What is a Good Substitute for Rosemary? (10 Alternatives)

What would you do if you ran out of Rosemary and your dinner recipe asked for just that? If you find yourself wondering, “what is a good substitute for rosemary?” then this article is for you.

In the text below, you will find not one, two, or three rosemary substitutes but ten. We have a list of the best herbs and spices to make your dinner really stand out.

Before rushing to the store or searching for a new recipe, take a look at these ten great alternatives.

image of rosemary

What is Rosemary Used For In Cooking?

Rosemary is a robust herb with a peppery taste.  It has a sweet lemony, citrus profile that brings out other flavors when cooking. (*)

You will also notice its intense and delightful aroma when cooking it. You can also smell its fresh, earthy scent while it grows on your countertop.

You will often notice a slightly bitter aftertaste when using this ingredient. That bitterness is noticeable and even off putting when it is overcooked.

When used correctly, rosemary is a fantastic ingredient that pulls together entire meals. You will notice this seasoning in various recipes, including.

  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Sauces
  • Dressings
  • Potatoe and vegetable seasoning
  • Meat rubs

Rosemary Sprigs vs. Dried vs. Ground

There are various forms of rosemary, and each can be used in the culinary world. You can use all three options in almost any dish and get the same flavor outcome every time.

Rosemary Sprigs

Rosemary Sprigs are the branches that extend from the rosemary plant. These little branches grow no more than three inches long. This is the best part of the plant to use when cooking. This is because it is the most flavorful and aromatic since it is still fresh.

Dried Rosemary

Dried rosemary comes from drying out the sprigs. To get dried rosemary, you have to remove the sprigs from the plant’s stem. Then it gets washed in cold water and dried in an oven.

Dried rosemary is less potent than its fresh counterpart but still packs a powerful punch.

Ground Rosemary

Ground rosemary is the least flavorful of all three options. Yet it is still a valuable spice to have in your cupboard. This product comes from grinding dried out rosemary sprigs. 

When you use ground rosemary in place of fresh sprigs, use it sparingly. You will only need one third ground spice compared to the fresh one.

Although rosemary is a popular flavor enhancer, it isn’t the only one available. Read this article for a list of ingredients to spice up your recipe when rosemary isn’t around.

10 Best Rosemary Substitutes for Every Recipe

HerbFlavor ProfileEditor Rating for Using In Place of Rosemary
ThymeMild, earthy and slightly lemony taste with a hint of clove6/10
TarragonDelicate, sweet anise flavor with notes of licorice and mint7/10
Italian SeasoningMix of herbs such as oregano, marjoram, basil, rosemary, thyme and more6/10
SageEarthy, warm, slightly bitter and musty aroma with hints of tobacco7/10
Oregano  Robust and pungent aroma evocative of the Mediterranean. Slightly bitter aftertaste.    5/10  
MarjoramSweet-smelling herb with mild yet complex flavor of pine and citrus. Bitter aftertaste.    4/10  
Caraway Seed  Sweet nutty taste with a hint of aniseed and peppermint flavors. Bitter aftertaste.    2/10  
BasilSweet yet slightly peppery smell with an intense flavor when crushed or chopped.7/10 
Winter Savory  Strong herbal scent reminiscent of sage but more pungent than marjoram Sharp aftertaste6/10
Summer Savory Fragrant aroma like cloves and pepper, similar to thyme but sweeter than winter savory7/10
Bay Leaf  Subdued sweet smell like a mix between rosemary and laurel but much more delicate5/10

1. Thyme is a Mild Option

Thyme is a warm, woodsy herb in the oregano and mint family. It is one of the best substitutes for rosemary in its fresh form.

You can use thyme as a garnish in many dishes or leafy salads. You can use dried or ground thyme in a variety of cooked dishes as well.

Thyme Flavors:

  • Minty
  • Earthy
  • Lemony

When using thyme instead of rosemary in a recipe, we recommend you should use a one-to-one ratio. Even though it is a bit milder, it can give a very distinct taste. So it will be important to adjust accordingly.

Pro tip:
When using thyme as an alternative to rosemary, consider adding other herbs such as oregano or marjoram for balance.

2. Tarragon for an Ansie Flavor

Tarrago is an unusual suggestion but works phenomenally. Although it has a distinct licorice flavor and intense aroma, it provides a bitter-sweet undertone to certain dishes. 

You will find tarragon goes well in recipes involving fish, chicken, salad dressings, and sauces. It is also a popular option in various French cuisines.

Because of the subtle anise flavor profile, this herb could be a no go for many people. We recommend you to cut the measurements in half when starting out. You might need to add more after, but you should ensure you like the flavor first.

And don’t forget – you can use either fresh or dried tarragon, while rosemary should usually only be used fresh.

