Do you have any oregano substitutes in your pantry? If you’re struggling to find other spices to season your soup instead of oregano, this post can help!
Oregano is a versatile herb that doesn’t lose its original taste in the cooking process. However, it may be a little hard to purchase in some regions. So, if your recipe happens to call for oregano, what will you do? Keep reading to get some suitable oregano alternatives!
Oregano – A Familiar Spice In Your Kitchen
Before getting to know what can replace oregano in a recipe, let’s learn about oregano first! How much have you known about it? This section will provide you with the most basic information about oregano!
What Is Oregano?
Oregano is an aromatic herb often used in the Mediterranean, Italian and Mexican cuisines. The plant is from the mint family. It contains greenish, small leaves with tiny purple and white flowers that taste really good.
Both leaves and flowers of oregano are collected and made into the intense seasoning you already know. Oregano is also gluten-free and friendly to vegetarians, so it can easily be used in vegan meals.
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Oregano not only enhances the dish’s taste, but also consists of medicinal qualities. It can help reduce the high amount of cholesterol in your blood and join a hand in eliminating the parasites in your gut. Therefore, oregano is a healthy herb to absorb. (1)
What Taste Does Oregano Add To Your Dish?
The fragrance of oregano is unique. It tastes a bit tangy, to tell. It’s earthy, bitter, and naturally fresh with a peppery aftertaste, which will remind you of mint or hay. It has a versatile, strong taste that won’t change even if you add it at the beginning of the cooking process.
The special thing is that you can use both oregano forms – fresh or dry – to add more flavors to your dishes. You can easily find the spicy taste of oregano in some Italian dishes such as pizza, soups, stews, pasta sauces, and many other dishes.
Observe how this man collects and dries his oregano to store as a spice! You can do it for yourself!
Top 18 Most Useful Oregano Substitutes In Cooking
Now that you know about oregano, let’s check the table below for a brief look at different types of oregano replacements and their ratio used in cooking! There’s a high chance that your kitchen may probably have at least one of these alternatives, so go and check for it!
|Oregano Substitute||Substitute Ratio|
|Dried oregano||1 tablespoon of fresh oregano = 1 teaspoon of dried oregano|
|Fresh thyme||1 tsp of oregano = 1 tsp of fresh thyme|
|Marjoram||Option 1: 1 tsp of oregano = 1 tsp of marjoram |
Option 2: 2 tsp of oregano = 3 tsp of marjoram
¾ tsp of dried oregano = 1 tsp of dried marjoram
|Basil||1 tsp of oregano = 1 tsp of basil|
|Mexican oregano||1 tsp of oregano = ½ tsp Mexican oregano|
|Parsley||1 tsp of oregano = 1 tsp of dried parsley |
1 tsp of oregano = ½ tsp of fresh parsley
|Fenugreek||1 tsp of oregano = 1 tsp of fenugreek|
|Tarragon||1 tsp of oregano = 1 tsp of tarragon|
|Dill||2 tsp of oregano = 1 ½ tsp of dill|
|Italian seasoning||Option 1: 1 tsp of oregano = 1 tsp of Italian seasoning |
Option 2: 1 tsp of oregano = ½ tsp of Italian seasoning
|Rosemary||1 tsp of oregano = less rosemary (a pinch)|
|Fennel||2 tsp of oregano = 1 ½ tsp of fennel|
|Ajwain leaves/ Carom||1 tsp of oregano = 1 tsp of ajwain leaves/carom|
|Summer savory||1 tsp of oregano = 1 tsp of summer savory|
|Bay leaf||1 tsp of oregano = 1 tsp of crushed bay leaf|
|Sage||Option 1: 2 tsp of oregano = 1 ½ tsp of sage |
Option 2: 2 tsp of oregano = 1 tsp of sage
|Fresh chives||Add slowly until reaching desired flavor|
|Herbs mixture||1 tsp of oregano = ½ tsp of marjoram + ½ tsp of basil |
1 tsp of oregano = ½ tsp of basil + ½ tsp of parsley
1 tsp of oregano = ½ tsp of marjoram + ½ tsp of thyme
* These ratios are not perfect and should be modified based on your recipe and likings.
1. Dried Oregano
If you can’t find any fresh oregano in your kitchen, what about the dried one? Nothing can better replace oregano than, of course, oregano but in a different form!
With every 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, replace it with 1 teaspoon of dried oregano! It will maintain the flavor that you want to add and enhance your dish’s taste. If you happen to have dried oregano in your pantry, don’t hesitate to use it!
2. Fresh Thyme
It is hard to tell the differences between oregano and thyme when they are all fresh. They are similar in appearance, texture, flavor, and even fragrance. They are almost twins! Therefore, they can be used interchangeably in most recipes.
Thyme can be used in many dishes, especially tomato-based, bean-based and potato-based ones. You can also use it in the dressing for your salads. For the best-quality thyme as an oregano equivalent, you should choose the English or French species of thyme.
Fresh thyme should be used to replace oregano at the final decorating step to maintain a similar taste. In this case, the 1:1 ratio can work best. You should not use dried thyme to substitute for dried oregano because of its strong taste.
