No Fresh Rosemary? Why Not Try These Rosemary Substitutes?

Chris Starks
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Tips When Substituting Rosemary

Rosemary is an herb that can add a beautiful fragrant and perfume taste to all variety of dishes, from meat, to fish, to salad, to chicken. Rosemary can be used fresh or dried. Any substitute for fresh rosemary can also be used for dried rosemary.

Thyme

Thyme and rosemary are two herbs that you tend to associate together. They go together so well that thyme is sometimes called "the herb of remembrance" or "herb of friendship", which should give you a pretty good indication that thyme is a perfect substitute for rosemary.

Savory

One of the most versatile herbs out there is rosemary. One of the culinary uses of rosemary is as a lesser-used alternative to oregano. It works well in savory dishes and it is often found as a part of Italian recipes, especially when fresh basil is unavailable. The flavors are strong and complex so it is best used in moderation.

Cayenne pepper: Cayenne Pepper, another herb with versatility and many culinary uses, gives a spice kick to food. It adds an easily-identifiable heat quotient that is right up there with cayenne pepper, which can be added to taste.

Thyme: Thyme is often used as a lesser-used substitute for rosemary. It is also a pungent herb that is a part of many renowned dishes, with its woody and citrusy aroma. Its flavor is not as complex or as strong as rosemary’s.

Tarragon: Tarragon is a lesser-used herb in many cuisines. Its flavor is not as strong as many of the other commonly used herbs, but it has a distinct taste that can be a welcome addition to many recipes.

Parsley: Parsley is a common herb that is not as strongly flavored as rosemary. It has a fresh, grassy, and sweet taste. It does not have the depth of flavor that rosemary adds to many recipes.

While making roasted potatoes, I was looking for fresh rosemary so I could make potato salad with a rosemary vinaigrette. But I realized that I was out of fresh rosemary and that I didn’t have enough fresh basil to make the vinaigrette either. This was not the first time this had happened, so I pulled out my dried herb organizer and started looking for rosemary substitutes in my dried herb collection.

At first I thought I had to blend something, but then I got the idea of sprinkling dried basil over the potatoes. When I mixed it with the olive oil and lemon juice, the flavors were so fresh, and I realized that dried rosemary and dried basil work so well together. When I shared the recipe with my friends, they were thrilled and wanted to make it again. So here you have it – Rosemary in Recipes: Dry Rosemary Substitutes (in No Fresh Rosemary? Why Not Try These Rosemary Substitutes?).

Sage

Rosemary is a lovely herb with a wonderful aroma. It’s a staple in many recipes including Italian cooking such as: grilled chicken, vegetable dishes, stews, stuffing, and more. It’s also very useful in classic French cuisine. It also helps give flavor to breads, and can be used in herbal teas. Given its versatility, it’s no surprise that rosemary is often used in many endurance sports.

Due to rosemary’s unique flavor profile and aroma, it’s a popular herb for flavoring a variety of dishes from savory to sweet. While you can purchase fresh sprigs of rosemary easily, sometimes you need rosemary for a recipe but you don’t have access to fresh sprigs. So how do you substitute rosemary?

If a particular recipe requires fresh rosemary, use sage instead. While it’s not a perfect substitution, it’s usually best to use sage in blends. When using fresh sage, sprigs are better than chopped sage leaves.

While making roasted potatoes, I was looking for fresh rosemary so I could make potato salad with a rosemary vinaigrette. But I realized that I was out of fresh rosemary and that I didn’t have enough fresh basil to make the vinaigrette either. This was not the first time this had happened, so I pulled out my dried herb organizer and started looking for rosemary substitutes in my dried herb collection.

At first I thought I had to blend something, but then I got the idea of sprinkling dried basil over the potatoes. When I mixed it with the olive oil and lemon juice, the flavors were so fresh, and I realized that dried rosemary and dried basil work so well together. When I shared the recipe with my friends, they were thrilled and wanted to make it again. So here you have it – Rosemary in Recipes: Dry Rosemary Substitutes (in No Fresh Rosemary? Why Not Try These Rosemary Substitutes?).

Marjoram

Rosemary is the perfect herb to substitute for oregano , onions , and other strongly flavored ingredients like garlic , basil , ginger , and pepper if you are in a bind and need a substitution. One of the things about rosemary that makes it a unique ingredient is the fact that it doesn't have a ton of varieties you can substitute. One of the few that can suffice is marjoram.

Marjoram is a member of the mint family and has a pungent, sweet, and lemony flavor that can easily be used in place of rosemary, without upsetting the integrity of the recipe.

Some think marjoram is mistakenly sold as oregano, regardless of whether it's fresh or dried. It has a pine, citrusy flavor with soft and aromatic green sprigs.

Marjoram is a fabulous substitute for rosemary.[/caption]

Marjoram has a similar appearance to rosemary with it'ss lemony green leaves, but with a thinner stem, a tendency to grow into a bush, and no purple undertones. If you take a look at the stems, you’ll see little pockets of air in marjoram. (source)

Tarragon

If you’re a fan of the piney flavor of rosemary but are out of it, try a little tarragon instead. While they both have a similarly strong flavor, it is said that tarragon has a more assertive flavor than rosemary. Furthermore, it is more pungent than rosemary and is particularly delicious in fish recipes and with poultry. The similarities between the two herbs are most obvious in the area of taste.

Rosemary’s an herb that has been used for centuries in many different ceremonies, and because of its wonderful fragrance and flavor, it has been an important addition to many different dishes for centuries.

Tarragon, also known as ‘dragon herb,’ has a slightly minty taste and is strong when cooked, so it is usually used in a culinary context only when a hint of it is needed. Tarragon’s medical properties are similar to rosemary. Both of these herbs are frequently used to help with digestion and respiratory ailments.

Bay Leaf

Alternative to Rosemary

Bay leaves are the leaves of the Bay laurel tree and are are commonly used as a decorative element in cooking. When dried, they are used whole or ground to enhance the flavor of meat, poultry, soups, stews and more.

Bay laurel is a herb native to the Mediterranean area and is the source of many fragrances. It’s commonly used in aromatherapy and as an aphrodisiac and even as a digestive aid.

It’s easy to substitute a bay leaf for a sprig of rosemary when frying your steak. And if you don’t have fresh bay leaves on hand, just use dried ones.

Basil

The citrusy, tangy flavor of lemon and lime works well in dishes calling for fresh rosemary. Add it to cooked vegetables, soups or stews to add a distinct flavor. If you’re after a milder flavor, substitute other fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, or dill.

Bottom Line

Rosemary is a highly aromatic herb that can be used to season meats, fish, vegetables, stuffing, and breads. The essential oils in rosemary have a unique ability to penetrate the flavor of the foods they’re cooked with.

You can use any of these herbs to replace rosemary in a recipe. Even better, several of these options can be grown easily in your backyard garden.

For a more comprehensive list of different herbs and their uses, continue reading the post.