Substitute for Bay Leaf

Substitute for Bay Leaf: A Tried and Tested List

Bay leaf is one of the most fragrant leaves that is used in food and herbal tea recipes to give them a special aroma.

If you’ve forgotten to restock on bay leaves and you’ve already started cooking, don’t fret, as there are several options that you can still use to give you the same flavor.

In today’s article, we’ll walk you through a list of items and ingredients, so you can choose the most suitable substitute for bay leaf. Let’s dive in!

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What Does a Bay Leaf Taste Like?

Bay leaves are rarely eaten on their own, as they have remarkably pungent and sharp flavor with bitter hints. Instead, you typically let the leaves infuse their aroma in cooking liquids, whether they’re water or broth.

The final result of adding a bay leaf to food is that it adds a subtle minty flavor with notes of oregano and thyme since they all share various levels of eugenol. 

Keep in mind that are two popular variants of bay leaves, which are Californian (Blade Shaped) and Turkish (Round Shaped), with the Turkish one having sweet hints with a milder minty flavor.

What Are the Best Substitutes for Bay Leaf in 2021

What is bay leaf similar to?

Bay leaves are similar to basil because they both come from the same plant family. However, bay leaves are much stronger in flavor and aroma than basil. They are used in cooking for its rich, earthy taste.

Bay Leaf Alternatives for a Beef Stew
Bay Leaf Alternatives for a Beef Stew

Since bay leaves are very strong in flavor, you should only use them when you want a more intense flavor profile. If you need a more delicate taste, try using basil instead.

How do I Use Bay Leaves?

You can add bay leaves to soups, stews, casseroles, sauces, stocks, braises, and other dishes where you want an aromatic flavor.

When you cook with bay leaves, you can either leave them whole or crush them before adding to your dish. Crushing will help release more flavors into your food while leaving the herb intact.

When you use bay leaves in cooking, you usually won’t be able to see them anymore, but stir them around so that it helps transfer the flavor to your recipe.

What Can I Use Instead of Bay Leaves?

There are many different herbs that can easily replace bay leaves in any recipe. In fact, most of these herbs can even double up as substitutes for bay leaves. 

Top 12 substitute for Bay Leaf in 2021

Here are some of the best ingredients that will give you the same effect of bay leaf in your recipes:

1. Thyme

The golden standard when it comes to substituting bay leaves, especially when substituting crush leaves because they’re of equal ratios. However, to substitute 1 leaf, you should use about 1/4 teaspoon of thyme, preferably dried.

Thyme has a fresh and light flavor, making it perfect as a substitute for bay leaves. You can use it in meat, poultry, seafood, vegetable, cheese, bread, and dessert recipes.

2. Oregano

Oregano is another herb that has similar active ingredients to bay leaves, making it a decent alternative, especially in recipes that use tomato soup or sauce. Ideally, 1 bay leaf is equivalent to around 1/4 teaspoon of oregano.

Oregano has a distinctively spicy and minty flavor that works well as a replacement for bay leaves. It also pairs nicely with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and other vegetables.

Do bay Leaves Really Flavor Food

3. Basil

Basil is the easiest substitute because 1 basil leaf is equivalent to 1 bay leaf. However, it may slightly change the flavor, so keep it limited to tomato soup recipes.

Basil has a slightly sweeter flavor, so it works great as a replacement for bay leaves. You can pair it with pasta, rice, chicken, fish, veggie, and egg dishes.

4. Boldo Leaves

The exotic Chilean condiment is known to give off a similar but softer taste than the bay leaf. Ideally, 2 bay leaves are equivalent to 1 boldo leaves.

5. Juniper Berries

These berries add a similar flavor to bay leaves but with hints of black pepper. Ideally, 1 bay leaf is equivalent to 3 juniper berries 

6. Red Cove Leaves

If you don’t get enough flavor from your bay leaves, maybe it’s time to buy a new unexhausted batch! 

In that case, try opting for the red cove leaves, which are the green-colored leaves of the red cove plant, and use them with a 1:1 ratio.

Is Rosemary a good substitute for a Bay Leaf?
Is Rosemary a good substitute for a Bay Leaf?

7. Rosemary

If you feel like experimenting with a new flavor that isn’t too far off bay leaves, you can try adding some rosemary to your recipe. This works best as a 1:1 ratio, especially in meaty recipes.

Rosemary is another excellent alternative for bay leaves. The rosemary flavor is slightly sweeter than others, making it ideal for pairing with pork, lamb, beef, game meats, and seafood.

8. Sage

Sage is often used in Italian cuisine, so it makes a good substitute for bay leaves if you like Italian foods. It pairs well with tomato-based dishes, such as pizza, pasta, and soup.

9. Marjoram

Marjoram is an alternative for herbs from the mint family, so it shares many similarities with basil. It tastes mildly sweet and has a slight hint of citrus. You can use marjoram with eggs, beans, lentils, and potatoes.

10. Mint

Mint is a favorite among kids and adults alike. It has a refreshing flavor that goes well with salads, desserts, and drinks. Try using mint when you make homemade iced tea, lemonade, or mocktails.

11. Chives

Chives have a mild onion flavor, so they work well as a replacement for bay leaves. They go well with cream-based dishes, including mashed potatoes, white sauce, and gravy.

12. Parsley

Parsley is one of the most versatile herbs out there. It works well with almost every type of food, including fish, shellfish, vegetables, fruits, grains, and meats.

Other options like Cilantro have a unique flavor that goes well with Mexican and Asian cuisines and could be swapped for bay leaf if it was in the recipe – however it is not really a main alternative for bay leaves.

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What tastes like a bay leaf

A bay leaf tastes like a combination of lemon and mint when used in cooking.

Does bay leaves have a bitter taste

Bay leaves do have a bitter taste, but they are used for medicinal purposes. They are often added to dishes such as chicken soup, stews, and soups but the taste in cooking is more aromatic. 

Is basil the same as bay leaves

Bay leaves are dried leaves from the bay tree. They are used for flavoring food and drink. Basil is the common name for plants in the mint family. The leaves of these plants are often used to flavor dishes. Basil is similar to bay leaves, but they are different herbs. Bay leaves are used for cooking while basil is used for flavoring dishes. Both are from the mint family.

Does a bay leaf really make a difference

In cooking?

  • It does!
  • The flavor is much better with it.
  • You can use it instead of salt.
  • It’s just an herb. 

Final Thoughts

This concludes our list that walks you through all the different substitutes of bay leaves that you can use in your recipes.

Lucky for you, there are various options with a similar flavor profile, so you’ll always be able to finish your recipe without having to make a trip to the grocery store!