Oregano is an everyday herb that adds magic to Greek and Italian dishes. Anytime you want to cook something of Italian or Greek cuisine, oregano makes its way to the kitchen. Pizza, pasta sauce, or some vinaigrette, all of these dishes taste better with oregano. The herb adds a bit of peppery, zesty bite to your food. But you cannot always have oregano. Can you use an oregano substitute in these dishes?
Well, oregano is the herb we think of when making pizza or pasta sauce. It is one of the most common ingredients in Italian and Greek recipes. The versatile herb can make its way to different savory dishes.
Luckily, even if you are out of oregano, there are many substitutes for oregano. What are some of the best oregano alternatives?
A good cook knows the importance of a variety of ingredients in your kitchen. This allows you to make any meal without missing out on any essential ingredients.
Herbs give your dishes a distinct flavor. And if you are fond of Italian and Greek cooking, you got to have a couple of herbs. Did you know that US soldiers called oregano the pizza herb?
Let’s see how you can substitute oregano in dishes.
Are oregano and Italian seasoning the same thing?
You will see later on that Italian seasoning works as a great substitute for oregano. Why? Because they are not the same thing, but Italian seasoning contains oregano. It is a mix of rosemary, thyme, oregano, and basil. Both thyme and basil can also substitute oregano in dishes.
Italian mix is something you use specifically for Italian dishes.
What makes oregano so special?
Before we go over the substitutes for oregano, let’s talk about the spice and herb itself for a moment. What makes oregano so good? Why do we prefer it in some recipes?
We praise oregano for its strong aroma and flavor. It has similarities with camphor, giving oregano a minty odor. Cooks, chefs, nutritionists, and others, describe the flavor as pungent because of its strength. Speaking in people’s terms, oregano has an earthy and slightly bitter taste.
Because of its bitter taste, you should not add too much of it to cooking. Too much oregano can overpower the dynamic flavor of your dish.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the best substitutes for oregano. Here is the list.
10 Oregano Substitute Ingredients
These two herbs are closely related. Some even confuse them. But they are not the same plant. Some people call oregano wild marjoram. But they are two different plants.
The good news for you is that marjoram can replace oregano in dishes. If you have it on hand, think of it as a great replacement.
Marjoram has a similar taste and smell, but milder than oregano. Your dish will have a bit of a floral flavor compared to oregano and its earthy flavor.
Because marjoram is milder than oregano, you might want to add more of it. That way, you can achieve the same level of aroma and flavor as the original herb.
And there is also a different way to use oregano and marjoram. The latter has mild characteristics, meaning you can add it toward the end of the cooking.
That applies also when you prepare a slow cooking meal. Add marjoram towards the end. This delicate herb doesn’t hold up well over prolonged heat.
Remember that Italian seasoning mix? It contained basil, right? Well, this classic Italian spice can also replace oregano in dishes. Did you know that oregano belongs to the mint family? That gives it its bitter aroma.
Basil is another herb in the mint family. Basil and oregano have a similar aroma and flavor. But basil, same as marjoram, has a milder sense. Same as with marjoram, add more basil to achieve a stronger taste and smell of your dish. Or you might want to try using the same amount as oregano, and you will get a completely different dish. Experiment, why not?
You also have to pay attention to the varieties of basil. Some have a sweetness to them. Make sure to ask the person you buy from. Or, if you want to add a sweet factor into a dynamic recipe, have it a go.
Here is another ingredient that makes it into the Italian mix and can replace oregano. As a versatile herb, thyme can substitute many different spices.
You can add it to dressings, vegetables, chicken, and tomato-based dishes. Thyme is also a member of the mint family. It has a sweeter undertone and offers a bit less aroma. But that should not make you avoid it.
Instead, you can try using thyme and see what kind of flavor you get. Use only fresh thyme. And if you grow it in your home, you will probably get more thyme than you can use.
Thyme also works great in potatoes, meats, and beans dishes. Many call it an adaptable replacement. Unlike marjoram, thyme can hold up to longer cooking times. That makes it an ideal replacement for oregano in Italian pasta sauce.
Use the same amount of thyme as you would do oregano.
If you prepare a lot of tomato-based dishes, you should try using parsley instead of oregano. Parsley has a dynamic flavor, a relatively strong aroma, and a strong taste. This herb will enhance any dish because of its savory characteristic.
Parsley is a strong ingredient. You can use it in the same ratio as oregano.
Tarragon is another great addition to tomato-based dishes and salad dressing. Unlike oregano, it gives dishes a vibrant kick. But make sure to use the right amount.
Similar to oregano, tarragon has a bittersweet flavor, replicating the slight bitterness of your original ingredient.
If you are looking for a grassy flavor, dill can deliver it. With its anise-like characteristics, dill delivers a bit of bitterness to your dishes. That makes it a great alternative to oregano.
Oregano has a strong taste and aroma. Dill, on the other hand, can deliver a more pungent ingredient. Therefore, you should use less of it to avoid overpowering the taste and aroma of the dish.
Yet, if you like a stronger flavor, you can add the same amount of dill as you would oregano. Works best in tomato-based dishes. Think a Bolognese sauce.
You might think of sage as a good replacement for oregano. But this herb with eucalyptus and citrus attributes can add a strong aroma and flavor to the dish. Use it only fresh.
Remember, sage has a citrusy taste, so do not expect a close match in the flavor. But it still works in dishes that call for oregano. For example, you can use sage for poultry, meat, vegetables, and soup recipes.
8. Parsley and Basil
We said before that Italian mix works great as an oregano alternative in dishes. Other combinations can deliver that same result as well.
For example, parsley and basil are two herbs that work together to deliver a similar taste and flavor as oregano. If your recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of oregano, add 1 teaspoon of basil and 1 teaspoon of parsley instead.
9. Fennel Vegetable
We are now at the unusual and unconventional substitutes of oregano. It has a stronger flavor than oregano, so you should use a smaller amount.
Works best in tomato-based dishes and salad dressings.
10. Italian Seasoning
We said before Italian dry seasoning contains oregano. A pinch of it can work as a substitute in oregano dishes. But use this trick only for Italian-style dishes. It doesn’t work in Greek cuisine dishes.
Keep track of which spices you use on a regular basis, and see if you can find them in Italian seasoning. You can use the mix for any dish that calls for basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.