Marjoram is popular in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. It is an aromatic herb from the mint family, just like oregano. (2)
Dried marjoram can be a fascinating equivalent for oregano when you don’t have any fresh or dried oregano at home! You can replace 1 teaspoon of dried marjoram with ¾ teaspoon of dried oregano.
Actually, marjoram and oregano are pretty alike; however, the marjoram tastes milder, more elegant than oregano and somehow more fragrant. Marjoram is usually used in recipes calling for pork and chicken.
The flavor of marjoram may not last as long as oregano, so you should add it near the end of the cooking process. It is best to replace oregano in Mexican dishes. You can use it as a 1:1 alternative, or 3 parts of marjoram to stand in for 2 parts of oregano.
You can’t pass basil when it comes to oregano equivalents. Basil is a tender plant and also a member of the mint family. It is used in cuisines around the world, but mostly in Mediterranean cuisine.
Basil can easily replace oregano, especially in Italian recipes, such as pasta, pizza, pesto, salads, and many more. It tastes quite different from oregano with a distinctive flavor and unique undertone; however, the final result gives the same feeling, so it’s fine to use.
Dried basil is less intense than fresh one, but it can last for a long time in your kitchen since it doesn’t require much to be stored properly. You may swap fresh or dried basil for the fresh or dried oregano for a 1:1 ratio.
Get the amazing tips to grow basil right in your garden!
5. Mexican Oregano
Mexican oregano has nothing to do with the original oregano. It comes from the verbena family and tastes a bit different from the original version of oregano.
Mexican oregano tastes more intense to some extent, with citrus and anise undertones. Therefore, it tastes a lot stronger than general oregano, so you should be aware to adjust the amount properly.
These two editions of oregano do share some similarities in taste, but you should only use ½ teaspoon of Mexican oregano to substitute 1 teaspoon of original oregano. It may work best in where it comes from, which is Tex-Mex cuisine.
Parsley is a flowering plant in the Apiaceae family. It is made into spice and is widely used in European and American cuisines. It is not only used as a garnish by being chopped down into pieces but can also boost the dish’s taste very well.
Parsley tastes pretty like oregano and can replace oregano in various dishes, especially tomato-based ones. Moreover, because parsley itself suits well with meat recipes, you should also add it to meatloaves and meatballs dishes in place of oregano.
You can use dried parsley to substitute for oregano, 1 to 1. With fresh parsley, it is suggested that you should only use half of the amount.
Fenugreek is a herb native to India, the Mediterranean, and southern Europe. It can be used as a typical spice and also as medicine in some countries, especially China.
Fenugreek seeds and fenugreek leaves are both edible. They can help add flavors to culinary dishes.
Fenugreek has a milder taste than oregano and a nutty undertone. Use as a 1 to 1 substitute to replace oregano in most recipes. It can quickly go with any recipe that calls for oregano.
Tarragon, also known as dragon herb, is a culinary herb and a sunflower family member. The typical species used in cooking is the French tarragon.
Tarragon’s skinny leaves are made into a popular spice or ingredient widely used in French cuisine. It has a delicate, aromatic, and licorice flavor.
Tarragon can be a great oregano equivalent in dressing as well as meat recipes, especially with chicken. The perfect ratio for this alternative is the 1:1 ratio.
Dill is an annual herb native to Europe and Asia. Both its leaves and seeds are used to spice up the dishes. Its fresh leaves are also used to garnish the meals.
Dill also has a very distinctive taste with caraway flavor that can enhance your dish’s taste pretty well. With the special flavor, it can surprisingly stand in for oregano in most recipes.
For 2 teaspoons of oregano, use 1 and a half teaspoons of dill to substitute in some recipes. It is highly recommended that you add dill at the end of your cooking process to maintain the best original flavor since it fades off quickly.
10. Italian Seasoning
Italian seasoning is a herb mixture that actually includes oregano inside. It is used mainly in Italian cuisine, so you should better replace oregano with this blend in Italian dishes.
The best recipes to go with Italian seasoning are various. You can find it in Italian dishes such as pizza, pasta, meatballs, fish-based and tomato-based dishes.
Although it’s a mixture of many herbs and spices other than oregano, the 1:1 ratio can be applied here. If you don’t want your dish to be too intense, just use half of the amount of the seasoning for every 1 teaspoon of oregano. You can modify other spices to your likings so as to get the best result!
Learn how to make Italian seasoning with basic spices and herbs in your pantry!
Rosemary is a very popular and aromatic herb that originates from the Mediterranean. Its leaves look very signature with a needle-like shape like pine leaves. It is made into spice, and I must say that it’s one of the most pungent herbs you’ve ever met!
Because of its unique and robust flavor, rosemary should only be used with a minimal amount to stand in for oregano in a meaty dish. Tomato-based, poultry, casserole and lamb dishes can be the best to add rosemary as an oregano replacement.
With a teaspoon of oregano, you just need to add a pinch of rosemary to get the taste, or keep modifying until it reaches your likings.
