Are you looking for substitutes for oregano? Whether you are swapping fresh oregano out to get creative in the kitchen, or you’ve just run out of dried oregano at home, this post is your new best friend for finding the best oregano seasoning substitute.
Of course, it goes without saying that no herb’s flavor profile is identical, so there is no perfect substitute for oregano in every recipe. However, there are ways you can enhance the flavor of your dish using other herbs and spices when you don’t have oregano to hand.
Let’s get cooking!
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What You Need to Know About Oregano
First things first, for you to make an appropriate substitution for oregano in tonight’s dinner, let’s go over a few details that make oregano unique:
- Oregano is a herb that is commonly used in both fresh and dried forms.
- The taste of oregano is bold, comforting, earthy, aromatic, and the perfect blend of sweet and bitter.
- It is a popular herb in Italian, Mexican, Greek, and Turkish cuisine.
- It’s no surprise these cuisines use the herb so readily, as oregano is grown in Mediterranean countries and some parts of Asia and North America.
- Oregano is also one of the most commonly found herbs in dishes cooked around the world!
Substituting Dried with Fresh Oregano
You can use dried oregano instead of fresh oregano in almost any recipe that calls for this herb!
Fresh herbs are always favorable for taste and adding texture to a dish, but dried oregano is easier to keep in the cupboard to have on hand at a moment’s notice. Some recipes also require one or the other. For example, a Greek salad with vegan feta, red onion, green peppers, and cucumber works best with dried oregano. However, garnishing is always best with fresh oregano.
When substituting oregano, use one-third of the quantity of dried oregano compared to fresh oregano (chopped).
Hacks for Substituting Herbs
Here are my top hacks for finding an oregano seasoning substitute, if you find yourself in a pickle with no oregano for tonight’s recipe, or if you are looking to test out new herb combinations in your cooking to give a new lease on life to a family favorite dish, these are for you.
- My number one tip is to experiment. Add a scoop of the recipe you’re cooking into a separate bowl and add a little bit of the herb at a time. This way you can check that the seasoning compliments your meal before adding it to the entire recipe.
- Another thing you can do is a smell test. Generally, you should be able to give an herb or spice that you are considering for a substitution a sniff and see if you think the flavor fits your recipe’s theme.
9 Best Substitutes for Oregano
What is a good replacement for oregano leaf? Glad you asked! Here are the best herbs for substituting oregano and what you should know about each alternative.
The following substitutions are for dried oregano to your chosen herb in a 1:1 ratio, unless otherwise stated.
If you are cooking a southern European dish such as an Italian, Mediterranean, or Greek dish, basil leaf is your best bet oregano alternative due to the herbs’ similar flavor and potency.
A wonderful option for a dry oregano substitute is marjoram leaf, as it has the closest flavoring of all the commonly found herbs in most grocery stores. This herb is perfect in Mexican dishes.
Thyme leaf and oregano look similar when fresh, so this is an obvious choice for an oregano alternative. Together with a comparable appearance, these herbs complement each other well in most recipes.
Typically a 1:1 ratio works fine. However, thyme is a little more potent, so you may need to be more conservative when adding it into the main component of your dish.
4. Italian Seasoning (dried)
If you don’t already keep an Italian seasoning mix in your cupboard, you need to head over and pick one up because this dried herb seasoning is a great alternative when you are running low in the most common Italian herbs.
As oregano is a key component of this seasoning mix, you can usually substitute it with ease into most dishes as a dry oregano substitute.
Parsley leaf is a popular herb for heavy tomato recipes or Italian sauces.
You can safely use a 1:1 ratio of oregano to parsley when using dried herbs. However, the strength of parsley varies between the dried and fresh forms. Therefore, you may wish to use a smaller quantity of parsley when using fresh herbs.
You probably know dill weed for being in yogurt dips and fancy garnishes. It looks a bit like thin grass and is incredibly delicate in appearance. Although it wouldn’t be my first port of call for an oregano substitute, you can use it effectively in some North African and Middle East recipes.
As dill is strong in flavor, use half to three-fourths of the amount of dill, compared to oregano called for in the recipe.
Similar to parsley, tarragon works well in tomato-based recipes as a replacement for oregano. Although this potent herb is unique, it works well with similar dishes to oregano, such as salad dressings.
