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The 5 Best Substitutes for Oregano

There are many uses for oregano, both in cooking and elsewhere.

It has been used since Ancient Greece, but the essential oil of oregano is more recent.

An oleoresin can be made from this oil, absorbing it into other substances.

These oils have also been extracted through water or steam distillation; one of the world’s most popular spices is also one of its healthiest.

Due to its powerful properties, oregano, a plant from the mint family, can be used as a spice or as a medicine.

Not only does this herb have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities to keep your immune system healthy, but it can also help with stomach issues such as bloating and indigestion.

Oregano is used as an undoubtedly yummy supplement for many dishes, seasoning them with its strong flavor and smell.

Many Italian meals such as spaghetti, lasagna, and pizza include this spicy herb as the main ingredient.

However, oregano can be quite hard to come by; since it is a plant, it cannot be manufactured or cultivated.

Oregano can only be found growing wild in certain parts of the world.

The price of oregano and its rarity can be limiting factors to those who wish to use it for medicinal or dietary reasons.

Here are five alternatives that mimic the taste and smell of oregano, so you can still enjoy your favorite Italian dishes without the extra expense.

What is Oregano?

what is oregano

First used in Ancient Greece, oregano is a herbaceous plant that belongs to the mint family.

It is native to warm temperate and tropical regions of Eurasia and Africa but can now be found growing worldwide.

Oregano has long been used for culinary purposes, adding flavor to pizza and spaghetti sauce dishes.

The leaves are also dark green in color and can be easily dried for later use.

Oregano oil and oregano leaves contain essential oils that can be extracted in various ways, such as hot water or steam distillation.

These oils then go through an absorption process to create an oleoresin.

This is how we get the oregano flavor that we are so familiar with.

It’s important to note that there are many varieties of oregano.

The most common oregano is Greek oregano, but Mexican Oregano and Italian Oregano can also be found.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Oregano

When you are cooking, you may find yourself unfortunate for not having oregano available.

What can you do? Thankfully, there are a few substitutes that you can make to keep your dishes tasting fresh and flavorful.

1 – Marjoram


Marjoram is a herb that is very similar to oregano.

In fact, it’s often confused with oregano, and most people use them interchangeably.

This herb has a warm but mild taste and is most commonly used in soups, sauces, meat dishes, seafood, and tomato-based pasta recipes.

In terms of taste, marjoram is often described as tasting like a combination of oregano and mint.

There are two main varieties of marjoram – sweet or knotted marjoram and pot marjoram.

Sweet marjoram has a milder flavor than the other type.

The smell is similar to oregano, but the taste is slightly different.

2 – Thyme


Thyme is another common herb that can be used as a good alternative to oregano.

This popular herb is an evergreen perennial and has pointed, needle-like leaves.

It has small pink or white flowers and spreads quickly.

In terms of taste, thyme is often described as having a strong earthy flavor with woodsy undertones.

However, some varieties of thyme may taste quite different.

Thyme pairs well with dishes containing chicken, lamb, pork, eggs, tomatoes, or cheese.

The herb is native to the Mediterranean region and can now be found growing worldwide.

3 – Basil


Of course, basil is one of the most popular herbs in many dishes.

It’s been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and features prominently in Italian cuisine today.

In terms of taste, basil has a slightly sweet flavor to it with an aromatic quality.

The taste is fresh and crisp, making it quite popular for certain dishes.

When used in cooking, basil leaves can be quite strong, especially if they are added toward the end of the cooking process.

Therefore, they are typically added at the very end or sprinkled on top of a dish just before serving.

4 – Italian Seasoning

italian seasoning

Italian seasoning is a combination of thyme, basil, and oregano.

The taste and smell of these three herbs together give what Italian seasoning would taste like.

It’s important to note that this herb mixture isn’t the same as the other three spices.

This particular blend usually has rosemary, and other ingredients added.

Italian seasoning can be found in most grocery stores today.

It may, however, also be available in whole or ground form.

In terms of taste, Italian seasoning has a slightly salty and spicy flavor.

This makes it good for adding to dishes that would benefit from some extra pizzazz.

This herb mixture is typically used to season pasta and other Italian dishes.

It can also be used for meats and marinades or sprinkled on salads or soups.

5 – Tarragon


Tarragon is an herb native to some parts of Europe and Asia.

This aromatic plant has narrow green leaves and a slight licorice taste.

In terms of taste, tarragon tends to be very fragrant and fresh.

Since the flavor is so distinct, this herb typically doesn’t work well as a substitute for oregano.

However, tarragon can be used as a seasoning mixture for certain dishes.

For example, tarragon can be mixed with salt to create an all-purpose seasoning for beans or green salads.

It’s also possible to make compound butter using tarragon, served on bread and crackers.


Oregano is one of the most popular herbs used in cooking today.

However, several other herbs are closely related to oregano.

These substitutes can be used instead of oregano when needed.

Depending on the dish, marjoram, thyme, basil, Italian seasoning, and tarragon can all be used as good oregano substitutes.

Each herb has a slightly different taste and smell; however, they all work well to replace oregano.

Of course, if none of these herbs are available in your area, you can always use dried oregano.

However, this is not recommended for dishes with fresh ingredients.

If you’re looking to try something new in your next recipe, a good oregano substitute might just be a perfect choice.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Oregano

The 5 Best Substitutes for Oregano
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Marjoram
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Tarragon


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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