The Best Oregano Substitutes in Your Kitchen Pantry

Cover Image Oregano

Oregano is a quintessential herb in cuisines all over the world especially Italian. It is a Mediterranean herb used abundantly in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Pizza is unimaginable without this wonderful herb. Because of its unique aroma and flavor, it is often added to many recipes to boost the flavor profile. It is used in both dried and fresh forms.

It is common to run out of oregano while cooking because if you love oregano, you’ll feel like every meal you cook can use some oregano. 

While it is always the best option to go out and buy oregano instead of using a substitute, for a quick fix solution, you can use other ingredients at your disposal.

How to Substitute Oregano?

Oregano can be substituted by replacing oregano in recipes with other herbs. But oregano is used in recipes in 2 forms. Dried and fresh, so based on that, its substitute varies. Even though oregano is associated mainly with Italian cuisines like pasta and pizza, its uses exceed these two dishes. The reason is it is common in Italy and Europe, Mexico, Latam cuisine, and many more! Anything from sauces, bread, curries, and even meats and oregano complements them!

The Best Substitutes for Oregano

  1. Fresh Basil and Dried Basil 

Basil is a herb that is possibly the best substitute for oregano. Because basil is also widely used in cuisines that use oregano. Moreover, basil has a flavor profile associated with dishes and foods containing oregano. Fresh or dried, both forms of basil can replace fresh or dried oregano at a ratio of 1:1. 

  1. Italian Seasoning

While I understand that this may sound funny, hear me out. One of the main ingredients of Italian seasoning is oregano. While that oregano is dried, you can also use it to substitute fresh oregano. On top of that, the other herbs in Italian seasoning are also complimentary, so if you decide to use them, you should consider those herbs if your recipe also includes those herbs. You can replace oregano with Italian seasoning at a 1:1 ratio.

  1. Fresh Marjoram and Dried Marjoram

Marjoram is probably the second-best substitute for oregano. That is because both oregano and marjoram belong to the mint family. Though marjoram is milder and sweeter than oregano, it has a strong flavor, making it a viable alternative. To use marjoram as a substitute, replace marjoram with oregano at a 1:1 ratio.

Fun Fact : Mediterranean Oregano is often called Wild Marjoram.

  1. Fresh Thyme and Dried Thyme

Also, thyme is a member of the mint family and a suitable alternative for oregano. Both fresh and dried versions are good as a substitute, but fresh and dried thyme is a bit different in terms of flavor and intensity. Fresh thyme can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio. Still, yes, dried thyme should be replaced at a slightly lesser amount because of its intensity. Of all the substitutes for oregano, thyme is the most preferred by chefs.

  1. Fresh Parsley and Dried Parsley

Parsley can also be used to replace oregano in recipes. In the case of parsley, the fresh kind is more intense than the dried. So when using parsley as a substitute, in the case of dried parsley, substitute it at a ratio of 1:1, but in the case of fresh parsley, replace parsley with oregano at a ratio of 1:2.

  1. Dill

Dill is a unique herb with a grassy flavor; it also has hints of anise and is bitter. It makes it a good substitute for oregano. However, when you want to substitute it in a recipe with oregano, replace the dill with oregano at a ratio of 1:2.

  1. Fennel Leaves and Seeds

This licorice-flavored herb can be used in dried and fresh forms to replace oregano. But care should be taken because it can change the dish’s flavor. Fennel leaves should be used instead of the bulbs as they mimic the flavor of oregano more accurately. To replace fennel with oregano in recipes, use it at a ratio of 3:4 with oregano.

fennel leaves on a wooden floor
Image credit: Natalia Bulatova, Shutterstock
  1. Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek seeds have a mild and nutty taste. Like oregano, it has a sweet and earthy taste as well. So while it may not be the best alternative for oregano, it is still a viable choice. To replace fenugreek seeds for oregano, substitute them at a ratio of 1:1 in recipes.

You may also like: What Does Fennel Taste Like

  1. Tarragon

This French herb can be replaced with oregano at a ratio of 1:1 in recipes that require oregano.

  1. Bayleaf

Bayleaf can be substituted at a ratio of 1:1 for oregano in recipes. It can be used whole and in its powdered or ground form. Being a versatile herb, it tastes fantastic. It adds a significant level of depth to any dish it is added to.

Tip : Throw away the bay leaf after cooking as it’s mainly used for flavor and not for direct consumption with food.

  1. Rosemary

While rosemary may not be a proper substitute, it can also be used in dishes that require oregano. The flavors of rosemary are floral and warm, which complements food in ways other ingredients simply can’t. If you want to substitute rosemary with oregano in a dish, substitute rosemary and oregano at a ratio of 1:4.

  1. Sage

One might argue that sage can be too powerful and overtake other flavors. At the same time, that is true; sage is nonetheless a viable substitute for oregano. Fresh sage can be used to substitute oregano at a 1:1 ratio directly. But dried sage, on the other hand, is very intense and should be added in minimal amounts.

sage leaves kept in a wooden floor
Image credit: Jiri Hera, Shutterstock

These substitutes can be interchanged and used in various combinations depending on the recipe you are making. Feel free to experiment and discover new flavor combinations!

Some FAQ

What is Mexican Oregano?

It is a species of Oregano native to Mexico and has a lemony citrus flavor.

What is Mediterranean Oregano?

It is a species of oregano that grows in the Mediterranean region and is bitter, sweet, and peppery in taste.

How to substitute Mexican Oregano and Mediterranean Oregano?

Mexican oregano is usually stronger than Mediterranean Oregano. You can use them at a 1:1 ratio, but I would suggest using half the amount and then adding after tasting.

How to use oregano?

Oregano is used to flavor meats, vegetables, sauces, stews, etc. Its culinary uses are vast.

What are the uses of oregano?

Oregano has medicinal qualities. It also has antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties and qualities.

What are the differences between Fresh Oregano and Dried Oregano?

Fresh oregano tastes crisp and vibrant. On the other hand, dried oregano is intense in flavor but somewhat dull like most dried spices and herbs.

What tastes similar to oregano?

Marjoram has the closest taste to oregano.

How to replace Fresh Oregano and Dried Oregano?

To replace Fresh Oregano and Dried Oregano, use more fresh oregano to replace dried oregano.

Is Oregano and Italian seasoning the same?

No, but oregano is a major ingredient of Italian seasoning.

Oregano substitute for pasta?

To substitute oregano in pasta, use basil, marjoram, parsley, or even thyme.

Oregano substitute in chili?

Basil, thyme, and rosemary are good options to substitute oregano in chili.

Substitute for Greek Oregano?

To substitute greek oregano, you can use a mixture of marjoram with oregano, basil, or thyme.

Is Substitute for oregano Chimichurri?

To substitute oregano in chimichurri, replace it with equal fresh or dried basil parts.

Oregano substitute in pizza?

For pizza, replace oregano with basil.

Oregano substitute in taco seasoning?

Use marjoram, thyme, basil, or sage to substitute oregano in taco seasoning.

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To Conclude

Oregano is arguably one of the most recognized herbs in the world. Due to its plethora of uses and medicinal qualities, oregano will continually prove its usefulness and tastiness. Now that you know how to substitute oregano in a recipe, I hope you will never have to worry again if you ever run out of oregano. But yes, nothing beats the real stuff, so it’s always a good choice to just run down to the grocery store and grab yourself some actual oregano. 

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