Oregano is a popular herb found in almost any spice cabinet. This spice is pungent and slightly bitter, common in Mediterranean and Mexican dishes. Its flavor profile is earthy, with hints of mint and a sweet undertone. Consider thyme, basil, marjoram, and sage if you need a substitute.
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The flavor profile of oregano
Oregano (“joy of heart” in Greek) is a warm, slightly bitter, and pungent herb. Its flavor profile is earthy, with a hint of mint and a slightly sweet and aromatic undertone. Some people may even say it has a spicy flavor. These characteristics make it a perfect herb to balance out an acidic dish. Also, the more you apply heat to oregano, the more it will strengthen its taste.
Organo is a versatile herb, but it is most commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, adding a distinctive flavor to pizza, pasta sauces, and marinades.
Some other dishes that benefit the most from the addition of oregano include:
- Savory dishes, together with lime
What spices can you use instead of fresh or dried oregano?
If you’re a fan of oregano, you know it’s a versatile and delicious herb. You can use it to flavor pasta, pizza, and salad dressings; it tastes great on almost anything. However, if you don’t have oregano around, these are the absolute best substitutes:
- Dried Italian Seasoning
- Mexican Oregano
|Parsley||A mild herb with a fresh, slightly bitter flavor, used as a garnish but can flavor dishes such as salads, soups, potatoes, and sauces|
|Dried Italian seasoning||Has a flavor profile similar to oregano because it contains this herb. Like oregano, this mix is commonly used in Italian dishes such as pasta sauces, pizza, and meatballs|
|Marjoram||A sweet and slightly citrusy herb, used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine|
|Tarragon||A delicate herb with a sweet and slightly licorice-like flavor, works well with chicken salads, vinaigrettes, and creamy sauces|
|Mexican oregano||Has a similar flavor profile, often used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine as a great substitute for oregano in chili, tacos, and enchiladas|
|Dill||A sweet and slightly tangy herb, works as a replacement in Scandinavian and Eastern European cuisine, especially pickles, salads, and fish|
|Sage||Has a robust, warm, earthy flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste, used in Italian cuisine and is common in pasta sauces, sausages, and roasted meat dishes|
|Fennel||Has a sweet and slightly licorice-like flavor with a hint of anise, can be used as a replacement in some more subtle dishes|
|Rosemary||Has a piney, woody, strong flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste, works for dishes that require a savory taste|
|Thyme||Has a slightly minty and lemony flavor and subtle earthiness, making it an excellent substitute for oregano, a common ingredient in many traditional Mediterranean recipes|
|Basil||Has a slightly spicy and peppery flavor with a hint of anise, making it a great substitute for oregano in pizza, Caprese salad, and even tomato sauce|
Parsley is a mild herb with a fresh, slightly bitter flavor. It is often used as a garnish but can flavor dishes such as salads, soups, potatoes, and sauces.
Parsley is a great replacement in recipes that require a similar flavor, not just for garnishing.
For dried oregano, use the same amount as dried parsley, but for fresh or dry oregano, use double the amount of fresh parsley.
2. Dried Italian Seasoning
Dried Italian seasoning blends herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary. It has a flavor profile similar to oregano because it contains this herb. Like oregano, this mix is commonly used in Italian dishes such as pasta sauces, pizza, and meatballs.
You can use dried Italian seasoning in the same amount as oregano.
Marjoram is a sweet and slightly citrusy herb with a flavor profile similar to oregano. However, it’s more subtle than oregano.
It is often used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine and can replace oregano in meat stews, roasted vegetables, and marinades.
Substitute oregano for marjoram in equal amounts.
Tarragon is a delicate herb with a sweet and slightly licorice-like flavor. While it doesn’t have the same flavor profile as oregano, it is a good substitute in recipes with a more subtle flavor.
French cuisine often calls for it in chicken salads, vinaigrettes, and creamy sauces.
Tarragon is a suitable replacement for oregano in a 1:1 ratio.
5. Mexican Oregano
Mexican oregano is a different plant species than the more commonly used Mediterranean oregano but has a similar flavor profile.
