Who doesn’t love a sprinkle of oregano on top of their pizza or pasta? But, what do you do when you have run out of it? Well, do not panic. We have made your job easy. Continue reading to familiarize yourself with some of the magic substitutes for oregano.
Oregano is one of the most popular seasonings used in Mediterranean and Italian dishes. It is a fragrant herb belonging to the mint family that provides a peppery edge and earthy aroma to your recipes.
A staple in many households and easily available in grocery stores, oregano is the most loved seasoning of all times. However, if you are suffering from an oregano allergy, have run out of it, or cannot utilize it in your dish for any other reason, these substitutes will help you out.
Here is a list of 15 best substitutes for oregano that will assist you in replicating its citrusy, earthy flavor in any recipe.
15 Best Substitutes for Oregano
Originating from the Mediterranean region, thyme is the first ingredient that comes to mind when searching for an oregano substitute. Oregano and thyme have a comparable citrusy and earthy flavor with similar characteristics.
What sets thyme apart from oregano is that it is less harsh, sweeter, and has leaves that are sourer than oregano. Thyme works wonders when added to dressings, fish, meats, stews, vegetables, potatoes, tomato-based dishes, and beans.
Thyme can retain its characteristics when cooking, just like oregano, so you may use it in pasta and pizza sauces that require a longer cooking time. However, you must remember to add it at the beginning of the cooking process.
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace thyme for oregano.
2. Mexican Oregano
The oregano we usually refer to is Mediterranean oregano which is starkly different from Mexican oregano. Despite being two different plants, they have a similar flavor profile and can be used as an ideal replacement for each other.
Mexican oregano has citrus and lemony flavors that nicely complement South American dishes. It is a fantastic alternative to be used in several Mexican recipes like chili, tacos, or bean-based dishes.
Mexican oregano boasts vibrant flavors of citrus and licorice in your dish, as opposed to its Italian version that leaves your palate with minty undertones.
How to substitute: Use half a teaspoon of Mexican oregano to replace Mediterranean oregano.
Another Italian herb that serves as a fantastic substitute for oregano is basil. Believed to have been brought into Italy by Greeks, basil is available in both fresh and dried forms.
Basil has a light peppery flavor and a fresh aroma that gives your dish a distinctive fragrance and taste. It provides culinary diversity, serving as a crucial component in salads, pesto, pizza, or even as an ice cream topping.
Despite having a powerful flavor, basil does not overpower the other ingredients in your dish. Besides, it cools your palate with the minty undertones and faint peppery sting.
How to substitute: An equal quantity of basil can be used to replace oregano in any recipe.
There would hardly be any kitchen pantry that does not have parsley in stock. This easily accessible, fragrant herb with its peppery flavor and earthiness is a great alternative to oregano in several dishes.
Parsley has a subtle, slightly bitter flavor that you would surely adore. It has a herbaceous, salty taste and a strong fragrance. Though having a similar flavor profile, parsley is milder than oregano.
Similar to oregano, it has a variety of culinary applications and is used as a garnish and in cooking preparations. However, you might not be aware that it can also be used as a home cure for asthma.
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace dried parsley for oregano. But while using fresh parsley, reduce its quantity to half.
5. Bay Leaf
Bay leaves with their minty flavor and a hint of black pepper is another excellent substitute for oregano.
Though it lacks the citrusy freshness of oregano, bay leaf has the same piny flavor and a lot of earthiness. To extract the full taste of bay leaves, you must simmer them for a long period.
It can therefore be used in dishes like soups and sauces that call for a lengthy cooking time. However, as they are unpleasant to eat separately, bay leaves should not be left in your dish after cooking.
How to substitute: Use one bay leaf or one-fourth tablespoon of crushed bay leaf to substitute one-fourth teaspoon of dried oregano.
Marjoram has a flavor profile similar to oregano, so much so that they are synonymously used in Middle Eastern countries. It is a plant with a taste similar to sweet pine and citrus.
Considering its flavor character, marjoram is an effective oregano substitute. They both have a mild taste and give your food a toasty, bitter flavor. Marjoram being softer and sweeter is slightly different from oregano.
Additionally, add the marjoram at the end of the cooking process to preserve its aroma since it loses flavor when cooked for an extended time period. It can be satisfactorily replaced in veggies, stews, meats, and beans.
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace marjoram for oregano.
The next efficient herb in the list of oregano substitutes is tarragon. It is a unique ingredient containing estragole that provides a sweet flavor, reminiscent of licorice or anise.
It comes in three varieties, Russian, French, and Mexican. However, its French variety is dominantly used.
