Oregano is one of those fresh and dry herbs that you simply can’t get away from.
Whether you like having Italian food or experimenting with Middle Eastern cuisines, you know this ingredient well. However, the flavor can be overpowering and tiring, so knowing other options is always important.
What Is Oregano?
This fresh or dried oregano herb comes from the oregano plant and has tiny leaves that have a pungent aroma and a strong lemony flavor. When the plant blooms, it produces pink or purple flowers that are also edible.
Both the dry and fresh kind of oregano is an essential part of Italian cooking but are now part of other cuisines as well.
Fresh vs. Dry Oregano
What is the difference between the two? While you can use each one interchangeably, you should still be aware of the flavors and aromas that make them unique.
Fresh oregano tends to be superior because it has a more intense aroma and flavor. Often, fresh oregano is part of making soups or sauces as a bouquet garni or goes sprinkled on top of the meat and other dishes.
Dry oregano, on the other hand, is more common but has a distinct minty aroma and a very mild flavor, but it is essential on top of pizza or in herb mixes.
What Can I Replace Oregano With?
If you want another flavor or can’t find it, these substitutes for fresh and dried oregano are perfect for any of your recipes:
For Pizza, Pork, and Chicken
Since oregano is often confused with this herb, it makes sense that you would use it as a replacement. For 2 teaspoons of fresh oregano, you can use 3 teaspoons of marjoram. For one teaspoon of dry oregano, use one teaspoon of dry marjoram.
Keep in mind that this herb is a bit sweeter and less pungent, but it makes for a great substitute when preparing things like pork, beef, chicken, and as a topping for pizza. You may find yourself needing more marjoram but try your dish first before adding too much.
See More: Marjoram Substitutes
This herb is famous for being an essential part of Italian cooking, which is why it can work wonders when substituting oregano. For 2 teaspoons of fresh oregano, use 2 teaspoons of fresh basil. For one teaspoon of dry oregano, you can use one and ½ teaspoons of dry oregano.
Basil comes in many varieties, so make sure you taste each one first. The best kinds to use are sweet basil or Italian basil, and these go well in pizza, pasta, potatoes, pork, and chicken. Basil tends to have sweet and licorice notes, so consider this when using it.
See more: Substitution for basil leaves
This is another common herb that is often used in many dishes, no matter the style of cuisine. If you want to replace fresh oregano, make sure to use the same amount of fresh parsley.
When you want to substitute dry oregano, then use about the same amount of dry parsley, though you may need more.
Parsley has a strong aroma and flavor, but it is more evident when this herb is fresh. If you are cooking with fresh parsley, make sure to add it only at the end, as it can become too soggy. This herb is great for tomato-based dishes, like margarita pizza, or chicken or fish.
See More: Parsley Alternatives
For Soup, Spaghetti Sauce, and Stuffing
This is another herb that adds a little bit of bittersweet flavor, just like basil. Use fresh tarragon in the same amount that you would fresh oregano. If you need to replace dry oregano, use about half of the amount of dry tarragon.
Using this herb is perfect when you make tomato soup, spaghetti sauce, or even in making stuffing or salad dressings. Some people find tarragon to be too aromatic, so make sure you taste this ingredient before you use it.
See More: Tarragon Replacements
#5. Italian Seasoning
While it seems obvious, not many think of using Italian seasoning when replacing oregano. This mix of herbs contains basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and sage. Using Italian seasoning works wonders when you prepare soups, sauces, pasta, and meat dishes.
Since this is a pre-mixed seasoning, it only comes in the dry form, but it can be used to replace both fresh and dry oregano. The flavor is a bit more pungent, sweet, and acidic, so consider using about half of what the recipe indicates.
Not a first choice for everyone, but rosemary can substitute oregano because it has a similar lemony and sweet scent.
You can use a pinch of fresh rosemary leaves when you need to replace fresh oregano. Use about ⅓ of a teaspoon of dry rosemary when you want to substitute one teaspoon of dry oregano.
You can use rosemary when making potatoes, pasta, soups, stuffing, and spaghetti sauce. Keep in mind that rosemary is a stronger herb and can alter the flavor profile entirely, so start with only a little at a time.
See More: Best Substitutes for Rosemary
Dill isn’t the perfect substitute for oregano because of its strong licorice notes, but it can work when you are in a pinch. Use half of the amount of fresh dill when you want to change fresh oregano.
Dry dill is much stronger, so we suggest you taste as you add and pick the right amount based on your liking.
This herb is great for making spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, fish dishes, and salad dressings. Dill is the most pungent of this list and the flavor is closer to anise than anything else, so consider that before you add it.
See More: Best Alternatives to Dill
No, these two aren’t the same. However, Italian seasoning almost always contains oregano, so it can be a great substitute for this herb. This seasoning also contains basil, thyme, sage, and garlic powder.
The best substitute for Mexican oregano is regular oregano or marjoram. You may want to use less of these two, as the flavor and aroma are stronger than with Mexican oregano.
Oregano is generally classified as either Meditarrean or Mexican. The Mediterranean kind is part of the mint family and grows in Greece, Italy, Spain, Morroco, and Egypt, but its flavor is bitter and sweet. The Mexican kind is instead a family member of the lemon verbena and grows in Central and South America, but its flavor is more citrus-like and licorice.
Many of us use oregano almost every day, but sometimes we need a change when we cook. You can use any of these 7 alternatives and your dishes will turn out delicious. If you want, mix and match between these choices for better flavors.
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