by Jade 

October 29, 2017

substitution for rosemary

A multitude of recipes rely on the power of rosemary, in conjunction with other spices and herbs, to give a savory resinous flavor and tea-like strong fragrance. Whether you’re about to season grilled chicken or roasted potatoes, there’s no need to rush to the grocery store if you ran out of the herb --  simply opt for other herbs that serve as substitutions to rosemary.

substitution for rosemary

Rosemary, a known Mediterranean herb, owes its popularity to its unique flavor and distinct woody-citrus aroma, as well as its ornamental value for passionate gardeners and cooks. As a matter of fact, there is more to this wonder herb than its taste and aroma.


Uses Of Rosemary

substitution for rosemary

The prominent lemon-pine taste of rosemary leaves pairs well with roasted or baked meats such as lamb, chicken, and pork. Moreover, it’s a nice addition to tomato sauce, soups, pizza, and salads.

Rosemary leaves itself can be boiled and made into tea or added into water for a daily dose of potent antioxidants. Alternatively, rosemary oil can be applied into eczema-ridden skin and arthritis-infected areas.

Health Benefits Of Rosemary

For centuries now, rosemary has been hailed a miracle herb due to its remarkable benefits such as improving memory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic abilities, and promotion of the digestive and cardiovascular health.

So, what exactly is in this herb that makes it significant for health? Find out below.

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substitution for rosemary

Rosemary is rich in antioxidants – it’s even proved to be stronger than Vitamin E. In fact, a single branch of this herb has the same nutritional benefits of a medium-sized pineapple. Regular consumption of rosemary may aid in boosting the immune system, prevent anemia, maintain muscle tone, and fight free radical damage.

Growing Rosemary

Surprised by what rosemary has to offer? Perhaps you’re thinking of just growing the plant at home so that you won’t miss any of its goodness.

Fortunately, rosemary’s pretty easy to grow and maintain though you just have to wait for about two years to pick the fruits of your labor. You can grow them in your backyard, indoors, and even on the beach! The plant is tolerant of salt water, allowing it to grow on salty beaches.

Personally, it’s best grown in pots so you can carry them inside when the temperature drops. Let it soak in full sunlight and keep the soil moist to hasten the growth.Check out the video below for the complete instructions on growing rosemary.

Okay, now that you know its numerous benefits and how to grow them, let’s proceed to the real deal – substitutions for rosemary. Oh wait, perhaps you want to read some fun facts and cool stuff about this remarkable plant first after for a little breather after all the pretty (boring) knowledge you have just acquired.

Rosemary Fun Facts

substitution for rosemary
  • The term “Rosemary” originated  from the Latin words “ ros” and “marinus”, meaning "dew of the sea". Pretty fancy, huh!
  • Rosemary is especially popularized by Italian cuisine which made it one of the most influential herbs of all tim
  • Rosemary produces flowers that vary in color depending on the climate.
substitution for rosemary
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    Due to the herb’s strong aroma, it’s also extensively used in aromatherapy and in the formulation of cosmetic products.
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    Rosemary oil in higher doses can induce poisoning, especially in pregnant women.
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    There’s some truth to the folk saying that rosemary enhances the memory. Hundreds of years ago, natives use this herb to improve their memory and treat rheumatism.
substitution for rosemary
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    In the 16th century, people used to disinfect hospital rooms by burning rosemary – wow, so it also has antibacterial properties? What an herb!
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    A creepy fact: rosemary is also used in funeral rituals. It’s placed in the deceased’s hands and scattered on the grave to symbolize remembrance.

Substitutions For Rosemary

Dried rosemary

Every herb is not created equal and in some cases, dried rosemary simply can’t make the cut for fresh rosemary. However, if your recipe calls for the fresh form but all you have on hand is the dried one, it’s your best bet for the closest substitute because it possesses the inherent characteristic flavor of rosemary.

Suggested proportion: For every teaspoon of fresh rosemary, scoop out ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary. As with any dried substitutes for fresh herbs, the rule of thumb 1 is to 3 applies since dried forms are more concentrated compared to fresh types.


Belonging to the same mint family as rosemary, thyme’s aroma resembles that of eucalyptus and lemon, making it a suitable substitute for fresh or dried rosemary due to its fragrance. With regards to its flavor, it’s of a subtle minty type.

Thyme is best used to season or garnish baked meat, fish, chowders, soups, and vegetables.

Suggested proportion: For every teaspoon of dried rosemary, add a similar amount of thyme.


Tarragon has the reputation of having an intense bittersweet flavor that is part citrusy, making it a good alternative for dried rosemary. Due to this particular trait, it’s ideal for use in recipes that call a strong rosemary flavor.

It’s commonly used to season French recipes including meats, eggs, soups, and cheese.​ Adding lemon and chives to dishes requiring tarragon is the norm as it pairs well with them.

Suggested proportion: Similar to thyme, simply use tarragon in the same amount of dried rosemary as with the recipe you’re following.


Dried savory’s peppery taste is very reminiscent of thyme. This similarity in flavor makes it another excellent substitute to dried rosemary.

Also belonging to the mint family, dried savory imparts a fragrant, minty taste that resembles that of rosemary. This herb best complements vegetables such as other herbs, lentils, and peas. It also goes great with egg dishes.

Interestingly, the robustness of dried savory’s flavor unfolds when it is added to soups and stews.

Suggested proportion: For every teaspoon of dried rosemary, add a similar amount of dried savory.


Owing to its strong bittersweet taste and aromatic flavor, sage has been used extensively to impart a pleasant flavor to roasted dishes such as turkey and chicken during Thanksgiving.

This attribute makes sage an excellent rosemary substitute for roasted meats, though not as strong as rosemary.

Suggested proportion: Again, for every teaspoon of dried rosemary, add a similar amount of sage.

Note: Dried savory, tarragon and thyme are all suitable alternatives to dried rosemary. You can even mix these three to boost your dish’s flavor, except if your recipe requires for several other seasonings


Last but definitely not the least is basil, the only closest alternative for fresh rosemary.

This popular and extremely aromatic herb emits a combined fragrance of pepper and mint. It also has a subtle peppery flavor that is sweet at the same time.

We all know that basil works well with tomato-based dishes like the majority of Italian cuisine. It also complements egg dishes, cheese, vegetables, and meat.

Suggested proportion: Add a similar amount of basil in lieu of fresh rosemary as stated in the recipe you’re following.

Final Thoughts

Running out of rosemary isn’t that big of a problem because surely, you have other herbs in your kitchen that can be substituted, you just don’t know it before.

As a recap, the herb you can substitute for fresh rosemary is basil, whereas for dried rosemary, you have thyme, tarragon, savory, and sage to choose from. Again, be mindful of the suggested proportions for each herb because it’s the determining factor of the outcome -- the flavor and aroma.

substitution for rosemary

 Hey, home chef! What’s cooking? Have you ever tried any of these substitutions for rosemary before? Are they close enough? Do you think we issed some great stuff on our list? We’d love to hear your suggestions and comments below! And hey, don’t forget to share this post. Cheers! 

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