There are many oregano substitute ingredients you can use for any dish. Some of these substitutes might be in your spice cabinet already.
What is Oregano?
Oregano is a type of herb that is commonly used around the world. The herb is part of the mint family and is composed of the fresh and dried leaves of an oregano plant. It’s typically classified into two categories, which are Mediterranean oregano and Mexican oregano.
What Does Oregano Taste Like
Oregano has a bold and earthy flavor that comes with a slight bitterness. Its flavor is reminiscent of camphor, which is an aromatic organic compound.
The unique flavor is due to the variety of essential oils found in oregano. These include thymol, limonene, carvacrol, and pinene.
Types of Oregano
There are two types of oregano, which include Mexican oregano and Mediterranean Oregano. Mexican oregano is considered to have a stronger flavor, and it comes from a plant known as Mexican wild sage or Mexican marjoram.
Mediterranean oregano comes from an herb native to the Mediterranean regions, as well as southwestern Eurasia. Different varieties may be more bitter, peppery, or sweet when compared to others.
For example, Greek oregano tends to be more savory and earthy than Italian oregano, which is more mild. Typically, when a recipe calls for oregano, it’s most likely the Mediterranean kind.
Dried vs. Fresh Oregano
- Because of its flavor, dried oregano is more often used during the cooking process as it is easier to control the flavor.
- Dried oregano is sold in brown and powdery flakes, while fresh oregano has a leafy green appearance.
- Dried oregano is more affordable and can be found in many grocery stores and markets. Fresh oregano on the other hand isn’t as widely available.
Common Uses for Oregano
- Oregano is often combined with olive oil to create Italian vinaigrettes, oregano oil, and marinades for chicken, beef, and lamb dishes.
- Fresh oregano leaves can serve as a great garnish for many dishes.
Why You May Need an Oregano Alternative
You might find yourself searching for an alternative to oregano when you can’t find it in your spice cabinet or if you recently ran out. Also, grocery stores might not have it in stock.
Another reason you may need an oregano substitute is if you have an oregano allergy or if you’re making a dish for someone with an allergy to oregano.
13 Best Oregano Substitute Options
Marjoram has a flavor similar to oregano, and it is part of the mint family. This herb can replace dried oregano in Mexican-style dishes and it can be found in grocery stores.
It has a hint of sweetness, and it is a bit milder, which makes a great substitute for a number of dishes. Marjoram can be used as a 1 to 1 substitute.
2. Italian Seasoning
An Italian seasoning mix can be a great substitute when an Italian dish calls for oregano. Oregano is also one of the main ingredients in an Italian seasoning mix. Italian seasoning can be used as a 1 to 1 substitute.
Fresh thyme can be used to garnish a number of dishes in place of oregano. Thyme and oregano have a similar taste and appearance and work well for similar kinds of recipes.
With that said, thyme does come with a stronger flavor. When using it to garner a dish, you can use it as a 1 to 1 substitute.
Parsely can be used in a variety of dishes as it is a very versatile herb. While it can be used to add flavor to a dish, it can also be used as a garnish.
Parsley is a good substitute for tomato-based dishes that call for oregano. You can use dried parsley as a 1 to 1 substitute, or half the amount if you have fresh parsley.
Fresh or dried basil can substitute fresh or dried oregano in Mediterranean cuisine or Italian recipes. Oregano and basil are similar in a few ways as they are both aromatic herbs.
While oregano will add a more earthy taste, basil gives a dish a bit of a sweeter taste. Basil can be used as a 1 to 1 substitute, and you can use fresh or dried oregano.
Sage has a distinctive flavor and can be found in dressing recipes, stuffing, and hearty and meaty dishes. You can use 1 1/2 teaspoons of sage if a recipe is calling for 2 teaspoons of oregano.
Tarragon comes in a few varieties, and it can act as a substitute for oregano in different kinds of dressings. Since the herb has a strong flavor, it works well in tomato-based dishes, dressings, and with chicken. Tarrago can be used as a 1 to 1 substitute.
Dill has a bit of bitterness to it and has a grassy flavor making it a good substitute for oregano depending on the dish. A popular herb, dill is found in fish recipes, yogurt-based dips, and to make pickles. If a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of oregano, use should use 1 1/2 teaspoons of dill.
Fennel has a unique flavor that might not work for every recipe when substituted for oregano. Feen can be used to substitute oregano if you are using it to garnish a dish, make a roasted meat dish, or use it in salads.
If a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of oregano, you can use 1 1/2 teaspoons of fennel fronds.
Rosemary can be a quick addition to pizza or pasta sauce. It can also be used to flavor potatoes or meat dishes. You can use either fresh or dried rosemary in equal amounts as oregano.
11. Summer Savory
Summer savory is a popular herb found in German cuisine, but it can be found in other parts of the world. This herb has a similar taste to oregano, and it can be used as a 1 to 1 substitute.
Fenugreek can be used as a 1 to 1 substitute for oregano. This herb can act as a substitute for oregano in just about any recipe, and it has a mind, sweet, and nutty flavor.
13. Bay Leaf
Bay leaf is most often used in its dried form to flavor soups and stews, or for slow-sooked and slow-roasted dished. You can substitute a 1/4 tablespoon of crushed bay leaf for each 1/4 tablespoon of dried oregano.
How to Substitute Dried Oregano for Fresh Oregano
The best way to substitute an herb is to use the herb’s fresh or dried counterpart. It’s easy to substitute dried oregano for fresh oregano. You can use 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano as it is equal to 1 teaspoon of dried oregano.