What can I substitute for bay leaves?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for bay leaves?”. We will further elaborate on the possible benefits of bay leaves along with a brief description of bay leaves and their uses.

What can I substitute for bay leaves?

You can substitute bay leaves with: 

  • Dried oregano
  • Thyme
  • Mexican oregano
  • Basil leaves
  • Boldo leaves
  • Juniper Berries
  • Rosemary
  • Bed Bay leaves

What are the best substitutes for bay leaves?

If you are short on bay leaves while you are making a recipe, no need to worry, consider the following substitutes for bay leaves to complete your recipe.

Dried oregano 

Dried oregano can be a perfect substitute for bay leaf. Dried oregano will introduce a robust flavor and taste to your dish that resembles a bold, earthy, spicy, slightly bitter, and spicy flavor.

A small amount of dried oregano is perfect for a large number of bay leaves. But the quantity of oregano depends upon your taste, how much you like the strong taste of oregano in the recipes.

In general, 1 by 4 teaspoons of dried oregano is recommended for 1 leaf of the bay or it depends upon your recipe’s demands.

Mexican Oregano

Mexican oregano is a further subtype of oregano that could be used in place of bay leaves. Mexican oregano is different from other Mediterranean and traditional oregano. The regular oregano has a mint-like taste and flavor while the undertones of Mexican oregano are citrus in flavor.

This alternative of Mexican oregano will be best for that chili, beans, meat, and salsa dishes that are cooked in Mexican or Latin style. You should use ¼ teaspoon of Mexican oregano in place of one bay leaf.


Basil can be used as a good substitute for bay leaf, particularly for those recipes which have Italian origins such as those which are based upon tomatoes, and beef because the taste of basil is somehow sweeter.

If you are going to use basil leaf in place of the bay leaf, then the ratio should be 1 and 1. And also note down that 4 to 8 fresh basil leaves have an equal content to 1 teaspoon of dried basil.


Despite their dissimilar appearances, thyme can be used in place of bay leaf.

Because they both have a minty taste, begin with a quarter tsp of dried thyme when replacing one with the other (add more if the flavor isn’t intense enough).


Rosemary’s flavor is not nearly as strong as bay leaf, but it’s a popular herb in the kitchen because of its strong flavor.

It works well with steaks, roasts, fish, lamb or mutton, goat, hog, and other gamey meats as an alternative for bay leaf.

Use a one-to-one ratio and adjust to taste.

Boldo leaves

Boldo leaves are linked to bay leaves. They have a flavor similar to bay leaves, although they are considered to be powerful and somewhat overwhelming if used in excess.

In contrast to bay leaves, use half the number of boldo leaves, i,e., use one boldo leaf instead of two bay leaves in a recipe.

What are bay leaves?

Bay leaves are usually a cooking ingredient that can be used in many savory recipes. Bay leaves can be used as fresh or dried leaves to give flavor to soups and sauces, among other dishes.

It is recommended to remove the bay leaves from the recipe before serving because if left for a long time, they will cause bitterness.

What are the health benefits of bay leaves?

Bay leaves have various health benefits such as: 

Bay leaves are effective against cancer cells in the body

Bay leaves can help to treat cancer, such as breast cancer and colorectal cancer, by inhibiting the cells to grow in these organs of the body.

Bay leaves are effective against diabetes

Bay leaves are also effective against diabetes. Bay leaves consist of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. Some researchers indicate that bay leaves can also interfere with controlling blood sugar.

In 2008, one study indicated that 1 to 3 grams of bay leaf are capable of lowering the glucose content in the body and it can also manage the cholesterol in those people who are suffering from diabetes.

Bay leaves can treat your wounds

Bay leaves are also important because they are capable of fighting against the inflammatory effects of the body and help in treating wounds.


In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “What can I substitute for bay leaves?”. We have further elaborated on the possible benefits of bay leaves along with a brief description of bay leaves and their uses.



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.