Out of Italian seasoning for your awesome spaghetti sauce? Don’t worry; with just a few dried herbs and common ingredients, you will be able to get the same flavor and kick of Italian seasoning in almost any recipe!
What are the best substitutes for Italian seasoning? Italian seasoning can be substituted with single herbs like basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano, or marjoram or you can even create different blends using herbs and spices like garlic powder, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and more!
Read below to unlock the secrets of making your very own Italian seasoning and how you can get the most out of the flavor of Italian seasoning with a few common substitutes!
What Is Italian Seasoning?
Italian seasonings are an excellent way of getting an authentic flavor out of pasta, chicken, and other types of delicious Italian recipes.
These spices are made using different dried herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and more.
Sometimes, manufacturers may also add other ingredients and even flavor enhancers to change the overall flavor of the seasoning.
Needless to say, Italian seasonings are not just for Italian recipes. They can be used to marinate meat and you can even tweak the seasonings to get the right flavor for any type of dish.
For example, Italian seasoning with a mix of garlic powder and ground spices can elevate any type of dish and you may be able to use it for just about any type of recipe too.
Even though the herbs used in these seasonings are found universally; since they were popularized in Europe, specifically, Italy, they are closely associated with Italian cuisine.
Most people prefer using store-bought Italian seasoning because of the added convenience. Also, as mentioned above, some commercial seasonings may contain flavor enhancers and other additives that make food taste better.
However, if you are after authenticity then we highly recommend that you try homemade seasonings.
Making Italian Seasoning At Home
Homemade Italian seasoning is extremely easy to make. All you need is a few common dried herbs and the right proportion.
Don’t worry, we’ll provide instructions on how to make an excellent Italian seasoning blend without adding any enhancers or harmful additives.
First, let’s talk a bit about the benefits of using homemade seasoning.
Store-bought seasonings are pretty straightforward. They contain equal or varying parts of each herb combined with anticaking agents or other additives to increase their shelf life.
However, by opting for homemade seasoning, you can greatly increase the flavor profile of the seasoning and fit it to your preferences.
Ever wanted more basil or thyme in your favorite Italian seasoning? Well, when you make your very own blend, you can easily contour the flavor profile as per your liking! The basics of Italian seasoning are very simple.
Here is a quick and easy recipe for homemade Italian seasoning that takes only 2-3 minutes to make:
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
- In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients using a spoon. Do not grind the spices!
- Move the spices into a jar and keep sealed. That’s it!
You may have noticed that we have used equal parts of each herb, except for thyme and marjoram. The reason for this is that both of these herbs add volume and flavor to the seasoning.
Thyme has a mild minty and fresh flavor while the flavor of marjoram can be compared to oregano, but with a slightly floral aroma.
Of course, you can also change the above recipe to your liking! For example, since oregano and marjoram share the same flavor profile, you can tweak the quantity of each to fit your taste palette.
In the case of the above seasoning recipe, using half a teaspoon of oregano will greatly curb the overall minty flavor of the herbs.
Furthermore, you can even add a spicy kick to the seasoning by mixing crushed black peppers or red pepper flakes.
Substituting Italian Seasoning
Now that you know what goes into a typical Italian seasoning, you can use the individual herbs and even a blend of them to create same-tasting substitutes.
Here are the 7 best substitutes for Italian seasoning:
Basil is widely known as a wonder herb because of its versatility. This dried herb is used extensively in not only Italian cuisine but in many cuisines around the world.
It provides a distinct earthy flavor and is prized for its balanced aroma, especially when it is heated during the cooking process.
If you don’t have Italian seasoning then you may be able to get away with using just basil as a seasoning. Basil can be used in sauces, meat dishes, marinades, and more!
If you want a bit more out of the flavor of your seasoning then we recommend mixing a pinch of rock salt and crushed black pepper powder for every 1 tbsp of basil.
In general, 0.5 tbsp of basil can be substituted for 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning.
Parsley lends a unique texture and flavor to any dish. While it is prized as a garnish, parsley can be used in combination with the basil to provide more or less the same flavor points found in Italian seasoning.
This dried herb is equally versatile and can be mixed with any of the herbs mentioned on our list. You may even use it individually as a garnish for better presentation and flavor!
You can substitute 1 tbsp of parsley for every 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning. However, for the best experience, we recommend mixing parsley and any other herb with a 50:50 ratio.
You may even mix in more by equally dividing the quantity of each herb per tbsp.
Oregano, along with thyme and rosemary are one of the most essential dried herbs that are widely used all around the world.
Oregano is the quintessential herb that lends a unique and complex flavor that is best used in meaty dishes, marinades, and sauces.
Classified as a spice, oregano provides a deep earthy, aromatic, and slightly spicy flavor. It can specifically be used in stews, soups, steaks, sauce, pizzas, and more.
The best part about oregano is that you can use just this individual spice/herb to substitute the flavor of Italian seasoning.
For most dishes, you may need 1 tbsp of oregano for every 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning.
However, you may adjust the quantity of the herb as per your personal preference. Want more? Accentuate the spiciness of this herb by combining it with fresh crushed red pepper flakes.
A dash of red pepper flakes for every 1-1.5 tbsp of oregano should be more than enough to get the most out of this Italian seasoning substitute. Want more? try combining oregano with basil for an almost identical flavor.
Thyme has a distinct minty flavor with an almost sweet aroma. This herb is used in conjunction with basil and oregano to balance all the spices.
