Top 5 Substitutes of Bay Leaf

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Knowing what works as a bay leaf substitute is important for chefs, particularly if they are fond of cooking Asian-inspired or Eastern dishes.

Bay Leaf Substitute

In terms of the best bay leaf substitute, there are plenty of options, including the following:

Bay leaves have a very powerful and potent flavor in dishes, so finding the right concentration of these replacements can be a bit challenging.

Thyme

Using a quarter teaspoon of thyme can provide your dish with a bit of a flavorful boost, but it won’t be an exact match for bay leaves.

Fresh oregano leaves and dried oregano on a wooden counter

Like bay leaves, oregano is an excellent addition to meats like beef and lamb. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Basil

Both, basil leaves and ground basil, do have a savory bite that can fit in with curries and soups, but basil leaves and bay leaves are far from a perfect match in terms of flavor.

Oregano

This common spice is very forward in a dish, similar to bay leaves, so fresh oregano or dried and ground spice can be used as a bay leaf substitute. However, again, be careful not to over-spice your dish with oregano in an attempt to match the boldness of bay leaves.

Boldo Leaves

These leaves are used in the same way as bay leaves in certain parts of the world, as it is included in stews and soups to release their potent flavor.

Juniper Berries

A quarter teaspoon of dried juniper berries can give a dish the same type of bite and savory sweetness and is a popular replacement for bay leaves in lighter dishes.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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