What Is Rosemary?

Rosemary is woody perennial herb that has extremely fragrant needle-like leaves and colorful flowers. Native to the Mediterranean, rosemary did some hopping around (Egypt, China, Britain) before finding its way to America. It actually is part of the mint family and in many cultures, rosemary signifies remembrance and is thrown on graves and coffins, and used in war commemorations.

How to Cook with Rosemary

It is very easy to grow and extremely fragrant so is a common herb in people’s gardens, also used as ornamental plants and can be pruned into formal shapes.

What Does Rosemary Look Like? 

Rosemary has stiff, green, needlelike leaves attached to a woodsy branch. While easy to identify from its unique look, once you know the smell of rosemary, you can tell a rosemary plant from many feet away. 

What Does Rosemary Taste Like? 

Rosemary is one of the most aromatic of the herbs and has an equally pungent taste. The flavor is lemony-pine-like and has also been described as minty, sage-like and peppery.  Because of its strong flavor, start with small amounts as a little goes a long way.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Substituting Dried Rosemary for Fresh Rosemary

Dried rosemary can be substituted for fresh in many recipes, especially any recipes that are cooked. Use 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary for 1 tablespoon fresh, so a 1:3 ratio of dried to fresh rosemary.  For recipes and dishes that call for fresh rosemary that not are cooked, sometimes it’s ok to sub in dried, sometimes not.  Dried rosemary is pretty woody so you want to make sure it has time to soften and blend into the dishes; not so great for salad dressings, for instance, but fine for marinades.

Substituting Other Herbs for Rosemary

Rosemary is a very distinctive herb, and one whose flavor is hard to substitute with another herb.  So if making a dish that calls for rosemary and you don’t have any…just know the flavor profile will be different with a substitute.  It can be just as delicious, but different. 

How to Cook with Rosemary

Having said that, thyme and savory often compliment the same ingredients as rosemary does. Sage can work well in meat, egg dishes, and poultry seasoning, and marjoram also can work as it has some hints of pine flavor. Mint is another possibility.

Where To Find Rosemary?

Fresh rosemary can be found in the fresh produce section of supermarkets, particularly in the spring and autumn months. Often it is available in small plastic packages along with other fresh herbs. During peak season, you often can find fresh big bunches of rosemary at farmers markets. Dried rosemary is found in the baking aisle with the other dried herbs and spices.

Everything you need to know about how to buy, store, prepare and cook with fresh rosemary. Plus 6 fresh rosemary recipes!

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How to Choose Fresh Rosemary

Fresh rosemary may be sold in bunches (particularly at farmers’ markets) or in small plastic containers.  See below for how to store it once you bring it home.  Avoid bunches with browned or falling-off leaves or leaves that look shriveled, dried or damp.

Cooking with Rosemary

You can buy rosemary in fresh or dried forms. Sometimes recipes call for rosemary sprigs.  This simply means to throw a whole “branch” of fresh rosemary in the stew, soup or on the roast. Flavor will get infused through slow cooking and then you can throw out the sprig before serving.

Most often, rosemary is either called for as whole leaves (which you simply pluck off the sprig), or minced. Any which way, rosemary is very hearty and can be added at the beginning of cooking as it stand up to long cooking times. Rosemary is a bold flavor which becomes stronger over cooking time so plan accordingly.

Rosemary is used regularly in Mediterranean cuisine and compliments food such as soups, casseroles, stews, fish, breads, stuffings, meats, and roasted vegetables. 

How to Store Rosemary

Fresh rosemary will last for approximately 3 weeks if you wrap it in a slightly damp paper towel and then place the bundle in a sealable plastic bag or container.  Place it in the crisper drawer for even better storage conditions (less cold than the back of the fridge).  


6 Rosemary Recipes

 Here are some recipes that use fresh rosemary:

Roast Eye of Round Beef with Thyme and Rosemary

This incredibly simple and economical roast eye of round beef recipe with thyme and rosemary has a terrific flavorful crust, and tender, pink, juicy meat inside.

Roasted Broccoflower and Shiitake Mushrooms with Rosemary and Garlic

An unusual but truly easy side dish. with with a simple little final drizzle of maple syrup, lemon juice and vinegar.

Rosemary Orange Cod Fillets

This easy fish dish comes together in about 25 minutes, with a great medley of Mediterranean flavors.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken Thighs

Rosemary and lemon are excellent partners for these chicken thighs which cook up extra crispy, like a cross between fried and roasted chicken.

Fall-Apart Roasted Pork Shoulder with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic

A super tender slow cooked marinated pork shoulder or butt roast recipe that is amazing on its own, and also can be used in so many ways. One of my go-to dishes for casual crowd entertaining.

How to Make Roasted Potatoes

Roasted potatoes go with just about anything, and couldn't be easier to make.

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