Italian seasoning is a mix of dried ground herbs, including oregano, thyme, rosemary, and basil. Some Italian seasonings contain other ingredients, like salt and garlic. Despite the name, Italian seasoning is an American creation, and it’s uncommon to use pre-blended herbs in Italy. This herb mix can be used in a variety of dishes, including classic Italian tomato-based pasta or pizza and European dishes, like meat, fish, and salads.
Best Substitute for Italian Seasoning: Homemade seasoning
The best substitute for Italian seasoning is homemade Italian seasoning. If you don’t have a prepared mix at home, you can make Italian seasoning from a few common herbs in your kitchen.
You will need:
- 3 tablespoons dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 3 tablespoons dried basil
- 3 tablespoons dried thyme
3 tablespoons of marjoram can be added to the above ingredients to bring sweetness and warmth to this familiar Mediterranean mix. To customize your seasoning, add your own herbs of choice, including red pepper flakes for some heat, garlic for a punch, or salt.
To make Italian seasoning, mix all the herbs thoroughly in a bowl, then put the mix into a jar. Homemade Italian seasoning can be stored for up to three years. Add 1 to 3 teaspoons of the mix to any dish that calls for Italian seasoning to bring out the flavors of the foods.
Other Italian Seasoning Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
There are many other options you can use in place of Italian seasoning, from other herb blends to variations of this mix.
Italian Seasoning Variations
You can customize your Italian seasoning when making it at home to introduce more interesting flavors and scents to the usual mix.
Italian Seasoning with Black Pepper
One of the popular variations of Italian seasoning is a version using black pepper. Black pepper adds depth to the herb mix and introduces spice and floral aromas to a dish.
To make Italian seasoning with black pepper, use oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder in equal proportions. Mix these herbs together, and use this homemade seasoning when cooking Mediterranean foods.
Italian Seasoning with Sage
Sagel enhances the flavors of Italian seasoning with notes of eucalyptus, mint, and lemon, creating a fresh herbal taste. To make Italian seasoning with sage, mix two tablespoons each of oregano, rosemary, basil, and thyme in a bowl, then add one tablespoon of sage. You should use less of this herb because it has stronger aromatic characteristics compared to the other herbs.
Use this sage Italian seasoning mix for dishes with fish and meat to add refreshing notes of sage.
Italian Seasoning with Fennel Seed
Fennel seed is less commonly added to Italian seasoning compared to marjoram and sage. However, fennel seed is widely used in Italian cuisine.
Fennel seed is the seed of the fennel herb, known for its anise-like aroma and flavor. Adding fennel seed to your homemade Italian seasoning will bring out the fennel seed’s warm and slightly sweet aroma in your cooking. To make this variation, mix two tablespoons of oregano, rosemary, basil, and thyme, and add one tablespoon of fennel seeds.
There is a variety of other alternatives for Italian seasoning, including separate herbs and pre-mixed seasonings. Each herb or seasoning mix closely matches the characteristics of Italian seasoning.
Basil and Oregano
Basil and oregano are the two strongest herbs in Italian seasoning. These herbs can be used as a substitute to Italian seasoning because their combined flavor almost identically recreates the flavor of Italian seasoning. Using this mix, you won’t get the refreshing notes of thyme and rosemary, but you might not even notice that these flavors are missing because of the powerful characteristics of basil and oregano. Use equal amounts of basil and oregano when cooking to create a flavor profile similar to Italian seasoning.
Fresh herbs are another good substitute for dried Italian seasoning. Italians prefer using fresh herbs in their cooking because these herbs add a more delicate and intricate taste to the food.
You can find fresh herbs in the store or grow your own in your garden. The flavor of fresh herbs is much milder compared to dried herbs, so you will need more fresh herbs to match the intensity of the flavor of the dried herbs. Use 1.5 times more the amount of fresh herbs than dried, and adding these herbs at the end of cooking will bring the most flavor.
Herbs de Provence
Herbs de Provence is a Mediterranean herb mix commonly used in France. Though some of the herbs in this mix are different from the herbs in Italian seasoning, many are similar. Herbs de Provence usually includes thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf. Sometimes, herbs de Provence contains lavender, which adds a strong floral flavor to the mix.
To match the taste of Italian seasoning, choose herbs de Provence without lavender because lavender can change the taste of the food. Use the same amount of herbs de Provence as you would use Italian seasoning.
Herbs De La Garrigue
Herbs de la Garrigue is another French herb mix that contains many of the same herbs found in Italian seasoning, making it a good substitute for Italian seasoning. This herb and spice blend comes from the southwest of France and includes thyme and rosemary, two common ingredients in Italian seasoning.
Herbs de la Garrigue contains mint and bay leaf, which are not typical for Italian seasoning. However, both of these herbs work well with most European foods, including meat, fish, and cooked vegetables. You can use the same amount of Herbs de la Garrigue as Italian seasoning in your dishes.
Other pre-mixed herb seasonings can make good substitutes for Italian seasoning and add an interesting kick to your dishes.
Greek seasoning is a suitable substitute for Italian seasoning because it includes similar herbs. Greek seasoning is made with oregano, marjoram, thyme, and parsley, as well as garlic and onion. Some recipes include black pepper, nutmeg, or salt. Greek seasoning is a savory herb mix that adds a strong herbal flavor to dishes. This mix pairs well with meat and fish dishes, grilled or roasted vegetables, and salad seasoning.
Creole seasoning incorporates some herbs common to Italian seasonings, like oregano and basil, making it a good substitute for the Italian mix. However, some of Creole seasoning’s other herbs and spices give a distinct flavor that sets this mix apart from Italian seasoning, with spicy notes from black and white pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic and onion powders. Although Creole seasoning isn’t the best substitute for traditional Italian dishes like pizza and pasta, it works well with other European cuisine foods, including grilled meat and fish, vegetables, soups, and stews.