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Discover Top 5 Substitutes for Bay Leaves in Your Dishes

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Food becomes extra flavorful with the addition of herbs and spices.

There are many varieties on the market that you can choose from, with bay leaves being one of them.

A single whole leaf can change a bland dish to something delicious.

If you don’t have any bay leaf at home, you can replace it with other ingredients, and your food will be as tasty.

Continue reading to learn about the five best substitutes for bay leaves.

What are Bay Leaves?

what are bay leaves

Bay leaves are aromatic leaves native to various regions around the world.

There are at least seven varieties that fall under the bay leaf family.

All are flavorful and aromatic. That is why they are an integral part of cuisines in different places.

The smell doesn’t differ much, but some have a stronger flavor while others have a milder taste.

You can use a bay leaf whole, whether fresh or dried, or you can also choose the ground form.

You can buy dried varieties on the market or even dry them at home using a microwave for one to three minutes at high temperatures.

However, the leaves are not edible, so they should be removed after cooking if used whole.

If you apply the powdered form, a small quantity will be enough.

5 Best Substitute for Bay Leaves

best substitute for bay leaves

As mentioned earlier, there are at least five ingredients that you can use in place of bay leaves.

In this section, we will learn of the herbs or seeds that can be used in place of bay leaves.

These are dried thyme, basil, oregano, juniper berries, and boldo leaves.

1 – Dried Thyme

dried thyme

Thyme is a fragrant herb used extensively in the culinary world.

It also offers health benefits and is acceptable for manganese, iron, fiber, copper, and vitamin C.

It can be pretty helpful to add it to your diet during the cold season.

If you grow thyme in your kitchen, you can pluck some sprigs and add them to your dish.

If you buy it from the store, you can also store it in the freezer for future use.

You can use dried thyme in place of bay leaves if the latter is not available and you need its flavor.

If you store it in a suitable airtight container, the dried variety can last 2 to 3 years, even without freezing.

Add dried thyme instead of bay leaves by following an appropriate ratio given below.

Suitable ratio:

• 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaf= 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme.

• 1 bay leaf= 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme.

2 – Basil


Basil is another herb that you can substitute for bay leaves.

According to research, there are more than sixty types of basil found around the world.

While most kinds have green leaves, some varieties have red and purple tinges too.

The shape and taste of the leaves vary too, with some being quite sweet while others are less so.

Basil is quite aromatic, and it has been used since ancient times in medicine and rituals.

Home cooks and professionals use basil as a seasoning in a variety of dishes.

Basil has a strong aroma, and so it is a bit akin to bay leaves.

It is also an effective remedy for sore throat, indigestion and prevents many diseases.

Suitable ratio:

• 1 bay leaf= 1 basil leaf.

• 1/4 teaspoon mashed bay leaf= 1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaf.

3 – Oregano


Oregano has a strong flavor with a slightly bitter taste.

It is widely used in different forms, including as an oil, dried or fresh.

It is also a suitable replacement for bay leaves in dried form.

Not only does it provide fragrance and taste to a dish, but it offers health benefits too.

It is rich in antioxidants and may prevent viral and bacterial infections.

It can also reduce inflammation and even prevent cancer.

It goes very well in tomato dishes, pasta, and pizza, salads, and soups.

You can use it in other dishes too when you run out of bay leaves.

It can work quite well as seasoning in barbecue meat and sauces too.

So, store some in an airtight container and use them when needed.

Suitable ratio:

• 1/4 teaspoon pounded bay leaf=1/4 dried oregano.

• 1 bay leaf=1/4 teaspoon dried oregano.

4 – Boldo Leaves

boldo leaves

There are only one species in the family of Peumus, and it happens to be the boldo plant.

It is native to Chile but has been introduced in other places too.

However, it is not widely cultivated, and you are most likely to see it in protected plant gardens.

It has a strong flavor, tastes a bit bitter, and offers several health benefits.

The leaves produce an essential oil rich in eucalyptol and alkaloids, which improves digestion.

Before meals, a cup of boldo tea (one gram of dried leaves for one cup) can be quite beneficial and keep the liver clean and healthy.

Add a pinch or two to your dishes if you are out of bay leaves.

Suitable ratio:

• ½ teaspoon ground/crushed bay leaf=1/4 teaspoon crushed boldo leaf.

• 1 bay leaf=half boldo leaf.

5 – Juniper Berries

juniper berries

Finally, junipers berries are also a suitable substitute for bay leaves.

Their aroma smells like a mix between pepper and pine and can pass for bay leaf flavor and fragrance.

There are more than forty species of juniper.

However, most species are inedible because they are too bitter, and some are poisonous.

So don’t pluck from anywhere unless you have ample knowledge about various species.

If you are doubtful, buy a tin or a pack from the market to stay on the safe side.

You can add fresh, dried, whole, or crushed juniper berries to dishes that have pork, duck, beef, and rabbit.

It is also suitable for sweet dishes such as fruitcakes. Thus, it is a versatile replacement that you can use in several dishes, both sweet and savory.

Suitable ratio:

• 1 bay leaf= 2-3 ground or whole juniper berries.


Even if you run out of bay leaves, it will not be much of a problem with at least five suitable substitutes.

One of the replacements mentioned above will do just fine.

Add flavor and aroma to various dishes and even experiment at times.

If you love cooking, the options are endless.

All the herbs are potent in flavor, so use as little as possible to maintain the natural taste of the dish.

Add more if you happen to cook a large quantity of food for a large number of people.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Bay Leaves

Recipe by Kimberly Baxter Course: Substitutes


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  • Dried Thyme

  • Basil

  • Oregano

  • Boldo Leaves

  • Juniper Berries


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Follow the substitution ratio to determine how much is required in your recipe.

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