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Italian Seasoning Substitute


When it comes to finding a substitute for Italian seasoning, there are many options to choose from. Below, you’ll find the most suitable alternatives to use in the absence of an Italian spice blend.

small wooden spoon filled with dried brown herbs, glass spice jar with label "italian seasoning salt-free"

What Is Italian Seasoning?

Italian seasoning is a mix of herbs that are typically used in Italian cuisine. Some of the herbs in this mix include basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary. These herbs add flavor to many Italian dishes like marinara sauce, pasta sauce, meat, seafood, roasted vegetables, and pasta salad. Interestingly, this seasoning blend was not created in Italy but in America.

Herbs that had been previously challenging to find in the US, like marjoram, became more common after creating this blend allowing for Italian-Americans to make their favorite recipes again.

While a primary blend of spices is found in Italian seasoning, the flavor changes from brand to brand as additional spices and herbs are added. Some brands include hot pepper, cayenne powder, or crushed red pepper flakes for a spicier mixture, while others add bay leaves, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, or parsley.

Each blend is unique and provides a different taste, though you can generally expect an earthy taste with minty, lightly sweet notes.

Italian Seasoning Substitutes and Alternatives

Homemade Italian Seasoning

The best Italian seasoning substitute is a homemade Italian seasoning blend. This option allows you to customize the mixture to your taste preference and to the recipe or recipes you intend to use it for.

A quick DIY Italian seasoning recipe includes marjoram, basil, sage, oregano, rosemary, and thyme, all in equal parts. Start with equal amounts of each and adjust quantity as needed. Store this spice blend in an airtight container, use this replacement in all recipes that require Italian seasoning.

Pros

The flavor of this herb blend will be similar to the store-bought option, and if you choose, it will have a custom taste that bodes well with your recipe.

Cons

Creating your own perfect blend of Italian seasoning adds a step to your recipe along with additional time. If you customize the blend a lot, it may limit the recipe uses.

Cooking Tip:

Use a 1:1 ratio to replace store-bought Italian seasoning with your DIY version.

Dried Rosemary

As dried rosemary is another herb commonly found in Italian seasoning, it’s a good substitute to use in recipes. Use it to season meat, vegetables, cheeses, and oil-based marinades.

You likely have rosemary in your cabinet, though it’s also widely available in the spice aisle at local grocery stores.

Pros

Dried rosemary offers a complex combination of flavors, like Italian seasoning. Plus, it’s versatile, so you can use it for most recipes that call for Italian seasoning.

Cons

This swap has a strong taste that can easily overpower the dish. It also offers other flavor notes not present in Italian seasoning mixtures.

Cooking Tip:

Start with 1/2 the requested amount and add more if needed.

Fresh Rosemary

If you have the option available to use fresh rosemary, it’s an even better choice than dried rosemary. The fresh version of this herb adds brightness to dishes. Plus, it offers the same complex flavor notes as the dried version.

Rosemary is aromatic and an excellent way to create a woody, peppery, sage-like flavor in recipes.

Pros

Fresh rosemary allows you to customize the flavor more since it is subtler than the dried version. Fresh rosemary still presents a similar minty and earthy taste in Italian seasoning.

Cons

This herb is not always easy to find in grocery stores, especially when not in season.

Cooking Tip:

Start with a 2:1 ratio and increase the quantity to your taste preference.

Dried Basil

Dried basil is the best substitute for Italian seasoning. This replacement works in sauces like marinara or pizza due to the slow release of flavor while cooking.

While basil is a common ingredient in many Italian sauces, you can still use it in salad dressings, pasta salad, poultry seasoning, and marinades. Depending on the recipe, you may opt for fresh herbs and use fresh basil instead, which provides a milder taste.

Pros

Basil mimics the minty taste that Italian seasoning provides. It’s easy to find at the grocery store and adds a unique anise flavor to recipes. You can use it in many recipes.

Cons

This herb may not fit with everyone’s taste preference due to the licorice taste it offers. As it has a strong flavor, it can be easy to overpower the other flavors in the recipe.

Cooking Tip:

Start with ½ tablespoon of dried basil for every tablespoon of Italian seasoning and adjust to your taste preference.

Dried Oregano

Dried oregano is another spice often found in Italian seasoning; for this reason, it’s an excellent Italian seasoning substitute option. When using dried oregano, you can expect an intense, earthy, slightly bitter flavor in recipes.

This herb bodes well with tomato-based recipes like soups and sauces. It also pairs well with olive oil, meaning you can use oregano in salad dressings and marinades for meat.

Pros

This replacement for Italian seasoning is easy to find at the grocery store.

Cons

Use dried oregano sparsely to avoid overpowering your recipe’s flavor. The number of recipes you can use this swap in is limited due to its bold flavor.

Cooking Tip:

Start with ¼ teaspoon for every teaspoon of Italian seasoning, add more slowly to fit your taste preference.

