Best Bay Leaf Substitute

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The ability to make substitutions in one’s cooking is a crucial talent for both amateur and professional cooks alike.

You should never get to the midst of a recipe without the necessary components to proceed, and being familiar with common substitutes is the key to getting out of this predicament successfully. Today, we will discuss other herbs that may be used in place of the traditional bay leaf.

What are Bay Leaves?

It is essential to begin by gaining a grasp of bay leaves itself before moving on to the many alternatives to bay leaves.

Bay leaves, in contrast to many other fresh leaves, are not often consumed on their own. Instead, they are used to provide flavor to a variety of foods, including soups, curries, meat dishes, casseroles, stews, and so on. When bay leaves are added to a meal, they impart a taste that is so faint that many people question whether or not they really contribute anything to the dish at all. The addition of bay leaves imparts a taste that is mellow and somewhat minty, with undertones of pepper and even pine.

Fresh vs dry bay leaves

There is a difference between fresh bay leaves and dried bay leaves, just as there is with most other types of herbs.

The taste of fresh bay leaves is often lighter, and they also tend to have a flavor that is more distinct (notes of mint, pepper, and pine). The flavor of fresh bay leaves, many chefs will tell you, is brighter and more flowery than that of dried bay leaves.

Because the drying process removes some of the taste from the bay leaf, using a fresh bay leaf that is still in its whole will result in a more flavorful meal than using a dried bay leaf.

If you want to replace one with the other, a decent rule of thumb is that you should use two dried bay leaves for every single fresh bay leaf.

Bay Leaf Alternatives

These are some of the greatest alternatives to bay leaves that you might think about using. Keep in mind that the decision is mostly dependent on personal preference. Make a mental note of their flavor characteristics, and think about where you may be able to incorporate them into some of your favorite meals.


Thyme is our first alternative to bay leaves since it is another herb that is widely used and adaptable. Since thyme has similar aromas and flavors to bay leaves, it is an excellent stand-in for bay leaves in cooking. It has a flavor that is between between earthy and somewhat minty, and it will elevate a meal in the same way that bay leaves do.

Either fresh or dried thyme may be used, however if you want to simplify things for your next recipe, use dried thyme instead of fresh. It should only need about a quarter of a teaspoon of dried thyme for each bay leaf.


Another common leaf that is used to take a wide variety of recipes to the next level is basil (HERE is the LINK to the article that I published on basil). Basil’s flavor characteristics are more subdued, yet it still has a minty, peppery, and earthy quality to it. The herb known as basil is botanically related to the mint family.

Basil may be purchased either fresh or dried, but the fresh kind has the advantage of being versatile enough to be used in a variety of cuisines and even consumed on its own. Some people like putting basil on their pizza, while others prefer to add it to their sandwiches or casseroles. You may also use fresh basil in your spaghetti sauce in the same way that you would use a bay leaf if you want to switch things up.


The flavor of oregano is rather pungent, thus it is noticeable in practically any recipe. In a manner comparable to bay leaf, it has aromas of mint and pepper, in addition to earthy features. Because of this, it is an excellent choice to use as a replacement if you want to get the same amount of spice.

When it comes to cooking, dried oregano is nearly usually utilized since it has a more subdued taste and is more suited for adding a little of kick to a dish than its fresh counterpart. Oregano is often used in a variety of condiments, including vinaigrettes, salad dressings, and marinades for meat.

In terms of proportions, you should be OK using around one-fourth of a teaspoon of dried oregano for each bay leaf. You may use more or less of either, depending on how robust the flavors you want to achieve are.

Juniper Berries

If you’ve ever tried gin, you’re probably acquainted with the juniper berry since it’s an ingredient in the spirit. renowned for its robust flavor, which has been compared to the taste of pine needles. This taste is exactly what makes it such a great alternative for bay leaf.

