Italian seasoning is a widely popular flavor enhancer used in various recipes worldwide, so knowing the best substitute for Italian seasoning can be extremely handy.
Keep reading to venture through the creative aspect of cooking using alternatives to the traditional Italian seasoning blend!
Importance Of Italian Seasoning In Cooking
Italian seasoning is a versatile spice blend that adds a perfect touch to a variety of recipes. You can use it for marinades, sauces, salad dressing, and, of course, for most Italian dishes, such as pasta and pizza.
Despite its name hinting that it’s primarily used for Italian cooking, there are actually tons of ways to use Italian seasoning in various cuisines, making it my go-to all-around delicious blend of herbs with health benefits for Italian and non-Italian recipes alike.
With Italian seasoning, there’s no need to individually prepare and add various dried herbs and spices to enhance your dish. Since this blend already includes perfectly measured proportions of dried herbs, when you add this ingredient to your recipe you get to enjoy all the various flavors.
Long Shelf Life
The long shelf life of Italian seasoning mix is always a lifesaver. Unlike fresh herbs that barely last for a month, Italian seasoning typically remains fresh for 2-3 years, making it a no-brainer to stock up on this mixture of dried herbs.
Common Ingredients In Italian Seasoning
Not all Italian seasonings are created equal. However, there are some common ingredients that you’ll find in almost every store-bought Italian seasoning.
Here’s a list of the most common herbs used in Italian seasoning and their roles in the blend:
- Oregano: This Italian herb brings an earthy flavor to your dish with a subtle bitterness and hint of citrus.
- Marjoram: This tastes similar to oregano, but it’s slightly sweeter.
- Thyme: Often used for seasoning meat, thyme brings an earthy flavor and depth to recipes with subtle minty undertones.
- Rosemary: This herb packs a powerful taste and aroma that’s similar to pine trees.
- Basil: Sweet and slightly spicy, this herb is one of the main keys to achieving that distinct Italian aroma and taste.
Now that you have a general idea of the flavors found in Italian seasoning, it’s time to discuss what you can use as a substitute for this herb blend.
Best Italian Seasoning Substitutes
Homemade Italian Seasoning Blend
Of course, the best workaround for not having this store-bought spice blend is to make your own Italian seasoning at home.
As long as you incorporate the right herbs, you can use your homemade version as a direct substitute for Italian seasoning. So, no need for fancy measurement conversions or extensive taste testing!
I’ve included a simple Italian seasoning recipe below, so check it out for the best substitution.
Basil + Oregano
If you need a great substitute for Italian seasoning using only the spices in your cabinet, consider combining dried basil and dried oregano. These herbs offer the strongest flavor out of all ingredients used to make Italian seasoning. Hence, they can easily mimic the original spice blend’s flavor.
Just note that oregano can sometimes overpower other herbs. So, for a more balanced flavor profile, I recommend mixing together 2 teaspoons of dried basil with 1 teaspoon of dried oregano to substitute 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.
Herbes de Provence
Another excellent substitute for Italian seasoning is Herbes de Provence, which you can think of as France’s counterpart for Italian seasoning. It consists of a blend of dried herbs, including basil, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram, which are also found in Italian seasoning.
This herb blend is a great option to substitute Italian seasoning if you don’t have time to mix your own herbs. However, note that it tends to smell very floral, reminiscent of lavender. Therefore, it may not be an ideal addition to savory dishes such as pasta or pizza.
Italian seasoning is a blend primarily made from dried herbs. However, if you don’t have dried herbs on hand, fresh herbs can be used to substitute Italian seasoning instead.
Combining any common herbs such as basil, thyme, oregano, sage, and rosemary can do the trick. Just note that the flavor of fresh herbs is not as strong as dried ones. Hence, it’s best to use a 3:1 ratio of fresh to dried herbs when using this Italian seasoning substitute.
Pro tip: Add fresh herbs to your dish towards the end of the cooking process, as they tend to lose their flavor when cooked for long durations.
Most Commercial Spice Blends
Spice blends commonly found alongside Italian seasoning in the grocery aisles can also be used as a 1:1 replacement for Italian seasoning.
Some of the spice blends you can use as an Italian seasoning alternative include:
Of course, keep in mind that these substitutes may not precisely mimic Italian seasoning’s aroma and flavor. Some blends may contain more black pepper, salt, or spiciness, while others could be less potent.
It’s always a good idea to season to taste when using commercial spice blends. Only use a small amount, stir your dish, and then do a taste test to check whether you still need to add additional spices.
Homemade Italian Seasoning Recipe
Now, it’s time for me to share my good-old homemade Italian seasoning substitute recipe. I’ve tried this DIY spice blend countless times, and not once has it failed me in mimicking the flavors of store-bought Italian seasoning.
As long as you have the right ingredients on hand, you can whip up this homemade seasoning in under 15 minutes.
Homemade Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Marjoram
- 4 Tablespoons basil
- 2.5 Tablespoons oregano
- 2 Tablespoons thyme
- 2 Tablespoons rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ Tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon sage
- Place all of the spices in a shallow bowl (or a small jar will also work.) Stir or shake until well combined.
- Store in an airtight container.
Now you have an Italian herb seasoning that’s readily available and can be used as a direct substitute for the store-bought version. Use it within 6 months to maintain its flavor and quality.
Make Cooking Fun With Substitutes For Italian Seasoning
Italian seasoning is one of the most versatile spice blends you can use for Italian dishes and other cuisines. Luckily, it’s also one of the easiest seasonings to find a substitute for, and it’ll take you less than 15 minutes to make it at home!
Just remember that regardless of what you use as an Italian seasoning substitute, you should always rely on your tastebuds over measurements. After all, different herbs, whether dried or fresh, can enhance the flavors of your dish differently, depending on the ratios used.
Never let the lack of Italian seasoning hinder your culinary adventures again. Just experiment using the alternatives mentioned above, and you may even come across an even better-tasting version of your traditional recipes.