Mediterranean food simply wouldn’t taste the same without a healthy dusting of oregano. This family member in the mint family of herbs is versatile, nutritious, and gloriously tasty. But what do you do when you want to prepare your favorite Mediterranean meal only to see you’ve run out of oregano?
What oregano substitutes can you use in a pinch (#PunIntended)?
Oregano is widely used for savory dishes and salads, and good substitutes include, basil, parsley, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram. Dill, sage, and Italian seasoning can also work in a pinch, depending on the recipe. Marjoram is mostly used to substitute Mexican oregano in meals. Choose a substitute based on the recipe profile.
Whichever substitute for oregano you choose, ensure you follow your culinary instincts about the amount to substitute and what substitute to choose.
What Is Oregano?
There are benefits to oregano, besides the yummy taste: Oregano is an anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, regulates blood sugar, is a digestive aid, and also has anti-cancer properties.
So, oregano has a punch and a great flavor profile.
When Do You Use Oregano?
Oregano is a versatile herb, which can be added to any savory dish, vegetable dish, and baked foods too.
Bake oregano in pies, coat meat with oregano and brown, add to soups and stews, and add a stronger flavor profile to vegetable dishes.
Add oregano to lentils, sprinkle over green salads, flavor chili dishes, and add flavor to slices of cheese.
7 Best Oregano Substitutes
Oregano is a staple in any kitchen, but if you do happen to run out of this delicious herb, there are some oregano substitutes available to save the day.
For a close comparison in terms of flavor and visual appeal, basil and oregano are very similar and make for good substitutes.
You can substitute oregano with fresh or dried basil, but if using fresh, remember to slap the leaves to improve the semi-sweet flavor.
Substitute oregano with basil in a ratio of 1:1, whether you’re using fresh or dried basil.
Parsley is another kitchen staple, and you may have some of this green herb growing in your window box garden.
For a sweet flavor profile, parsley is a good option in tomato-rich dishes, and you can substitute dried parsley for fresh or dried oregano in a ratio of 1:1.
However, if you use fresh parsley, reduce the ratio to ½:1 for parsley to oregano as fresh parsley has a much stronger flavor.
When making poultry, tarragon is a great substitute for oregano. Offering a similar sweet herby flavor, tarragon also brings a slightly French flavor to chicken and other poultry meats.
A straight 1:1 substitution works well.
If you’re making some wholesome vegetables, opting for thyme as a substitute for oregano is ideal as both have a rich earthy flavor, and both are members of the same mint family.
Fresh oregano and fresh thyme are very similar in appearance, and whether using fresh or dried herbs, a simple 1:1 substitution works well.
Marjoram is a great substitute for oregano as it’s from the mint family too, and while it is somewhat sweeter than oregano, it’s also a bit milder in flavor.
Using marjoram won’t overpower the dish or create a different flavor than what you were aiming for with the oregano.
Use like substitutions, so dried marjoram for dried oregano in equal proportions.
For a somewhat stronger substitute, rosemary is not an ideal choice for Mediterranean cuisine, but it’s excellent for roasted vegetables and you can bump up the flavor of freshly made bread rolls.
Rosemary also has a strong earthy, floral note, which makes for an interesting oregano substitution.
However, note that rosemary is much more powerful in the boldness of its flavor, so substitute dry rosemary at a ¼:1 ratio for oregano.
Dill, Sage, and Italian Seasoning
Some other substitutions you can consider are dill, sage, and Italian seasoning. All three of these are not exact matches for oregano but may work in some recipes.
Fresh sage makes for a good substitute for fresh oregano, but dried sage is much more potent and should be avoided. Substitute fresh sage in a ratio of 1:1 for fresh oregano.
Dill is another herb that has a distinct sweetness that can be used to substitute oregano. When preparing fish, using dill is a good substitution, especially if you use a sauce that contains dairy, such as a yogurt sauce.
When using dill, substitute in a ratio of ¾:1 for dill to oregano.
Italian seasoning is a popular dried herb blend that actually contains oregano and other dried herbs like basil, parsley, thyme, and marjoram.
When you require dried oregano, Italian seasoning is a good choice. Substitute in a ratio of 1:1, but if your recipe has many other herbs, it’s best to decrease those by half as you may end up having a culinary riot.
What Is the Closest Herb to Oregano?
There are several herbs that are close to oregano in flavor, from using thyme fresh or dried to basil and tarragon.
The closest herb for oregano will depend on the type of dish you are preparing. For Mexican oregano use marjoram or wild sage, which are good choices.
My Last Foodie Thoughts
Oregano is really one of the most distinctive, yet versatile herbs that any kitchen can’t be without. But life happens, and you may have to think on your feet and give another herb a chance to step up and save the day.
Substitute oregano with any of the substitutes discussed, opting for a similar flavor profile.
Basil, parsley, tarragon, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and many other green herbs are good choices, but it’s a good idea to do a taste test before you simply chuck some “green stuff” into your recipe.
Match sweetness, earthy tones, and floral notes for a great culinary experience.