Lebanese zaatar (also spelled za'atar) is a fantastic, aromatic spice blend of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds and salt. Make this recipe to season your favorite dishes!
Lebanon is a Middle Eastern country in Western Asia, full of rich history and amazing cuisine! The aroma of fresh spices used in their cooking is sure to reach anyone walking through the city streets.
Zaatar is a very common spice blend found in the foods of several Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Egypt, and Iran, among others.
The flavor is savory, with a combination of tangy, woodsy, and nutty afternotes. It is literally irresistible, and once you learn how to make this amazing spice blend, I suspect that you will not want to stop sprinkling it on everything!
Spices in Lebanese Zaatar
While the recipe can and often does vary by region, there are some basic spices that you will find in nearly every recipe.
- Sumac - This gives the blend its tanginess. Nearly everyone who makes their own blend will say that sumac is the key to a good zaatar recipe.
- Thyme - Because the spices are ground, it really doesn't matter whether you start with whole thyme sprigs or purchase it already ground. However, grinding the leaves yourself will make for better overall flavor.
- Toasted sesame seeds - You can purchase seeds already toasted, or toast them yourself. It just takes a couple of minutes in a dry skillet over medium-low heat.
- Salt - For the best flavor, I suggest using large grind sea salt, Kosher salt, or Himalayan salt
Spices that you'll find in other recipes include oregano, cumin, and coriander.
How to use za'atar spice
The opportunities to use zaatar are virtually endless!
- add to oiled bread, flatbreads, pita, or naan, or use it to make a loaf of zaatar bread
- sprinkle on top of Mediterranean hummus and serve with crackers and raw vegetables (cucumber slices are delicious this way!)
- flavoring for soups and salads
- sprinkle on steamed or grilled vegetables
- use in a marinade for chicken or beef
Storage and shelf life
Like any other homemade spice blend, you'll want to store this in an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dry location.
If the spices you use are fresh, the blend should be fine to use for at least 6 months. After that, it's still safe to use, but the flavors will diminish, so it's best to create a new batch.
Lebanese Zaatar + Video
- 6 tablespoon dried thyme
- 6 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted
- 4 tablespoon ground sumac
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin (optional)
- In a small skillet, dry toast the sesame seeds until fragrant and lightly golden in color. Remove from heat and cool.
- Place the all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Store in an airtight container. This makes about 1 cup.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.