Best Oregano Substitute: 5 Options With Similar Flavors

Oregano is an important ingredient in many Western recipes. If you have run out of it, you have a couple of herbal replacements for oregano.

Oregano is an important ingredient in making pasta or pizza sauce. It is also liberally used in many Greek and Italian recipes.

The antioxidants thymol, limonene, ocimene, carvacrol, terpinene, and caryophyllene give the herb its flavor and aroma.

Most people dearly relish its peppery, earthy, and zesty flavor. It is a versatile addition to a wide variety of savory dishes.

To some extent, it is hard to replace the unique taste of oregano.

If you are keen on finding an oregano substitute, we have found a few suitable replacements. Some of these great substitutes might already be on your kitchen shelf.

Best Substitutes for Oregano (Fresh and Dried)

Have you run out of fresh oregano leaves? Then use dried oregano leaves instead; they have the same flavor as the fresh leaves.

Dried herbs give a stronger punch of flavor and aroma than fresh herbs.

Use the dried leaves in smaller quantities than the fresh ones. Every tablespoon of fresh leaves requires only a teaspoon of dried leaves as a replacement.

In addition, instead of the oregano leaves, you can also flavor your cooking with oregano oil by adding a drop to sauces and dips.

If you don’t have any fresh or dried oregano in stock, the best replacements are herbs that share a similar flavor.

Here are 5 good replacements for oregano to use in recipes that call for oregano:

1. Marjoram

Marjoram belongs to the same mint family as oregano. These two have many commonalities. In some places, oregano is even known as ‘wild marjoram’.

According to a journal report, sweet marjoram has been used medicinally to help treat various ailments and infections, including digestive issues and painful menstruation.

The flavor of oregano is sharp and assertive, while the latter has a milder and more floral taste. Many chefs use these two herbs interchangeably.

All these tell us marjoram is your perfect substitute for oregano, for both are identical in flavor and aroma.

Tips on using:

  • Do not cook marjoram for a long time.
  • Add it towards the end of cooking.
  • Use three parts of marjoram for every two parts of oregano.

2. Thyme

Just like oregano, thyme also belongs to the mint family of herbs.

Fresh thyme leaves are a good oregano substitute that has flavor.

It is an excellent ingredient in potatoes, beans, or tomato-based dishes.

Besides giving flavor to foods, studies suggest that thyme contains anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antiseptic properties.

Most European chefs very well use thyme leaves in salad dressing instead of oregano leaves.

Thyme leaves are much smaller in size than Mediterranean oregano leaves. The taste of both of these herbs is quite identical.

It should be noted there are many different varieties of thyme leaves. The English and French varieties of thyme are a good replacement herb for oregano.

Tips on using:

  • Use only French or English varieties of thyme.
  • Use the same amount of thyme in place of oregano.

3. Sage

Sage is a Mediterranean herb used as a key ingredient in several recipes.

It gels well with fatty foods. Besides, it is great to use as a seasoning ingredient in turkey and other poultry items.

It is a highly versatile herb that goes well with other herbs. Sage is often used in vegetable dishes and soups. It can be used along with or as a substitute for oregano.

Sage leaves are suitable for use as an attractive garnish or deep frying.

Tips on using:

  • Use fresh sage to achieve the best flavor, akin to oregano.
  • A dried form of sage is not a good alternative to oregano.
  • Use sage in the same quantity as your recipe calls for when replacing oregano.

4. Basil

You can easily swap basil for oregano in some of the recipes.

Fresh or dried basil is best suited for making beef dishes and tomato-based pasta sauces.

You may also use basil instead of oregano in Mediterranean dishes because of its strong, spicy flavor with a sweet and anise undertone.

However, use basil only when you don’t have thyme or marjoram to replace oregano.

Tips on using:

  • Basil can be used in dishes that require deep frying.
  • It has a stronger flavor than oregano and thus uses it in a smaller ratio.
  • Use only half the amount of oregano while substituting.

5. Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning is a simple mixture of common herbal spices often seen together.

Oregano is one of the chief ingredients in Italian seasoning.

Above all, it also contains other ingredients like marjoram, thyme, and basil, which have a similar flavor to oregano.

So, this seasoning is an excellent alternative to oregano.

Use Italian seasoning instead of oregano in recipes like tomato-based pasta sauces, lamb marinades, chicken, beef, and olive oil-based vegetarian dishes.

Of course, any spice seasoning has a strong flavor because it contains a mixture of various spices. For this reason, use it in small quantities as a substitute for a single herbal spice.

Tips on using:

  • Use Italian seasoning in small quantities, as it has a strong flavor.
  • As a substitute, use it in a 1/3:1 ratio for oregano.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is rosemary similar to oregano?

These two herbs have different flavors. Rosemary has a more piney, woodsy flavor, while oregano has a more peppery, savory flavor. As a result, using rosemary instead of oregano may slightly alter the taste of your dish. To use rosemary as a substitute for oregano, use about 1/4 of the amount of rosemary called for in the recipe. Use it in dishes that call for a strong, flavorful herb.

Can I use parsley to replace oregano?

You can swap out oregano for parsley in some recipes, but the two herbs have different flavors. Substituting parsley for oregano in a recipe will likely change the intended flavor profile. It’s best to use it in smaller amounts and add other seasonings to help balance the flavor.

Can I use tarragon in place of oregano?

They are two very different herbs with distinct flavors. Thus, it may not be the best substitution to use tarragon in place of oregano. If you are using tarragon as a substitute for it, use about half as much tarragon as you would oregano. You may also want to add a bit of another herb, like basil, to help balance the flavor.

Final Thought

The best alternative to oregano is to swap dried for fresh, or vice versa.

Fortunately, you can also use other herbs from the same plant species as oregano. In this regard, thyme, marjoram, sage, and basil are suitable choices that match the flavor and aroma of oregano.

Remember, when substituting herbs or spices, add them in small quantities until you find the golden mean.

Read next: Mexican Oregano Substitutes