It is primarily utilized in French dishes like béarnaise sauce, but it also works perfectly in Italian dishes. Tarragon is an adaptable herb that can even be used to dress a salad or marinate meat.
How to substitute: An equal amount of tarragon can be used to replace oregano in any dish.
Frequently used in Indian cuisine, fenugreek, also known as methi, is an excellent substitute for oregano. The flavors of this herb are so profound that it has now made its way to North African and Middle Eastern cuisine.
It has a nutty, bitter flavor with surprising sweetness. Even though it tastes like licorice, some people compare it to maple syrup. Many of your favorite meals, such as meats or curries, can benefit greatly from it.
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace fenugreek for oregano.
A popular Thanksgiving plant, sage, belongs to the mint family. With its numerous culinary uses and fragrant leaves, sage serves as a great replacement for oregano.
Sage is available in both fresh and dry forms. However, it is the fresh sage that has the closest flavor profile to oregano. It has a mild peppery taste with undertones of lemon and mint.
It can be used in a variety of dishes, including salad dressings, stuffings, and refreshing cocktails. Sage goes perfectly well with dishes demanding strong flavors, such as sausage and cured pork.
How to substitute: Use a half teaspoon of sage to replace one teaspoon of oregano.
One of the most aromatic herbs, rosemary, is a perfect substitute for oregano. Because of its peppery and minty taste, it can be used in several dishes in place of oregano.
Despite having a strong, pungent flavor, it is highly adaptable and very well-liked. It goes well with a wide variety of foods, including lamb, chicken, and pig, as well as stews, casseroles, roasts, beans, potatoes, soups, dressings, and tomato sauces.
The flavor of rosemary, which is a combination of lemon and pine is fairly intense. Therefore, be cautious while using it with both fresh and dried items.
How to substitute: A pinch of rosemary can satisfactorily replace one teaspoon of oregano.
11. Summer Savory
Though one of the lesser-known oregano replacements, summer savory can be the ideal substitute for your dish. Due to its exquisite aroma and adaptability in cooking, it is more loved than its seasonal counterpart, winter savory.
It smells peppery and has a slightly sweet flavor. Similar to oregano, summer savory is available in both fresh and dried form. Although summer savory pairs well with vegetables, it is primarily used in meat dishes to mask the overpowering meat flavor.
How to substitute: Use one teaspoon of summer savory to replace one teaspoon of oregano.
Often used in Asian and European cuisines, dill is another wonderful substitute for oregano. Dill seeds have a light, citrus-like flavor with an earthy undertone, in contrast to the grassy flavor of dill leaves.
Dill has an entirely different flavor profile when compared to oregano. However, if used in the right proportion, it can be a perfect substitute in several meals, such as sauces and fish recipes made with yogurt.
As dill is more pungent than oregano, you should use a small quantity to avoid overpowering the meal. It is also advised to add dill at the end of the cooking process to preserve its qualities.
How to substitute: To replace two teaspoons of fresh oregano, use one and a half teaspoons of fresh dill.
Although not a popular choice, fennel leaves can be satisfactorily used to replace oregano. Native to Southern Europe, it has a distinct bitter-sweet flavor, ideal for roasted meat recipes, salad dressings, and as a garnish.
Fennel also has a delicate sweetness akin to licorice that intensifies with cooking. Fennel might not fit in every dish due to its strong anise flavor. Hence, make sure that fennel compliments the flavor profile of your recipe by smelling or tasting it before using it.
How to substitute: Use a half teaspoon of fennel to replace one teaspoon of oregano.
14. Italian Seasonings
A mixture of marjoram, rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano, Italian seasoning can very nicely replace oregano in several recipes. It is readily available in supermarkets and is easy to use.
It is a perfect substitution for oregano in soups and while marinating meat. In addition, Mediterranean food and meals with a tomato base pair nicely with their Italian flavor.
To replace oregano with Italian flavor in any recipe, it’s vital to consider how hot the dish will be. Because Italian seasoning already has a few extra spices, adjust appropriately.
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace Italian seasonings for oregano.
15. Carom (Ajwain Leaves)
Often referred to as bishop’s weed or thymol seeds, carom is one of the most widely used ingredients in Indian cuisine. Having a closely linked flavor profile, carom can be used as an oregano substitute in a pinch.
Ajwain leaves have strong oregano and anise undertones that go well with a variety of recipes. It is also available in seed form, which pairs well with chutney and has a stronger flavor.
How to substitute: An equal amount of carom can be used to replace oregano in any dish.
We have selected the best substitutes for oregano, and have added them to this list to minimize your efforts. Hopefully, you would not be stressed the next time you encounter a recipe that calls for oregano.