Oregano is a fragrant culinary herb that is used in many savory dishes worldwide. Oregano is native to the Mediterranean and a member of the mint family. Oregano has flavorful notes of mint and lemon. This bright astringency balances dishes by countering the rich flavors of meat and beans.
Many people think of oregano first and foremost as a topping for pizza, but it is useful in so many more ways than that. It is popular in many Mediterranean dishes and is a great addition to lamb and chicken. Many chili and enchilada recipes call for oregano as well.
Mexican Oregano on the other hand is related to verbena and has a more earthy note. Used by indigenous peoples in South America for centuries, it is now a key ingredient in Mexican and Latin American cuisines. Almost all of The Spice House’s Mexican and southwest-inspired blends utilize Mexican oregano. If you are interested in the nuances of this spice check out our spice spotlight that dives deeper into Mexican oregano.
Substitutes for Oregano:
You may be asking yourself at this point “what can I substitute for oregano?”
Depending on the recipe you are using - there are some good and quick substitutes for Oregano in a pinch. For Mexican Oregano the best substitute is Marjoram. For Greek or Mediterranean oregano try basil, parsley or tarragon.
Mexican Oregano Substitute
Marjoram is the best Mexican oregano substitute. Marjoram is a better substitute for Mexican oregano than even Greek oregano is because the flavor profile is more similar. According to Isabel eats Mexican Oregano is sometimes referred to as Mexican Marjoram or Mexican wild sage.
Oregano Substitute in Chili
Many chili recipes surprise home cooks by calling for oregano, specifically Mexican oregano. If you need an alternative to oregano for your chili, look to the other savory spices in your cabinet such as sage, marjoram, or thyme.
Fresh Oregano Substitute
The best fresh oregano substitute is dried oregano. If you have dried oregano, make sure to use 1 teaspoon to one 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano as dried tends to be more potent. When cooking it is best to use dried oregano and use fresh oregano as a garnish. Other spices you can use as fresh oregano alternatives is fresh marjoram and fresh thyme.
Common Oregano Questions
Is Oregano and Italian Seasoning the Same Thing?
Italian seasoning and oregano are not the same thing. Oregano is one of many ingredients in Italian seasoning, however. This means that you can use Italian seasoning as an alternative to oregano if you have that on hand. Italian seasoning is typically a blend of herbs like oregano, parsley, thyme, and marjoram. We label our Italian seasoning as Italian Herb Blend.
What Tastes Similar to Oregano?
Marjoram tastes the most similar to oregano. It is a bit more mild than oregano so consider using more in the recipe if you are substituting.
What is the Equivalent of Dried Oregano to Fresh Oregano?
The best equivalent measurement of dried oregano to fresh oregano is 1 tablespoon of fresh herb to 1 teaspoon of dried oregano. This difference in measurement is because dried herbs tend to be more potent than fresh herbs.
Is Oregano Similar to Basil?
Oregano is similar to basil in some ways as they are both aromatic herbs. But, basil lends a sweeter taste and oregano has a more earthy taste. That being said, you can certainly use basil as an oregano alternative.