Homemade Middle Eastern Za’atar Spice Recipe + How to Use it
Are you ready to meet the perfect spice blend for seasoning just about everything? Well, ready or not, here it is – a Za’atar Spice recipe you will soon master in your sleep – it’s that simple and that good.
What is Za’atar?
The term za’atar is used both for wild oregano (hyssop) AND for a Middle Eastern mix of herbs and spices that also includes the aforementioned oregano. Today, we’re using it to refer to the spice mix.
Za’atar is used in many dishes throughout the Middle East, and like Indian curry blends (masala), the blend can vary slightly from region to region depending on where you are.
What does Za’atar taste like?
To talk about the taste of this spice blend, we should quickly take a close look at the ingredients.
It is generally a combination of dried oregano, thyme, and/or marjoram, with sumac and toasted sesame seeds. Nutty, rich, floral, tangy, and slightly acidic. And, as if that weren’t delicious enough, za’atar sometimes contains salt, dried orange zest, dried dill, or the wild herb za’atar (wild oregano/hyssop).
For my blend, I kept things simple without compromising on authenticity. Thyme, sesame seeds, oregano, and salt! My version most closely resembles the traditional Lebanese za’atar recipe because of the addition of sumac.
What is Sumac?
Sumac is a vibrant spice made from the dried, ground berry of the wild sumac flower.
Those berries are especially rich in vitamin C and antioxidants so we LOVE IT. You will be fascinated by the unexpectedly bright, tart flavor of this dark red powder, and by how beautifully it blends with all the nutty sesame and herb goodness in this spice blend.
However, if you cannot find it, use lemon salt instead.
How to make Za’atar Spice Blend:
To make this za’atar recipe, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Transfer to airtight container and store in cool, dark place.
You can stir some of the spice blend together with some olive oil. This is ideal if you are going to be using your za’atar immediately to flavor a dish, think as a glaze for grilled chicken or veggies, which brings us right to the next point. How to use Za’atar?
Ways to use Za’atar:
As a lover of dips, I love this blend mixed with some extra virgin olive oil and drizzled over labneh, a popular Middle Eastern soft cheese made from strained yogurt (pictured above!). SO GOOD! But it is also oh so delicious with thick/greek yogurt + a bit of salt.
One of my fav breakfasts right now is scrambled eggs, with some labneh or yogurt, sprinkled with lots of za’atar, and finished with a drizzle of olive oil. Guys, please try it and let me know if that doesn’t change your breakfast game forever?!
Other ways to use it:
- sprinkled over Israeli Salad or my Chickpea Salad
- as a marinade or glaze for grilled meats, fish and seafood
- all kinds of veggies (grilled, roasted, sautéed, etc.)
- for sprucing up roasted chickpeas
- mixed with olive oil and drizzled over dips (hummus, baba ganoush, tahini dip, etc.)
- salads and salad dressings
- soups (especially creamy lentil soup or this Moroccan chickpea soup!)
- homemade bread and pita chips
How to make Za’atar Pizza
Mix some za’atar with olive oil. Spread on a fresh and thick pita. Bake in the oven at 360F/180C for about 10 minutes. Let it cool a bit and devour.
- I personally prefer smaller pieces of thyme in my za’atar so I crush it before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. You can chop them on a cutting board using a large kitchen knife or use a grinder if you have one. My blender has a grinder setting so this is what I use.
- If you are not using the blend within a week or so, I do not recommend mixing it with olive oil. Keep the spice mix in a sealed container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for longer-term storage.
- As time passes, check the aroma and taste of your blend before using it in recipes. If you haven’t used it in 6+ months, it’s probably time to retire it and make a new batch.
- Make sure to use toasted sesame seeds for that authentic nutty flavor.
Za’atar Spice Blend
Try my authentic Za’atar Spice Recipe, a Middle Eastern herb blend that can be used for making marinades, za'atar bread, pizza, or as a finishing touch over labneh, homemade hummus, or baba ganoush!
- 1 tbsp dried thyme crushed (see notes)
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp sumac
- 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Transfer to airtight container and store in cool, dark place.
See the blog post above for ideas on how to use za’atar!
THYME: I personally prefer smaller pieces of thyme in my za’atar so I crush it before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. You can chop them on a cutting board using a large kit
If you tried this Za’atar Spice Recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe below and let me know how it went in the comments – I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook for more deliciousness and behind-the-scenes!