Za'atar Middle Eastern Spice Mixture

Zaatar mdidle eastern spice mixture recipe

The Spruce / Alex Shytsman

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
16 Calories
1g Fat
3g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 16
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 254mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 44mg 3%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 74mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

When it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine, many dishes wouldn't be complete without the spice mix called za'atar. Just like salt brings out the flavor of foods, so does za'atar, and there are very few savory dishes that could not be improved with a dash of this versatile mixture.

Variations of this herb and spice blend go back to medieval times, and it's a common ingredient in all of the countries of the Middle East. Typically, za'atar is a blend of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and salt, but as with any spice blend that is ancient, there are many variations—and plenty of opinions about which is the right proportion for each ingredient.

While you can purchase premade za'atar, you can also easily make your own at home. You may be amazed at how such a simple mixture is packed with big flavors: The sumac brings a citrus taste, oregano a slight bitterness, and marjoram a hint of sweetness; overall, za'atar has a tangy and toasty essence. The benefit of homemade is that you can experiment with different proportions until you find your perfect "house" blend. Once you have a batch, sprinkle it on bread, dips, meat, vegetables, rice, potatoes, pasta, soups, and dressings. You'll be hard-pressed to meet a savory food that doesn't benefit from some za'atar.

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon​ roasted sesame seeds

  • 1/4 cup ground sumac

  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme

  • 2 tablespoons dried marjoram

  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for za'atar
    The Spruce / Alex Shytsman
  2. Grind the sesame seeds in a food processor, spice grinder, or with a mortar and pestle.

    Grind sesame seeds
    The Spruce / Alex Shytsman
  3. Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well.

    Mix spices
    The Spruce / Alex Shytsman
  4. Use in your favorite Middle Eastern dish and enjoy.

    Naan sprinkled with za'atar
    The Spruce / Alex Shytsman

How to Store Za'atar

Store the za'atar in a cool, dark place in a plastic zip-top bag or in an airtight container. When stored properly, za'atar can last from three to six months.

Ways to Use Za'atar

Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooks use za'atar in a similar way that American cooks utilize salt—they simply sprinkle it on a variety of foods to enhance the flavor. This includes scrambled eggs, avocado toast, hummus, a tomato and cucumber salad, and french fries. The spice mix is also mixed with olive oil and made into a sort of paste that is spread on pita bread. It is a wonderful seasoning for vegetables, meat, and roasted chicken.