Richen your knowledge about rosemary’s nutrient values and the ways to use it!
Fennel is from the carrot family and includes a big white bulb. The whole fresh fennel is edible, and it is usually made into a spice or ingredient for cooking.
Fresh fennel is usually added in meat recipes, especially roasted ones, to garnish the dish. Also, it can be found in salad dressings, soups, stews and tomato-based dishes.
Fennel has a very signature flavor with an anise taste that can be a fantastic equivalent to oregano. With every 2 teaspoons of fresh oregano, you should add 1 and a half teaspoons of fennel fronds for the best quality.
13. Ajwain Leaves/ Carom
Ajwain leaves, also called carom, is a famous Indian annual herb. Both of its leaves and seed-like fruits are used in cooking. It looks and tastes pretty like oregano with aromatic and strong flavors, which makes it a perfect replacement for dried oregano.
Carom is widely used in Indian cuisine as an important ingredient in herb mixtures. It actually belongs to the same plant family with marjoram and oregano, so these herbs can be used interchangeably.
You can always use ajwain leaves, or carom, as a substitute for oregano with a 1:1 ratio. You should avoid the powder form of ajwain since it fades quickly while cooking.
14. Summer Savory
Summer savory may sound unfamiliar to most of you, but it is a pretty common herb in German cuisine, especially in dressings. It has a hot and peppery flavor with a spicy, slightly bitter undertone.
Summer savory may be a little bit hard to find in most supermarkets or stores, but you can purchase it in some German spice stores or online platforms.
With a particular flavor, summer savory can be an excellent replacement for oregano. As usual, you can apply the gold 1:1 substitute ratio for these herbs.
15. Bay Leaf
Bay leaf is a popular aromatic herb to use in cooking. It can be used in both dried or ground form, but the dried form is the best because of the more intense flavor that can boost the taste of your dishes.
With a pungent and sharp taste, the bay leaf also has a noticeable smell when being used in a dish. It adds a strong flavor to the dish and helps enhance the dish pretty well.
If your recipe calls for dried oregano, don’t hesitate to use the crushed bay leaf to replace the oregano if you don’t have it in hand. A part of oregano used in the recipe can be replaced with a part of crushed bay leaf.
Sage is a perennial herb with a bright and distinctive taste. It is also from the Mediterranean region and is popular around the world. You can find sage mostly in dressings, meat, poultry, veggie dishes and soups.
Sage has a strong, earthy and aromatic taste, which is why it is a promising candidate for oregano substitute. It is also packed with nutrients that are so good for your health, such as protein, carbs, iron, vitamins K, B6, etc.
Because of the taste, you should only use a moderate amount of sage to stand in for oregano in a recipe. Use one and a half parts of sage in place of 2 parts of oregano; or, with every 2 teaspoons of oregano, replace with 1 teaspoon of sage.
17. Fresh Chives
Fresh chives is a versatile herb that can easily substitute for both fresh and dried oregano. Its taste can be described as an onion-like flavor, so it is considered a strong-in-taste herb. It is usually chopped and put on a dish as a garnishment.
You can find fresh chives in potato-based, egg, cheese dishes. It can especially suit well with melted cheese dishes, such as mozzarella.
To replace oregano in a dish, you can always add slowly until the dish reaches flavors that the recipe calls for. Chop the chives thinly and spread on the top of your dish, because it is better as a garnish than an enhancing-taste spice.
18. Herb Mixture
Are you looking for an herb mixture to replace unavailable oregano? The 3 options below are excellent worth considering to provide you the closest flavor.
Option 1: Marjoram and Basil
These two herbs are obviously the two best herbs ever to replace oregano in a recipe! Mix 1 part of marjoram and 1 part of basil, and baam! You have the double-best replacement for 2 parts of oregano!
Option 2: Basil and Parsley
Basil and parsley are also a good choice, too. If these two buddies are available in your cupboard, make use of them by blending them together! Half teaspoon of basil and half teaspoon of parsley will be fine to replace a full teaspoon of oregano!
Option 3: Marjoram and Thyme
If your recipe calls for oregano, just use marjoram and thyme instead if you have them! Just like other mixtures, try to mix half of marjoram and half of thyme together to stand in for 1 part of oregano in your recipe!
Some related frequently asked questions have been listed below with short but helpful answers! I hope you can learn something more about oregano substitutes from this section!
Is There Your Favorite Oregano Substitute?
From all the above oregano alternatives I have listed, have you ever tried adding any of them to your dish in place of oregano? I think you might already have. Keep in mind that oregano is a special and versatile herb, but it doesn’t mean that it is irreplaceable.
You have many options of oregano alternatives to choose from. It also depends on the recipe that you’re about to make. So consider carefully using the most suitable herb, spice, or mixture to stand for the missing oregano!
Don’t forget to like, share and comment below on whatever you want to say about this topic! All of your opinions are warmly welcomed here!
- Webmd.com. 2021. OREGANO: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews. [online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-644/oregano.
- Healthline. 2021. What Is Marjoram? Benefits, Side Effects, and Uses. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/marjoram#what-it-is.