7 Best Substitute For Zaatar Seasoning

Zaatar Substitute

Zaatar is a multifaceted spice blend that hails from the Middle East, an amalgamation of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, and salt, often accompanied by marjoram, oregano, or cumin. This traditional mix has a unique flavor profile that is simultaneously tangy and herbaceous, lending a zest and depth to a wide array of dishes from meats to marinades, or simply sprinkled over hummus. It’s a distinctive taste sensation that is loved by many and sought after by culinary enthusiasts worldwide.

However, zaatar isn’t always readily available in local supermarkets, especially those outside the Middle East. For such situations, having a lineup of robust substitutes is handy. From the hearty Italian seasoning to the aromatic Herbs de Provence, and from the tangy Greek seasoning to the nutty Dukkah, each alternative brings its unique twist while still echoing the essence of Zaatar. These substitutes do more than just replace zaatar – they invite you into new realms of flavor exploration, providing different lenses through which to view and taste your culinary creations.

What is Zaatar?

Zaatar is a traditional Middle Eastern spice blend combining sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, and salt. Often, additional ingredients like marjoram, oregano, or cumin are added. This blend is known for its tangy, herbaceous flavor, often used to season meat, sprinkle over hummus, or as a part of a marinade. Its versatility in flavoring a range of dishes is what makes finding a suitable substitute an interesting gastronomic journey.

Substitute Savories: A Quick View

  • Italian Seasoning
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Greek Seasoning
  • Dukkah
  • Gomasio
  • Savory Spice Mix
  • Sumac
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Best Substitutes For Zaatar

Finding the perfect substitute for Zaatar means understanding its unique profile and looking for blends that echo its tangy, herbaceous flavor. Here, we explore seven alternatives that stand as noteworthy contenders.

Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning is a mix of classic herbs including oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme. The blend is earthy, slightly sweet, and somewhat similar to Zaatar but without the tanginess brought by sumac.

In culinary practice, Italian seasoning is versatile, enhancing the flavor of sauces, pizzas, and pastas. Its strong aromatic properties make it an excellent choice for marinating meats, just like Zaatar. Furthermore, the herbs used are rich in antioxidants, offering several health benefits, making this blend more than just a flavoring agent.

However, to make it a closer substitute to Zaatar, adding a bit of sesame seeds and a tangy component like lemon zest could help achieve a similar flavor profile.

Herbs de Provence

Originating from the southeastern region of France, Herbs de Provence consists of dried herbs like thyme, savory, marjoram, rosemary, and sometimes lavender. The blend is aromatic, sweet, and slightly peppery, somewhat echoing Zaatar’s herby character.

Herbs de Provence is traditionally used to season grilled foods, but it also finds its place in roasted vegetables, soups, and stews. While the flavor profile is not exactly similar to Zaatar, it’s an appealing substitute, particularly in Mediterranean recipes.

To make the flavor more similar to Zaatar, add some sesame seeds and a tangy element like sumac or lemon zest. The absence of sumac makes this blend less tangy than Zaatar, but the addition of a tangy element can bridge this gap.

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Greek Seasoning

Greek seasoning is a robust blend of spices including oregano, garlic, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, and lemon peel. This mix imparts a flavorful blend of earthy and tangy notes, bearing some similarity to Zaatar.

In the culinary world, Greek seasoning is commonly used in grilling meats, preparing marinades, and seasoning veggies. The tangy component brought by the lemon peel makes it a viable Zaatar substitute, especially when sesame seeds are added.

Despite its similarities, Greek seasoning does have its unique elements, like the presence of sun-dried tomatoes. This gives it a distinct flavor that might not be perfect for every dish calling for Zaatar, but it’s worth a try for those willing to experiment.


Dukkah is an Egyptian spice blend combining nuts like hazelnuts or almonds, sesame seeds, coriander, and cumin. This blend is nuttier and has a more pronounced depth compared to Zaatar.

Commonly used as a dip with olive oil for bread, Dukkah is a delightful topping for salads, roasted vegetables, and can be used as a crust for meats or fish. Though it does lack the tanginess of Zaatar, adding sumac or lemon zest can make it a closer match.


Originating from Japan, Gomasio is a simple blend of sesame seeds and salt. Its profile is simple and lacks the herby notes of Zaatar, but its primary similarity lies in the sesame seeds, which is a major component of Zaatar.

Traditionally, Gomasio is sprinkled over rice, vegetables, or included in sushi rolls. To make it a closer substitute for Zaatar, combining it with herbs like thyme, oregano, or marjoram and a tangy component like lemon zest or sumac can bring it closer to Zaatar’s taste profile.

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Savory Spice Mix

A savory spice mix typically includes sage, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary. The blend is herbaceous and less tangy compared to Zaatar but can work as a substitute in some dishes due to its similar herby notes.

This blend is great in savory dishes like stews, roasts, and grilled vegetables. Adding sumac or lemon zest and sesame seeds can make it a closer match to Zaatar in terms of flavor.


Sumac is a key ingredient in Zaatar, known for its tangy, lemony flavor. On its own, it lacks the complexity of Zaatar, but it carries the significant tangy note that is central to Zaatar’s flavor.

Sumac is traditionally used in Middle Eastern cuisine to add zest and flavor to salads, meats, and dips. To use it as a substitute for Zaatar, combining it with sesame seeds and herbs like thyme or oregano can help create a similar flavor profile.

Substitutes for Zaatar: Nutritional Profile

SubstituteGlutenCalories (per ¼ cup)FatCarbsFiberProtein
Italian SeasoningNo200.5g4g3g1g
Herbs de ProvenceNo180.4g3.6g2.8g0.8g
Greek SeasoningNo220.7g4.5g3.1g1.1g
Savory Spice MixNo200.5g4g3g1g

Please note that these are approximate values and can vary based on specific brand and proportion of ingredients used.

Final Thought

Choosing a substitute for Zaatar largely depends on the flavors you enjoy and the dish you’re preparing. While it’s hard to replicate Zaatar’s unique blend, the above alternatives each bring something unique to the table, broadening your culinary horizons. Remember, the best part of cooking is experimentation – so don’t hesitate to mix and match to create a blend that suits your palate best. Happy cooking!

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