Za'atar Recipe (3)

Za’atar is a blend of spices immensely important and popular in Middle Eastern Cuisine. Though there is not one bonafide recipe, za’atar is generally composed of a combination of dried thyme, oregano and marjoram, along with toasted sesame seeds and salt. In addition to these staples, one or more fresh herbs may be added – mint, for instance – as well as cumin and sumac. Unfortunately, like most spice blends, za’atar is only sparsely stocked by supermarkets and even delicatessens and is a little pricey where it can be found. What better excuse than to make your own? It is, after all, the work of a moment.

Spice blends tend to lend themselves to all sorts of different applications and za’atar is no different. Impressively versatile, this punchy spice blend is divine sprinkled over labneh, mixed with olive oil and used to dress a salad, or rubbed generously into a joint of meat. Indeed, with so many robust and fragrant herbs thrown into the mix, za’atar has the capacity to make flavoursome all it touches.


Makes 1 small jar


• 2 tbsp dried thyme

• 2 tbsp dried oregano

• 2 tbsp dried marjoram

• 1 tbsp fresh mint, very finely chopped

• 2 tbsp cumin seeds

• 2 tbsp sesame seeds

• 2 tbsp sumac

• 1 tsp salt


1. Lightly toast your cumin and sesame seeds in a heavy based frying pan. Tip all of the ingredients into a pestle and mortar or spice blender and work into a fine powder.

2. Store in a jar or airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Za'atar Recipe (2) Za'atar Recipe (1)

Cost: If you buy your spices and dried herbs in bulk, which you should, then this blend of za’atar can be made for very little money. Indeed, considering how far this stuff goes 80p for a small jar is fairly reasonable.

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21 comments on “Za’atar

  1. thesinglegourmetandtraveller
    January 5, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    How great to make it. I haven’t tried that but at the moment have some I bought in Ottolenghi and I sprinkle it on lots of things.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      That’s the great thing about za’atar, you can literally sprinkle it on anything.

  2. Randy Goldberg
    January 5, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    I’ve never seen a za’atar that didn’t include sumac…

    • frugalfeeding
      January 8, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks for picking up on this – my za’atar actually does contain sumac, but for some reason I left it out of the ingredients list!

  3. chef mimi
    January 6, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I actually thought za tar was it’s own spice. Thanks for clearing this up for me!

    • frugalfeeding
      January 8, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      Nope, it’s a lovely blend – there is a specific herb impossible to find in Britain, which is similar to oregano.

  4. Conor Bofin
    January 6, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Very nice indeed. I should try this, i I ever get the chance.

  5. Chica Andaluza
    January 8, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Absolutely beautiful – my mum makes this up in batches and keeps me supplied…I’m a lucky lady!

  6. Viviane
    January 16, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    My mom makes her own Zaatar. She only uses thyme, actually zaatar is the word for thyme in Arabic. I never heard of other spices mixed in it, but that can be a great alternative. My mom mixes sesame seeds, thyme, sumac and some salt. It comes out pretty potent and I can see if someone is not used to it, it can be a bit of a kick, but OH SO GOOD! It is awesome with soft cheeses, that have a subdued taste in nature. We also sprinkle it on Man’oucheh (Lebanese version of breakfast pizza) whether on its own with some olive oil, or with cheese. We serve it with a bunch of vegetables: tomatoes, cucumber, onions, olives, peppers… Good stuff!
    BTW if airtight, it can last way more than 2 weeks. Zaatar has always been mixed as pantry food to last over the winter. The potency can be lessened but it can last about a year. (Sorry for the lengthy comment!)

    • frugalfeeding
      January 17, 2014 at 10:24 am

      I’ve seen quite a few different varieties and have developed a blend I prefer. It’s definitely potent! Great to hear that you use it so much – it is a very versatile ingredient! I love lengthy comments – I know it lasts for two weeks, but I guess I meant at its best.

  7. taplatt
    January 18, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Just found some za’atar at my local fruit & veg shop today. I mixed it into Greek yogurt with some olive oil to make a nice quick sauce/dip for falafel.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 20, 2014 at 10:15 am

      That’s good news – it’s such a fantastic spice mix! Sounds delicious.

  8. yummania
    February 13, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    i adore it.used to use it a lot during my stay in Istanbul.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Definitely one of my favourite spice blends.

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