Many recipes call for rosemary and with its distinct and complex flavor, you may find yourself without this vital ingredient and thinking you won’t possibly be able to save your dish.
While it’s true that there is no other herb or spice with a flavor quite like it, there are a few tricks you can use if you find yourself in a situation that requires a rosemary substitute.
Dried rosemary as a substitute for fresh rosemary
Every herb is different and in some cases, the dried herb simply can’t cut it as a substitute. However, if your recipe calls for fresh rosemary and you do have dried rosemary on hand, this is your best bet for a successful substitution.
In order to make this substitution work, all you need is dried rosemary and a little bit of math. For every teaspoon of fresh rosemary your recipe calls for, simply substitute ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary. This will give any dish that characteristic flavor you’re looking for, creating an almost perfect substitution.
Alternative fresh rosemary substitutions
Use the same amount of your substitute herb as the amount of rosemary your recipe requires.
Dried rosemary substitutes
In a recipe that calls for dried rosemary, even the most basic spice rack will typically contain one of three common herbs that make great substitutes in a pinch.
Dried savory, tarragon and thyme are all suitable alternatives to rosemary. If you have all of these on hand and your dish does not contain several other seasonings already, you can even mix these herbs for a more complex and robust flavor.
No math is required when substituting with these herbs; just add the herb of your choice in the same amount of rosemary your dish needs.
Depending on the type of dish you’re cooking up, you may wish to consider using a substitution for rosemary that will specifically complement the primary ingredient or ingredients your meal contains.
In sausage dishes or any dish that contains several strong seasonings, caraway seed can be used to add the flavor you need without overpowering or clashing with your other seasonings.
For egg and meat dishes, sage can be a great substitute. The taste is very different from that of rosemary, but this herb tends to complement most of the same types of foods that rosemary does.
Any dish with mushrooms at its heart can benefit from a substation of marjoram. In fact, marjoram makes such a delicious seasoning when paired with mushrooms that you can still use this herb in place of rosemary even if it is already present in your dish. In this case, simply add a bit more.
If you need a substitution for a lamb dish, a combination of bay leaf, peppermint and thyme is ideal. Take care to use a total amount of these combined herbs that equals that of the rosemary needed and you will be able to season your lamb dish expertly.
As with any substitution, always remember to consider the specific flavors that will best complement your dish without overpowering other seasonings. Add your substitution slowly, taste as you work, and you should be able to save your dish with a successful and complementary rosemary substitute.