With savory, nutty, salty, tangy and spicy notes, za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice and herb blend, adds exotic and addictive flavor to dishes like eggplant soup, Lebanese chickpea stew, roasted carrots and more. It takes under 10 minutes to make a jar!
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What is za'atar?
Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend made by mixing herbs with sesame seeds and powdered sumac -- a dark red berry with an astringent, tangy flavor. Much like other condiments and spice blends like ras el hanout, curry powder and berbere, how za'atar is made changes from region to region depending on where you are in the Middle East.
To make our authentic flavored za'atar spice mix we will blend herbs, including dried oregano, dried thyme and dried marjoram, with powdered sumac and lightly roasted sesame seeds. The recipe takes under 10 minutes to make and you can enjoy its layers of delicious flavor in so many dishes.
Why you will love this recipe
- Simple. Like most spice blends this is a very simple recipe and it takes just minutes to pull together. Anyone can make it, experienced cook or not!
- Flavorful. The flavor of za'atar spice is so deliciously addictive, you might find yourself sprinkling it over almost everything you make. It has tangy, savory, salty and spicy notes that are amazing when sprinkled over dishes like this eggplant hummus or added to roasted vegetables, soups and stews.
- Versatile. You can use this spice blend in a variety of dishes, Middle Eastern or not. You might go through your batch faster than you expected because you'll be sprinkling it on everything!
- Herbs: oregano, thyme, marjoram, ground sumac and red pepper flakes. Sumac is easily found in grocery stores -- I got my jar from Costco. You can also source it online, I'll add a link in the recipe card below.
- Sesame seeds. Use unhulled sesame seeds if possible; if you can't source unhulled seeds, regular white sesame seeds are fine to use.
How to make za'atar spice blend
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium low heat for about five minutes or until nutty and aromatic.
Collect the herbs--marjoram, oregano, thyme, sumac and red pepper flakes. Place in a blender bowl or spice grinder and blend into a powder. You can also do this in a mortar and pestle.
Remove the ground herbs to a small bowl and add the toasted sesame seeds.
Mix the sesame seeds into the blended herbs. Your za'atar spice blend is ready.
Store the za'atar spice mixture in an airtight jar or container in a cool, dark cupboard, or in the refrigerator.
How to use za'atar
- Add za'atar to hummus along with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Use it as a seasoning for roasted potatoes.
- Use it to make gorgeous Lebanese flatbreads, man’oushe.
- Add it to Middle Eastern themed stews and soups.
- Sprinkle it over avocado toast.
- Use it to dress a simple salad of sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, olives and walnuts.
- Mix with vegan yogurt and olive oil and drizzle over pita bread stuffed with salad and falafel.
- Add it to toasted veggies and dips, like this roasted vegan squash dip.
More global spice blends
If you love this recipe for za'atar, check our more Mediterranean recipes on Holy Cow Vegan!
Za'atar Spice Recipe
- Blender or spice grinder
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (preferably unhulled)
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
- 2 tablespoons ground sumac
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium low heat for about five minutes or until nutty and aromatic. They should color slightly but don't let them burn.
- Place the herbs--marjoram, oregano, thyme, sumac and red pepper flakes -- in a blender bowl or spice grinder and blend into a powder. You can also do this with a mortar and pestle.
- Remove the ground herbs to a bowl and add the toasted sesame seeds. Mix.
A truly unique spice blend. I'd never heard of za'atar until it was a part of a since forgotten meal prep from GreenChef. I do recall that the recipe called for me to save a portion as a rub for toasted pita breads. The best pita breads I've ever had, I'm certain.
Hi Clifford, yes, it really is a unique flavor and awesome with pita. It works great as a rub for tofu or tempeh too!