It is often used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine as a great substitute for oregano in chili, tacos, and enchiladas.
You can substitute Mexican oregano for regular oregano in equal amounts.
Dill is a sweet and slightly tangy herb with a flavor profile quite different from oregano, but it can be a replacement in some dishes.
You often see it in Scandinavian and Eastern European cuisine, especially pickles, salads, and fish.
To replace oregano with dill, use only ¾ of the amount of dill. For instance, if a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of oregano, use 1 ½ teaspoons of dill instead.
Sage has a robust, warm, earthy flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste. While it is not commonly used as a replacement for oregano, you can use it in dishes where you need a more intense, savory flavor. It is often used in Italian cuisine and is common in pasta sauces, sausages, and roasted meat dishes.
If you don’t have fresh oregano but have fresh sage, you can substitute it in the same amount as the oregano called for in the recipe.
Fennel has a sweet and slightly licorice-like flavor with a hint of anise. You can see it in Mediterranean cuisine in roasted vegetables, salads, and marinades.
While it doesn’t have the same flavor profile as oregano, it can be used as a replacement in some more subtle dishes – or coupled with onions for extra sweetness in stews.
When using fennel as a substitute for oregano, use slightly less of it. For example, if the recipe asks for 2 teaspoons of oregano, use only 1 ½ teaspoons of fennel.
Rosemary is another oregano alternative with a piney, woody, strong flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste that can add much depth.
While it is not commonly used as a replacement for oregano, you can use it in dishes that require a savory taste — tomato-based dishes like sauces and stews, roasted meats, and vegetables.
If you’re substituting oregano with rosemary, start with a quarter of the amount of oregano the recipe calls for, then add more as needed.
Thyme has a slightly minty and lemony flavor and subtle earthiness, making it an excellent substitute for oregano. It is a common ingredient in many traditional Mediterranean recipes. Compared to oregano, it has a more assertive flavor.
Examples of dishes where you can use thyme instead of oregano include grilled or roasted chicken, pasta sauce, and roasted vegetables.
To exchange fresh oregano with fresh thyme, use the same amount as the recipe specifies for oregano.
Basil is a sweet and fragrant herb widely used in Italian cuisine. It has a slightly spicy and peppery flavor with a hint of anise, making it a great substitute for oregano. It can successfully replace oregano in pizza, Caprese salad, and even tomato sauce.
Basil can be a perfect replacement for oregano in equal amounts, which means you can use one tablespoon of basil for one of oregano.
What herb is closest to oregano?
|Dried oregano||Has a much stronger flavor than fresh oregano|
|Dried thyme||Has a much milder flavor than fresh thyme|
Thyme is the herb closest to oregano in terms of flavor, but this is true only when comparing fresh oregano to fresh thyme. Dried oregano has a much stronger flavor than fresh oregano, and dried thyme has a much milder flavor than fresh thyme, so the flavor profiles differ when using dried herbs.
In terms of recipes, you can use oregano in various dishes, including tomato-based sauces, roasted vegetables, and grilled meats. It is also a key ingredient in classic Greek dishes like moussaka and spanakopita. Thyme is often used in slow-cooked dishes like stews and casseroles and can also be used to season roasted vegetables, chicken, fish, poultry, potatoes, and stuffing.
Is oregano similar to basil?
While oregano resembles basil somewhat, it’s more related to mint, which is no surprise, given that it is a member of the mint family.
Oregano has a slightly bitter, intense flavor with a hint of sweetness and a warm aroma. In contrast, basil is intensely sweet (because it has a lot of linalool), with a slightly peppery flavor, a hint of anise, and a fresh, herbal aroma.
You can use fresh and dried basil and oregano in Italian dishes, but be mindful of the recipe. Oregano is often used in tomato-based pasta, pizza sauces, and grilled meats, while basil is more common in pasta dishes, salads, and soups.
Specifically, if you use basil instead of oregano in a tomato sauce, the sauce will have a sweeter, more aromatic flavor profile.