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.

21 replies on “Za’atar”

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!)

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.

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