Inside the Spice Cabinet: Za’atar Seasoning Blend

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

Za’atar seasoning is fragrant and tangy with just a hint of nuttiness. This sounds like a spice mix with a lot going on, but it’s actually just a simple blend of a few common herbs with one secret ingredient.

What Is Za’atar Seasoning Blend?

Taste: Tangy, nutty, herbal
Most Popular Use: Condiment, meat, fish, vegetables

Za’atar blends together thyme, sesame seeds, and -here’s the kicker – dried sumac. If you’ve never had it, sumac has a slightly astringent, lemony flavor. It can be pretty powerful on it’s own, which is why we love it balanced with the other flavors in this mix.

You can find za’atar in Middle Eastern groceries, at many natural food stores, or online at places like Penzeys or The Spice House. You can also easily make your own blend at home using either fresh or dried ingredients.

How To Use Za’atar Seasoning Blend

This seasoning is used heavily throughout Middle Eastern cuisine, and it’s not hard to find ways to use it! Za’atar can make a subtle background flavor for red meat or it can add a brighter note to fish and poultry.

It’s also fantastic sprinkled on top of flatbread, over grilled vegetables, or used in dips like hummus, baba ghanoush, or tzatziki. We also add a few generous teaspoons if we make a Middle Eastern version of our weekday pasta salad.

Make Your Own Za’atar Seasoning Blend

2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried sumac
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted or un-toasted as you prefer

You can simply shake these ingredients together in a spice jar or grind them in a spice grinder for a finer powder. Some mixes will also add a tablespoon of marjoram or oregano to the mix. If you like the flavor of these herbs, feel free to add them.

As with all spices, keep this mix stored in a cool, dark place.

Recipes for Cooking with Za’atar Seasoning Blend