Za'atar Spice Easy
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  • Food: Zaatar Spice
  • Writer: Nicolas Wilson
  • Content-Type: Food Blog

I’m having a za’atar moment. Za’atar spice is a traditional Middle Eastern flavor. It is a flavor profile that includes herbal, earthy, savory, acidic, and salty notes.

Za’atar has been eaten on the other side of the world for generations, but it has only recently achieved appeal in the United States. To be honest, I didn’t get the hype when I tried a Trader Joe’s za’atar blend a few years back. But then there’s…

When za’atar appeared at our table at Shaya in New Orleans, everything changed. They just combined their house za’atar mixture with olive oil and offered it with toasted bread for dipping. That night, I fell in love with za’atar and couldn’t stop eating it.

This is my best try at duplicating Shaya’s flavors, and I think it came very close. Za’atar is a versatile spice that goes well with a variety of savory dishes; I’ve listed all of my recommendations below.

Ingredients in Za’atar

Za’atar recipes differ a lot from location to area and from home to home (some are well-guarded family secrets). The roots of Za’atar are fascinating, but also perplexing and contradicting. You can learn more about it by clicking here.

Because of its antioxidant and therapeutic effects, za’atar is known as “brain food.”

This za’atar recipe calls for a few things that you most likely already have on hand. The one exception is sumac, but believe me when I say it’s worth investing in.

What you’ll need is the following:

Dried oregano

Preferably of the Greek or Turkish variety rather than the Mexican form.


One of my favorite spices is sumac. It has an appealing tangy, almost lemony flavor and is vivid pinkish-red in color. Sumac is delicious sprinkled on hummus, and it’s also delicious with flaky salt on watermelon and cucumber (the combination reminds me of Taj spice). Amazon is where I get my sumac (affiliate link).

Seeds of Sesame

Sesame seeds aren’t in every za’atar recipe, but I wouldn’t eat za’atar without them! When toasted, they become more flavorful and tasty.


If you don’t have marjoram on hand, use extra oregano instead (they’re related).


The herbal flavors of oregano and marjoram are rounded out by thyme.

Uses For Za’atar Spice

  • Before baking, combine za’atar and olive oil and apply them to pita bread (or pita dough). This is referred to as man’oushe. I don’t have a recipe for pita dough yet, but I used my regular pizza crust, divided it into four rounds, and it worked fine.
  • Serve dipping bowls of za’atar combined with olive oil and fresh bread.
  • Drizzle it over labneh, thick yogurt (simple Greek or Siggi’s), hummus, or baba ganoush after mixing it with olive oil. Serve with raw vegetables or pita wedges.
  • In a dry spice mixture, roll extra-thick rounds of labneh or a log of goat cheese. Serve with pita wedges, crackers, or crisp, raw veggies as an appetizer.
  • Use the olive oil mixture as a marinade or a dry rub with the simple spice blend. On grilled vegetables and kebabs, za’atar would be fantastic.

Za’atar is a spice blend that goes well with…

  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Feta, goat cheese, labneh, and yogurt are dairy products.
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Herbs with fresh leaves (parsley, mint, and cilantro)
  • Lime or lemon
  • Pistachios
  • Pita bread is a type of flatbread.
  • Potatoes
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Rice and quinoa

Za’atar Spice

3-minute prep time

Time to cook: 5 minutes

8-minute total time

This simple recipe will teach you how to make za’atar, a traditional Middle Eastern flavor. Dried oregano, sumac, sesame seeds, marjoram (optional), and thyme are all required. The recipe makes 1/2 cup and can be stored for up to a month.


  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano, preferably Greek or Turkish
  • 2 tablespoons sumac
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram or additional oregano
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions For Za’atar Spice

Za'atar Spice
Food: Za’atar Spice (Gimme Some Oven)
  1. In a bowl or jar, add all of the ingredients and stir to blend.
  2. Warm the spices together in a medium skillet over medium heat until fragrant and the sesame seeds are beginning to turn golden for added flavor. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool in a bowl. (You may skip this step if you’re going to bake your za’atar on pita bread, which is the same.)
  3. Za’atar can be kept at room temperature for up to a month in an airtight container.


  • SUGGESTIONS FOR SERVING: Before baking, combine za’atar and olive oil and spread them over pita bread (or pita dough). Drizzle it over labneh, Greek yogurt, or hummus after mixing it with olive oil. In a dry spice mixture, roll extra-thick rounds of labneh or a log of goat cheese. Use the olive oil mixture as a marinade or a dry rub with the simple spice blend.
  • OLIVE OIL RATIO: A thick, spreadable consistency is achieved by combining two parts za’atar with one part olive oil. A drizzling sauce is made by mixing equal portions of each ingredient.