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Spice It Up: 5 Best Substitutes for Oregano

Ever find yourself in the middle of cooking and realize you’re out of oregano?

It’s more common than you’d think. Lucky for us, we’ve got some killer swaps up our sleeve.

Marjoram, thyme, basil, and even a blend of herbs can save your dish.

You wouldn’t believe how these alternatives can mimic or even enhance the flavor profile you’re going for.

And the best part? You probably already have some of these in your kitchen.

These swaps aren’t just stand-ins; they bring their own unique twist.

Think of it as giving your dish a surprise upgrade.

Who knows, you might even stumble upon a new favorite combo.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Oregano

Oregano is a popular herb known for its distinct flavor and aroma.

However, if you find yourself without oregano or want to explore different flavors, there are several substitutes available.

In this guide, we will compare the top 5 substitutes for oregano, discussing their key characteristics and suggesting proper ratios to help you achieve similar flavor profiles in your recipes.

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsProper Ratio
MarjoramSimilar flavor profile to oregano but milder and sweeter; adds a delicate and floral tasteUse an equal amount of marjoram as a substitute for oregano
ThymeEarthy and slightly minty flavor; complements savory dishes and adds depth to flavorsUse an equal amount of thyme as a substitute for oregano
BasilSweet and aromatic herb with a hint of pepperiness; adds freshness to dishes and pairs well with tomatoes and Italian flavorsUse an equal amount of basil as a substitute for oregano
Italian SeasoningBlend of herbs including oregano, basil, thyme, and others; offers a versatile option for Mediterranean and Italian-inspired dishesUse an equal amount of Italian seasoning as a substitute for oregano
TarragonAnise-like flavor with hints of sweetness and bitterness; pairs well with poultry, seafood, and vegetablesUse a smaller amount of tarragon compared to oregano, as it has a stronger flavor

Now let’s dive into each substitute in more detail:

1 – Marjoram

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.

  • Key Characteristics: Marjoram has a similar flavor profile to oregano but is milder and sweeter. It adds a delicate and floral taste to dishes, making it a suitable substitute when you want a more subtle oregano flavor.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of marjoram as a substitute for oregano. Adjust the quantity based on your recipe requirements.

2 – Thyme

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.

  • Key Characteristics: Thyme has an earthy and slightly minty flavor. It complements savory dishes well and adds depth to flavors. It can be used as a substitute for oregano, especially in recipes that benefit from its distinct taste.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of thyme as a substitute for oregano. Adjust the quantity based on your recipe requirements.

3 – Basil

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.

  • Key Characteristics: Basil is a sweet and aromatic herb with a hint of pepperiness. It adds freshness to dishes and pairs particularly well with tomatoes and Italian flavors. It can be used as a substitute for oregano when you desire a herbal, slightly sweet taste.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of basil as a substitute for oregano. Adjust the quantity based on your recipe requirements.

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.

  • Key Characteristics: Italian seasoning is a blend of various herbs, including oregano, basil, thyme, and others. It offers a versatile option for adding flavor to Mediterranean and Italian-inspired dishes. It can be used as a substitute for oregano to achieve a well-rounded herbaceous taste.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of Italian seasoning as a substitute for oregano. Adjust the quantity based on your recipe requirements.

5 – Tarragon

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.

  • Key Characteristics: Tarragon has an anise-like flavor with hints of sweetness and bitterness. It pairs well with poultry, seafood, and vegetables, offering a unique twist when used as a substitute for oregano. However, note that tarragon has a stronger flavor, so use it in smaller quantities.
  • Proper Ratio: Use a smaller amount of tarragon compared to oregano when using it as a substitute. Adjust the quantity based on your recipe requirements.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Oregano

Searching for the perfect oregano substitute? Your quest ends here! Explore our curated list of the 5 best alternatives that seamlessly replace oregano, ensuring your dishes maintain their delightful flavors.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 4 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • Marjoram
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Tarragon

Instructions
 

  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for oregano
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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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