The berries of the juniper tree may be broken up and used to a variety of stews, sauces, and soups. If you’re searching for an option that will give your next meal a noticeable kick, they’re an excellent choice. However, you won’t need more than a handful of them since the taste is really noticeable in a significant degree.

Boldo Leaves

The use of boldo leaves is yet another excellent option for imparting flavor to your cuisine. They provide a flavor that is bitter, peppery, and even just a touch spicy. Consider using some dried boldo leaves as an alternative to bay leaves for a dish that requires something with a little bit extra spice.

Because they have such a strong taste, you should only use roughly half as much as you normally would of bay leaves.

What is the Best Bay Leaf Substitute?

After going through some of the most effective replacements for bay leaves, you may still have one question: which one is the most effective?

Sadly, there is no easy solution to this question since a great deal of weight is placed on individual preferences. As was just discussed, the taste that a bay leaf imparts to a dish is one that is not overpowering. Therefore, you can be seeking for an alternative that adds a taste that is comparably light, or you might want to bring the flavor up a level by using a herb that is more potent.

Oregano is the best replacement for bay leaves in our opinion. Oregano has a taste characteristic that is similar to bay leaves in that it is earthy, minty, and peppery. Oregano is another incredibly common herb, and there is a very strong possibility that you already have some of it on hand because of its widespread use. Oregano is a good option to consider using in place of bay leaves since it has a stronger flavor than bay leaves do.

Basil is a great option to consider if you want an alternative that is less potent than what you’re currently using. The leaves of fresh basil may be added to recipes in their whole, just as bay leaves can, which is one of the benefits of using fresh basil.

However, in contrast to bay leaves, fresh basil may be consumed on its own. The taste profile of fresh basil is similar to that of mint, but it also has a distinct flavor of its own.


Can I use basil instead of bay leaves?

Is basil a suitable replacement for bay leaf in this recipe? Yes, without a doubt! If you decide to use basil in place of bay leaf, it is advised that you make use of dried basil since the taste will more closely resemble that of a bay leaf. The flavor of basil, which comes from the mint family, is described as being bitter, peppery, and having undertones of licorice and anise.

What flavor does bay leaf add?

Infusing the herb in water, broth, or another cooking liquid results in the development of a taste that is practically minty (something between spearmint and menthol), with undertones of black pepper and Christmas tree pine. They provide a delicate sharpness to the dish, which helps prevent thick soups and stews from tasting too, well, thick.

Is oregano and bay leaf the same?

Oregano that has been dried is another herb that may be used in place of bay leaves. Like bay leaves, it is bitter, pungent, and somewhat minty, and it is also quite simple to locate. Oregano, much like basil, is an excellent choice for replacing bay leaves in recipes using tomato-based meals as well as those that call for beef or lamb.

Do bay leaves and basil taste the same?

The basil leaf has a flavor that is more minty and peppery, making it an excellent choice for use in sauces, potato recipes, and any other dish in which oregano or marjoram would be appropriate. Bay leaves provide a taste that is more earthy and woodsy, making them an excellent complement to slow-cooked meals such as stews.

What does bay leaf do for soup?

To put it simply, it gives a soup or stew an additional dimension of taste, and the tea-like (ever-so-slightly mentholated) scents assist to brighten up a hefty food, making it less likely to leave you feeling sluggish after you’ve already eaten a lot. The bay leaf is at its most prominent when the dish being prepared is a handmade broth or stock.

Why put bay leaves in spaghetti sauce?

A pleasant, savory taste may be achieved by using a bay leaf in spaghetti sauce. In terms of seasonings, all I add is a tiny amount of salt and some crushed red pepper flakes for a touch of spice.

It’s Up To You

When everything is taken into consideration, the one that is in your best interest is the one that facilitates your success. Part of the excitement of experimenting with new components is discovering which of those components are successful and which are not.

When cooking, one of the most important skills to acquire is an understanding of how various tastes interact with one another and how they may enhance one another. One of the best ways to get this understanding is through experimenting with different combinations of ingredients.