What is Za'atar and How to Use It (BEST Za'atar Recipes) (2024)

If there is one seasoning blend I absolutely cannot live without, it's za'atar! This aromatic Middle Eastern blend of herbs, sesame seeds, and sumac will transform your cooking. Not all za'atar is created equal, though. Today, let's dig into what is za'atar (spice or herb?). What does quality za'atar consist of? And the many delicious ways to use it!

Be sure to grab my list of 11 BEST za'atar recipes below. From amazingsalads to the best roast chicken, breakfast, and more!

What is Za'atar and How to Use It (BEST Za'atar Recipes) (1)

What is za'atar (zaatar)?

I love highlighting my favorite Mediterranean pantry ingredients, like I do in my Aleppo pepper guide. Today, I'm sharing everything you need to know about one of the most-used seasonings in my spice cabinet, za'atar.

Za'atar (pronounced Zaah-tar) is most identified with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. A combination of herbs, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt, it is one of the world's unique and best seasonings. It's loaded with bold flavors, has great texture, and even boasts some health benefits--from soothing inflammation to boosting cognition!

Many don’t know this, but the Arabic word Za’atar (zaatar) also describes an actual herb that's in the wild thyme family which starts its life looking more like oregano (Blends that stick to the traditional taste will include Mediterranean wild thyme in them.)

What is Za'atar and How to Use It (BEST Za'atar Recipes) (2)

What’s in it? Not all za'atar is created equal

So, we said Zaatar is a combination of herbs, sesame seeds, and sumac (a tangy red spice from sumac berries - get more info about it in our sumac guide!). How much sumac? White or toasted sesame seeds? What else is added?

There are no official standards out there, and that's why you'll find different variations of zaatar seasoning on the market.

As someone who’s of Mediterranean origins and who has tried many blends over the years (more than I care to remember), I can tell you, not all za’atar is created equal. Taste, texture, and quality will vary a lot.

Sadly, many blends will not include quality herbs. To increase volume and lower prices, cheaper za'atar blends include a large amount of fillers in the form of wheat, flavored ground straw or husk. And many will substitute citric acid for sumac.

What is Za'atar and How to Use It (BEST Za'atar Recipes) (3)

Quality all-natural za'atar seasoning and where to find it

You can find za'atar in the spice section at health food stores or Mediterranean and Middle Eastern grocery stores. My best advice to you is to look at the the label carefully and ask questions. Look for za'atar that contains quality wild thyme (or hyssop) and sumac (not citric acid.)

Make sure the ingredients are all natural and nothing else is added. Look at it carefully, it should have good texture and look more on the green side (like the picture above).

Let me tell you about the blend I use

The Mediterranean Dish za'atar is sourced from trusted suppliers, includes only quality all-natural ingredients, and stays true to traditional taste and texture. An aromatic blend with both earthy and subtle citrus undertones, and just a hint of nuttiness, it includes:

  1. High quality, fragrant French wild thyme, which adds robust flavor along with oregano.
  2. Toasted sesame seeds (as opposed to the standard white), which adds a sweet, nutty flavor
  3. A good amount of quality ground sumac from Mediterranean sumac berries, which adds a subtle lemony and earthy flavor; the perfect balance to the wild thyme and oregano. And a small pinch of kosher salt to round everything out.

Remember, many lower quality zaatar blends substitute citric acid for sumac and add other fillers like wheat and flavored straw to increase volume.

Where to Buy? If you live in the USA, you can find our all-natural za'atar at our online store.

What is Za'atar and How to Use It (BEST Za'atar Recipes) (4)

How to use za'atar (zaatar): 11 BEST Za'atar Recipes

I use zaatar on a regular basis. It's great to simply season some avocados or tomatoes for a snack (drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil), to generously season pillowy homemade bread rolls, to jazz up some breakfast eggs, or to include with olive oil for dipping as part of a big Mediterranean spread.

But I also use it to season salads, meats and even fish. Here are 11 favorite recipes using za'atar:

  • Za'atar Roasted Chicken
  • Chickpea Salad with Eggplants
  • Olive Oil Baked Sweet Potato Fries
What is Za'atar and How to Use It (BEST Za'atar Recipes) (5)
  • Za'atar Garlic Salmon and Veggies
  • Manaqish (Za'atar Flatbread)
What is Za'atar and How to Use It (BEST Za'atar Recipes) (6)
  • Mediterranean Avocado Salad
  • Mediterranean Sweet Potato Toast
  • Mediterranean Breakfast Toast with Hummus
  • Mediterranean Flat Bread with Arugula and Smoked Salmon
  • Pita Breakfast Pizza with Za’atar
What is Za'atar and How to Use It (BEST Za'atar Recipes) (7)

Head over to The Mediterranean Dish Store to grab some today!

Try our Ultimate Mediterranean Spice Bundle Or the Exotic 4 Bundle!

