10 Best Substitutes for Rosemary

Best Substitutes for Rosemary
Photo by Monstera

With its bold flavor and aroma, Rosemary is one of the most versatile herbs. As well as one of the easiest to grow. But what if you need to use it in a recipe but are out? 

Fortunately, there are plenty of other herbs and spices that are substitutes for Rosemary. All with their subtle differences in flavor.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Rosemary?
  2. Substitutes for Rosemary
    1. Thyme
    2. Sage
    3. Oregano
    4. Parsley
    5. Cilantro
    6. Basil
    7. Tarragon
    8. Marjoram
    9. Italian Seasoning
    10. Savory
  3. Conclusion
  4. Frequently Asked Questions

What is Rosemary?

Rosemary is a perennial herb that can grow up to 4 feet tall. Its blue-green leaves taste like a cross between mint and pine.

They are lending their scent and flavor to everything from meats to desserts. Nevertheless, they’re incredibly delicious when paired with roasted meats, potatoes, or braised greens.

However, it’s an essential ingredient in Italian cuisine. It’s versatile enough to work its way into your favorite Indian dishes.

However, if you’ve run out of Rosemary and don’t know what to do with those herbs in your refrigerator, don’t worry! 

Therefore, there are plenty of easy substitutes for Rosemary. Which will give you results just as aromatic as if you had the fresh stuff on hand.

Substitutes for Rosemary

Thyme

These are great substitutes for Rosemary. Thyme works well on meats such as lamb and chicken. Fresh thyme is recommended when cooking, but dried will do in a pinch.

However, because it has a robust flavor, you will likely only want to use about 1/4 teaspoon. While not ideal for desserts or teas. It can still be used when baking if you pair it with other spices such as lemon and Oregano, substitutes for Rosemary.

More so, with its health benefits (thyme helps fight infections). There’s little reason not to add some to your next meal if you are out of Rosemary.

Sage

Sage is a delicious herb with a distinct, pleasant flavor and aroma. It can add a unique kick to foods when appropriately used, and it is part of the substitutes for Rosemary.

Herbs are used in meat stuffings and game sauces, as well as bread and biscuits. However, sage is also used extensively in soups and stews.

Many cooks like to sauté it before adding other ingredients to their cooking pots or pans. So if you don’t have Rosemary on hand but need something similar, it’s definitely worth giving fresh sage a try. 

Moreover, sage pairs well with roasted vegetables such as eggplant or bell peppers. To get you started, here are some suggestions

Oregano

As with Rosemary, Oregano can be used to season pork and poultry, but it’s also excellent on red meat. What sets it apart from Rosemary is that Oregano is much spicier, making it ideal for Mexican dishes. A dash will do when cooking Italian or Mediterranean food.

More so, to substitute, add up to a teaspoon per pound when using Rosemary. You’ll need more if you don’t want your food to taste too spicy.

Keep in mind that an overabundance of Oregano can create an unpleasant taste and experience nausea in some people.

However, it contains a chemical similar to salicylic acid. So start with small amounts and build up over time to avoid stomach upset.

Parsley

If you’re out of Rosemary, use parsley instead, which is one of the substitutes for Rosemary. Its herbal quality and piney scent are similar to Rosemary, though they’re not exact substitutes for Rosemary.

Use a little less because it’s milder than Rosemary. However, Parsley leaves have their flavor. So if you think a recipe would benefit from both herbs, cook with them together or prepare them separately. And then mix at serving time.

Therefore, the flavor difference between fresh parsley and dried is minimal. 1 Tbsp (0.5 oz) dried = about 1 tsp fresh leaves (or 2 medium sprigs). 

In some dishes like stew, parsley might be undetectable if added during cooking. A garnish on top helps show it off.

Cilantro

The herb family to which Rosemary belongs also includes cilantro and other substitutes for Rosemary, so it’s a natural substitute. Cilantro has a distinct flavor.

So be sure you like it in what you’re cooking before using it as a replacement. Additionally, there are two types of cilantro: smooth-leaf and curly leaf.

They are substitutes for Rosemary. Curly leaf has a sharper flavor than smooth-leaf and is harder to find. 
However, both varieties can be used interchangeably.

To use cilantro as a seasoning, mince or chop well and add in whatever recipe your Rosemary would have been.

Basil

Fresh basils are substitutes for Rosemary. In terms of flavor, basil has a similar grassy taste as Rosemary and works in bread and marinades. 

But keep in mind that while they’re both herbs, they don’t have an identical flavor profile. So you might want to add it gradually to make sure you don’t overdo it.

So if your primary concern is trying to make your dish reminiscent of something with Rosemary in it, use basil. 

