4 Fantastic Bay Leaf Substitutes

When bay leaves are added to any dish, that dish quickly takes on a very minty and delicious flavor. As well as that, bay leaves are also quite well known for having very peppery hints to their tastes. 

4 Fantastic Bay Leaf Substitutes

Bay leaves go perfectly with chicken, beef, as well as various soups, making it a very versatile and useful ingredient to keep around. 

However, you’re likely reading this now because you’ve found yourself in that awkward situation where you have completely run out of the herb, and now you need to find some alternatives, right?

If so, then you have come to the right place. Let’s take a look at the best bay leaf substitutes.


1. Thyme

Thyme actually works incredibly well as a bay leaf substitute despite how different they look. Thyme, similar to a bay leaf, has a slightly peppery and minty taste, which makes it work perfectly as a substitute. 

Both have quite strong flavors, so you should try to add a quarter of a teaspoon of thyme to your dish in place of every single bay leaf you would otherwise use.


2. Oregano

Oregano also works perfectly, thanks to the fact that it has a very herby and slightly earthy flavor. This helps to give countless dishes an incredible sense of flavor.

Again, oregano is very strong in terms of its flavor, so you should aim to substitute a quarter teaspoon of oregano for every individual bay leaf that you would otherwise use.


3. Rosemary

Though the flavor does not directly compare, rosemary can work as a perfect replacement thanks to the fact that it is so versatile.

If you are making a dish that you know needs a distinctly herby flavor, then adding some rosemary can be the perfect solution.

Though rosemary does not taste the same, you can still use around a teaspoon of it for every individual bay leaf, and you will be met with a lovely herby flavor. 

Boldo Leaves

4. Boldo Leaves

If you happen to have any boldo leaves in your kitchen pantry, then make sure to grab them, because they can work perfectly as alternatives to bay leaves, thanks to the fact that they are from the same family! 

However, you should be wary of the fact that bold leaves are much more intense than bay leaves, so you should aim to only use around half of a leaf for every bay leaf, otherwise, you will run the risk of overpowering your dish!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Bay Leaves Really Necessary?

Bay leaves are not totally essential, but they definitely do add a rich extra flavor to stews and soups that help to give the dish a sense of depth.

Does Bay Leaf Tenderize Meat?

Bay leaves actually do contain a small number of enzymes that can help to break down specific proteins in meat, which helps to tenderize the meat, but only slightly. 

Can You Use Too Much Bay Leaf? 

Definitely. Bay leaf is known for having quite a bitter flavor, so if you were to use too much, you would definitely notice it!

4 Fantastic Bay Leaf Substitutes

4 Fantastic Bay Leaf Substitutes

Recipe by Jenna

Bay leaves are a great addition to a number of dishes, thanks to their deep flavors. But what do you do if you run out? What can you use instead?

Course: Substitutes
5 from 1 vote


  • Thyme

  • Oregano

  • Rosemary

  • Boldo Leaves


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy

Recipe Video

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