An authentic Lebanese Zaatar recipe. Zaatar seasoning is famous across the Middle East, it has many culinary uses. This recipe is my family's, a fragrant blend of dried herbs & toasted sesame seeds.
Zaatar is the Arabic word for wild thyme (hyssop) and is also used (most commonly) to refer to a blend of herbs. Zaatar in English is pronounced as ‘zah-tahr’
Zaatar across the Middle East will differ in blends, I have been fortunate to have tried many which are all lovely in their own right, but I keep coming back to the blend I grew up on.
Lebanese Zaatar is by far the most gorgeous spice blend. I just had to share my family’s recipe (this recipe) with you.
How to Use Zaatar
Zaatar can be used in many ways, such as;
- In a marinade
- As a rub
- In manoush - this is the famous Lebanese zaatar pizza also known as mana'ish or manakish
- On toast for brekky - one of my go to's. I also love eating the fresh oregano salad on toast
- Zaatar seasoning - Sprinkled in salads - I love a garden salad with the added sprinkle of zaatar, or try sprinkling zaatar on popcorn for a savoury treat
- Or have it blended in olive oil and serve with your favourite crusty bread. There’s something special about dipping bread into zaatar.
I always keep a ready made jar of zaatar blended with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) in the pantry.
This way when I am in a rush or feel like some zaatar spice blend, I have it on hand which I can smear onto toast (trust me Lebanese Zaatar on toast gets me salivating), on Lebanese bread or as zaatar pizza as said above.
If you tried any of the above zaatar uses, which one did you pick? Let me know below
Here’s how to blend zaatar with EVOO.
- Always use extra virgin olive oil - you want the best tasting
- In a bowl, add zaatar, EVOO and mix
- If the mixture is too runny, add more zaatar
- If the mixture is too thick, add more olive oil
- You decide the amount that is right for you.
I will show you how to make zaatar from scratch - starting from picking oregano from the garden!
Mixing your own zaatar tastes so good and is by far more aromatic and fresher than buying a store bought blend.
If you don’t have this herb in your garden, you still can buy the ingredients from your local grocer in the spices & herbs section. Then mix them all up yourself.
I am aware some areas it's hard or impossible to find sumac at your grocer. In this case, you can buy it online, like this 100% ground sumac*.
If you prefer to buy a ready made zaatar blend, try this one here.*
Whenever I am not able to make my own zaatar, I like the taste of this blend, and it’s proven to be of good quality using ingredients I would use.
Zaatar is a blend of dried herbs including oregano, sumac, thyme with toasted sesame seeds and a touch of salt. The dried herbs are in powder form.
Zaatar has a pleasant tangy and sour taste. It has a resemblance to citrus, due to the sumac.
Zaatar is the word for a family of herbs. Zaatar also refers to the plant ‘wild-thyme’ which is hyssop. It is more commonly used to refer to a blend of herbs.
Fresh oregano is a low lying plant that grows small bright green almond shaped leaves up to 3cm long, which are generally flat, soft and fuzzy. The oregano plant will contain many stems which can be grow very long if allowed.
The above photo is of freshly picked oregano leaves to make home made zaatar.
- 2 cups sesame
- 2 cups dried oregano
- 2 cups dried sumac
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
Step 1 - Pick oregano and seperate leaves from stalks
Step 2 - Wash leaves thoroughly and spin dry, ensuring all dampness is gone
Step 3 - Place oregano leave into a breathable cloth bag and hang in the sun until completely dry
Step 4 - Over med-high heat, dry toast sesame seeds until golden
Step 5 - Add dried oregano, sumac and 1.5 teaspoon of salt, stir over heat for about 5-10 minutes until all is combined
Step 6 - Allow zaatar blend to completely cool down to room temp before storing into airtight jars
Drying oregano can take between 5-10 days depending on weather conditions
If you are not drying oregano, skip steps 1-3 and start at step 4
Cooking times will differ between using a gas vs electric stovetop
My mother recycles an empty basmati bag with a zipper to dry out her oregano in the sun
Use a pan to toast sesame seeds and in the same pan add herbs
Allow zaatar spice to completely cool down to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight jar/container. Warm zaatar will cause condensation and ruin.
Store zaatar blend in your pantry. Zaatar can be stored for many months.
If you love a fresh hot herb beverage, steep the left over oregano stalks in boiling hot water (add your preferred sweetener if needed)
- Sieve, measuring bowl, measuring cups* - I like using the nested Joseph Joseph collection as it's a set of bowls, colander, sieve and measuring cups all in one and it packs away smartly and saves space.
- Non stick Pan - no oil is used in this recipe to make the zaatar blend
- Food processor - for grinding the dried oregano (if making it from scratch)
A final note, zaatar w zeit is always featured in a Lebanese breakfast mezze, which can be made up of both savoury and sweet dishes.
We love to spread it in our bread and feast on other amazing dishes such as zucchini flesh lib el koussa or haytaliyeh, olives, fresh vegetables & fruit, ful madames and more.
- Pick oregano and seperate leaves from stalks
- Wash leaves thoroughly and spin dry, ensuring all dampness is gone
- Place oregano leave into a breathable cloth bag and hang in the sun until completely dry.
- Over med-high heat, dry toast sesame seeds until golden
- Add dried oregano, sumac and 1.5 teaspoon of salt, stir over heat for about 5-10 minutes until all is combined
- Allow zaatar blend to completely cool down to room temp before storing into airtight jars
- Drying oregano can take between 5-10 days depending on weather conditions
- If you are not drying oregano, skip steps 1-3 and start at step 4
- Cooking times will differ between using a gas vs electric stove top
- My mother recycles an empty basmati bag with a zipper to dry out her oregano in the sun
- Use a pan to toast sesame seeds and in the same pan add herbs
- Allow zaatar spice to completely cool down to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight jar/container. Warm zaatar will cause condensation and ruin.
- Store zaatar blend in your pantry. Zaatar can be stored for many months. It is ideal to use as a rub, try it on air fryer corn or on bread like these vegan dinner rolls
- If you love a fresh hot herb beverage, steep the left over oregano stalks in boiling hot water (add your preferred sweetener if needed)