This classic Middle Eastern za’atar recipe is perfect for seasoning everything from veggies, to meats, seafood, breads, dips and more.
Friends! Do you have a jar of za’atar seasoning sitting in your spice collection right now?
If not, it’s time to mix up a quick batch. ♡
This classic Middle Eastern herb and spice blend has been one of my go-to seasonings for years now, mainly because it is absolutely delicious, because also its earthy, savory flavors literally go with just about everything. Chicken, fish and shellfish? Always a winning combo. All kinds of roasted veggies, potatoes, and chickpeas? Sprinkle it on liberally! Hummus, tahini dip, baba ganuosh, salad dressings, lentil soup, olives and more? Stir in a generous spoonful for an instant flavor boost. Bread, pita chips, and even popcorn? Oh boy, za’atar and carbs were made for each other.
I’ve been a huge fan of za’atar ever since a friend introduced me to it about five years ago. But I haven’t been able to track down a pre-made blend yet here in Barcelona. So I’ve been mixing up my own from scratch these past few months, and tinkering around with the proportions a bit each time, and I think I’ve now finally nailed my favorite recipe.
Let’s make some!
What Is Za’atar Seasoning?
So first off, what exactly is za’atar seasoning? And what goes in it?
Well, the word za’atar (pronounced “zah-tahr”) literally translates to mean “wild thyme” in Arabic. But it’s more known as a seasoning blend, whose ingredients vary slightly from country to country across the Middle East. And it is delicious.
The starring ingredient in traditional Middle Eastern za’atar is usually its namesake — a variety of wild thyme that is native to the region, which is then dried (or occasionally used fresh) and then ground to mix into za’atar seasoning. That said, since wild thyme is difficult to find in the States, traditional fresh or dried thyme will work too. It’s traditional for the thyme to be ground for za’atar, which you can either purchase pre-ground or use a mortar and pestle to ground your own. Or, hakuna matata, you can totally skip that step and just add in a little extra (non-ground) dried thyme instead, which will be just as delicious.
The main three ingredients for za’atar seasoning usually include:
Thyme: As noted above
Sesame Seeds: toasted, to bring out their flavor
Sumac: a delicious tangy, lemony red spice that I adore
That said, various Middle Eastern countries also like to add in other herbs. I really love adding in some extra cumin and marjoram, plus salt and pepper. But feel free to experiment and find which flavors taste best to you.
How To Make Za’atar:
Simply stir all of your ingredients together in a small bowl (or shake them up in a spice jar) until combined. And…serve!
Ways To Use Za’atar:
Again, there are countless ways that you can put za’atar seasoning to use. Some of my favorites include sprinkling or stirring it into:
meats, fish and seafood
all kinds of veggies (grilled, roasted, sautéed, etc.)
Is sumac readily available in grocery stores? I tried to make za’tar and people looked at me like I was crazy when I asked where I could find it in several grocery stores! They all kept joking about poison sumac!
I found sumac at Willims Sonoma.
I literally constantly have a batch of the “everything” bagel seasoning on hand. I love making seasonings at home…I’ve been wanting to try za’atar lately! This is perfect.
Where do I get Sumac? I work for the largest spice company and we don’t even make it. I did a quick google search and saw you can replace sumac with lemon zest, do you think that would work?
Ali, I have to try this seasoning but where do I find sumac? We don’t have a Mediterranean grocery store where I live and have never seen it in our usual ones, (or looked for it). My husband is part Lebanese and grew up on the food, we both love it, so I’m sure he would! Thanks and I’ve loved and followed your blog and love your adventures since moving to Spain!
Have you tried La Boqueria market off Las Ramblas? I didn’t think there was any food-related item on earth that couldn’t be found there.
I found sumac at Williams-Sonoma yesterday. ☺️
As my mom is from Lebanon, I grew up eating tzaatar mainly as ma’anush (kind of focaccia) or with labne (yogurt cream) on a bread. In Venezuela, I usually can find the Syrian and the Lebanese versions, which vary slightly (I believe Lebanese use little or no cumin). Recently I’ve developed a great version of ma’anush with added pecorino or parmesan cheese. I know, it’s not legit, but I’m only half Lebanese… and my wife is half Italian!
You can find sumac and tea and spice exchange or online at world spice market
I just finished reading this recipe and I’m so glad I did thank you I’m sure gonna try making this and would tell you how I feel about it thanks
You can buy variations of this on Amazon.
You are correct, you can buy it online. In almost all cases, it will be filled with some fillers which they label as “spices”. So making your own ensures you are getting herbs and spices and not more husks and salt than necessary.
I’goin to make it then I’ll send you an email thank you very much. Chao
Tasted Amazing! There’s a few variations of this recipe out there but this one was my fav, very balanced and authentic tasting. Thanks :)
Grateful for this simple beautiful guide. It’s helpful.
Where do you find sumac in the United States as a spice?
Haven’t made this recipe as yet but will share as soon
as I do.
Zahter is great to use on bread. Dip your slice in olive, then mop up some zahter. Use warm French bread or xyz.
I share love for the Medditerranean za’atar spice as well.
I bought mine from The Medditerreanean Dish.com.
I have made your Every day salad dressing several times, so very good!