What can I use instead of zaatar?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question,”What can I use instead of zaatar?”, and discuss what zaatar is, and a brief description about some of the substitutes of zaatar.

What can I use instead of zaatar?

Thyme coriander, sumac powder, dried herb mixture, harissa, dukka, oregano marjoram, sesame seeds and japanese spice blends such as shichimi togarashi can be used instead of zaatar. Due to the variations in the type and amounts of ingredients used in blends. 

The substitutes do not offer an exact same flavour or sensory profile as zaatar, and will alter the flavour and other sensory attributes of the dish in a pleasing way. 

Lemon zest

Lemon zest plus mixed herbs and sesame seeds can be used instead of zaatar. 

Zaatar can also be made by mixing 1 tbsp of dried oregano, sesame seeds and sumac with ½ a tsp of salt as described above. Sumac can further be substituted by the addition of 2 tablespoons of dried lemon peel.


Dried, grounded coriander can be used as a substitute for zaatar, as it does give the lemon flavour which is also characteristic of zaatar.

A tbsp of ground coriander seeds with sesame seeds and a quarter tsp of salt can be used in place of zaatar.

Shichimi togarashi

Shichimi togarashi is a Japanese blend of spices which consists of similar ingredients as zaatar. The main ingredients are sesame seeds and orange zest.


Dukkah, which is another traditional spice blend with similar characteristics a s zaatar. Dukkah is a native of egypt, and provides the same crunchiness as zaatar. The ingredients such as thyme and mint are also found in the two spices, along with coriander and cumin, thus making it a good alternative to zaatar. 


Harissa consists of smoked chilli peppers, mint, coriander and cumin. The types of ingredients used to make harissa makes it a powerful mix of spice to add string flavours to dishes. It can be used as a substitute for zaatar, but using harissa instead of zaatar will alter the taste and flavour of food.

Marjoram and thyme

Mixing marjoram and thyme can provide similar notes in terms of flavours and fragrance as zaatar, and can be used as substitutes in the form of blends.

Zaatar as a herb can be substituted by thyme and a mixture of dried herbs such as oregano, marjoram, cumin and coriander. 

What is Zaatar?

Zataar is a mixture of spices and herbs, as well as seasonings, which is used to enhance and boost the tastes of food. Wild thyme native to the middle east, sumac powder, sesame seeds and salts are the main ingredients used in the formation of zaatar. 

Sea salt is used for tastem and the sumac powder is used to provide the lemon flavour. Zatar has various health benefits which includes prevention of chronic diseases, in the prevention of cough, improves cognition and memory for the treatment of inflammation, to provide energy, and as a mood enhancer.

Zaatar is often mixed with olive oil, and used as a spread on flatbread and pita bread, can be sprinkled on Labna and harissa, as well as hummus, salads, fruits and moist vegetables. High quality zaatar is made by limited processing of the plant leaves only and they do not contain Artificial fillers or artificial ingredients. 

They are also used for the preparation of dips to be used with flatbreads, pita breads and naans, as well as Italian and french breads.

It acts as a zesty appetiser to breads and is traditionally served in the Middle East as a snack or an appetiser known as manakeesh bi zaatar, served with labna, cheese, olives and cucumber. 

It is commonly used as a spice blend for the preparation of oven roasted and grilled chickens but can be used for other different types of meat. 

Zaatar can be made and stored in airtight containers to be used for upto 3 months. They are better to be stored at room temperatures. 

Other FAQs about Spices that you may be interested in.

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In this brief article, we answered  the question,”What can I use instead of zaatar?”, and discussed what zaatar is, and a brief description about some of the substitutes of zaatar.