Excited to cook some Middle Eastern food but don’t have any Za’atar? I’ve got you covered. Here are my favourite simple Za’atar substitutes.
What is Za’atar?
Za’atar is a traditional Middle Eastern spice blend. It’s also a culinary herb called hyssop or Middle Eastern thyme.
The spice blend is made from sumac (another Middle Eastern spice), sesame seeds, dried za’atar and salt. But other dried herbs such as thyme, oregano and / or parsley can be used instead of the dried Za’atar.
The major flavours are herby (from the herbs!) and lemony from the sumac. There’s also nuttiness from the sesame seeds.
The Best Simple Za’atar Substitutes – Spice Blend
1. Make Your Own
If you happen to have sumac in the pantry, it’s easy to make your own Za’atar. Just mix 1 tablespoon each dried oregano, sesame seeds and sumac with 1/2 teaspoon fine salt.
2. Mixed Herbs + Sesame Seeds + Lemon Zest
If you don’t have sumac or oregano, try 1 tablespoon each dried mixed herbs and sesame seeds with 1/2 teaspoon fine salt and the zest of a lemon.
3. Ground Coriander
While this is a completely different vibe, ground coriander has some of the lemony herby flavours you get from Za’atar. Often substituting coriander will be enough to add some interesting flavours to whatever you’re making.
4. Ground Coriander + Sesame Seeds
For a closer match thank coriander on its own, try 1 tablespoon each ground coriander and sesame seeds and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
5. Schimi Togarashi
This will completely change the nationality of your dish. But this Japanese spice blend, which contains sesame seeds and orange zest, does have some similarities to Za’atar. I’d happily have either sprinkled over avocado or chicken.
The Best Simple Za’atar Substitutes – The Herb
Given Za’atar the herb is botanically related to thyme, it will work as a substitute.
2. Mixed Herbs
Dried mixed herbs won’t be an exact match but will give similar general herbaceous flavours.
More Tips for Cooking with Spice
- Have You Tried this Amazing Spice?
- My 3 Favourite Spice Blends (and their substitutes)
- Interview with a spice master
- How to stock a minimalist spice collection
More Ingredient Substitutes
- The Ultimate Guide to Vegetable Substitutes
- Collard Greens
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!