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How to Make Zaatar Spice Blend at Home

This homemade zaatar spice blend is my take on one of my favorite spice blends. I use it to make crackers, as a dry rub for chicken, sprinkle on hummus, add it to an olive oil dip, or make specialty sourdough bread. While you can buy zaatar already mixed, I do prefer to make it at home with my own spices, in the proportions I like and personalized to my own taste.

Middle Eastern flavors

Living in the Middle East for eight years was one of the most enriching culinary experiences of my life. And those Middle Eastern flavors stayed with me after I left. I’ve been using various zaatar blends in my cooking since then. Some were store-bought, and some I made at home, with different combinations of ingredients.

There is not one single authentic za’atar recipe, but more a spice blend profile that is different from region to region, even from household to household. What is common to all of them: roasted sesame seeds, oregano, and sumac.

I know it’s probably too much bread, but I absolutely loved having manakish (middle eastern flatbread topped with extra virgin olive oil, zaatar, and sometimes cheese). It was one of my favorite breakfasts, along with a parsley omelet and tomatoes.

Why I love to make spice blends at home

I love spices and using them in my everyday cooking, and I think spice blends make cooking so much easier. Instead of taking multiple jars out, you just decide on one blend and only need a jar. I also love to buy quality spices and blend them myself. This way, you know what’s going in a blend and how fresh it is. And you can personalize it to your own taste.

One of the latest spice blends I created is this festive warming spice mixture, perfect for the holiday season:

In my new, upcoming book – Everyday Low-Lectin Cookbook – you will find a recipe for a Dukkah spice blend.

What are the ingredients of my homemade za’atar spice blend?

There are multiple recipes for zaatar, and I went with what resonated with me the most at this time. Sometimes it depends on what I have available, but this would be my master formula. I’m not claiming any authenticity on this zaatar recipe. I just went with what I love and tried to create a taste profile that reminded me of some of the most beautiful years of my life.

These days I don’t have much access to Middle Eastern restaurants, so being able to create this at home and experience familiar tastes is a joy.

So, what do you need to make this homemade spice blend?

  • sesame seeds
  • coriander seeds (whole)
  • cumin seeds (whole)
  • dry oregano
  • dry thyme
  • dry marjoram
  • sumac
  • salt

Not all zaatar mixes have all these herb and spice ingredients, but that’s how I love it. If you can’t find marjoram (which is similar to oregano), you can use just oregano and thyme. Some blends don’t have coriander and cumin, but to me, that’s the best thing about this mix.

And please don’t skip toasting the whole cumin and coriander seeds; this step adds a lot of flavors.

Coriander seeds
Cumin seeds
Marjoram
Oregano
Thyme
Sumac

Tools you need

You also need a spice grinder, which is not expensive at all and is such a useful tool to have at home. I use my Nutribullet, which has a milling blade. Unfortunately, it is hard to find a Nutribullet that comes with a milling blade, but you can buy it separately (see the links above).

A coffee grinder can work too, but you have to be careful with flavor contamination. No matter how much I love coffee, I don’t want my spice blend to smell or taste like coffee.

And if you have none of the above, a mortar and pestle will work too.

How to make the za’atar spice blend at home

When it comes to spices and herbs, I don’t compromise on quality. I buy the best I find, preferably organic, from brands I trust. That’s one of the reasons I like to make my own blends.

Toast the sesame seeds
Toast the coriander and cumin seeds

Once you have all the ingredients, these are the steps to follow:

  • Lightly toast the sesame seeds.
  • Lightly toast the coriander seeds and the cumin seeds.
  • Grind the toasted coriander and cumin with one tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds.
  • Add the oregano, thyme, marjoram, sumac, and salt to the grinder and pulse a few times, so everything combines.
  • Transfer the content to a bowl, add the rest of the sesame seeds, and taste.
  • You can add more salt if it needs or more sumac for a more tangy taste.

How to store homemade zaatar

Store in an airtight glass jar, in a dark and cool place, for up to six months. But don’t worry; it’s not going to last that long.

How to use the zaatar spice mix

You can use this middle eastern spice blend on your avocado toast, on eggs, or add to an olive oil dip. It works beautifully with cheese and flatbread.

Sprinkle on roasted vegetables for extra flavor or on top of any kind of hummus or dip (like baba ganoush).

I love to make keto zaatar crackers:

I love using this spice blend with roasted chicken. Use it as a dry rub, or mix it with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and zest to spice the chicken. The flavors will be amazing!

Zaatar pairs beautifully with anything bread. Sprinkle on flatbread, pizza, or on toast. I love to pair it with my gluten-free and lectin-free sourdough bread.

This post contains affiliated links, which means I get a small commission if you choose to purchase something via one of my links, at no extra cost to you.

Homemade Zaatar Spice Blend

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By Claudia Curici Serves: yields 1/2 cup
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 6 minutes

This homemade zaatar spice blend is my take on one of my favorite spice blends. I use it to make crackers, as a dry rub for chicken, sprinkle on hummus, add it to an olive oil dip, or make specialty sourdough bread. While you can buy zaatar already mixed, I do prefer to make it at home with my own spices, in the proportions I like and personalized to my own taste.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds (whole)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (whole)
  • 1 tablespoon dry marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dry thyme
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sumac (or more to taste)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan pink salt (or to taste)

Instructions

1

In a skillet, on low to medium heat, lightly toast the sesame seeds until they become fragrant (about 3-4 minutes).

2

In the same skillet, lightly toast the coriander seeds and the cumin seeds until they start releasing their flavors (about 2-3 minutes).

3

Grind the toasted coriander and cumin with one tablespoon of the toasted sesame seeds.

4

Add the oregano, thyme, marjoram, sumac, and salt to the grinder and pulse a couple of times, so everything gets combined.

5

Transfer the content to a bowl, add the rest of the sesame seeds, and taste.

6

You can add more salt if it needs or more sumac for a more tanginess.

7

Store in an airtight glass jar, in a dark and cool place, for up to six months.

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