Oregano, a gorgeous green herb from the mint family, brings a subtle balance of sweet and spicy taste and a bold, earthy flavor with slightly bitter notes to dishes. It also has a characteristic minty smell that enhances the flavor profile and aromatic appeal of a variety of foods, including pizzas, pasta sauces, and chicken.
So, what do you do when you need it for a recipe but don’t have any in your pantry? Use these oregano substitutes to save the day.
Basil is a leafy green herb that has a subtle peppery flavor with a hint of mint and anise and can be used fresh or dried. While it doesn’t have the same pungent flavor as oregano, it works exceptionally well as its substitute in Mediterranean and Italian-inspired dishes.
Keep in mind that fresh basil has a milder flavor than oregano, so you may need to use more than a 1:1 substitution to achieve a similar flavor profile. On the other hand, because dried basil has a more intense flavor, it’s best to start with a tiny amount and adjust to taste to avoid overpowering your dish.
1 teaspoon fresh or dried oregano = 1 teaspoon fresh or dried basil.
Thyme has an earthy, minty flavor and an appearance that is similar to oregano, particularly in its fresh state. Thyme releases more flavor as it cooks, so it is best added at the beginning of the cooking process, and it shines best in slow-cooked dishes. It can be used in both fresh and dried forms, making it a good substitute for oregano.
Fresh thyme is best used as a garnish but works well in beef and tomato-based dishes, salad dressings, and other dishes. Remember that while both fresh and dried thyme have a flavor similar to oregano, dried thyme can pack a more intense flavor. So, if your recipe calls for dried oregano, we recommend experimenting with other options or using less thyme initially and only adding more if needed.
1 teaspoon fresh oregano = 1 teaspoon fresh thyme.
Marjoram and oregano are often confused as the same herbs, despite being two completely different plants. Marjoram tastes similar to thyme but has a subtler flavor than oregano. It’s a little sweeter than its more pungent relative, but it can be used as a stand-in for oregano, especially in Mexican-style meals.
Both fresh and dried versions of marjoram can be substituted for oregano in chicken, pork, and other dishes without affecting their overall flavor. However, keep in mind that marjoram can give your meal a floral scent, which contrasts with oregano’s sharp minty flavor, so you will need to use more to get the same flavor. Also note that marjoram loses its flavor and aroma when cooked, so it should be added near the end of the cooking process.
1 teaspoon dried oregano = 1 or 1 ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram.
Or ⅔ teaspoon fresh oregano = 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram.
4. Italian Seasoning
The earthy, delicately sweet, and peppery flavor of Italian seasoning comes from a blend of dried herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and oregano. Because oregano is one of the ingredients in Italian seasoning, you can easily substitute Italian seasoning in equal amounts for oregano in a range of Italian dishes.
Italian seasoning can also be used to replace oregano in tomato-based and Mediterranean dishes. Keep in mind that the flavor profile will differ because Italian seasoning contains additional herbs that will add their own flavors. To avoid changing the overall flavor profile of the dish, reduce the amount of oregano and other seasonings and herbs used in the recipe when using Italian seasoning as a stand-in for oregano.
1 teaspoon dried oregano = ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning. (Add more for a stronger flavor.)
Parsley has a fresh peppery flavor with a tinge of earthiness, and it’s commonly used as a garnish or seasoning in a wide range of recipes. While it lacks the bitterness and pungent flavor of oregano, parsley works well as an oregano substitute, especially in tomato-based meals, to provide depth and flavor.
Parsley can be used as a stand-in in both fresh and dried forms; however, keep in mind that dried parsley is milder and has a more subdued flavor than fresh parsley. So, you can use dried parsley in a 1:1 substitute for oregano. When using fresh parsley instead of oregano, however, you will need to adjust the amount you use because fresh parsley has a stronger flavor.
1 teaspoon dried oregano = 1 teaspoon dried parsley.
Or 1 teaspoon fresh oregano = ½ teaspoon fresh parsley.
Tarragon has a pungent, bittersweet flavor that is similar to the flavor profile of oregano. It’s commonly used as a flavoring agent in French cuisines and works well as a substitute for oregano in meat dishes as well as tomato-based dishes.
Tarragon can be used in both fresh and dried forms. When used in place of oregano, tarragon can mimic the original spice’s subtle bitter flavor and give a powerful kick to various dishes. It also works well in salad dressings where its bittersweet flavor complements all the other elements of the dish.
1 teaspoon oregano = 1 teaspoon tarragon.
Dill has a delightful freshness and a mild sweetness with notes of grassy undertones, especially when it’s fresh. It’s a popular spice in yogurt-based sauces and seafood meals, as well as a key ingredient in pickles.
Dill’s grassy flavor and subtle bitterness can be used to replace oregano in a variety of dishes to provide a new distinct flavor. Make sure to replace fresh for fresh and dried for dried forms to ensure the correct balance of flavor. Because dill has a little anise flavor, start with a small amount and adjust to taste to avoid overpowering the flavor of the dish.
1 teaspoon oregano = ¾ teaspoon dill.
Friendly tip: Because dill loses its flavor when cooked, it’s better to add it at the very end of the cooking process.