11 Best Italian Seasoning Substitutes To Use (+ What Not to Use)

Best Italian Seasoning Substitutes To Use
19 min reading time

Do you love Italian food but worry that a lot of the ingredients are hard to source or too expensive? Worry not! If you’re out of Italian seasoning, there is no need to panic. In this blog post, we will share 12 simple swaps and Italian seasoning substitutes that can be used in any recipe calling for Italian seasoning. We’ll also talk about what each substitute adds to a dish and when it’s best used so that whether you’re an amateur chef or a seasoned veteran there will still be something here for everyone!

So don your aprons and grab your whisks because let’s get cooking -the fun way.

An Overview of Italian Seasoning:

Italian seasoning is a popular spice blend that has been enjoyed for centuries. It typically consists of oregano, basil, and thyme as its main ingredients. Italian seasoning is also commonly mixed with garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, red pepper flakes, or black pepper to create a unique flavor profile. This blend of herbs has become essential for any cook who wants to add an unmistakably “Italian” flavor to their dish.

Italian seasoning originated from the Mediterranean area where the dry climate allows for herbs to be dried using a variety of methods such as air drying and sun-drying. This go-to blend has become a popular ingredient all over the world today due to its ability to help boost flavor without relying on having access to fresh produce – making it an incredibly versatile staple within kitchen pantries everywhere!

When buying Italian seasoning from stores it’s important to read labels carefully: some commercial blends may contain small amounts of MSG (monosodium glutamate), sugar, or preservatives which can affect both flavor & nutrition value so choosing organic brands is always best when available!

Why is It Used?

Italian seasoning is a blend of herbs that, when combined, create an earthy and robust flavor profile. It is commonly used to season dishes like Italian-style pizzas or pasta sauces. This versatile mix of herbs can also be used as a rub for meats, added to salad dressings, or sprinkled on top of cooked vegetables. Depending on the recipe or preference of the cook other herbs such as sage and savory may be included in this spice blend.

High-quality Italian seasoning will give your dish that authentic Mediterranean taste – making it tangy yet well-balanced at the same time. Plus it’s convenient; no need for chopping fresh herbs just open up a jar from your cupboard (or even better head out to your local market) grab yourself some delicious ingredients & get cooking with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning!

How to Choose the Best Italian Seasoning Substitute?

Choosing the best Italian seasoning substitute can be a tricky process, as there are many different options to choose from. However, with some research and careful consideration, you can find a great Italian seasoning substitute that will work for your recipes. Here are five tips to help you in this process:

  • Understand what Italian seasonings typically include: Generally speaking, an authentic mixture of Italian herbs and spices would include oregano, basil, garlic powder or garlic salt, rosemary and thyme. Other traditional ingredients may also include parsley flakes or sage leaves.
  • Consider your desired flavor profile: Before selecting a substitute for Italian seasoning consider how much depth of flavor the dish needs; for example if your dish calls for heavily seasoned ground beef then opt for more fragrant herbs such as oregano rather than milder choices like basil or parsley flakes.
  • Look beyond dried herb blends: Dried basil and oregano work well enough but they can often lack complexity compared to fresh versions especially when used alone to replace mixes containing multiple varieties like store-bought spice rubs—try incorporating chopped fresh herbs instead for more nuanced flavors.
  • Know when to use vinegar/oil combinations: Additionally, various vinegar/oil combinations may compliment strongly flavored dishes better than straight dry spices; olive oil works wonders in sauces dressings soups stews ragus, etc while red wine vinegar adds zestiness amplified by acidic notes present in most classic Italian cuisines.

Best Italian Seasoning Substitutes

Italian seasoning is often the secret ingredient that can transform any dish and give it that classic Italian flair that we all love. But what do you do when you run out of Italian seasoning or you can’t find it in your local grocery store? Instead of sacrificing flavor, just reach for one of these amazing Italian seasoning substitutes.

With these simple substitutes, you can continue to create delicious Italian-inspired dishes that will surely impress your family and guests.

1. Dried Oregano + Thyme

Oregano Fresh and dry

Dried oregano and thyme can make a great Italian seasoning substitute. This combination can provide an authentic flavor to your Italian dishes, while still allowing for unique expression in the kitchen.

To create this blend, start by adding equal amounts of dried oregano and dried thyme in a small bowl or jar – about 1 teaspoon of each should be sufficient for most recipes. If you’re looking for more flavor complexity, consider adding ½ teaspoon of garlic powder as well. You could also opt to use fresh herbs rather than their dried counterparts if you have them available. For each teaspoon of dry herbs called for, substitute 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of fresh herbs instead.

