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Rosemary Substitute

Below you’ll find a rosemary substitute list for all dishes that call for this tasty herb. Rosemary is known as one of the top aromatic herbs and it leaves dishes with a minty, peppery flavor that is unmistakable. While the flavor is distinguishable, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of replacements when you’re fresh out!

glass jar with label "rosemary" filled with dried spices, small wooden spoon filled with dried spices

What Is Rosemary?

Rosemary is a fragrant herb that grows as a shrub. This herb typically appears in sprigs with short, thin, flat, green leaves or canisters as a dried spice. The origin of rosemary is the Mediterranean, and it grows in Europe in warmer areas. Rosemary has many uses, including a flavoring agent for gamier meats like lamb, poultry, vegetables, soups, and sauces.

You’ll also find this herb in alcoholic drinks and it’s used to provide an aroma to certain soaps and lotions. In the past, rosemary has been used for medicinal purposes and recipes. It continues to be used in all the above ways today.

Types Of rosemary

There are many available types of rosemary, though a few stand out in the culinary world. You’ll often find Tuscan blue rosemary in the kitchen of renowned chefs. Other types include spice island rosemary and postratus rosemary, aka one of the creeping rosemary varieties. Depending on the type, these rosemary plant varieties can grow from about 3 feet to 8 feet.

The most common type of rosemary is Rosmarinus officinalis, otherwise known as common rosemary. This rosemary plant is the variety you’ve likely seen at the store, dried or fresh.

Best Substitute For Rosemary

The list below will aid you in answering the questions, what can I use instead of rosemary? Each replacement provides recommendations of dishes you can use with that specific spice/herb.

1. Dried Rosemary

Dried rosemary is a fantastic substitute for fresh rosemary. This version is easily found at the grocery store in the spice aisle, plus as it’s the same herb, you’ll find a similar yet slightly bolder taste. As with any dried version of an herb, you will need to use a smaller amount. This is true especially for rosemary due to its strong flavor.

If you have sprigs of rosemary growing at home, it’s easy to dehydrate them to create dried rosemary. Use this replacement in any recipe that calls for fresh rosemary.

The flavor is nearly identical when you substitute dried rosemary for fresh; this allows for an easy swap between the two. It’s easy to find this variety at the store or make a homemade version to keep for future recipes.

As you need a smaller amount of dried rosemary for dishes, adding too much is easy, creating a bitter taste in recipes. Both fresh or dried rosemary can cause a dish to taste “perfumy,” if cooked too long, it’s best to add this herb in later to avoid this flavor.

Cooking Tip:
Replace 1 teaspoon for every tablespoon of fresh rosemary.

2. Fresh Basil

Basil is an herb that sits in the same plant family as rosemary, the mint family. As such, you can expect a similar minty taste when using basil in recipes. Beyond a common mint flavor, you’ll also recognize a peppery taste like that of rosemary.

You can use basil as a swap in many recipes, ranging from fresh vegetable dishes to sauces, meat-based recipes, and even tea (like rosemary leaves). While basil is commonly included in Italian recipes, it presents a similar flavor to rosemary, allowing this herb’s use to span other cuisine styles.

This herb is one of the best replacements as it’s pretty easy to find both as a fresh ingredient, in dried form, and many people’s herb gardens. A minty, peppery taste similar to that of rosemary will arise when using basil as a sub for rosemary.

There will be a flavor difference as basil adds a slight sweetness to dishes.

Cooking Tip:
Use a 1:1 ratio to replace the rosemary with basil.

3. Fresh Thyme

Fresh thyme is another excellent replacement that works as both a dried and substitute for fresh rosemary. This herb from the mint family provides similar flavor notes as rosemary. Expect a similar mint and citrus taste when using fresh (or dried thyme).

Thyme works well as a complement to meat-based recipes, particularly poultry dishes. It does provide a milder taste than you would receive from rosemary. If the flavor is not strong enough, increase the quantity, though be wary of adding too much to recipes as it can overpower other flavors even with a subtler taste.

There are multiple varieties of thyme, though the most common types include French thyme and English thyme. This herb is an excellent swap as you can add it in much earlier without fear of it shrinking or becoming less potent in taste.

Thyme is another herb that is easily accessible, both in dried and fresh versions. You’ll find this herb in the spice aisle or a refrigerated section near the vegetables. This herb allows a minty, lemony taste similar to rosemary in dishes. Use it in stews, soups, or with poultry.

Thyme also provides a sweet and slightly spicy taste, so it does not bode well with all recipes. There will be a different flavor when using this rosemary alternative.

Cooking Tip:
Use a 1:1 ratio when swapping thyme for rosemary. If the recipe calls for fresh rosemary, use fresh thyme and vice versa for dried rosemary.

4. Oregano

Oregano is another herb with a complex flavor; it offers a pungent earthy, sweet, and slightly spicy taste. It also provides some bitterness to dishes, similar to what rosemary offers. As there are additional flavor notes, there will be a difference in flavor when using this replacement for rosemary. Like thyme and basil, oregano is part of the same plant family, so that it will provide a similar minty taste.

Greek oregano is the most common variety and likely what you’ll see at the grocery store in the spice aisle. While other types are available, like Mexican Oregano, they may be more challenging to find in the grocery store.

