Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend with a complex flavor that is savory, herbaceous and tangy thanks to a delicious blend of dried spices and herbs.
Use this recipe in: Za’atar Chicken and Hummus Bowls, Roasted Baby Turnips with Garlic and Za’atar, Chicken Shawarma with Garlic White Sauce, or Salmon and Rice Salad with Garbanzo Beans, Feta and Mint.
Za’atar spice has become a fixture of my culinary repertoire. It’s flavorful and endlessly versatile. Sprinkled over roasted vegetables, fish and chicken – it feels so quintessentially California to me though it is not at all…
Za’atar comes from the Middle East. Traditionally made with ground za’atar (a wild culinary herb that grows throughout the region) sesame seeds, dried sumac, and salt. However, there are many variations of za’atar, and the specific ingredients can vary depending on the region. Some common variations include the substitution of dried marjoram, oregano or thyme in lieu wild za’atar which can be difficult to find.
One of my favorite ways to use Za’atar is to make Za’atar Oil by steeping olive oil with garlic, lemon zest and a few generous heaps of the spice blend. Inspired by a version sold at one of my favorite Los Angeles restaurants Gjelina – this oil blend is absolutely delicious drizzled over salads, hummus, creamy labneh dip, warm flatbreads, pizza and so much more.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
To make Za’atar spice you will need: sesame seeds, sumac, dried oregano or marjoram, dried thyme, cumin and a bit of salt.
Scroll to the bottom of the recipe card for ingredient notes and substitutions.
Note: This recipe makes about 3/4 cup of spice mix—feel free to double or triple the recipe so you have extra on hand for future recipes. Store it in an airtight container for up to a year. While it will not go bad or spoil, it will lose its potency over time.
Recipe Step by Step:
Step 1. Toast the Sesame Seeds
In a skillet (or in a 350F oven) toast the sesame seeds until fragrant and golden – about 3-5 minutes.
Step 2. Mix
In a small bowl mix together the toasted sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, oregano, cumin and salt. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
FAQs and Expert Tips
The shelf life of homemade spice blends depends on a few factors, including the type of spices used, the way they are stored, and the overall quality of the ingredients. In general, homemade spice mixes will stay fresh for about a year if they are stored properly in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Some signs that a spice blend is stale include:
The color has faded.
The smell is weak or off
The taste is bland or stale
Check Out More Delicious Recipes:
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Za’atar Spice (+ Za’atar Oil for Dipping and Drizzling)
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds
- 3 tbsp dried thyme
- 3 tbsp dried marjoram or oregano
- 1 tbsp ground sumac
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup za'atar spice recipe above
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Place a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds to the skillet and toast, stirring, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a small whisk. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
- Combine all ingredients in a small jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
- The shelf life of homemade spice blends depends on a few factors, including the type of spices used, the way they are stored, and the overall quality of the ingredients. In general, homemade spice blends will stay fresh for about a year if stored properly in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
- The color has faded.
- The smell is weak or off
- The taste is bland or stale