Furthermore, dried oregano and thyme are effective replacements for other herbs due to their high levels of antioxidants. They both contain phenolic compounds—chemicals found naturally that can reduce the risk of certain diseases such as cancer. Additionally, they provide antimicrobial properties which help preserve food products for longer periods of time without spoiling them quickly.

2. Herbes de Provence

herbes de provence in a bowl
Source: cdn.shopify.com

Herbes de Provence is a classic French blend of herbs that can be used as an Italian seasoning substitute. The flavor profile will differ slightly, but this “all-purpose” spice blend made with a fragrant mix of thyme, savory, basil, marjoram, and rosemary will still add the same depth of flavor you expect from Italian seasonings.

Although Herbes de Provence originated in the southern part of France’s Provence region, it actually includes ingredients from other areas around the Mediterranean Sea – including Italy! This makes it a perfect complement to any cuisine featuring Mediterranean herbs and flavors. Herbes de Provence brings out the subtle nuances in food without overpowering them as some other heavier blends do. You’ll find its earthy aroma mingles nicely with lighter fare such as salads or omelets; while its delicate flavor won’t overpower your hearty dishes like lasagna or eggplant parmesan either!

You’ll also want to avoid using too much Herbes de Provence when using it as an Italian seasoning substitute — because too much can overpower whatever dish you’re making — albeit deliciously so! A general rule of thumb is to use one tablespoon per two pounds (1 kilogram) of meat, fish, or vegetables when cooking; but be sure to taste-test recipes before serving if you choose to experiment further with measurements outside these guidelines.

3. Pizza Seasoning

Dry Organic Pizza Seasoning Spice

Pizza seasoning as an Italian Seasoning Substitute is a popular choice among many cooks for its flavor versatility and ease of use. Pizza seasoning provides an easy way to replicate the flavors of traditional Italian seasonings without having to purchase all the individual herbs separately. A typical pizza blend includes oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, marjoram, crushed red pepper flakes, and/or black pepper – all of which are common ingredients in most Italian dishes.

Using pizza seasoning as a substitute for traditional Italian seasonings can help you quickly add flavor to recipes that call for them while avoiding spending extra money purchasing and storing multiple separate packages of herbs. Pizza seasoning is convenient; it already contains all the components necessary to provide an authentic depth of flavor with just one bottle or jar in your pantry cupboard at home.

A popular way of utilizing this flavorful blend is blending it into olive oil with chopped garlic cloves and then using this delicious concoction as a finishing sauce drizzled over cooked proteins such as pork tenderloin or grilled eggplant slices – bringing intense layers of flavor with relatively little effort!

4. Greek Seasoning

Greek seasoning mix in a bowl

Greek seasoning is often used as an Italian seasoning substitute because of its close, yet slightly different flavor profile. This can be especially beneficial for those who are looking for a lighter or slightly more unique flavor than what traditional Italian seasonings offer.

Greek seasoning is typically made up of a blend of herbs such as oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary along with some additional spices like garlic powder and onion powder. This combination creates an incredibly aromatic blend that is both similar to but distinct from the flavors found in traditional Italian cuisine. The oregano and basil can bring about hints of sweetness while the addition of garlic powder gives it a savory depth that you just don’t get with other commonly used herb blends.

One key advantage to using Greek seasoning over simply using dried herbs individually is that it provides more consistent coverage across dishes since all ingredients are pre-blended together into one convenient mixture. It also saves time by eliminating the need to measure each individual spice separately if you’re looking for something quick and easy to use in your cooking!

5. Za’atar

za'atar - one of the Italian seasoning substitutes

Za’atar is an incredible Mediterranean spice blend that’s been used for centuries to add flavor and complexity to dishes. It’s flavorful, earthy, and nutty, with a hint of sweetness that makes it a perfect substitute for Italian seasoning in many recipes.

Not only is Za’atar incredibly flavorful, but it also boasts a number of health benefits. It is rich in antioxidants which help protect your body from free radical damage and inflammation. In addition, Za’atar contains spices such as oregano which can help support healthy digestion and reduce bloating due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, the thyme in this blend has antiseptic properties that can help ward off some viral infections like colds and the flu!

When using it as an Italian seasoning substitute, the best way to make sure you get all of these amazing benefits is by making your own Za’atar mix at home! This will allow you to control exactly what goes into your mix so that you can customize it according to taste preferences or particular dietary requirements (such as veganism).

