Substitutes for Rosemary

Rosemary is a popular and versatile herb used to flavor various dishes, from meats to baked goods. But what do you do when you don’t have rosemary on hand or you’re cooking for someone with an allergy? Don’t worry – there are several substitutes for rosemary that will provide a similar flavor and aroma to your meal without compromising taste.

Whether you’re looking for fresh or dried rosemary alternatives, identifying the appropriate substitutes is essential. This will help you maintain the desired taste and texture in recipes that call for this distinct, aromatic herb. With a basic understanding of rosemary and its common uses in cooking, you’ll become proficient in selecting the best substitute for your culinary endeavours.

Key Takeaways

  • Familiarize yourself with rosemary’s unique flavor to better understand which substitutes will best replicate it
  • Explore suitable substitutions for both fresh and dried rosemary in a variety of dishes
  • Learn the appropriate ratios when substituting rosemary and how to maximize health benefits from your chosen alternatives.
Substitute For Rosemary

Understanding Rosemary

Rosemary is a versatile and fragrant herb belonging to the Lamiaceae family, which also includes other popular herbs like sage and mint. As an evergreen perennial, it grows as a bush with needle-like leaves and can be easily recognized by its distinct aroma.

This aromatic herb, scientifically known as Salvia rosmarinus, not only adds a delightful flavor to various dishes, but it has also been associated with improved memory and cognitive function. Its unique benefits make it a popular choice in both culinary and medicinal applications.

Although rosemary is a standout herb, there may be instances where you need a substitute for it in your recipe or simply want to explore new flavors. In such cases, knowing the similarities and differences between rosemary and other herbs within the Lamiaceae family becomes essential.

For instance, sage is another member of the same family as rosemary and can have a similar smell and taste. However, it has a more earthy and slightly bitter flavor compared to the strong, piney taste of rosemary. Mint, on the other hand, offers a fresh, menthol-like flavor that can be quite distinct from rosemary and sage. It could be an interesting option to try if you’re looking to change up the taste of your dish.

When choosing a substitute for rosemary, considering the aroma and flavor profile becomes crucial in achieving the desired result. It’s essential to strike the right balance between replicating rosemary’s characteristics while experimenting with alternative herbs. By understanding the similarities and differences between rosemary, sage, and mint, you can confidently select the most suitable substitute to enhance your culinary creations.

Common Uses of Rosemary in Cooking

Rosemary is a versatile herb that adds tons of flavor to a variety of dishes. You’ll often find it used in meat dishes, as its robust taste complements the savoriness of meats like lamb, beef, pork, poultry, and game, such as mutton and goat. Its fragrant notes enhance the flavor of both roasted and grilled meats.

In particular, rosemary is a staple in Italian seasoning blends and pairs well with classic Italian dishes. It’s also popular in poultry dishes, such as roasted chicken and turkey, often used in combination with other herbs like thyme and sage to flavor stuffing. Rosemary sprigs can be used to add flavor to soups, stews, and vegetable dishes, such as roasted potatoes, mushroom-based recipes, and salads. Steak, fish, and other meat dishes also benefit from the hint of rosemary – simply add a sprig or two during the cooking process.

You can also use rosemary to season vegetables and salads by combining it with salt and other herbs. Many cooks enjoy the unique flavor it imparts when incorporated into breads and other baked goods as well.

Here are some popular combinations of rosemary in various dishes:

  • Poultry: Chicken, turkey, and stuffing
  • Meats: Lamb, pork, steak, mutton, goat
  • Fish: Salmon, cod, or other whitefish
  • Vegetables: Roasted potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and grilled vegetables
  • Soups and stews: Minestrone, tomato-based stews, or hearty winter soups
  • Salads: Tossed green salads, pasta salads, or roasted vegetable salads
  • Breads: Focaccia, dinner rolls, and savory homemade breads

When incorporating rosemary into your dishes, remember that a little goes a long way. Experiment with the amount to find the perfect balance of flavor to suit your taste buds.

overhead view of sliced roast pork roulade – Porchetta, delicious pork roast of Italian culinary holiday tradition on a slate tray with rosemary and lime, close-up, flatlay

The Need for Substitutes

There comes a time when you’re cooking and find yourself without a particular herb, such as rosemary. Instead of worrying about altering the taste or halting your cooking process, it’s crucial to have a list of potential substitutes for rosemary at your disposal.

