When you need an Italian seasoning substitute, there are many options you can choose from. This article will give you the most suitable alternatives if you don’t have this spice blend.
Italian seasoning is a mix of herbs used in Italian cuisine. Some herbs in this mix include basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.
Many Italian dishes like marinara sauce and pasta sauce have Italian seasoning. Roasted vegetables and pasta salad also have it. Interestingly, this seasoning blend was not created in Italy but in America.
When Italian seasoning got popular, hard-to-find herbs in the US became more common. It also allowed Italian-Americans to make their favorite recipes again.
There is a primary blend of spices found in Italian seasoning. Yet, the flavor changes from brand to brand because they add extra spices and herbs. Some brands include hot pepper, cayenne pepper, or crushed red pepper flakes. Others add garlic powder, bay leaves, onion powder, black pepper, or parsley.
Each blend is unique and provides a different taste. But you can generally expect an earthy taste with minty notes. A light sweet flavor will also be there.
The best Italian seasoning substitute is a homemade Italian seasoning blend. This allows you to customize the mixture to your taste preference.
A quick DIY Italian seasoning recipe has equal parts of the following:
Mix and store in an airtight container. Use this replacement in all recipes that call for Italian seasoning.
The flavor of the homemade Italian seasoning will be like the store-bought option. It can have a custom taste that goes well with your recipe.
Creating the perfect blend of Italian seasoning adds a step to your recipe. If you customize the mix 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 is another herb found in Italian seasoning. Because of this, it’s a good substitute for it. Use dried rosemary to season meat, vegetables, cheeses, and oil-based marinades.
You likely have rosemary in your cabinet. If not, it’s always available in the spice aisle at local grocery stores.
Dried rosemary offers a complex combination of flavors. Plus, it’s versatile, so you can use it for almost all recipes that call for Italian seasoning.
This swap has a strong taste that can overpower your 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 is 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. On top of that, it is a good way to create a woody, peppery, sage-like flavor in recipes.
Fresh herbs have a more subtle flavor than dried ones. For instance, fresh rosemary allows you to customize it more. It still presents a similar minty and earthy taste to Italian seasoning.
This herb is not always easy to find in grocery stores. This is especially when they’re not in season.
Cooking Tip: Start with a 2:1 ratio and increase the quantity to your taste preference.
Dried basil is the best substitute for Italian seasoning. It works in sauces and pizza because it gradually releases its flavor while cooking.
Basil is a common ingredient in many Italian sauces. Yet, you can still use it in salad dressings, pasta salad, poultry seasoning, and marinades.
Basil mimics the minty taste of Italian seasoning. It’s easy to find at the grocery store and adds a unique anise flavor to recipes.
Basil has a licorice taste that may not fit everyone’s taste. Plus, its strong flavor can overpower the other flavors in the recipe.
Cooking Tips: Start with ½ tablespoon of dried basil for every tablespoon of Italian seasoning. Then, adjust to your taste preference. For a milder taste, you can opt for fresh basil.
Dried oregano is another spice often found in Italian seasoning. For this reason, it’s an excellent substitute option. Expect an intense, earthy flavor in recipes when using dried oregano. There might also be some bitter notes.
This herb goes well with tomato-based recipes like soups and sauces. It also tastes great with olive oil, so you can use oregano in salad dressings and marinades for meat.
This option is easy to find at the grocery store.
You should use only small amounts of dried oregano. Using more will overpower your recipe’s flavor. Its bold flavor limits the recipes where you can use it.
Cooking Tip: Start with ¼ teaspoon for every teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Add more to fit your taste preference.
Marjoram provides a complex flavor like some of the herbs in Italian seasoning. Because of this, it is an excellent replacement for Italian. This swap offers a sweet, piney, citrusy flavor. Expect a similar taste as oregano, though much subtler.
This herb is an excellent replacement for fish and chicken dishes that need a delicate taste. It’s also a great flavor enhancer in sauces, especially those with a tomato base.
Marjoram has a subtle flavor. You can use it for many recipes without fear of overpowering the dish.
The flavors in marjoram provide a different taste. This 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 is also one of the Italian seasoning’s main ingredients. That said, it makes an excellent sub. It provides an earthy, minty, sweet, peppery flavor to recipes.
Use dried thyme for poultry and fish recipes. Include it in sauces, soups, and marinades.
This swap is easy to find in grocery stores and can work in many recipes. It adds a subtle, complex taste to recipes.
Thyme does not work well with all recipes due to its light flavor. In some instances, it may other seasonings may overpower it.
Cooking Tips: Start with a 1:1 ratio and use more if needed. Add marjoram and oregano to boost the flavor of dried thyme in Italian recipes.
Creole seasoning is a good Italian seasoning substitute. This is especially true if you want to add heat to your dish. Most of the herbs in both Italian seasoning and Creole are the same.
Yet, it does include some extra spices like paprika.
Because of this, you can expect a different color in recipes with creole seasoning. That said, you should avoid using this if the color of a soup or sauce is important.
Use this seasoning for a spicy, savory flavor for soups, sauces, red meat, and shrimp.
Creole seasoning is an excellent seasoning for adding a robust, complex flavor.
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 is another option that you can use to replace Italian seasoning. This substitute also shares some common spices with Italian seasoning.
But some brands have other ingredients like lemon zest and nutmeg. Because of this, 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.
This option is available at most grocery stores, making it accessible. It presents a minty taste, like Italian seasoning. Plus, you can use it in a good number of recipes.
Though there are similar flavor notes, many of the ingredients are different. There will be a noticeable difference in taste.
Cooking Tip: Start with ½ of the required amount and adjust as needed.
Herbes de Provence is like the French version of Italian seasoning. It has thyme, rosemary, basil, tarragon, oregano, bay leaf, and savory.
Some versions include lavender flowers, though. If this is the case, it can add a light floral flavor to dishes. Use this replacement to season meat, poultry, fish, soups, stews, and sauces.
Herbes de Provence adds a delicious, complex flavor to dishes. It is versatile, and you can use it for many Italian dishes.
Since herbes de Provence has extra herbs, the flavor difference will be 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.
Italian seasoning usually has basil, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and oregano. Yet, some Italian seasonings include extra dried herbs.
Homemade seasoning mix, dried basil, and herbes de Provence can replace Italian seasoning. Yet, your best bet will be a homemade version.
Yes and no. Thyme alone is not ideal for replacing Italian seasoning. Yet, you can use thyme with other dried herbs like oregano and basil to create a similar flavor.
No, unless you’re using it to flavor salad dressing. Italian dressing mix has many extra flavoring agents. It usually has sugar, salt, bell peppers, and soy sauce. These ingredients combine to make a tangy herb mixture. For this reason, the dressing mix might not go well with most recipes that call for Italian seasoning.
Consider using one of the above substitutes for Italian seasoning. Doing so is better than running to the grocery store when you run out of it mid-recipe. Homemade Italian seasoning is your best option. Its ingredients are staples in most kitchens, so you’ll not have trouble making it. Otherwise, dried basil works well as an Italian seasoning substitute.
If you don’t have any of the above available, you can use fennel seeds in a pinch. They provide a strong licorice taste, so you’ll want to use them with caution.