6. Creole Seasoning

Creole - one of the Italian seasoning substitutes
Source: www.chilipeppermadness.com

Creole seasoning is a popular substitute for Italian seasoning due to its similar flavor profiles, but it offers several unique advantages that set it apart from Italian seasoning.

Creole seasoning is much more pungent and flavorful than most Italian seasonings. Its basic ingredient list includes garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, black pepper, and paprika. These ingredients give the mix a kick of heat along with some savory and subtle herbal flavors. Another advantage of using Creole Seasoning over Italian Seasoning is the fact that its ingredients are common in various types of cooking styles found throughout America – especially Cajun or Southern – so most kitchens will have all the components necessary on hand already in their pantry!

On top of this convenience factor for home cooks preparing meals at home quickly or even restaurant chefs who want an elevated version of familiar southern flavors on their menu items without spending money purchasing multiple separate spices or blends. People prefer using Creole over traditional Italian seasonings because they find the complex layers found within Creole mixes much more enjoyable as opposed to standard dried herbs used in traditional blends like those used in Italy; plus depending on what recipe you’re following creoles can easily be adjusted depending on how spicy or herby you want them by simply adjusting proportionately one single ingredient versus trying to differentiate between each herb then combining them based off personal preference.

7. Fresh Herbs

A bowl of fresh herbs

Fresh Herbs provide a much more intense and flavorful taste than the pre-mixed combination of spices typically found in store-bought Italian seasoning. Fresh herbs are grown and harvested with care, bringing out their distinct flavor profiles and aromas, and providing you with something far superior to anything found on your grocery shelves. Aside from adding immense flavor to your dishes, fresh herbs have many additional benefits that often make them a great choice for Italian seasoning.

Fresh herbs are incredibly rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients which help protect cells from free radical damage while supporting our body’s natural healing processes. Plus, these antioxidant-rich ingredients can help boost immunity levels so you stay safe during flu season.

It also helps reduce sodium intake – something many people struggle with today. Many store-bought brands use high amounts of salt when making their blends; however, this isn’t necessary when making your own blend at home using fresh ingredients!

8. Basil

basil used as an alternative to Italian seasoning

Basil is one of the most popular and versatile herbs used in Italian cooking. It has a sweet, fragrant aroma and a distinctive flavor that makes it an excellent choice for seasoning everything from sauces to soups to pizza.

Basil is especially important when creating classic Italian dishes like pesto or marinara sauce. Its pleasant flavor profile helps bring out the fullness of other ingredients while its bright color and subtle sweetness give these dishes their signature flair. But basil can do more than just enhance existing flavors—it can also stand alone as an effective substitute for traditional Italian seasonings like oregano and thyme.

When substituting basil for oregano, its intense aroma requires less application to achieve the desired effect. Basil’s successive layers of flavor make it an ideal accompaniment for tomato-based recipes, adding brightness and depth at the same time; whereas oregano offers a stronger aroma that might be overpowering in certain applications such as delicate fish dishes or creamy pasta sauces. In addition to providing exceptional flavor nuance, using basil as an Italian seasoning substitute also offers some health benefits; fresh leaves are rich in vitamin K (which aids blood clotting)and contain compounds called flavonoids believed to have potential anti-cancer properties

9. Sage

close up view of sage

Sage has been used for centuries in Mediterranean cooking. It has a subtle earthy flavor and is often used in sauces, stews, or sautéd vegetables. It adds depth to tomato-based recipes like spaghetti sauce and pizza toppings. Sage also gives poultry dishes a traditional Thanksgiving-style flavor when added to stuffing or other sides. Many Italian dishes are flavored with oregano, thyme, and basil, but sage adds an intense flavor that complements these spices perfectly.

One of the most important reasons why sage is so popular as an Italian seasoning substitute is its health benefits. Sage has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce swelling in sore muscles and joints after physical activity. Studies have even shown that consuming sage helps regulate hormones known to be involved in stress response mechanisms such as cortisol and testosterone levels, making it great for managing anxiety or depression symptoms naturally without depending on medication alone.

Additionally, thanks to its high levels of antioxidants – specifically rosmarinic acid – sage can help protect against cellular damage due to oxidation caused by free radicals.

10. Marjoram

marjoram dried and herb placed together
Source: www.simplyrecipes.com

Marjoram has long been used as an Italian seasoning substitute because of its sweet, earthy flavor. It’s high in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are important for health. The herb is also a great source of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. As an Italian seasoning substitute, marjoram pairs well with oregano to give your dishes a robust Mediterranean flavor.

