Here’s an oregano substitute list for when you want to incorporate new flavors instead of constantly reaching for your beloved oregano bottle.
Most people think of oregano when cooking Italian dishes. While it is a great way to spice up pizza or pasta sauce, it’s also an excellent spice to add when you want a bold and peppery flavor.
Oregano is a culinary herb with aromatic leaves and distinctive flavor.
Its aroma is robust and aromatic, making it a popular choice for seasoning various dishes.
This herb is typically grown in the Mediterranean, parts of Asia, Mexico, and the US.
Cooks widely use oregano for its savory and slightly pungent taste, which includes hints of mint and citrus.
Oregano takes on various forms, and its flavor varies depending on its place of cultivation.
In the United States, Greek oregano finds widespread use in both Italian and Greek cuisine.
However, there are also other types of oregano, such as Italian, Mexican, Cuban, and Syrian oregano, among others.
In addition to edible oregano varieties, there exist some inedible types of oregano.
Here are the substitutes for oregano that you can use when you run out of this herb.
Fresh oregano works as one of the best oregano substitutes.
As fresh oregano has a more robust flavor than dried oregano, you may find it can take over the taste of some recipes.
With this substitute, you’ll be able to have a bolder flavor in your dishes.
It adds a freshness to dishes and works excellently with lamb dishes.
Cooking Tip: Since the dried version is more concentrated, you’ll want to use more fresh oregano as a swap. Start with 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano and add more if needed.
Basil is a favorite substitute for oregano, specifically in Italian dishes or Mediterranean-inspired meals.
If you often cook with Italian seasoning, you’ll notice that basil and oregano are part of this spice mix.
These two spices complement each other, so it generally makes sense that basil would work as an alternative.
You can easily find basil in stores and supermarkets – both as a spice and a fresh herb.
You can find the fresh version near the vegetables in the refrigerated section.
Often, during the summer, you’ll even be able to purchase a basil plant so you can grow your own.
Basil works well in tomato-based dishes and other dishes that typically incorporate oregano. I
Cooking Tip: Using basil as an alternative generally only works in Mediterranean recipes. Use dried basil in a 1:1 ratio in recipes.
Thyme is an excellent herb to use as an oregano replacement.
It is related to oregano as it also hails from the mint family.
Using thyme also provides warmth along with a peppery flavor.
It has a subtle taste and smell that gives versatility to dishes.
Thyme originated in the Mediterranean and works excellently with this type of cuisine.
Since it offers a milder taste, use it in other types of cuisine without overpowering the dish.
The best use of the thyme is with eggs, soup, fish, and as a chicken seasoning agent.
Cooking Tip: Start with half of the amount of thyme that the recipe requires. Add more if needed.
Marjoram is the best-dried oregano substitute as the flavor is very similar.
This herb has a milder, flowery flavor with citrusy notes.
It works in every dish that usually requires oregano.
Expect a lighter flavor when using this as a swap.
You’ll need to use a larger quantity of marjoram to achieve a similar taste.
There are slight taste differences, so it is not a perfect match for oregano.
Cooking Tip: Use the same amount of marjoram that the recipe requires.
As oregano is one of the main spices in Italian seasoning, you can easily swap between the two.
Keep in mind that there are additional spices in Italian seasoning, like marjoram and thyme.
This makes the spice blend not a perfect swap, as some of the additional herbs may clash with other ingredients.
Use Italian seasoning when you are making Italian-inspired dishes.
Expect a sweet and rich taste when using Italian Seasoning.
This seasoning blend works well with Italian meals like pasta, pizza, and more.
You can also use it in salads for an additional pop of flavor.
Most people already have Italian seasoning in their kitchen. You can easily find it at all grocery stores and is relatively low in cost to purchase.
Cooking Tip: Use in a 1:1 ratio when replacing oregano. Make sure to adjust the other spices in the recipe.
Rosemary has a more robust and piney flavor, while oregano has a savory, slightly spicy, and citrusy taste.
It can be a suitable substitute in certain dishes, such as roasted meats and potatoes.
Rosemary can withstand longer cooking times better than oregano.
Cooking Tip: You’ll typically need less rosemary to achieve a similar level of seasoning. Start with a smaller quantity and adjust to taste.
Savory can be a suitable substitute for oregano in many recipes.
It has a peppery and slightly earthy taste.
Savory works well in a variety of dishes, including roasted meats, stews, soups, pasta sauces, and vegetable dishes.
It pairs nicely with potatoes, beans, and legumes.
Cooking Tip: Use savory in a similar quantity as you would oregano. Start with a slightly smaller amount, as savory can be a bit stronger in flavor.
Parsley works well as a complement to foods that contain oregano.