Therefore, if all you want is something with similar grassy quality, you can also consider trying cilantro or parsley as substitutes for Rosemary.

Tarragon

Rosemary has a rich and potent flavor that can’t be duplicated. But it’s often a tricky herb to find in grocery stores. Use tarragon instead; while it doesn’t share Rosemary’s flavor, it is still earthy and fragrant. 

More so, it will help your dish retain its flavor profile even if you don’t have access to fresh Rosemary. One of the most common substitutes for Rosemary is tarragon.

In French cooking, 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary can be substituted with 1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon.

However, there is no exact equivalent in Italian cooking. But using parsley or other more readily available herbs will usually work fine.

Marjoram

Think about it as an herb similar to Rosemary but milder in flavor. For every cup of fresh Rosemary, you use, substitute a teaspoon or two of marjoram.

However, it will produce a different flavor in your dish. Marjoram has a similar aroma to Rosemary, which can lend itself well to recipes like roasted vegetables and tomato sauce.

Or try using it when grilling meat. More so, you may also want to consider growing some yourself. The herb is super easy to grow indoors, outdoors, or even in a container on your balcony. 

Nevertheless, if you decide to grow it, just be sure not to over-water it since its leaves are soft and easily damaged by excess moisture. 

Also, be sure not to confuse marjoram with Oregano (which is far more pungent) or mint (which is more aromatic).

Italian Seasoning

This herb is a classic for a reason. Often called herbes de Provence, it’s commonly used in Italian cuisine and has an intense savory flavor.

In fact, when most people think about Italian seasoning, Oregano, Basil, and Rosemary are likely to come to mind. However, a blend like Herbes de Provence will work great as well.

This is because of its potent combination of thyme and savory with hints of marjoram and fennel. 
They are all flavors that pair very well with chicken (the main ingredient in roast chicken).

These spices which are substitutes for Rosemary, can also easily be found in one packet at your local grocery store.

Savory

If you love cooking with Rosemary, you’ll miss it when you don’t have any on hand. If you’re out of fresh Rosemary, don’t fret, you can still cook delicious meals with other herbs and spices. 

However, to replace that savory flavor in your dishes, try these substitutes for Rosemary: Marjoram. Another herb native to the Mediterranean region, marjoram, has a piney smell similar to Rosemary.

Many cooks say it tastes even better than faithful Rosemary and other substitutes for Rosemary. In addition to Oregano, this famous Italian herb has a strong taste with an aroma reminiscent of thyme and mint.

Conclusion

You’ve learned a few things: that Rosemary goes well with roasted veggies, baked potatoes, grilled meat, and pizza.

And there are definitely other things that Rosemary can bring to a dish or meal. For example, research shows that many people like to include Rosemary in chicken, pork, and fish recipes. 

However, some seasoned grill masters report that they enjoy flavoring steaks with Rosemary before placing them on charcoal grills.

It adds a sort of sweet and savory-like aroma while it cooks. Others cook Rosemary and other substitutes for Rosemary in soups or stews as an extra flavoring kick.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Rosemary good for in cooking?

Rosemary is a fragrant and flavorful herb with a pine-like scent. This Mediterranean favorite adds a unique flavor to all kinds of recipes, mainly fish and chicken dishes. But it’s also excellent in soups and stews. More so, you can use rosemary leaves and other substitutes for Rosemary, fresh or dried. As with most herbs, it’s better to use fresh when possible. While you can find dried Rosemary and substitute for Rosemary year-round at grocery stores, availability varies by season. However, Rosemary is considered one of the holy trinity of herbs alongside sage and thyme because you can use these three interchangeably in most recipes.

What is the shelf life of Rosemary?

Store rosemary and other herbs and spices in an airtight container away from heat and light. (Spices are best kept at room temperature.) Don’t store it in a plastic bag or an area that’s easily exposed to moisture. On average, you can keep whole sprigs of Rosemary fresh in your pantry for four to six months. Ground rosemary lasts three to four months when stored properly. If you notice mold developing on either form of Rosemary, discard it immediately.

 What does Rosemary smell like?

Rosemary is a perennial herb with fragrant, needle-like leaves and white, pink or purple flowers. Native to Europe and Asia, Rosemary can be grown indoors or outdoors in the U.S. The Department of Agriculture plants hardiness zones 5 through 9. More so, the shrub grows between 2 feet and 4 feet tall, depending on environmental conditions. You can use sprigs of Rosemary and substitutes for Rosemary as garnish and flavoring in meats or to season foods. But it also has many medicinal uses. It’s high in antioxidants, antibacterial properties, and minerals like manganese that help regulate bodily processes including hormone production.

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