You may also like:

How to make dukkah (Egyptian Dukkah Recipe)

How to make falafel

How to make labneh

I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
Learn More

What is Za'atar and How to Use It (BEST Za'atar Recipes) (2024)


What is the best way to use zaatar? ›

24 ways to use Za'atar
  3. POPCORN. Upgrade plain popcorn with a dash (or 5) of Za'atar. It's so good, you'll start sneaking a jar into the movies with you.
  4. SALADS.
  5. EGGS.
  6. BAGELS.
Feb 27, 2023

Do you use za'atar before or after cooking? ›

Season meat or seafood with za'atar: Sprinkle za'atar on chicken, beef, or seafood before cooking. It gives a great flavor to the protein of your choice. Use za'atar on roasted vegetables: Toss chopped vegetables or chickpeas with olive oil and za'atar seasoning before roasting for an earthy flavor.

What do we call zaatar in English? ›

Zaatar or Za'tar (zaah-tur) is a common noun in the Arabic language and refers to both a Middle-Eastern herb spice mixture and importantly a distinct herb plant in the mint family. The herbal plant is referred to in English as bible hyssop or Syrian oregano, but the mixture is just called zaatar.

What does zaatar help with? ›

Za'atar mixture is commonly employed in the Mediterranean diet and is rich of bioactive compounds. Za'atar components modulate gut microbiota, oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and obesity.

Do you put zaatar in the fridge? ›

What is the best way to store Za'atar and the Za'atar spread? The dried Za'atar blend can be stored in a cabinet, pantry, or in the fridge to preserve shelf life even longer. It is best to keep your Za'atar Extra Virgin Olive Oil condiment spread in a cabinet, pantry, on counter, and not in the fridge.

Why is my zaatar bitter? ›

The two things to remember about zaatar is that it will burn and become bitter at high temperatures and that it loses aroma and pungency with age.

What is Za Atar seasoning good on? ›

Za'atar is an incredibly versatile Middle Eastern spice blend, one of my favorites. Particularly this time of year when it's a welcome addition to all sorts of roasted vegetables, soups and stews, or simply sprinkled over everything from yogurt, to eggs, to savory granola.

How do you use Trader Joe's Za Atar seasoning? ›

Trader Joe's Za'atar is “aromatic, versatile and about to become your favorite,” the bottle's label boasts, noting that it can be used in hummus or Greek yogurt, olive oil and pita bread and on meat, fish, vegetables or potatoes.

Is sumac the same as za'atar? ›

Sumac is a red-purple powder that adds a lovely lemony flavor and gorgeous color. Za'atar is a lemony hyssop or thyme, sumac, and sesame seed blend.

Is zaatar healthy or not? ›

Nutritional Value of Zaatar:

It is also a very powerful antioxidant. Sesame seeds are thought to be one of the healthiest foods because they are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and nutrients that are good for your health.

Is zaatar good for high blood pressure? ›

Za'atar is a mix of spices, including dried oregano, thyme, or marjoram, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds, known to have health benefits such as suppressing coughing and lowering blood pressure.

Is Baharat the same as zaatar? ›

Za'atar. Also among Middle Eastern blends is za'atar, a mixture with a very different base than baharat. It consists of a mix of herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, or hyssop), toasted sesame seeds, sumac, and salt. As in many Middle Eastern blends, other spices like cumin and coriander can be added.

Is zaatar good for tummy? ›

Za'atar compounds have also been studied from a gastrointestinal perspective, concerning both gut microbiota and gastrointestinal diseases. Antioxidants such as Za'atar polyphenols may provide beneficial effects in the complex interplay between the diet, gut microbiota, and intestinal permeability.

What is the shelf life of zaatar? ›

Za'atar, like other dried spice blends, has a relatively long shelf life. Unopened, za'atar can last between 2 to 3 years, so don't worry if the date printed on the package seems ages away - it likely is! Once opened, za'atar should ideally be used within 6 months as it gradually loses its flavor over time.

Can I eat zaatar everyday? ›

There have been studies claiming that regular consumption of za'atar in your diet can improve your brainpower and cognition. The spice blend contains circulation-boosting power due to its rich mineral content that can enhance your brain and incite neural activity.

How do Palestinians eat zaatar? ›

Za'atar is used as a seasoning for meats and vegetables or sprinkled onto hummus. It is also eaten with labneh (yogurt drained to make a tangy, creamy cheese), and bread and olive oil for breakfast, most commonly in Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as other places in the Arab world.

What is the difference between zaatar and sumac? ›

Sumac is a red-purple powder that adds a lovely lemony flavor and gorgeous color. Za'atar is a lemony hyssop or thyme, sumac, and sesame seed blend.

How long does Zaatar spice last? ›

Homemade za'atar can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or cupboard, for up to 6 months. However, it's important to note that the shelf life of your homemade za'atar may vary depending on the freshness and quality of the ingredients you used to make it.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Cheryll Lueilwitz

Last Updated:

Views: 6264

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Cheryll Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1997-12-23

Address: 4653 O'Kon Hill, Lake Juanstad, AR 65469

Phone: +494124489301

Job: Marketing Representative

Hobby: Reading, Ice skating, Foraging, BASE jumping, Hiking, Skateboarding, Kayaking

Introduction: My name is Cheryll Lueilwitz, I am a sparkling, clean, super, lucky, joyous, outstanding, lucky person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.