As a versatile herb used in various dishes, rosemary has a distinct flavor that plays a significant role in enhancing the overall taste of your dish. Although dried rosemary can be easily found in stores, sometimes you may run out or prefer a different texture in your dish. It’s during these moments when having an alternative is crucial.

While looking for substitutes for rosemary, focus on herbs that possess similar flavor profiles and can achieve the intended outcome in your recipe. Some of these alternatives may include thyme, sage, and tarragon. Depending on the dish and the flavors you aim to achieve, these herbs,both in their dried and fresh forms, can be reliable options when rosemary isn’t available.

Understanding the potential substitutes for rosemary allows you to be more skillful and adaptable in your culinary endeavors. These alternatives give you the confidence to experiment and find new ways to utilize other herbs effectively in various recipes, guaranteeing that you’ll continue to create delicious and memorable dishes.

Fresh vs Dried Rosemary

When it comes to using rosemary in your recipes, you have the option to choose between fresh and dried rosemary. Each form of this herb offers its own unique benefits and drawbacks, and understanding the differences can help you make the best choice for your culinary needs.

Fresh rosemary is often preferred for its vibrant flavor and aroma. The needle-like leaves provide a burst of intense taste and can be added directly to your dishes, such as roasts, soups, and stews. Plus, the fragrance of fresh rosemary is known to be more potent than its dried counterpart. However, it has a shorter shelf life and may require more frequent replenishments. To prolong freshness, store the sprigs in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp paper towel.

On the other hand, dried rosemary offers a longer-lasting alternative. It has a more subtle flavor compared to fresh rosemary and is ideal for recipes that call for slow cooking or for those that do not require a strong rosemary taste. Additionally, dried rosemary can be easily stored in an airtight container at room temperature and used whenever needed.

In terms of quantities, keep in mind that dried rosemary is more concentrated than fresh. As a general rule, you can use one-third of the amount of dried rosemary compared to fresh. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, you should use about 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary instead.

Ultimately, the choice between fresh and dried rosemary depends on the specific requirements of your recipe and personal preferences. Experiment with both forms to find the balance that suits your taste buds and enhances your dishes.

Substitutes for Fresh Rosemary

When you’re out of fresh rosemary or simply don’t have any on hand, don’t fret – there are several substitutes available that can provide a similar flavor to your dishes. Here are some of the best options to consider:

Thyme: Thyme is an excellent substitute for fresh rosemary due to its similar minty, slightly bitter taste. You can use the same amount of fresh thyme in place of fresh rosemary without drastically altering the flavor profile of your dish.

Sage: Sage has a strong flavor and can be used as a rosemary substitute for recipes that call for a bold taste. It works particularly well with meat, poultry, and vegetable dishes. Just be sure to use it sparingly, as too much sage can be overpowering.

Marjoram: Marjoram is a versatile herb with a more delicate flavor than rosemary, making it a great option for lighter dishes or if you’re looking for a more subtle taste. Use 1.5 times the amount of marjoram compared to what you’d use for fresh rosemary.

Caraway Seed: Caraway seed can be another alternative to fresh rosemary. While its flavor is different, it still gives a distinct and interesting taste to a variety of dishes. Keep in mind that caraway seeds are more potent, so use about half the amount you would for rosemary.

When working with fresh herbs as substitutes for fresh rosemary, remember that dried herbs can also be an option. Dried rosemary itself can be a handy replacement, as the drying process concentrates the flavor, making it even more potent. To use dried rosemary in place of fresh, use a third of the amount called for in the recipe.

Additionally, you can create your own blend of herbs to achieve a unique flavor. Mixing thyme, sage, and marjoram can give you a well-rounded and interesting taste that complements many dishes. Experiment with different combinations to find the perfect balance for your palate.