Tarragon flavors:

  • Peppery
  • Slight licorice

Pro Tip:

Tarragon is a great addition to fish and poultry dishes, salads and eggs – something definitely worth considering when deciding which herb to add to your dish!

3. Italian Seasoning for a Variety of Flavors

Obviously, Italian seasoning isn’t one specific ingredient. This mix comprises various herbs and spices to give your tastebuds something to be excited over.

Depending on the type of Italian seasoning you buy, you will end up with ingredients such as:

  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Basil 
  • Thyme
  • And, of course, rosemary

This combination creates a complex flavor profile that will enhance every meal. Because it has rosemary in it, you will still get that delicious, unique flavor. 

Italian seasoning flavors:

  • Combination of flavors depending on spices and herbs

4. Sage for a Pronounced Earthy Flavor

Sage is another good substitute for rosemary because they both offer a piney flavor profile. It has a unique peppery, earthy taste with hints of lemon, mint, and eucalyptus in every bite.

Sage has a more robust flavor compared to rosemary. We reduce the measurements called for in every recipe by around 50%. Doing this will ensure your meal isn’t too bitter or overpowering. 

Additionally, while sage pairs well with sweet flavours like honey and maple syrup, it can overpower more delicate ingredients such as garlic and tomatoes, so adjust the quantity accordingly.

Sage flavors:

  • Piney
  • Peppery
  • Minty
  • Lemony

Pro tip:

If you’re using dried sage instead of fresh, keep in mind that it tends to be more potent and flavourful than fresh sage.

5. Oregano for a Sweet and Spicey Solution

Oregano is a staple in many kitchens. You will find this herb on top of pizza sauce or mixed into spaghetti sauce, among other things. It is a popular option for a variety of meals, especially in Italian cuisine.

Oregano has a complex flavor profile combining a sweet and spicey mix. This seasoning is close in comparison to rosemary. Yet you can tell a slight difference if you are looking for it.

Oregano flavors:

  • Peppery
  • Earthy

6. Marjoram for its Sweet Side

Marjoram looks much like oregano, yet they provide entirely different flavors. This grayish-green plant is part of the mint family, which is pleasant and sweet with a kick of spice.

You can use marjoram in meat recipes to emphasize it’s natural, earthy flavors. You can also add this spice to sauces and dressings for a minty, sweet undertone.

Even though marjoram is a great addition to many food items, it isn’t readily available. Chances are good most homes don’t have marjoram stocked at all times.

Marjoram flavors

  • Earthy
  • Piney
  • Minty

7. Summer and Winter Savory

Many people don’t know that there are two types of savory. Each of these options make a great alternative to rosemary in various dishes.

Summer savory is peppery with a subtle spiciness. This can give your recipe a hot and intense taste. Winter savory is earthy and provides a subtle yet minty profile. You can add this option to cold menus for a fresh flavor and aroma.

Savory is a popular ingredient in European foods and can be found in essential oils. 

Savory Flavor

  • Summer- Peppery (spicey)
  • Winter- Earthy, Minty

Learn more: The 9 Best Savory Substitutes That You Might NOW Have!

8. Basil is Mild and Minty

There are various forms of basil, each offering a different flavor and aroma. All in all, this spice is a perfect substitute for rosemary, no matter which types you choose.

Sweet basil (regular basil)is one of the more popular options. It has a peppery, minty flavor with hints of anise and clove.

Basil is a bit milder than rosemary and has a slightly different taste too. When using basil instead of rosemary, keep your ingredients to a one to one ratio.

Basil Flavor

  • Minty
  • Peppery
  • Lemony

9. Caraway Seed for an Aromatic Ingredient

Caraway seed is native to North Africa, Europe, and Western Asia. It is part of the Apiaceae family and is often referred to as Persian cumin.

This warm spice has a mild anise flavor that is subtle yet distinct. You can use this earthy, citrus ingredient in various places instead of rosemary. 

Replace your rosemary with an equal amount of caraway seed in bread, meat, or vegetable dishes.

Caraway Seed flavor:

  • Peppery
  • Licorice
  • Nutty

Learn more: Caraway Seed Substitute (8 Simple Ways to Get Around)

10. Bay Leaf

These fragrant leaves are often used in cooking. They can take the place of rosemary in mostly meat dishes, including.

  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Mutton
  • Goat
  • Fish
  • Turkey
  • Chicken 

This ingredient has hints of pine, mint, and black pepper. This combination gives your taste buds an array of flavors to enjoy. It is a great way to spice up any dish when your rosemary is out of stock.

You will always substitute these two items with a one to one ratio.

Bay Leaf flavor:

  • Minty
  • Piney
  • Peppery

Learn more:


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