Rosemary is a delicious herb that brings a fresh but slightly sweet, fragrant flavor to any dish. Its taste is very distinct and is reminiscent of pine. It is a perennial shrub that is evergreen and produces gorgeous blue flowers.
The young stems and leaves give the best taste, but you can harvest your rosemary at any time of year to use it in cooking. It can be used in so many recipes, both sweet and savory, and is even a great accompaniment to cocktails and gin.
However, what happens when you are following a recipe that calls for rosemary but when you check your herb stock it turns out you are fresh out of it?
Does the whole recipe need to be abandoned? The answer to that is no. Your recipe can be saved. There are many alternatives out there that can be used in place of rosemary, all just as delicious. We really wanted to share some of those rosemary replacements with you.
So if you are halfway through a recipe and are desperately searching for something to use instead of rosemary, or maybe you are planning a recipe but you don’t actually like rosemary, then this is the article for you.
Rosemary Replacements and Alternatives
When considering the best replacement for rosemary it is first worth thinking about what recipe they are going to be used in. rosemary is a versatile herb that lends itself to lots of other flavors, both sweet and savory.
Their replacements may not all have this same level of versatility and so careful thought should be given to the recipes you intend to make.
We are going to explore some of the best alternatives that we have found that can be used in place of rosemary and tell you what sort of dish each of them will be suitable for.
Lavender works well as a substitute for rosemary, even more so because of the fact that the two plants are related. They both belong to the ‘Mint family’, and have a similar appearance, especially in terms of the leaves and stems.
Whilst rosemary is a little fresher, it does still have a sweet undertone. This same sweetness can be found in lavender. Lavender is, of course, slightly more floral than rosemary, but nevertheless, it still works well as a substitute for rosemary.
We recommend using dried edible ‘food-grade’ lavender in all of your sweet recipes instead of rosemary.
For example, if a cocktail calls for rosemary, lavender may be an excellent replacement. Likewise, rosemary biscuits and cakes can also be made into lavender biscuits and cakes.
Often paired together, rosemary and thyme are two very similar tasting herbs. Thyme can be used in place of rosemary in a variety of different recipes, especially savory ones.
Whilst the taste of rosemary is a little more pronounced in comparison to thyme - thyme tends to be a little milder - they do work well in place of each other. You can easily use fresh thyme in place of fresh rosemary in a garnish, or dried thyme on meat and pasta dishes instead of rosemary.
We recommend using a little more thyme than you would rosemary though, just to give it the same amount of flavor that rosemary would provide.
Sage has the same fresh, almost pine-like taste as rosemary. This makes it an excellent choice for a rosemary substitute.
It can be used as a substitute for rosemary in most dishes although because of its stronger flavor we would not recommend that you use it for sweet dishes or cocktails.
In terms of the amounts needed, we recommend using only half the amount of sage for the full amount of rosemary that you would use.
It works well in meat dishes, in which case you can use fresh or dried sage. If you want to replace the rosemary with sage as a garnish then you should use fresh sage and slice it very thinly, only using a very small amount first and then adding more if you feel it needs it.
Marjoram tastes very similar to rosemary and so works well in almost all recipes as a rosemary substitute.
You can use it fresh or dry and it goes especially well in vegetable dishes, complimenting mushrooms particularly well.
You can use the same amount of marjoram as you would rosemary, and you could even pair it with another herb, savory to really pack in the flavor.
In Italian and other Mediterranean dishes, oregano works really well as a rosemary substitute. It is often one of the main herbs found in generic jars of Italian herb seasoning which can also be used as a rosemary substitute.
The taste is slightly different to that of rosemary but you will find that it still compliments different flavors well such as chicken and tomato based dishes. You can use it fresh or dry, in equal amounts to the rosemary.
The freshness of basil makes it the perfect rosemary substitute. There is nothing quite like the taste of fresh basil, especially when used as a garnish on a salad.
However, it also works well as a dried herb and can replace rosemary in pasta dishes, poultry dishes, and cheese. You can use the same amount of basil as you would rosemary.
Bear in mind that the tastes are very different though, but basil is still very herby and should provide you with that freshness that rosemary brings.
We love the use of mint in the place of rosemary in sweeter recipes and cocktails. Rosemary is often used as a cocktail garnish, especially with gin cocktails. It works really well in its place.
As well as this, if a lamb recipe calls for rosemary but you don’t have any, mint makes a really excellent substitute that gives you a fresh distinct taste, albeit it is ever so slightly sweeter than rosemary.
Tarragon is one of the Fines Herbes of France and it makes a wonderful substitute for Rosemary in a number of different recipes.
It works especially well in place of it in fish dishes, egg recipes, and of course poultry. They both have a very distinct, fresh taste.
As you can surely see by now, there are so many options available to you if you need a substitute for rosemary.
Keep in mind the overall flavor combinations in your dish to see what herbs will work best for it. In our list, you are bound to find the perfect substitute for any recipe you can imagine.