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Herbs to Substitute for Rosemary

Rosemary is a versatile herb that adds a distinct flavor to dishes. But if you don’t have any to hand, don’t worry, there are plenty of herbs that can be used as a substitute for rosemary. From thyme to tarragon, discover the best rosemary substitutes for your favorite recipes.

Fresh herbs to substitute for rosemary on a wooden plate.

Rosemary substitutes

Rosemary is an aromatic herb commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine. It has a distinctive flavor and aroma that can enhance the taste of various dishes. However, there are times when you may need to substitute rosemary with other herbs or spices.

Whether you’re looking for a rosemary substitution because you can’t find it in stores or you simply want to try something new, there are several options available.

Some of the best rosemary alternatives for general cooking purposes are thyme, oregano, and basil. These herbs have a similar flavor profile to rosemary and can be used in the same quantity as rosemary in most recipes.

However, if you’re looking for a substitute with a milder flavor, you can use savory, tarragon, or marjoram. These herbs have a more delicate flavor and aroma than rosemary and can be used in smaller quantities.

Ultimately, when substituting rosemary, it’s essential to choose a herb or spice that complements the other ingredients in the dish. It’s also important to consider the flavor and aroma of the substitute and how it will affect the overall taste of the dish.

In this article, we will explore the best substitutes for rosemary and how to use them in different dishes. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to replace rosemary in your cooking without sacrificing flavor or quality.

How to choose an alternative for rosemary

When looking for an alternative for rosemary, there are several factors to consider to ensure that the substitution will work well for your recipe.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Flavor Profile

Rosemary has a distinct, piney flavor that can be difficult to replicate. When choosing a substitute, consider the flavor profile of the herb or spice you plan to use.

For example, thyme has a similar earthy flavor to rosemary and can work well as a substitute in many recipes. Oregano, on the other hand, has a more pungent flavor and may not be the best choice for dishes that require a subtle touch of rosemary.

Texture and Appearance

Rosemary has a woody stem and needle-like leaves, which can add texture and visual interest to a dish. When choosing a substitute, consider whether the herb or spice will provide a similar texture and appearance.

For example, thyme has small, delicate leaves that can add a similar texture to a dish, while dried rosemary may not provide the same visual appeal.

Quantity

When substituting herbs and spices, it’s important to consider the quantity needed. Some substitutes may have a stronger or weaker flavor than rosemary, so you may need to adjust the amount used in your recipe.

For example, if you’re using sage as a substitute, you may need to use less than you would if you were using rosemary, as sage has a stronger flavor.

Cuisine

Consider the type of cuisine you’re preparing when choosing a substitute for rosemary. Some herbs and spices are more commonly used in certain cuisines and may not work well in others.

For example, basil is commonly used in Italian cuisine and may work well as a substitute for rosemary in Italian dishes, but may not be the best choice for other types of cuisine.

Ultimately, the best substitute for rosemary depends on your personal taste preferences and the dish you’re making. Experiment with different herbs and flavors to find the perfect substitute for your recipe.

Best substitutes for rosemary

There are several substitutes you can use that will give your dish a similar flavor to rosemary. However, when choosing a substitute for rosemary, it’s important to keep in mind that the flavor profile will be different.

The best rosemary substitutes depend on the recipe and personal preference, so it’s always a good idea to experiment with different herbs to find the one that works best for your dish.

1. Thyme

Thyme is a popular substitute for rosemary. It has a similar flavor profile and works well in many recipes. Use the same amount of thyme as you would rosemary in your recipe.

Fresh rosemary can also be replaced with dried thyme, which offers a good substitute for rosemary, although it has a slightly different taste.

Sprigs of thyme on a wooden board.

2. Oregano

Oregano is another herb that can be used as a substitute for rosemary. It has a slightly different flavor, but it still works well in many recipes, particularly Italian and Mediterranean dishes.

Use the same amount of oregano as you would rosemary in your recipe.

3. Basil

Basil is a great substitute for rosemary in Italian dishes. It has a sweet and slightly spicy flavor that pairs well with tomatoes and other Italian Mediterranean ingredients.

Use the same amount of basil as you would rosemary in your recipe.

4. Sage

Sage is a good substitute for rosemary in savory dishes. It has a strong, earthy, slightly bitter flavor that works well with meats and vegetables.

Use the same amount of sage as you would rosemary in your recipe.

Bundle of sage on a white cloth
What to use sage for

5. Marjoram

Marjoram is a milder herb that can be used as a substitute for rosemary. It has a slightly sweet and citrusy flavor that works well in many recipes.

Use the same amount of marjoram as you would rosemary in your recipe.

6. Savory

Savory is a herb that belongs to the same family as mint and rosemary, and has a slightly peppery taste with a hint of pine and earthiness like rosemary. It is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes, including stews, soups, sauces, and roasted meats.

Savory has a milder flavor, so you can use slightly more than the rosemary stated in your recipe.

7. Tarragon

Tarragon is a herb with a sweet, anise-like flavor and a subtle licorice aroma. Although it has a different taste profile than rosemary, tarragon can still be a good substitute in certain recipes.

Tarragon pairs well with meats, vegetables, and sauces, and can add a unique flavor to dishes that may be too overpowering with rosemary. Additionally, tarragon is commonly used in French cuisine, and can be a great choice if you are trying to create a dish with a French twist.

Tarragon is also a good substitute if you are looking for a milder herb flavor, as tarragon has a less intense flavor than rosemary.

Substitute dried rosemary for fresh

Dried rosemary is a great substitute for fresh rosemary when fresh rosemary is not available. Dried rosemary has a concentrated flavor and aroma that can be released when added to hot liquids, such as soups and stews.

Dried rosemary can be added earlier in the cooking process than fresh rosemary, as it takes longer to release its flavor.

When substituting dried rosemary for fresh rosemary, you will typically use less dried rosemary than fresh rosemary. As a general rule of thumb, you can use about ⅓ of the amount of dried rosemary compared to fresh rosemary called for in a recipe.

For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, you can use 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary instead.

However, the exact amount to use can vary depending on personal preference and the specific recipe being used. It’s always a good idea to start with a small amount of dried rosemary and taste the dish as you go, adjusting the seasoning as needed until you achieve the desired flavor.

Dried rosemary on a wooden spoon.
Drying rosemary is best for storing it long-term.

Tips

Here are some tips on how to substitute other herbs for rosemary in a recipe:

  • When substituting herbs in a recipe, it’s important to taste as you go. Start with a small amount of the substitute herb and adjust to taste. Remember, the goal is to enhance the flavors of your dish, not overpower them.
  • If you’re using dried herbs as a substitute for fresh rosemary, keep in mind that you’ll need to use less. Dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh herbs, so use about ⅓ of the amount of dried herbs as you would fresh herbs.
  • Be creative: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different herbs in a recipe. You may discover a new flavor combination that you love!

Overall, using other herbs as alternatives for rosemary in a recipe can be a great way to add variation to your dishes.


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