9 Best Substitutes for Zaatar

Best Substitutes For Zaatar
Image credit: BBC

Zaatar is an essential part of Lebanese cuisine, but there are times when you might still need to get it on hand.

At times, you simply just don’t feel like purchasing it. Not to worry, this article entails the various best Substitutes For Zaatar!

Now, let’s talk a little about Zaatar; one of the most important ingredients in Arab cuisine is Zaatar. It combines spices like sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds.

Furthermore, the spice mixture has a sour taste, making it the perfect ingredient to sprinkle on top of salads and soups.

But what are some other options if you can’t find Zaatar? Here are some of the best Substitutes For Zaatar that will make your dishes pop!

So if you don’t want to miss out, try one of these best substitutes for Zaatar instead! Our list will help you keep your dishes authentic and flavorful, so you don’t have to make any substitutions at all!

1. Lemon Pepper

Lemon pepper is a spice mix that combines ground black pepper, lemon peel, and salt. It is often used as a topping for fish or chicken, making it one of the best Substitutes For Zaatar.

This is because it has the same flavor but has no added spices like oregano and thyme. As a result, this gives you more control over what flavors you want in your dish.

Meanwhile, the absence of sesame seeds should also be considered. Sesame seeds can be added if you have them, or exclude them from a dish with earthy flavors. For instance, barbecued meat, if you don’t. 

Instead of actual lemon, most commercially available kinds of lemon pepper employ shelf-stable citric acid. This is useful for a quick flavor boost. But if you like a fruitier flavor more akin to zaatar, you may make your lemon zest and pepper mixture.

2. Lemon Thyme

Although it is a common herb variation and doesn’t contain lemon, lemon thyme has some similar citrus aromas.

It is a serious contender for the title of finest zaatar alternative because it is convenient, reasonably priced, and widely available in supermarkets.

When your salad, meat, or stew has finished cooking, you may sprinkle the fresh variety immediately on top for a blast of freshness.

Moreover, there are several different ways to substitute this spice if you can’t find it in stores or online. One option is using the fresh leaves of lemon thyme, which have a similar flavor profile to Zaatar with more citrusy notes. If you’re looking for something spicy, try cumin and oregano instead.

3. Coriander

One of the best substitutes for Zaatar, Coriander, is a spicy herb with a tangy, citrusy flavor. It’s commonly used in Indian, Thai, and Mexican cuisine.

Coriander leaves are long and pointed at the end, with a fresh-peppery aroma. Coriander seeds are small, round, and have a nutty flavor. 

Moreso, you can use either one to add an earthy spice to any dish. Although it has a completely different flavor, coriander bears a similar appearance to white peppercorns.

It actually does a decent job of imitating all three of zaatar’s primary flavors—floral, lemony, and somewhat sweet. Besides, you can use it in a 1:1 ratio with zaatar because it is not a potent spice. 

Coriander, unlike zaatar, can be added to recipes as they are cooking. By doing this, the taste will be distributed more evenly throughout the dish. Of course, it tastes just as good when added afterward.

Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to finely grind the coriander before using it. Fruits and vegetables, which have milder flavors, pair well with coriander.

4. Shichimi Togarashi

Shichimi togarashi has a flavor akin to zaatar with a decidedly Japanese touch because it is mostly made of chili flakes, seaweed, and sesame seeds.

It has a level of complexity comparable to that of its Middle Eastern equivalent, even though some of the flavors it adds are slightly different.

Additionally, Shichimi togarashi pairs wonderfully with the umami flavors that are frequently found in Japanese cuisine.

Therefore, it is one of the best Substitutes For Zaatar when seasoning meat, fish, mushrooms, or other dishes with strong meaty flavors. Just be sure you’re ready for the extra spice it brings!

5. Mixed Herbs

Zaatar is a classic spice blend typically used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. It comprises various herbs, including thyme, oregano, marjoram, savory, and sesame seeds.

Mixed herbs can be used as the best Substitutes For Zaatar in many recipes. The most popular way to use mixed herbs is as a dry rub on meats before grilling or roasting them.

Use mixed herbs per pound of meat. Fresh herbs can also be substituted in place of Zaatari by adding dried mixed herbs to the recipe when fresh is called for.

Italian Seasoning

Italian seasonings are the best Substitutes For Zaatar, as they have some of the same flavor profiles. Italian seasoning doesn’t have to be used in Italian dishes; you can also use it in Middle Eastern and Turkish recipes.

It combines thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, sage, and rosemary. However, if you want to avoid buying any spices and want to save some money, you can use fresh herbs.

The next time you make hummus or babaganoush, try adding a few sprigs of thyme or oregano from your garden into the dish!

These herbs are very aromatic and add an earthy flavor that really pops in those Middle Eastern meals.

6. Ground Sumac

Even though it’s only one of the three basic components of zaatar, ground sumac does more than the other two together. It substitutes for vinegar or lemon in any meal with its distinct, citrusy flavor.

Just be aware that it is potent and shouldn’t be used in amounts greater than a quarter teaspoon at once.

In addition, it is best to serve ground sumac with heartier or fatty meals. Here, it can cut through the strong flavors, completing and accentuating the flavor.

Try combining it with some herbs, such as thyme or oregano, to bring it into a little bit of balance. Looking for the best Substitutes For Zaatar, not just ordinaryBestBest Substitutes For Zaatar but the best? Ground Sumac is one!

7. Lemon Zest

Lemon zest is a good substitute for ground sumac if you don’t have any. It has a flavor that is comparable to zaatar, but it is fruitier and fresher. Therefore, it also replaces the herb blend in za’atar.

Equally important, the optimum moment to add lemon zest is right before serving, when the food is still hot enough for it to blend in without losing its taste. Most recipes ask for a tablespoon or more, which is about the same amount as za’atar.

Besides, the benefit of utilizing lemon zest is that lemon juice can be added in addition to it. This will bring out more of its fruity flavor, which goes particularly well with meat and seafood.

To summarize, this is one of the t best Substitutes For Zaatar because it gives a good citrus flavor and contributes to the dish’s tartness.

It’s worth noting that lemon zest can be used in various dishes, not just those with Middle Eastern flavors. If you’re looking to use it in an Indian dish, try using it with cumin, coriander, and garam masala.

Also, you can use this substitution in an Italian dish by adding garlic, parsley, and thyme.

8. Dukkah

The Egyptian spice mixture, dukkah, also known as duqqa and do’ah, includes almonds, sesame seeds, coriander, and cumin.

It has a taste that is notably different from zaatar while having the same region and one essential ingredient. Still, when paired with other ingredients, it can be a terrific way to spice up a dish and make a tighter fit.

To balance the flavor, adding acidic and herbal components is the ideal approach to replace dukkah for zaatar.

Thyme or marjoram can add a lovely herbaceous flavor, while lemon zest or sumac can really brighten the flavor.

Specifically, Dukkah is a popular Egyptian spice and dip; it is a blend of herbs, spices, and nuts. The traditional version uses hazelnuts and sesame seeds as primary ingredients, which gives this nut-based dip its signature flavor.

Dukkah can be served over bread, vegetables, or fish to add a little spice to any meal. This is the last of the best Substitutes For Zaatar on this list!


In this blog post, we have discussed the best Substitutes For Zaatar that you can use to spice up your meals. It was important to consider what is similar in taste and texture to zaatar and what would work well with different types of cuisines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like