By understanding the various substitutes for fresh rosemary – such as thyme, sage, marjoram, and caraway seed – you can skillfully adapt your recipes and ensure your dishes are full of flavor, even when fresh rosemary is not available.

Substitutes for Dried Rosemary

When you find yourself without dried rosemary, don’t worry. There are several other herbs that can serve as suitable substitutes for dried rosemary, and they might already be in your pantry. Some of the most common substitutes include oregano, dried savory, herbs de provence, and bay leaves.

Oregano is a popular herb with a robust flavor profile, making it a solid substitute for dried rosemary. The slightly bitter and earthy taste of oregano can work well in the same dishes that call for rosemary, such as roasted meats and vegetables. You can use an equal amount of dried oregano to replace dried rosemary in a recipe.

Dried savory is another versatile herb that can step in for dried rosemary. Its peppery and slightly bitter taste complements many dishes, including meats, vegetables, and soups. To substitute dried savory for rosemary, use it in equal proportions.

Herbs de provence is a blend of various dried Mediterranean herbs, usually containing rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, and lavender. This blend offers a complex flavor that can fill the void of dried rosemary in a dish. Use an equal amount of herbs de provence in place of dried rosemary, keeping in mind that the flavor may be slightly different due to the mixture of other herbs.

Bay leaves are a somewhat different alternative to dried rosemary, providing a more subtly flavored option. While they don’t have as strong a taste as rosemary, bay leaves can still lend a unique flavor to the dish. To substitute bay leaves for dried rosemary, use two bay leaves per teaspoon of dried rosemary called for in the recipe.

Remember, when substituting herbs, it’s essential to consider the flavors of other ingredients in the dish as well. By choosing the right substitute for dried rosemary, you can still create dishes that are flavorful and satisfying.

Specific Dish Recommendations

When you’re looking to substitute rosemary in your culinary creations, consider the dish you’re preparing and the flavors you want to emphasize. Here are some specific dish recommendations and suitable rosemary alternatives.

For casseroles, sage is a great option. It imparts an earthy, pine-like flavor that complements hearty, comforting dishes. Simply replace the same amount of rosemary with sage.

If you’re cooking with a focus on pine flavor, try using caraway seeds or pine nuts. Their distinct aromatic profiles will maintain that desired taste. For caraway seeds, use half the quantity of rosemary your recipe calls for, and for pine nuts, sprinkle on top of the dish.

In desserts, you may opt for mint or lavender, which add a delicate yet impactful flavor. These herbs can bring a refreshing twist to sweet recipes. Use them sparingly, starting with half the quantity indicated for rosemary, and adjust to your preference.

For dishes that require a more subtle touch, try parsley or dill. They may not have the exact taste of rosemary, but they’ll provide a pleasant green note without overpowering the dish. You can use them in equal amounts as a substitute for rosemary.

Finally, when cooking with love, consider adding bay leaf as a substitute. This herb imparts a mild, sweet flavor that seamlessly blends into a variety of dishes. Replace one teaspoon of dried rosemary with one or two bay leaves.

Remember, substituting rosemary will change the final flavor of your dish, so don’t be afraid to experiment and adjust the quantities to suit your taste preferences.

Using Rosemary and Its Substitutes for Health Benefits

Rosemary is a popular herb from the Mediterranean region, belonging to the mint family. It’s known for its aromatic, slightly bitter taste and is often used in savory dishes. Ancient Romans have long appreciated rosemary for its medicinal properties, and modern research highlights its potential benefits for the immune system.

Sometimes, you might need a substitute for rosemary when cooking, or you may want to explore similar herbs with potential health benefits. In such situations, consider trying citrus, peppermint, or other herbs from the mint family.

Citrus zest, such as from lemons or oranges, can provide a fragrant and refreshing twist to your dishes while offering health benefits of its own. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, incorporating citrus can support a strong immune system.

Peppermint, another member of the mint family, has a long history as a medicinal herb. Known for its ability to soothe digestive issues and relieve headaches, peppermint can be used in a variety of ways. Try adding it to tea, infusing water, or including it in both sweet and savory dishes.

