Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend. Combined with olive oil, it’s used as a universal condiment, or on its own to dress meats and vegetables before or after roasting. The best part? Making your own homemade za’atar is super easy and comes with the benefit of customizing the recipe to your specific tastes. Woodsy, earthy, and highly aromatic, this za’atar recipe has a unique, pungent flavor profile unlike any other spice!
Za’atar! This all-star middle eastern spice combination is earthy, incredibly aromatic, and pairs well with a wide range range of foods, from grilled protein to fish, roasted vegetables, soup garnishes, and so much more. Once you know how to make this unique combination of cumin, coriander, sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds, you’ll want to have a jar tucked away at all times.
My favorite way to use this za’atar recipe is over homemade hummus – or even better? Cauliflower hummus. Whaaaat? Nutty roasted cauliflower is a lovely savory companion to za’atar spice, so this cauliflower hummus with za’atar situation is simply out of this world delicious.
There are about a million uses for this savory, flavor packed spice blend (scroll down for some trie-and-true recipes!), and just as many recipe variations. Some use sumac, some don’t. Some use fresh herbs, some use dried. That’s all to say that this particular blend is one that *I* personally love and find the most versatile. Feel free to play around with the proportions to find one that’s perfect for *you*.
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Za’atar Recipe Notes
I like to make my own za’atar so I have complete control over the final flavor, and to know that the herbs and spices are as fresh as possible. When sourcing fresh spices, I head to my local co-op. It offers bulk spice bins labeled with the stocking date, plus I can purchase the exact amount required and there’s no need for waste – the latter is especially useful for a spice like sumac, which I don’t use with regularity. Whole Foods and Mom’s Organic Market have similar bulk spice options.
Start with equal portions of whole cumin and coriander seeds.
Toast them in a sauté pan until they’re golden brown and fragrant, then grind using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
Add in fresh thyme, kosher salt, and sumac, and give it another grind with the pestle until all of the ingredients are about the same size.
Finally, add a combination of toasted black and white sesame seeds and stir it all together. Behold this bowl of flavor and texture!
How to Use Homemade Za’atar
As I mentioned up above, my favorite way to use this recipe for homemade za’atar is over fresh hummus (either regular, or low carb paleo hummus) with a drizzle of olive oil, but there are so many ways to use this versatile spice blend. Here are some easy, healthy, tried-and-true recipes from fellow food bloggers ’round the web:
- Za’atar Roasted Carrots with Labne from Sidewalk Shoes
- Whipped Goat Cheese Sesame Flat Bread with Za’atar from Flavor and Savour
- Baked Za’atar Chicken from Killing Thyme
- Mixed Nuts with Za’atar Spice from Healing Tomato
- Roasted Carrot Soup with Za’atar from My Kitchen Love
- Za’atar Chicken Legs with Gian Cous Cous from Krumpli
- Whole Roasted Romanesco with Za’atar from Family Friends Food
- Vegan Za’atar Crackers from Elephantastic Vegan
- Baked Salmon with Cucumber Mint Salsa from Salt and Lavender
- One Pan Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato and Cauliflower from My Kitchen Love
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Homemade Za'atar Spice
I like to make this homemade za'atar recipe, instead of buying pre-made, so I have complete control over the final flavor, and to know that the herbs and spices are as fresh as possible. Freshness is flavor! When sourcing fresh spices, head to a store with bulk spice bins labeled with the stocking date to ensure freshness and purchase the exact amount you'll need.
- 1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
- 1 tbsp sumac
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the whole cumin and coriander seeds and toast, shaking frequently, until the seeds are golden brown and very fragrant, 3-4 minutes.
Transfer the cumin and coriander seeds to a mortar, then crush with a pestle until the seeds are pulverized.
Add the fresh thyme, sumac, and sea salt to the mortar. Grind with the pestle until all of the ingredients are roughly the same size.
Return the skillet to medium heat. Add teh sesame seeds to the skillet and toast, shaking frequently, until the seeds are golden brown, 2-3 minutes.
Add the sesame seeds to the cumin, coriander, thyme, sumac and salt. Stir to incorporate. Use immediately, or allow to cool completely and then store. Fresh, homemade za'atar can be stored in an airtight, lidded jar in your pantry for up to 2 months.
This recipe makes approximately half a cup of za'atar spice. A serving size represents about half a tablespoon.
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