Best Substitutes For Rosemary

best substitutes for rosemary

Rosemary is a versatile herb that adds a distinct flavor and aroma to various dishes. From Mediterranean cuisine to roasted meats, rosemary has been a go-to ingredient for chefs and home cooks alike. However, there might be instances when you find yourself in need of an alternative to rosemary. Whether you ran out of rosemary or simply prefer a different flavor profile, this article will guide you through the best substitutes for rosemary.

Key Takeaways

  • Rosemary is a popular herb known for its strong, aromatic flavor.
  • When you need a substitute for rosemary, consider herbs and spices like thyme, savory, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, or sage.
  • Fresh herbs provide a more intense flavor, while dried herbs can be used in a pinch.
  • Experimenting with different substitutes can open up a world of new flavors in your dishes.

Why You Need A Substitute For Rosemary

While rosemary is widely available in grocery stores and herb gardens, there are several reasons you might need a substitute for this herb. Here are a few common scenarios:

  1. Rosemary Not Available: In some cases, you may not have access to fresh or dried rosemary. This can happen if it’s out of stock, not in season, or if you live in a region where rosemary is not readily available.

  2. Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may have an allergy or sensitivity to rosemary. If consuming rosemary causes discomfort or adverse reactions, finding a suitable substitute becomes essential.

  3. Personal Preferences: Taste preferences can vary greatly from person to person. You may simply prefer the flavors of other herbs or spices over rosemary and wish to explore different options.

  4. Recipe Adaptations: Recipes are often adaptable, and substituting ingredients can lead to creative variations. Choosing a substitute for rosemary can help you create new flavor profiles and experiment with different culinary combinations.

Regardless of the reason, having a reliable substitute for rosemary allows you to continue cooking delicious and flavorful meals without compromising on taste or aroma.

Types Of Substitutes For Rosemary

Fresh rosemary sprigs

Before we dive into the best substitutes for rosemary, it’s helpful to understand the different types of herbs and spices that can mimic rosemary’s flavor and aroma. Here are a few categories to consider:

  1. Herbs with Similar Flavor Profiles: These herbs share similar flavor characteristics with rosemary and can be used interchangeably to achieve comparable results.

  2. Milder Herbs: If you’re wary of overpowering your dish with a strong herb like rosemary, opting for milder herbs can provide a subtle yet enjoyable flavor.

  3. Herbs with Complementary Flavors: Instead of trying to replicate rosemary’s taste directly, you can experiment with herbs that complement the other flavors in your dish.

  4. Spices: While not a direct substitute, certain spices can add depth and complexity to your dish, enhancing the overall flavor profile.

Best Substitutes For Rosemary

Fresh rosemary sprigs

Now that we’ve explored the different types of substitutes, let’s delve into the best substitutes for rosemary:

1. Thyme

Thyme is an excellent substitute for rosemary due to its comparable earthy and slightly floral flavor. It is often described as having a milder taste than rosemary but still carries similar aromatic notes. Whether you’re seasoning vegetables, meats, or soups, thyme can provide an excellent alternative.

2. Savory

Savory is an herb known for its peppery and slightly bitter taste, making it a suitable substitute for rosemary in savory dishes. While it may not have the same woodsy flavor, savory can add a unique twist to your recipes.

3. Tarragon

Tarragon is an herb that offers a distinct anise-like flavor. Although it differs from rosemary’s taste profile, tarragon can be used as a substitute, especially in Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Its delicate yet intense flavor can elevate your recipes.

4. Oregano

Oregano is a widely-used herb in Mediterranean and Italian cuisines, known for its robust flavor. Although oregano has a slightly different taste compared to rosemary, it can add depth and complexity to your dishes. It pairs particularly well with roasted meats and grilled vegetables.

5. Marjoram

Marjoram is closely related to oregano and has a similar flavor profile. It offers a delicate sweetness and can be used as a substitute for rosemary in various recipes. This herb is especially complementary to poultry and fish dishes.

6. Sage

Sage has an earthy and slightly peppery taste, making it another suitable alternative to rosemary. It works well in both fresh and dried forms, and can be used in soups, stews, and roasted vegetables. Just like rosemary, sage can greatly enhance the flavor of pork and poultry.

These substitutes can impart their own unique flavors to your dishes, allowing you to explore new culinary possibilities.

Choosing The Right Substitute For Rosemary

Fresh rosemary sprigs fragrant

When choosing a substitute for rosemary, consider the following factors to select the best alternative for your specific dish:

  1. Flavor Compatibility: Ensure that the substitute you choose complements the other ingredients in your recipe. Consider the profiles of other herbs and spices used to ensure they harmonize well.

  2. Aroma: Rosemary is known for its distinct aroma, so choose a substitute that has a similar or complementary scent. The aroma plays a significant role in the overall sensory experience of a dish.

  3. Intensity of Flavor: Consider whether you want a milder or stronger herb to replace rosemary. Thyme and savory offer milder flavors, while sage and oregano provide a bolder taste.

  4. Culinary Tradition: Depending on the cuisine you’re preparing, certain herbs and spices may be more commonly used. Consider the culinary tradition to ensure that the substitute aligns with the desired flavor profile.

