yet sweet. It’s spicy yet earthy. It’s intense yet mellow.
What’s it best for? Oregano works in cooked and fresh dishes, such as salads, dressings, vinaigrettes. It pairs up with fish, meat (especially lamb, pork, mutton and especially in grilling and marinades, kebabs). But it can also be used to add flavor to cheese (after all, the Greeks use it with feta cheese in their signature, traditional salad), sauces, soups, pasta, stews.
Basil has a mild flavor compared to rosemary. It’s rather sweet, minty and peppery, with a spicy, aromatic flavor that will remind you of a mix of cloves, anise, cardamom and lemon. Make sure to add it at the end of the cooking process to maintain its flavor.
What’s it best for? Basil is a Mediterranean plant and can complete both fresh and cooked dishes, as long as you add it when you remove the food from the heat. Use it in salads, pasta, pizza, bread, soups, meats, eggs, seafood, vegetables, beverages and cocktails, curries, cheeses and even fruit and ice cream.
Sweet, fresh, aromatic, with an interesting mix of warm touches and a cool aftertaste, mint resembles rosemary when it comes to flavor.
What’s it best for? Salads and heavy meats, fruit desserts and cold soups, herbal tea, vegetables, hummus, kebabs, stews, breads and baked goods, cocktails, beverages, candy, chocolate, ice-cream, heavy meats such as lamb, pork, beef, venison, dressings and dips are great with mint, instead of rosemary.
Fresh and peppery, parsley has a mild aroma reminding your taste buds of anise and lettuce combined. It’s rather delicate, sweet, fresh and adds a little crunch to your dishes. To replace rosemary, make sure to add parsley at the end of the cooking process.
What’s it best for? This rosemary substitute is ideal in seafood, pasta, risotto, all things with veggies, cheeses, sandwiches, pizza, sauces, flavored butter and breads and in salads and dressings.
Choose your rosemary replacement to keep the same appearance!
If you’re looking for a Rosemary substitute that mimics the appearance and the taste of rosemary, while the options are not so rich, there are still some other herbs that do the trick.
Tarragon, or estragon, belongs to the sunflower family and has an intense flavor: rather bittersweet, with a light anise-like flavor, a spicy and minty tone, blending both warm and cool effects and packing a mild licorice undertone. While it’s more popular in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Northern America, tarragon can be easily found pretty much anywhere.
What’s it best for? Tarragon can complete dishes with all types of vegetables, meat, fish, eggs and it works wonders in thick, rich sauces, stews and soups, but it loses some flavor in longer cooked dishes. It’s actually a crucial ingredient in Béarnaise sauce. You can also add it to flavor oils, butter and cheeses and even drinks and spreads.
Make sure to choose summer savory, since winter savory is rather bitter and has a milder flavor, hence not resembling rosemary at all. Savory has a strong, minty, peppery taste. It’s aroma is intense yet sweet.
What’s it best for? Savory is very popular in Canadian cuisine, alongside meats, fat fish, dressings and sauces. It’s the best option for casseroles, slow-cooked meals, beans and lentils. It can also be added to vegetables, herbal teas and even desserts. Extra tip: add it to cold soups such as gazpacho to spice things up!
Dill has a similar aspect. While rosemary consists of woody stems and leaves that resemble pine needles, dill has a grassy stem and leaves. Its flavor is highly aromatic and complex, combining tangy, sweet, mild aromas of citrus (especially lemon), some earthy tones of celery and anise and a touch of fresh mint. It’s slightly bitter and quite pungent and has a warm touch to it. It can be used to flavor rosemary dishes and we’d advise you to add it later on, when the dish is cooked, to preserve its flavor.
What’s it best for? Dill is ideal for fish and seafood, to spice eggs and omelets, to flavor breads, marinades, pasta, roasted veggies and potatoes, meats, sauces, soups and broths and is a great substitution for rosemary in dips and salads.
Rosemary is a great source of vitamin B-6, calcium, and iron. It’s filled with antioxidants involved in fighting disease and ageing.
Health Benefits of Rosemary
This plant is specific to Mediteranean and Middle Eastern regions. It grows in warm climates but it can manage in lower temperatures, as long as we’re not talking freezing. So, you may consider growing it in a pot in your own apartment. There are plenty of benefits to having it available at all times. Rosemary:
- Boosts appetite
- Reduces blood pressure
- Reduces memory loss and boosts focus
- Reduces muscular pain and brain fatigue
- Enhances the immune system
- Improves blood circulation
- Boosts hair growth due to capillary stimulation
Dry or fresh Rosemary? It makes a lot of difference!
The fresh herb has more flavor and can be also used to boost the aspect of the dish. Roasted veggies with rosemary twigs and leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and some garlic, yum! Nothing more needed to get a great flavor and aspect for your recipe! But, if you’ve run out of the fresh herb and still want to enjoy its taste, a great substitute for fresh rosemary is dried rosemary.
As a rule of thumb, to get the flavor right, it’s recommended you add dry herbs at the start of or during cooking , so that the aromas can develop after the plants get rehydrated. To get the proportion right, it’s safe to say that to every teaspoon of fresh rosemary the recipe calls for, you need to substitute ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary. Here are some tips when it comes to replacing it altogether with other herb:
- Alternative fresh rosemary substitutes: the best choices are oregano, sage, mint, marjoram and basil, in the same amount as you would use rosemary.
- Substitutions for dried rosemary: use tarragon, thyme, bay leaf, dill and savory in equal quantities the recipe requires for rosemary.
Choose your Rosemary substitute according to your recipe
Rosemary has a woody, lemony, piny, minty, earthy feel to it. Its flavor does not diminish when cooking and when you use too much of it, it tends to overpower other aromas, so be extra-cautious! Also, make sure to respect our previous suggestions when it comes to swapping dry rosemary for the fresh one! And if there’s no such option, keep on reading!
What to replace rosemary with in recipes? There are many herbs that provide just about the same kick as this Mediterranean herb. While rosemary is known for its effect of both warming and cooling the taste buds, there are other aromatic plants and types of seasoning that offer a similar vibe. So, here are some of them that mimic the flavor or the aspect of rosemary.
Sure, rosemary can be perfectly replaced with the dry version of the aromatic plant. And while it has a distinct flavor and aspect, it can be swapped with the herbs, spices, and condiments mentioned above. We’re pretty confident we provided some great alternatives for last minute replacements in your cooking. So, now that you know how to substitute rosemary when you’ve run out, what are you going to prepare next? Maybe tell us in the comments 🙂