Oregano has earthy flavor, parsley offers more of a licorice-like taste.
You can use either dried spice and as a fresh herb.
Keep in mind that it has a stronger taste when dried.
You may want to adjust the quantity when using it in this form to avoid being too bold of a taste.
Use fresh parsley as a garnish, though you can also use it in cooked recipes such as soups and salads.
The flavor will be much different than oregano.
Cooking Tip: Use in a 1:1 ratio as a replacement for oregano.
Tarragon works as a substitution due to its sweet and bitter flavor.
Tarragon provides a licorice-like taste similar to what oregano offers.
However, tarragon also has more complex flavor notes that may not bode well with other ingredients in the dish.
Use this substitute in French dishes.
You can pick either fresh tarragon or dried tarragon as a replacement.
Cooking Tip: Use ½ the amount of tarragon that the recipe requests.
Dill also works as a replacement due to the similar anise-like and bitter taste it offers in dishes.
It has a bolder flavor than oregano. You will want to use a smaller amount when utilizing this swap.
Dill is quite versatile. It works well in certain Indian, European, and Greek recipes.
You will often see dill as a flavoring agent for fish like salmon or in jars of homemade pickles.
You can use both fresh and dried herb, though fresh is more common, especially with fish dishes.
It works well with a wide variety of cuisines, making it a good choice for a substitution.
When using dill, it can be easy to overpower other more subtle-tasting ingredients.
Cooking Tip: Use ½ the amount of dill that the recipe calls for and adjust as needed.
Fennel seeds have a sweet, licorice-like flavor.
Use it sparingly as a substitute for oregano in certain recipes.
While it’s not a direct substitute for oregano due to its distinctive flavor, you can use it creatively to bring a different but interesting twist to your dishes.
Fennel can be a suitable substitute in recipes where its sweet and herbal notes can work well.
This might include dishes like roasted vegetables, certain pasta dishes, or seafood recipes.
Cooking Tip: Because of its distinct flavor, you should use fennel sparingly as a substitute.
Use sage as a substitute for oregano in certain recipes. It has a different flavor profile.
The flavor is strong, earthy, and slightly peppery. While oregano is savory with hints of spice and citrus.
Sage pairs well with poultry, pork, and stuffing recipes.
If your recipe involves extended cooking or roasting, sage may be a suitable choice.
Cooking Tip: Sage has a robust flavor, so you should use it sparingly when substituting for oregano.
Chervil offers a delicate, slightly sweet, and anise-like flavor with a hint of parsley.
This herb is much milder than oregano, so you’ll need to use it differently.
Use this substitute in French cuisine. It pairs well with poultry, seafood, eggs, and creamy sauces.
Chervil works well in cold dishes, such as chilled soups and salad dressings
Cooking Tip: It won’t provide the same savory and robust flavor as oregano, it will add a mild and slightly sweet herbaceous quality to your dishes.
Oregano is available in both fresh and dried forms. Fresh oregano leaves have a more pronounced aroma and are often used in salads, garnishes, and certain dishes.
Dried oregano is more concentrated in flavor and is commonly used in cooking, especially in recipes that require longer cooking times.
As noted above, Greek oregano is the variety that is used most often in dishes. Other edible types include Italian, Cuban, Mexican, Golden, and Syrian oregano. Each offers its unique flavor profiles. Of course, they are commonly used in dishes inspired by their country of origin.
Mediterranean oregano encompasses all oregano that is grown in places like Greece, Italy, and Morocco. Oregano is generally the way that Greek oregano is referred to. Oregano is one type of Mediterranean oregano that is grown and available for consumption.
In general, fresh spices are the better option. They provide a bolder flavor than their dried counterparts. Of course, dried oregano is an excellent choice as it can be preserved for longer, and it still provides the peppery and bitter taste that oregano provides. However, dried spices tend to have a more muted flavor, so opt for fresh when possible.
Yes, you can use thyme instead of oregano in dishes. Both fresh and dried will work. However, the dried version is more intense, so it’s best used in small doses as a swap.
You’ll find the answer to this question varies based on the recipe that you use for each ingredient. When cooking an Italian-inspired dish, Oregano works wonders and is often the best choice. Thyme works best in sauces and dishes with gamey-tasting meat.
Regardless of if you have run out of oregano or want to enjoy an unfamiliar flavor, use marjoram as your top pick. This subtle herb provides the right amount of flavor to any recipe that typically requires oregano. Use this substitution over fresh oregano as it offers more versatility.
Trying new spices is an excellent way to grow your skills in the kitchen. Not only does it allow you to be creative and inventive, but it also provides you with knowledge of which flavors work well together. Start trying the above alternatives and see where they take you.