By taking these factors into account, you can select the most suitable substitute for rosemary, enhancing your dish without compromising taste.

Pro Tip: If you’re unsure about substituting rosemary in a recipe, start with a small quantity of the substitute and taste as you go. This way, you can adjust the flavors to your liking and ensure the overall balance of the dish.

Cooking With Substitutes For Rosemary

Fresh rosemary sprigs fragrant

When using substitutes for rosemary, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Fresh vs. Dried: Fresh herbs provide a more intense flavor than dried herbs, so you may need to increase the quantity when using a substitute. However, dried substitutes are still effective and can be used interchangeably in certain recipes.

  2. Quantity: If a recipe calls for a specific amount of rosemary, start by using half the amount of the substitute. You can then adjust the quantity according to your taste preferences.

  3. Timing: Some herbs may have different cooking times, so consider the cooking duration when adding the substitute. Delicate herbs like tarragon and marjoram are often added towards the end of cooking to preserve their flavors.

By paying attention to these details, you can seamlessly incorporate substitutes for rosemary into your cooking, resulting in delicious and well-balanced meals.

Recipes Using Substitutes For Rosemary


Here are a few recipes where you can try out the substitutes for rosemary mentioned earlier:

1. Lemon-Thyme Roasted Chicken

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Rub a whole chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, and the juice of one lemon.
  • Sprinkle thyme leaves over the chicken, ensuring it is evenly coated.
  • Place the chicken in a roasting pan and roast for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
  • Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.

2. Savory Potato Wedges

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  • Cut potatoes into wedges and place them in a mixing bowl.
  • Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes and season with salt, pepper, and dried savory.
  • Toss the potatoes until they are well coated.
  • Spread the potato wedges on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden and crispy.

3. Tomato And Tarragon Salad

  • Slice fresh tomatoes and arrange them on a serving platter.
  • Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, and fresh tarragon leaves.
  • Let the flavors meld for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Feel free to experiment with these recipes by incorporating your preferred substitute. Adjust the quantities and cooking times according to the specific herb or spice you choose, and let your taste buds guide you to your ideal combination of flavors.

Storage And Shelf Life Of Substitutes


To make the most of your substitutes for rosemary, it’s essential to store them properly and be aware of their shelf life:

  • Fresh Herbs: Store fresh herbs like thyme, tarragon, and sage in the refrigerator. Place them in a slightly damp paper towel and seal them in a ziplock bag to maintain their freshness. Use them within a week for optimal flavor.
  • Dried Herbs: Keep dried herbs in airtight containers away from direct sunlight and in a cool, dark place. They can retain their flavor for up to a year if stored properly.

Remember to label your containers with the name and date of the herb to ensure you’re using them when they are still fresh and flavorful.


Finding suitable substitutes for rosemary opens up a world of possibilities in your kitchen. Thyme, savory, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, and sage are all excellent alternatives that can provide unique flavors and enhance a wide range of recipes. Remember to consider the flavor compatibility, aroma, and intensity of the substitute when choosing the right option for your dish. Whether you’re cooking chicken, potatoes, or salads, incorporating these substitutes into your recipes will allow you to create flavorful and delicious meals. So, the next time you’re out of rosemary or simply want to explore new flavors, don’t hesitate to try one of these exceptional substitutes.


What Are Some Alternatives To Rosemary For Culinary Purposes?

Some popular substitutes for rosemary include thyme, oregano, and basil. These herbs have a similar flavor profile to rosemary and can be used interchangeably in many recipes. Other options include sage, marjoram, and savory.

Can Dried Rosemary Be Substituted With Fresh Rosemary?

Yes, dried rosemary can be substituted with fresh rosemary. Generally, one tablespoon of fresh rosemary is equivalent to one teaspoon of dried rosemary. However, the potency of fresh rosemary can vary, so it is best to taste test as you go when using fresh herbs.

Are There Any Non-herb Substitutes For Rosemary?

Yes, there are some non-herb alternatives to rosemary for flavoring. For example, bay leaves can provide a similar earthy, slightly minty flavor to a dish. Additionally, juniper berries can be used to add a woodsy, pine-like flavor to meats and roasted vegetables.

What Are The Best Substitutes For Rosemary In Meat Dishes?

For meats, thyme is a common substitute for rosemary. It pairs well with poultry, lamb, and beef, and has a similar earthy and slightly sweet flavor. Other options for meat dishes include sage and marjoram, which have a slightly more peppery taste.

Can Rosemary Essential Oil Be Used As A Substitute For Fresh Or Dried Rosemary?

While rosemary essential oil can add flavor to a dish, it is not recommended as a substitute for fresh or dried rosemary. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can be harmful if ingested in large quantities. Additionally, the flavor of essential oils can be overpowering and may not blend well with the other ingredients in a recipe.

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  • About the Author Jenny

    I'm Jenny, a housewife with an unwavering passion for food. My culinary journey began with my grandmother's kitchen, and it's now a full-fledged food blog. I've turned my love for cooking into a creative outlet, sharing recipes and stories with a global community of fellow food enthusiasts. It's proof that being a housewife can also mean pursuing your passions and savoring life's delectable moments.