We will share with you some bay leaf substitute. There are so many herbs in the world and we even may pass them not knowing or really appreciating the value it possesses.

Cooking is a whole different ball game that I know can lead you on an adventurous and fun journey. In your kitchen, you can concoct one of the most famous and delicious meals there are!

So secret ingredients that add an extra flavor is one of the things we love to bring to your attention. So today, we introduce or re-introduce bay leaf to you!

What is a bay leaf?

Bay leaf is an aromatic green leaf from the evergreen Lauraceae family (also known as the laurel family), which comes from the bay laurel tree (Laurus nobilis). The tree is grown in warm climate regions and is classified to be native to the Mediterranean.

Normally, fresh bay leaves are green with a shiny topcoat. The fresh leaves are normally more expensive than in its drier form. But did you know that the wreath used by Greeks to crown athletes long ago were made of bay leaves? Fascinating right?

Just as other herbs bay leaf does have its aliases, which are laurel leaf, bay tree leaf, leaf of the sweet bay tree, and many more! The leaf changes color as it dries to a brown shade and has a crispy texture.

dried bay leaves on a white background

What is the taste of bay leaf?

Bay leaves have a pungent and strident, bitter taste whenever it is eaten raw. However, dried bay leaf has an herbal, savory-sweet, and slightly floral fragrance. Which is a typical scenario as with other spices, where the taste is less conspicuous than its flavor. Bay leaf has a similar flavoring to that of thyme and oregano that are popular herbs used as a spice or for flavoring.

Diversities of bay leaf

Do you remember our article about Substitute For Thyme? Haven’t read it yet? Wellhead on over after you finish reading this one. But in the article, we stated that thyme has different variations as an herb. It is a similar case for the bay leaf as well. Varieties of bay leaves are used throughout the world and it’s two most popular forms that are used in culinary are:

  • Mediterranean Bay Leaf (Turkish)– Has a more delicate taste with short and fat leaves.
  • California Bay Leaf– Has a savory and minty flavor with thin and long leaves.

But a good thing to note is that dried Mediterranean bay leaves are often preferred in dishes than California bay leaves. This is because it (California bay leaf) could overpower the flavors of the dish. Other variations of the bay leaf include the Indonesian bay leaf and the West Indian bay leaf.

Substitutes for Bay leaf

Dried thyme and oregano are the two most popular substitutes for bay leaf. They both give off a woodsy flavor that has a hint of mint.


Thyme is versatile as it has many uses where it has antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. This aromatic, perennial and herbaceous plant has a woodsy, sweet, a bit peppery/spicy, and minty (slightly) flavor that will spruce/ spice up your pot in no time! You can substitute 1/4 teaspoon Dried Thyme for each bay leaf or 1/4 tsp. crushed bay leaf.

Fresh thyme leaves on a wooden board


Just like thyme, it has a sweet/savory, peppery, woodsy, earthy, and minty flavor that is a bit more pungent. Therefore, moderate proportions must be used, especially for dried oregano. By using equated proportions, you can substitute 1/4 teaspoon Dried Oregano for 1 bay leaf or 1/4 tsp. crushed bay leaf.

Other substitutes like juniper berries and basil can be considered as good substitutes too!

oregano leaves on a cutting board on a wooden background

Juniper berries

These little powerhouses are potent in flavor that gives a sweet, peppery, piney, and fruity taste. They can be used fresh, whole, dried, or crushed. DISCLAIMER: Juniper berries must NOT be eaten by pregnant women or given to young children to eat. To add this as a substitution to your recipe, 1 bay leaf = two or three Juniper Berries (whether ground or whole).

Juniper berries on a wooden background with leaves in a wooden spoon


This herb is most popular in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, where it has a sweet, peppery, minty, anise, and slightly earthy flavor. Basil is packed with Vitamin A, C, and K, calcium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and manganese just to name a few.  But what’s the substitute? 1 bay leaf = 1 basil leaf

½ teaspoon of crushed bay leaf = ½ teaspoon Dried Basil.

basil leaves in a white mug on a wooden background

15 Health Benefits of Bay Leaf

I know I know! It’s about time we learn of its benefits! Bay leaves are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin B (2,3,6 and 9), vitamin C, iron, dietary fiber, phosphorus, potassium, copper, calcium, manganese, selenium, zinc, and magnesium. Let’s not forget the macronutrients protein, carbohydrate, and fat. So many powerful nutrients and compounds it’s no surprise that it: Read More.

  1. Helps with digestion.
  2. Helps with migraines.
  3. Maybe a sleep inducer.
  4. Reduces anxiety.
  5. May help prevent cancer.
  6. May help manage diabetes.
  7. It May help to promote hair growth.
  8. Helps to fight inflammation.
  9. It May help with menstrual cramps.
  10. Prevents heart disease.
  11. Helps in maintaining a healthy respiratory system.
  12. Rich source of antioxidants (e.g., carotenoids and polyphenols).
  13. May help to heal with wound healing.
  14. Fight against bacterial and fungal infections.
  15. Reduces stress.

Other Amazing Herbs

 We just want to take the time and appreciate every one of you! Together we join this journey of taking healthier steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Pun very much intended! As I always say Bon Appétit! But for a little twist Afiyet Olsun! That’s the Turkish way of saying “enjoy your meal!”.

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