This herb is best for Italian, Greek, or Mexican (if using Mexican oregano) dishes. This includes salad dressings, sauces, various meats, and soups as one of the most commonly used dried herbs. Oregano works well to replace rosemary in cooked recipes and raw dishes (like salads).

Both a minty, woody taste arise when using oregano as a replacement. Oregano is readily found in grocery stores and adds a delicious, complex flavor to recipes.

Oregano is limited to a few cuisine styles, making it not a perfect match for all dishes that include rosemary. You’ll receive a different flavor to the final dish when using oregano.

Cooking Tip:
Use a 1:1 ratio when swapping oregano for rosemary.

5. Fresh Marjoram/Dried Marjoram

Both fresh marjoram and dried marjoram work as good substitutes for rosemary. They provide a similar pine-like flavor that is also citrusy, minty, and slightly bitter taste that you would expect from rosemary. Additional sweet notes and an earthy flavor can translate to dishes. Marjoram has a much subtler taste than rosemary.

The flavor of marjoram is similar to both oregano and thyme, though still milder than both of these herbs. This allows marjoram to work well in many recipes that usually call for rosemary. Use marjoram to season vegetables in soups, sauces, and sausage-based recipes.

While this mint family herb is popular in Mediterranean recipes, it’s not as common to see it in its fresh form unless shopping at a farmers market. Dried marjoram is more easily accessible in the spice section of most stores.

Marjoram offers a similar flavor to rosemary and has a milder taste than oregano, widening the available recipes.

Fresh marjoram can be challenging to find at grocery stores and sometimes even farmers’ markets. With a subtler taste, you’ll need more of this herb to replace rosemary.

Cooking Tip:
Start with a 1:1 replacement and add more as needed.

6. Dried Tarragon

Tarragon is known for its bold licorice taste. It also offers a citrusy, peppery, slightly bitter flavor similar to rosemary. It’s important to note that tarragon has a much stronger taste than rosemary, both in leafy green herb form and as a dried herb. If you use too much of this ingredient, it will overwhelm the dish.

French tarragon and Russian tarragon are popular varieties seen in cooking, though the French type provides an even stronger taste.

Some people do not enjoy the anise flavor to be off-putting for various family and friends. Use tarragon for sauce, fish, vegetables, egg, and meat dishes in small quantities.

Tarragon adds a bold taste to recipes and similar flavor notes as rosemary.

This herb has a strong flavor that is not a favorite for all. Its strong taste limits the recipes you can incorporate this replacement. Tarragon can work in cooked dishes, but its flavor becomes too mellow if you add it early.

Cooking Tip:
Use 1/3 of the amount required in your recipe.

7. Winter Savory/Summer Savory

Savory is an excellent yet lesser-known option that you can use to replace rosemary. This tasty herb is also part of the mint family to provide a similar minty taste. There are two varieties – winter savory and summer savory. Each type offers a different taste.

Summer savory is spicier, so it’s best to use this substitution when you’re looking to replace the pepperiness of rosemary. In comparison, winter savory is more earthy, woody and offers a milder flavor. Use this variety when seeking a piney flavor for recipes.

Winter and summer savory provide a mint flavor, and other flavor notes that rosemary offers. Both varieties work well for nearly all recipes that request rosemary.

This herb is less common in the US especially; this makes it challenging to find in some locations, even as a dried variety.

Cooking Tip:
Use summer and winter savory in a 1:1 ratio as an alternative to rosemary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Substitute Basil for Rosemary?

Yes, you can substitute basil for rosemary. This herb is part of the same plant family and offers a similar taste in dishes. You will notice a slight sweetness when using basil instead of rosemary.

How Important Is Rosemary in a Recipe?

Because rosemary produces a combination of many flavors, it’s essential to use it in recipes. However, if you have run out of rosemary or don’t have access to it, the above options will provide an equally tasty dish.

Are Rosemary and Thyme the Same?

No, rosemary and thyme are not the same spice/herb. They share a connection as they are both from the Lamiaceae family, aka the mint family. While they offer a similar taste to dishes, rosemary has a bolder taste.

What Does Rosemary Taste Like?

Rosemary’s complex flavor distinguishes it from other herbs with a woody, minty, peppery taste. It has a bold taste with a slight bitterness and a citrusy, slightly floral flavor.

What Is Equivalent of 1 Sprig of Rosemary?

½-1 teaspoon is equivalent to 1 sprig of rosemary. This quantity varies as a sprig can be 2-4″ long. It’s best to start with ½ teaspoon due to the slight bitterness of rosemary and increase until you reach the flavor you desire. This quantity is also affected by the recipe you use, as some will require a more significant amount.


While there are many rosemary substitutes to choose from, it’s best to opt for the choices that will complement your recipe instead of reaching for the first option available. For example, tarragon works well with fish though it is not suitable for some sauces as the flavor decreases as it cooks.

The best fresh rosemary substitute is dried rosemary, followed by marjoram. Any herb in the mint family also works as a great alternative. If none of the above options are readily available, caraway seeds, bay leaves, fresh or dried sage, parsley, and dill (for fish recipes) can work in a pinch.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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