Oregano is among the most popular herbs used in cooking. Its characteristic earthy and peppery zest completes the flavoring of several dishes like pizza and pasta sauce. But what if you’d rather not (or can’t) use it? If you need an oregano substitute, we are here with some of the best options for you.
Looking For Oregano Substitutes? Try These Out
Oregano has a vibrant flavor that comes through in every recipe without being overpowering. It is among those few herbs that are added to the recipe during the initial stages of cooking. You can use either fresh or dried oregano in a recipe. While both have a punchy flavor and pungent aroma, dried oregano is more potent and hence, more widely used.
If you want a fresh oregano alternative, look no farther than thyme. It is a versatile herb that tastes and even looks similar to oregano when fresh. Like oregano, it is also added during the initial steps of cooking. Longer cooking time allows it to release more flavor into the food. However, it tastes best when used as a garnish.
Dried thyme has a much more intense and potent flavor than dried oregano. So, it isn’t always the desired pick.
Substitute fresh oregano with fresh thyme following a 1:1 ratio.
Basil is the best substitute for oregano, whether fresh or dried. However, it’s best applied to recipes of Mediterranean cuisine. It works best as a seasoning.
While fresh basil leaves have a strong flavor, dried ones are more potent and preferred, just like oregano. Use this alternative when preparing Mediterranean-style beef, bread, or potato recipes.
Both fresh and dried basil can replace oregano in a 1:1 ratio.
3. Summer Savory
This cool Mediterranean herb can replace its cousin in many recipes. Summer Savory is popular with bean recipes and gets some love in German cuisine as well. It tastes very similar to oregano, though it’s also milder.
You could also use its counterpart, Winter Savory as a replacement for oregano. However, winter savory tends to be more on the bitter side of things.
Replace oregano with summer savory in a 1:1 ratio.
Marjoram belongs to the same family as oregano. The two herbs are so closely related that many believe they are the same. In the Mediterranean region, many people refer to oregano as wild marjoram.
It has a very similar but slightly muted flavor. Marjoram is gentler and subtler than oregano, and not as pungent. Use this alternative when preparing chicken or pork recipes. It can be used either dried or fresh. But dried marjoram works best for Mexican recipes.
Take 3 teaspoons of marjoram in place of 2 teaspoons of oregano.
Tarragon is a highly potent and aromatic herb. It has a bittersweet flavor that resembles the hints of bitterness present in oregano. Its earthy flavor combines best with French recipes. Use it in salad dressings or chicken recipes. Tarragon adds amazing flavor to tomato-based dishes.
Use tarragon in equal amounts as you would oregano.
The very aromatic and fibrous fennel can work as an oregano replacement in a pinch. When most recipes use fennel, the implication is to use fennel seeds. However, for replacing oregano, it is the fronds that are meant to be used.
Using fronds keeps fennel as a replacement for fresh oregano only. Employ a slightly less amount of fennel as compared to the desired amount of oregano. It works great for salads and roasted meats, but remember that it has a strong flavor by itself. Do a taste test to check its suitability.
Parsley tastes very different from oregano. But when it comes to seasonings, both are interchangeable. Its solid taste and aroma are very prominent in a dish without being overpowering. This versatile herb can be used in a variety of dishes. Use it as a seasoning or a garnish, it’ll elevate the deliciousness of any recipe.
Dried parsley is twice as potent as the fresh herb. So less is always more when working with dried parsley. In the case of fresh parsley, you can use it in the same amount as fresh oregano.
Sage is an aromatic herb with a punchy flavor. It has hints of citrus and eucalyptus along with its signature bittersweet taste. This resembles the flavor of oregano to some extent. You can use it either fresh or dry, depending on the type of oregano.
Fresh sage has a much stronger flavor than fresh oregano. So always use it in fewer amounts when replacing fresh oregano. When working with dried sage, use 1 teaspoon of it to replace 2 teaspoons of dried oregano.
Dill is the star ingredient in several seafood recipes. It has a grassy and bittersweet taste with hints of anise. You can use either fresh or dried anise as an alternative to oregano. Note that fresh dill has a better and more vibrant taste. It is highly versatile and can be employed as a spice or a seasoning.
Both fresh and dried dill have a more intense flavor than oregano. So always use 1 1⁄2 teaspoons of dill to replace 2 teaspoons of oregano. Use this alternative when preparing pickles, a fish recipe, soup, or a potato salad.
10. Mexican Oregano
The name “Mexican Oregano” can be misleading in this context. Though this herb has oregano in its name, it isn’t related to the original oregano and has a somewhat different flavor. Also, it originated in Mexico, rather than in the Mediterranean.
Origins and naming conventions aside, Mexican oregano is a good substitute for traditional oregano. It has a very strong flavor with hints of pepper. Given its strong flavor, use only half of Mexican oregano when replacing conventional oregano.
Rosemary is one of the most widely used herbs in cooking. It mostly acts as a flavoring agent, though it works as seasoning too. This aromatic herb can be used either fresh or dried. Also, when using fresh rosemary, chop the leaves or grind them for better flavor and texture.
Dried rosemary is much more potent than oregano, so add only a pinch of it instead of one teaspoon of dried oregano. When working with fresh rosemary leaves, you can follow a 1:1 ratio.
Rosemary is a highly versatile ingredient. You can use it in casseroles, soups, stocks, poultry, lamb, meat, or tomato-based recipes.
12. Italian Seasoning
If you can’t get your hands on the alternatives at the moment, using Italian seasoning could be a clever move. It comprises basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and several other herbs, including oregano.
Using Italian seasoning in recipes would impart the required flavor along with several others. It’s better to use this seasoning only in Italian dishes, though it can work with Mediterranean cuisine in general.
For every teaspoon of oregano, use half a teaspoon of Italian seasonings.
13. Carom (Ajwain)
Carom, also known as ajwain and bishop’s weed, is a herb commonly used in India. Ajwain leaves have a similar look and flavor to oregano and work acceptably well as a substitute. Yet, it’s perhaps better not to use carom as a standalone substitute.
Mixing it with some marjoram will make a better combination and flavorful replacement to oregano. In most dishes, carom can replace oregano in a 1:1 ratio.
Can you replace oregano with thyme?
Yes, you can replace oregano with thyme. Both of these have a similar flavor as seen with notes of lemon and mint and a touch of earthy flavor. Versatile as thyme and oregano are, they can often replace each other in several recipes.
What is the difference between oregano and Mexican oregano?
Though they are similar in name and even have similarities in flavor, oregano and Mexican oregano are entirely different herbs/spices. In fact, the plants they are sourced from are entirely different and even belong to different families.
While oregano is a Mediterranean herb, the origins of Mexican oregano lie in Mexico and Central America. However, both these plants have a touch of a similar flavor, which is why Mexican oregano can sometimes replace oregano in some recipes.
What is the difference between oregano and Italian seasoning?
Oregano and Italian seasoning aren’t the same thing – not even close! There are similarities though, like both of these are deeply associated with Italian cuisine. In fact, adding Italian seasoning will often give recipes a distinctively Italian feel and flavor.
Italian seasoning, it should be noted, is a mixture of several herbs and spices. One of the herbs commonly used in Italian seasoning is oregano. The use of herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary (and more) gives this seasoning a flavor similar to oregano, though one with a greater complexity.
Choose The Right Seasoning
Oregano can be the star ingredient in any recipe. Just a teaspoon of it can do wonders. But other similar herbs do the same work. Consider the type of cuisine you’re working on and the flavor and results you want. You can choose the best oregano substitute among the above-mentioned ingredients.