Authentic Zaatar Spice Recipe

4.96 from 23 votes
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A simple, authentic Lebanese za’atar (zaatar spice) – an earthy, herby, savory Middle Eastern spice blend for a variety of dishes.

Za'atar spice in a small bowl.

This post will guide you through making a simple, authentic Lebanese Za’atar spice blend – a staple in my kitchen that I use 3-4 times a week. This is the Lebanese version, my favorite, which perfectly complements various dishes. Mix it into olive oil and spread it on saj bread as a popular breakfast choice, or sprinkle it liberally over your salads for an added flavor boost.

What is Za’atar

Za’atar is a rich and aromatic Middle Eastern spice blend known for its earthy, citrusy flavors complemented by the subtle nuttiness of sesame seeds. It adds a lemony brightness to any dish. This simple yet appetizing mix typically includes oregano powder, sumac, sesame seeds, and just a touch of salt, making it incredibly versatile. Great for a variety of recipes, you can sprinkle Za’atar on veggies, mix it into sauces, or season meats with it, giving a unique and lively flavor boost to your meals. Plus, making it at home is cheaper than buying it at the store and tastes even better!

Zaatar spice on manakish breakfast

Watch the easy video tutorial

Ingredients

Here’s what you need for the Za’atar recipe. Refer to the recipe card for specific amounts.

Ingredients for zaatar spice

How to make za’atar

Prepare the Ground Oregano: Proceed to the next step if you already have dried ground oregano. Otherwise, place fresh oregano leaves on a parchment-lined sheet and bake at 165ºF/75ºC with the oven door slightly open for airflow. Check at 30-45 minutes – if dry and crumbly, they’re ready; if not, continue checking every 5-10 minutes. Once dry, grind the leaves into oregano powder. For additional drying tips, refer to a guide on three methods to dry oregano.

Toast the Sesame Seeds: Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning, for about 4-5 minutes. Let them cool before incorporating them into the spice blend.

Mix the Za’atar: To make Zaatar, mix 1/2 cup of sumac and 1/2 cup of toasted sesame seeds with every 1 cup of ground oregano. Add salt to taste. Stir everything well in a bowl or jar until evenly combined.

Mixing oregano powder, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and salt in a big bow.

Seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dry place, or refrigerate. Za’atar spice mix remains fresh for 6 months or longer.

How to use Zaatar spice

Here are various ways to use Zaatar spice:

  1. Make Manakish Za’atar: Combine Zaatar with olive oil, then evenly spread the mixture over flatbread dough. Bake until crispy to enjoy a classic and flavorful Middle Eastern snack.
  2. Use as Croissant Filling: Fill your homemade croissants with Za’atar for a flavorful twist on a classic pastry.
  3. Enjoy a Lebanese Breakfast Delight: Blend Zaatar spice with olive oil for a delightful Lebanese breakfast. Enjoy it as a sandwich with this thin Middle Eastern flatbread or spread it over toast. Pair with labneh for an authentic Lebanese taste. Don’t forget to make some tea for a perfect complement to the meal.
  4. Sprinkle over Pizza: Add the spice as a topping before baking the pizza for an exotic flavor profile.
  5. Enhance Various Dishes: Sprinkle over salads, roasted vegetables, or grilled meats to add depth and complexity to your meals.
A bowl of za'atar spice and olive oil.

If you have any questions about this zaatar recipe, let me know in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Authentic Zaatar Spice Recipe

4.96 from 23 votes
By: Samira
A simple, authentic Lebanese za'atar (zaatar spice) – an earthy, herby, savory Middle Eastern spice blend for a variety of dishes.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 Cups

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 cup dried oregano ground
  • 1/2 cup sumac
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds toasted
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions 

  • In a dry pan over medium heat, toast sesame seeds, stirring constantly for about 4-5 minutes.
  • Let them cool before incorporating into the spice blend.
  • Combine 1/2 cup of sumac and 1/2 cup of toasted sesame seeds with every 1 cup of ground oregano.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Stir everything well in a bowl or a jar until evenly combined.

Video

Notes

Make your ground oregano: If ground oregano is unavailable, bake fresh oregano leaves at 165ºF/75ºC until dry and crumbly (30-45 minutes), then grind the dried leaves into oregano powder.
Storing the Za’atar: Seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dry place, or refrigerate. The Lebanese za’atar spice mix remains fresh for 1 year or longer.
Sourcing: You can usually find ground oregano in Middle Eastern stores, large supermarkets, or online on platforms like Amazon.
 
 
Check out the blog post for ways to use Za’atar spice!
Course: DIYs
Cuisine: Lebanese, Middle Eastern
Freezer friendly: 1 Year
Shelf life: 1 Year

Nutrition

Serving: 1tsp, Calories: 9kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Sodium: 44mg, Fiber: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

4.96 from 23 votes (19 ratings without comment)

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14 Comments

  1. Michele says:

    Can’t wait to try this but what brand of Sumac do you recommend?
    Thanks!

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      I can’t recommend a specific brand, but you should be able to find this at any Middle Eastern food market. I hope you find it!

  2. Brenda says:

    Hyssop is the key and traditional ingredient in Zaatar (as we had in Israel and what I purchased there). It’s very difficult finding Zaatar with hyssop in it.

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you for your comment, Brenda.

  3. Vandana says:

    5 stars
    Thank you

  4. Fatmeh says:

    5 stars
    Just how we make it. ❤️

  5. Yas says:

    I recently finished my zaatar stock I brought with from home and I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. I am wondering though why are we using oregano instead of thyme? I know it’s like Tomato, TamAto but is there a preference? Thx

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Yas,
      You can add thyme if you prefer 🙂

  6. Nadia says:

    4 stars
    Wonderful recipe so simple and delicious.
    Just need to use less salt next time. I used sea salt- maybe it’s a stronger taste? Either way I’m saving this as my go to recipe and will try 1/2 t salt.

    1. Samira says:

      Thank you for your comment, Nadia. Indeed, it’s best to start with a little bit of salt and add more to taste. It also matters what kind of salt you use, as some types are more “salty”. 🙂

      1. Rakesh says:

        Great recipe
        Please share a Lebanese lamb kebab recipe. Thanks

      2. Samira @ Alphafoodie says:

        Thanks, Rakesh! It’s on my list to do soon 🙂

  7. Nadia says:

    5 stars
    Just made this- wow! Love it. My new secret weapon.

    1. AlphaFoodie says:

      Hi Nadia, yay so great to hear :-))). Glad you liked it!