Marjoram

Marjoram is an excellent replacement for Italian seasoning as it provides a complex flavor that mimics some of the included herbs. This swap offers a sweet, piney, citrusy flavor. Expect a similar flavor as oregano, though much subtler.

This herb is an excellent replacement in fish and chicken dishes that require a more delicate taste. It’s also a great flavor enhancer in sauces, especially those with a tomato base.

Pros

With marjoram’s more subtle taste, you can use it for many recipes without fear of overpowering the dish. Its complex flavors mimic those found in Italian seasoning.

Cons

The flavors present in marjoram provide a different taste that may be more noticeable in specific dishes.

Cooking Tip:

Start with a 1:1 ratio and increase the amount of marjoram as needed.

Dried Thyme

Dried thyme is another excellent Italian seasoning replacement since it is also usually included in Italian seasoning. It provides an earthy, minty, sweet, peppery flavor to recipes.

Use dried thyme for poultry and fish recipes, along with sauces, soups, and marinades.

Pros

This swap is easy to find in grocery stores and can work in a good number of recipes. It adds a subtle, complex taste to recipes.

Cons

Thyme does not work well with all recipes due to its light flavor. In some instances, it may be overpowered by other included seasonings. You’ll need to add marjoram and oregano to boost the flavor of Italian recipes when using this swap.

Cooking Tip:

Start with a 1:1 ratio and use more if needed.

Creole Seasoning

Creole seasoning is a good Italian seasoning substitute on the spicier side. While this seasoning mixture does include some additional spices like paprika that Italian seasoning does not contain, most of the spices are the same.

With the inclusion of paprika, you can expect a different color in recipes with creole seasoning. If the color of a soup or sauce is important, avoid using this replacement.

Pros

Use this seasoning for soups, sauces, red meat, and shrimp for a spicy, savory flavor. Creole seasoning is an excellent seasoning for adding a robust, complex flavor.

Cons

This swap also presents a smoky flavor, so it is not ideal for all recipes. For those sensitive to heat, this is not a good replacement.

Cooking Tip:

Use 1/2 the amount required and add more if needed.

Greek Seasoning

Greek seasoning is another option that you can use to replace Italian seasoning. This seasoning option also shares some common spices with Italian seasoning.

As there are other ingredients like lemon zest and nutmeg in some brands of Greek seasoning, there will be a unique taste when using this swap.

Use Greek seasoning for lamb, beef, or chicken dishes. It’s also an excellent swap in tangy dips and salad dressings.

Pros

This seasoning mixture is available at most grocery stores, making it easily accessible. It presents a minty taste that is similar to Italian seasoning, and you can use it in a good number of recipes.

Cons

Though there are similar flavor notes, many of the ingredients are different, so there will be a noticeable difference in taste.

Cooking Tip:

Start with ½ of the required amount and adjust as needed.

Herbes de Provence

You can equate herbes de Provence to a French version of Italian seasoning. This replacement combines common French spices into a versatile blend, including thyme, rosemary, basil, tarragon, oregano, bay leaf, and savory.

Some herbs mixes include lavender flowers, adding a light floral flavor to dishes. Use this replacement to season meat, poultry, fish, soups, stews, and sauces.

Pros

Herbes de Provence adds a delicious, complex flavor to dishes with similar spices as Italian seasoning. It is versatile, and you can use it for many Italian dishes.

Cons

Since herbes de Provence has additional herbs, the flavor will be different and noticeable. This flavor also limits which recipes you can recreate using this swap.

Cooking Tip:

Use a 1:1 ratio to replace Italian seasoning with herbes de Provence.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Italian Seasoning Made Of?

A few main herbs create Italian seasoning, including basil, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and oregano. However, some Italian seasonings include additional dried herbs changing the flavor slightly.

What Can I Use Instead of Italian Seasoning?

There are many options you can choose when you’ve run out of Italian seasoning, including a homemade seasoning mix, dried basil, and herbes de Provence. Your best bet will be a homemade version, incorporating all of the standard Italian seasonings.

Can I Use Thyme Instead of Italian Seasoning?

Yes and no. You can use thyme in conjunction with other dried herbs like oregano and dried basil to create a similar flavor. However, thyme is not ideal for replacing Italian seasoning by itself.

Can I Substitute Italian Dressing Mix For Italian Seasoning?

No, unless you’re using it to flavor salad dressing. Italian dressing mix has many additional flavoring agents, including sugar, salt, dried vegetables like bell peppers and soy sauce. These ingredients combine to make a tangy herb mixture that will not bode well with most recipes that call for Italian seasoning.

Summary

Consider using one of the above substitutes for Italian seasoning instead of running to the grocery store when you run out of Italian seasoning mid-recipe. Homemade Italian seasoning is the best option, as the ingredients are staples in most kitchens. Otherwise, dried basil and herbes de Provence work well as swaps.

If you don’t have any of the above available, you can use fennel seeds in a pinch. They do provide a strong licorice taste, so you’ll want to use them sparingly. Your perfectly optimized content goes here!

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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