Marjoram can be used to season fish, poultry, vegetables, or beans without overpowering the dish flavors like some other herbs do. Its delicate aroma works well when added at the end of cooking or sprinkled over just after plating – giving food a delightful lift from its gentle herbal notes. Additionally, marjoram can substitute basil in many dishes including some pastas and stews; it even works as a substitution for fresh oregano if you need it urgently but don’t have any on hand!

Marjoram is thought to be beneficial against certain diseases and ailments – making it not only tasty but potentially helpful too! The herb has traditionally been seen as a natural remedy for indigestion and respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis or asthma due to its antispasmodic effects on the body’s muscles which help ease tightness associated with coughing fits or digestive issues caused by stress or poor diets alike.

11. Homemade Italian Seasoning

Making your own Italian seasoning blend at home is a great way to control what goes into this essential kitchen staple. Not only can you customize the flavor to suit your tastes, but it’s also an economical and sustainable option. To make your own Italian seasoning blend you’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 tablespoon of minced fresh garlic)
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground marjoram (optional)
  • ⅛ teaspoon of ground thyme leaves (optional)

Simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and store them in an air-tight container for up to several months. This recipe yields about one-quarter cup of the seasoned blend which should be enough for two to three dishes depending on how much you use per dish. If you want more flavor in your dishes or want more yield from each blend then simply double this recipe and adjust other ingredients according to taste preference.

The combination of herbs used in many Italian dishes is highly varied with geographical influences playing a role as well as personal tastes so there are no hard rules when creating the perfect Italian seasoning blend at home. The possibilities are truly endless! So experiment with different ratios until you find something that brings out the best flavor profiles from seasonal ingredients on hand – have fun creating!

What Not to Use as an Italian Seasoning Substitute?

When it comes to Italian seasoning, there are a few things that should never be used as substitutes. Although some of these ingredients may seem like they would work in a pinch, they simply won’t produce the same flavor or results. Here’s what not to use as an Italian seasoning substitute:

1. Garlic powder – The garlic powder commonly found in the spice aisle is a great ingredient in its own right, but it will not provide the same flavor and complexity as traditional Italian seasonings. If you’re trying to get that classic Italian taste, opt for fresh garlic and herbs instead.

2. Paprika – Paprika might seem like a reasonable alternative when you run out of Italian seasonings at home, but it really won’t give you the same depth of flavor – especially compared to all of those delicious dried herbs and spices combined together!

3. Curry Powder – Again this is another popular spice blend that won’t deliver those desired flavors associated with traditional Italian cooking if used alone (it also doesn’t contain any basil). When making an attempt at creating your own “Italian style” dish from scratch always add some basil alongside other key aromatics such as oregano and thyme along with some hot red pepper flakes for the kick!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is oregano similar to Italian seasoning?

While they can be similar, Italian seasoning is actually a blend of several herbs, including oregano, thyme, basil, and rosemary. So while oregano is definitely a key ingredient in Italian seasoning, it’s not the same thing.

Is Italian seasoning the same as parsley?

While Italian seasoning usually contains parsley, it also contains a blend of other herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, and garlic. On the other hand, parsley is just one herb that can be used on its own or in combination with other herbs to enhance the flavor of a dish. The taste profiles of the two are also different, with parsley having a mild, fresh taste while Italian seasoning has a more robust and aromatic flavor.

How to store Italian seasoning?

The key is to keep it in an airtight container away from light, heat, and moisture. A spice jar or a resealable bag will do the trick. You can also prolong its shelf life by storing it in the fridge or freezer.

Can I add sea salt or black pepper as a substitute for Italian Seasoning?

While sea salt and black pepper can add a bit of flavor, they may not necessarily replicate the full taste profile of Italian seasoning. Italian seasoning typically includes a unique blend of herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary, providing a more complex and distinct Italian flavor. However, adding sea salt and black pepper as a substitute can certainly elevate your dish and add a bit of depth, so go ahead and give it a try.

Bottom Line:

To conclude, Italian seasoning spice blends are incredibly versatile and can be used to make a variety of dishes. While there is no one-size-fits-all substitute for Italian seasoning, there are many great Italian seasoning substitutes that can be easily incorporated into your cooking and add tons of flavor to any dish! Whether it’s a homemade blend or something more complex from store shelves, choosing the right Italian seasoning alternative will depend on your personal preference and the dish you’d like to prepare. The best way to find out is to experiment with different spices until you find the combination that is perfect for you! If you have the time, creating a homemade blend with herbs like oregano, thyme, basil, and garlic powder might become your go-to option.

There are so many delicious variations available – just take these twelve Italian seasoning substitutes as starting points and delve deeper into this exciting world of seasonings!

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