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Don’t have a bay leaf on hand while you’re making a recipe? Here’s the best bay leaf substitute to use in soups, stews, and more.

Bay leaf substitute

Making a recipe that calls for a bay leaf and don’t have it? Bay leaves are an aromatic leaf used in cooking to bring out the flavor in a dish. Bay leaves come from the laurel tree, and feature in a variety of cuisines like Indian, East Asian, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and American. The whole leaves are often added to a slow-cooking sauce or stew to enhance the flavors, then removed before serving.

However, there’s some contention in the culinary world on whether adding a bay leaf really does anything! Some people claim bay leaves add a more balanced flavor; others are adamant there’s really no flavor difference. Don’t have any in your pantry and want to make a recipe? Here’s the best bay leaf substitute.

Best bay leaf substitute

1. Dried oregano or thyme.

The best bay leaf substitute? Dried oregano or thyme. These herbs add a hint of complexity to round out the flavor of whatever you’re cooking. Oregano has more of an Italian vibe than thyme, which is more versatile for other types of cuisines. What’s the conversion ratio to use?

  • 1 bay leaf = ¼ teaspoon ground oregano or thyme

2. Leave it out!

Bay leaf adds flavor after simmering, but it’s very subtle. So if you don’t have one…you can leave it out! It’s doubtful you’ll miss much in the finished recipe.

Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring bay leaves:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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