While it is popularly used as a garnish and a topping in salads, pizzas, and more, you may use it to replace Italian seasoning as well.
However, like with the other herbs on our list, we recommend that you pair them with at least another herb.
For a more pronounced flavor, try using oregano and thyme together. The minty flavor from the thyme and the earthy and slightly spicy flavor from oregano will go together nicely!
You can use 0.5 tbsp of thyme for every 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning.
If you are mixing thyme with oregano then you can try substituting 0.5 or more tbsp of thyme and oregano (mixed with around a 50:50 ratio) for every 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning.
Rosemary is a special herb because it has a very pronounced aroma and an equally strong flavor as well. On its own, this herb has a lemon and pine-like flavor that can also resemble sage and other slightly minty and peppery herbs.
Because of its pungent flavor, rosemary can easily be used as a substitute for Italian seasoning, although, we would recommend that you use it sparingly to not overpower the flavor of any recipe.
Rosemary is best used in meat dishes but plays a vital role in sauces too. The best way to use this herb is to substitute 0.5 tbsp of it for every 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning.
Remember, since rosemary can be overpowering, we recommend that you mix it with other herbs or spices to balance its flavor.
Basil or thyme with rosemary is a great combination, especially when making pasta sauce. Each herb will play off of the flavors and aroma and will provide a very close overall flavor to Italian seasoning.
While you can easily use rosemary as a singular substitute, we would recommend that you use it with other herbs for a more encompassing flavor.
Marjoram can not only substitute Italian seasoning but is also popularly used as a substitute for oregano. It shares more or less the same flavor and can bring out the flavor in any recipe.
Marjoram is mostly used in conjunction with other herbs and spices but if you don’t have any other alternative then you may be able to get away with using this herb as a substitute.
Just make sure not to mix or use oregano or marjoram in large quantities.
Since both of these herbs share the same characteristics and flavor profiles, you may need to use less of each or pair marjoram with any other mildly flavored herb like thyme or basil for an appropriately balanced flavor.
Just as in the case with oregano, you can use 1 tbsp of marjoram for every 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning. Mix other seasonings (apart from oregano) in equal ratios for an even better flavor kick!
Sage is an excellent standalone herb that can be used as a substitute for Italian seasoning. It has a mild peppery and slightly minty flavor and will provide a balanced flavor when used as a garnish or in marinades.
The benefit of using sage as a substitute for Italian seasoning is that this dried herb can replicate the flavor notes of multiple herbs mentioned in the above Italian seasoning recipe.
However, the best way to enjoy sage is to pair it with either basil, oregano, or thyme.
As a standalone ingredient, we recommend going with 0.5 tbsp of sage for every 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning.
You can even make a tasty seasoning by mixing 2 teaspoons of oregano, 1 teaspoon of basil, and 0.5 teaspoons of thyme, sage, and rosemary.
Fresh Herbs And Mixed Dried Herb Blend
If you have fresh herbs in the pantry then you may be able to substitute the flavor of Italian seasoning. The great thing about this strategy is that it will add both texture and flavor to your recipe.
However, on the downside, since dried herbs are more potent in flavor, you may need to use more fresh herbs.
A ratio of 1: 2 should be enough to substitute dried Italian seasoning where for every 1 part of dried herb you will require at least 1.5 to 2 parts of fresh herbs.
Italian seasoning can also be substituted for any commercial mixed herb seasoning with 3 or 4 herbs.
You can also similarly mix and combine different herbs at home to get a close approximation of what authentic Italian seasoning tastes like.
Furthermore, Italian seasoning can also be combined with other ingredients like fennel seeds, black peppercorns, chili flakes, and rock salt.
These extra ingredients can be added at a ratio of 0.25 each for every 1 tbsp of dried herbs.
Several vendors around Italy sell various types of Italian seasoning blends so if you are ever bored of the same old combination of herbs then you can mix things up any way you like!
Of course, for an authentic flavor, you might want to stick with the basic herbs mentioned in the recipe above.
Storing Italian Seasoning
Italian seasoning should always be stored in an airtight container (such as these ones). Always keep the seasoning away from direct sunlight and moisture.
While you may not be able to get the most out of the quality of refrigerated seasonings, properly stored Italian seasoning will be able to last several months to up to a year!
Always check homemade and commercial seasonings for clumps, cob-web-like growths, and bugs before consumption.
Whether you buy it from the store or make it at home, Italian seasoning is a highly versatile ingredient that can be tweaked and enhanced in many ways.
We suggest that you experiment with the authentic and basic recipe to see how the seasoning can fit your flavor palette!
Now that you know all about Italian seasoning and its substitutes, here are some related questions!
Can I use Greek seasoning instead of Italian seasoning?
Yes. Greek seasoning contains many of the same herbs found in Italian seasoning.
However, Greek seasonings also commonly contain garlic powder, onion powder, dill, and salt. So, you may have to adjust the quantity of this seasoning when substituting it for Italian seasoning.
Is Herbes de Provence a good substitute for Italian seasoning?
Yes. This seasoning blend can easily replicate most of the flavors found in typical Italian seasonings.
Herbes de Provence usually contains a mixture of thyme, savory, marjoram, rosemary, and oregano. Sometimes this seasoning may also include tarragon, spices, and fennel seeds too.
When in doubt, always check the back of the packaging for any substitute that you want to use to see if it contains all of the basic dried herbs that are associated with Italian seasoning.