Fennel seed and fennel seed powder aren’t as versatile a substitute for oregano as some other herbs on this list. It has an almost anise flavor and is very distinctive in cooking.
You can use it to garnish dishes that need a punch of flavor from fresh herbs. However, I would usually recommend only the more experienced cooks try this one out, as you’ll need to give the dish and seasoning a good sniff and taste test to check the flavors match.
As fennel is a strong flavor, use about half the quantity of fennel compared to oregano in your cooking.
Yum! The best go-to holiday herb for stuffings and wellingtons. This popular herb is very different from oregano, and you’ll be able to recognize a dish with sage leaf a mile off. Therefore, it isn’t a like-for-like substitute but can add a delicious flavor to your holiday dishes.
Use about half the amount of sage as oregano in your recipes.
My Go-To Recipes with Oregano
The best substitutes for oregano in chili are hands down, thyme, sage, basil, and marjoram. Use just one or two of these in your recipe, do a quick taste test (yum!), and see if you feel it needs anything else.
Alternatively, use my vegan pumpkin chili recipe, which only requires cumin and chili powder as the dry herbs and spices and no fresh herbs. Winning!
When it comes to the best oregano for pizza, I recommend using dried oregano if you add the herbs before cooking. This is because fresh oregano can shrink during cooking and lose its flavor. It also looks wilted and sad when it withers due to the heat. Feel free to add a fresh oregano garnishing for a pop of green when serving to impress your guests!
Here’s a delicious vegan pizza recipe for when the cravings hit!
Sure! Using parsley as an oregano alternative is best with tomato-based saucy dishes. Both are powerful herbs, so you can use the same quantity of parsley to oregano when you make a substitution.
To get the most out of your fresh oregano, store it in a plastic bag in the fridge. The herbs should stay fresh and fragrant for three days. However, feel free to use them on day 4+ as long as they don’t appear too limp and lifeless.
My top tip is to wet a sheet of kitchen paper, ring it out, so it’s damp, and then place the sheet flat in the bag with the herbs. Then leave a tiny gap for air. These hacks should give your fresh herbs the best chance of survival in your fridge so you can use fresh herbs for days!
The key to making your herbs last longer and avoiding waste (frantically searching for articles like this about substitutes and any emergency trips to the grocery store, which is always a pain!), keep your herbs away from oxygen and moisture when possible.
Therefore, you need to ensure your herbs are completely dry before storing them in an airtight container in a cool, dark location away from direct sunlight. It is also best to avoid keeping dried herbs near the range, where they may become warm and moist from the stove.
Although dried spices tend to last longer than dried herbs, you can keep your dried herbs for a number of years before they start to go bad. And even then, the herbs will just lack flavor, but they won’t necessarily be dangerous.
Typically dried herbs can last 1-3 years. However, this will depend on your storage methods, how hot your kitchen is, and what kind of herbs you use. Although, if you’re anything like me and you love cooking, your herbs may never even see their first birthday!
As mentioned, a good rule of thumb, you should use one-third of the amount of dried herbs compared to their fresh counterparts. This rule means that for every tablespoon of fresh oregano, you only need about one teaspoon of dried oregano.
This is because dried herbs are stronger and more potent than fresh herbs, so you need to use less to avoid the more powerful flavor overpowering your dish. And although I love oregano as much as the next person, I’m not sure I want half my spoonful to be dried herbs, haha.
Video of Fresh & Dried Oregano
Conclusion: What is the Best Oregano Alternative?
The best replacement for oregano in a recipe is not a uniform answer.
No herb is created equally (otherwise, it would just be the same herb), so it’s important to know that you can’t replicate the exact flavor of oregano with another herb. So, the best herb to choose if your fridge and cupboards are all out of oregano will depend entirely on the dish you’re creating. That said, the most similar herbs are basil, parsley, and marjoram.
Hopefully, this post has helped you decide what herb to use instead of oregano in your recipe. And hey, there’s no harm in testing out a small amount of a herb and doing a cheeky taste test to see how it gets on in your dish. Plus, this way, you can sneak some extra spoonfuls of dinner for ‘culinary purposes’, haha.
What’s your favorite substitute for oregano? Is there an herb you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments!
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Very detailed and informative.
Thanks, Jon. I’m glad you found it useful!
This blog post is great! It has so much information and answers so many of my questions. Thank you!
So glad you like this post, Amber. Do you have a favorite substitute for oregano?