This is one Middle Eastern spice mix that always has a home in my spice pantry. Admittedly it was the pre-made variety from a packet, not that there’s anything wrong with them, but I put an end to those many months ago now that I make it myself.

I scanned the internet and looked at countless recipes for za’atar and came to the conclusion that this spice mix has as many variations as the famlies and households that make it. There’s no true recipe for it so you can tailor it just about any way you like, providing it features the key ingredients of sumac, sesame seeds, salt and oregano or thyme or both. Some za’atar blends are vividly green from the herbs, others are not.

There are no strict guidelines of where it can be used, either. Sprinkle it over hot flatbread brushed with oil, over labne, on a salad or any meat or seafood you’ve just grilled. The sourness from the sumac complements many things and the earthiness from the sesame and dried herbs adds a welcoming depth of flavour.

Recipes where I’ve used za’atar –

Za'atar recipe
Za'atar recipe


makes ½ cup


  • ¼ cup sumac
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1½ tbsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes


Place all ingredients (only half of the sesame seeds) into a mortar and pound to a powder. Alternatively use a spice grinder. Stir through the reserved sesame seeds and store in a jar in the pantry.

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