Many herbs from the mint family possess similar benefits, making them suitable substitutes for rosemary. These can provide the familiar aromatic qualities you love in rosemary alongside potential health advantages. Experiment with various herbs and seek out what appeals to your taste buds while potentially boosting your immune system and overall well-being.

Tips on Ratios When Substituting Rosemary

When substituting rosemary in your recipes, it’s crucial to use the correct ratios to achieve the desired flavors. Keep these tips in mind as you explore alternative ingredients to replace rosemary in various dishes, such as sauces and veggies.

For dried rosemary, a common ratio is 1:2 or 1:3 for fresh rosemary. For example, if a recipe calls for one teaspoon of dried rosemary, you can use two or three teaspoons of fresh rosemary. However, this may vary depending on your taste preferences.

Here are some rosemary substitute options and their ratios:

  • Thyme: This herb is an excellent alternative for rosemary, especially when seasoning roasted vegetables or meat dishes. Use it in a 1:1 ratio, substituting an equal amount of thyme for the rosemary called for in the recipe.
  • Oregano: Another versatile herb, oregano can be used to replace rosemary in various sauces and vegetable dishes. Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting oregano for rosemary.
  • Sage: Sage is a strong and aromatic herb that can replace rosemary in poultry or pork dishes, as well as stuffing recipes. When using sage as a rosemary substitute, use a 1:1 ratio.

When experimenting with rosemary substitutes, remember that the ideal ratio may vary depending on the flavor intensity of the alternative herb. It’s always better to start with a smaller amount and gradually add more to reach the desired taste.

For instance, when replacing rosemary in a sauce or marinade, begin with a small amount of the chosen substitute, and adjust as needed. Keep in mind the potency of the alternative herb, as well as the specific dish you’re preparing.

In summary, replacing rosemary in recipes requires attention to ratios, flavor profiles, and personal taste preferences. Don’t be afraid to modify ratios to suit your palate, ensuring a deliciously seasoned meal every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use instead of rosemary for lamb?

You can substitute rosemary with thyme, sage, or marjoram for lamb dishes. All three herbs have complementary flavors to the richness of lamb. Use them in equal proportions to the rosemary the recipe calls for.

Which herbs can replace rosemary on steak?

For a steak dish, consider using thyme, oregano, or tarragon as rosemary substitutes. They all add a unique, herby taste to the meat. Start with a 1:1 substitution ratio and adjust to your preference.

Is oregano a good alternative for rosemary?

Yes, oregano can be a good alternative for rosemary in some dishes, especially in Mediterranean and Italian-inspired recipes. Use a similar amount of oregano as you would rosemary, and adjust to taste.

What is a suitable rosemary substitute for chicken?

For chicken dishes, you can use thyme, sage, or marjoram as a rosemary substitute. These herbs add a similar earthy and aromatic flavor. Substitute in equal amounts and adjust to your liking.

Can Italian seasoning be used in place of rosemary?

Yes, Italian seasoning can be used as a rosemary substitute since it typically contains rosemary along with other herbs like oregano, basil, and thyme. Use the same amount of Italian seasoning as you would rosemary, but be aware that the flavor profile may be slightly different.

What’s a good replacement for rosemary in potato dishes?

In potato dishes, suitable substitutes for rosemary include thyme, parsley, or dill. These herbs provide complementary flavors without overpowering the potatoes. Start with a 1:1 substitution and adjust the amount as needed.

Substitute For Rosemary

Our Best Substitute For Rosemary

These options are sure to be a hit. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 6 votes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Seasoning, Substitute
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 123 kcal


  • Thyme fresh or dried, including garnishes
  • Sage fresh or dried, including garnishes
  • Tarragon
  • Marjoram dried or fresh
  • Savory dried or fresh
  • Caraway seed
  • Italian seasoning


  • Try our kitchen tested substitutes for rosemary.


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Use in or with your favorite recipe.


Calories: 123kcal
Keyword substitute for rosemary
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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