The 8 Best Substitutes For Bay Leaf

Need a bay leaf but don’t have any on hand for cooking? Flavorful dishes often benefit from the addition of bay leaves, which are fragrant leaves used to do just that.

The laurel tree’s leaves are used in several cuisines across the world, including Indian, East Asian, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and even American.

To improve the taste of a sauce or stew while it simmers, the leaves are often added whole and then removed just before serving.

However, there is debate in the culinary community about whether or not the addition of a bay leaf really improves the dish.

Some say bay leaves improve the taste, but others insist there’s no difference.

Want to prepare a dish but don’t have any on hand? This is a good substitute for bay leaf.

What Are Bay Leaves?

The use of bay leaves is widespread in the culinary arts. Soups, stews, and braises benefit greatly from the addition of these fragrant leaves.

The Mediterranean is home to the bay laurel tree, from which bay leaves are harvested. The flavor and perfume of fresh bay leaves are both strong and somewhat bitter.

Alternative fragrant herbs to bay leaves include thyme and rosemary. Just remember that these herbs will change the taste of your food.

So, you may try one of these alternatives to bay leaf if you need a replacement that is almost identical. Let’s take a closer look at the different options for substitution.

The 8 Best Substitutes For Bay Leaf


Even though thyme does not share a botanical family with bay leaves, it may be used effectively in its place if you find yourself short when you need to use a bay leaf.

When dried, for instance, both may provide a refreshing minty taste.

A quarter teaspoon of thyme is plenty for marinating steak or any other meat you’d want to prepare.


Oregano is an excellent substitute for bay leaf since it has a similar earthy, somewhat bitter, strong, sweet, and spicy taste profile.

Like a bay leaf, fresh oregano may be described as spicy. You may substitute 1 bay leaf for 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano, but the exact quantity you use will depend on how much you like the flavor of this potent herb.


Is basil an acceptable Bay Leaf alternative? Yes, but only when prepared properly. The basil variety you choose will determine how the herb tastes.

One of the most popular varieties, sweet basil has a minty scent and a mild peppery taste.

If you’re looking for a Bay Leaf alternative, go elsewhere; certain types of basil, such as lemon or black licorice basil, have a very different taste profile.

It’s a great addition to pasta and certain recipes.

Juniper Berries

The pine and pepper flavors of juniper berries make them a surprising yet useful alternative to bay leaves.

Despite their little size, juniper berries have a powerful flavor that may easily overpower other ingredients.

They’re perfectly safe to eat, but you can get more flavor out of your dish by grinding them before throwing them in (as you would a bay leaf) or by using them whole and discarding them before serving.

Boldo Leaf

Do you know anything about boldo leaves? Since boldo is related to the bay tree, its flavor and aroma are reminiscent of those of the bay.

Taste-wise, boldo leaves are somewhere between bay leaves and thyme; they’re somewhat bitter, rich, and savory, but not quite as robust.

Vegetable and mushroom dishes, which are already rather light, are ideal candidates for their usage.

Half a boldo leaf may stand in for a whole bay leaf in any recipe that calls for bay leaves. When substituting boldo leaf for bay leaf, use 1/4 teaspoon for every half teaspoon of bay leaf.

Curry Leaves

Curry leaves aren’t an exact replacement for bay leaves, but they work just well in many recipes.

They have a strong, somewhat lemony, slightly sour, and toasty flavor that falls between lemongrass and anise. If you don’t have anything else, you may always throw them into bay leaf dishes.

Curry leaves are best when used in other curry-based preparations, such as curry-based sauces or stews, and complement other flavors well, such as coconut milk or cilantro.


Since it is related to thyme, rosemary makes for yet another excellent substitution for bay leaves.

Although the taste is different from bay leaves, it is still a viable substitute that may enhance your food to the same exquisite level.

This is particularly the case with gamier cuts of meat like lamb, deer, hog, and cattle.

It is possible to replace the effects of one bay leaf with a quarter teaspoon of dried rosemary.

The fresh herb rosemary may be used in a 1/4 sprig quantity. Try several measurements to find the flavor that suits you best.

Redbay Leaves

The red cove plant, also known as bay laurel, is a tree that stays green all year and has broad, elongated leaves that are green at the base and pointy at the end. Absolutely, they are not red.

A variety of tasty dishes benefit from the use of redbay leaf as a spice.

To most people living along the Atlantic coast of the southern United States, it is a suitable replacement for bay laurel leaves.


It’s not as difficult as you would think to find a bay leaf alternative for your next meal.

Many of us already have these alternatives in our spice cabinets or kitchen pantries and use them often.

The lengthy cooking process brings out the best in these leaves, but the possible health advantages alone are reason enough to include them in your diet on a regular basis.

Do not forget to remove the leaves when cooking is complete.

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