If you’re into your cooking, then you know how crucial herbs and spices are. They transform dishes, adding a deep flavor profile.
If you use Italian seasoning, then you’re looking at a staple combination of oregano, rosemary, and basil. Depending on the brand, they’ll add some other herbs too, such as sage, chili flakes, or bay leaves.
If you go to Italy, you won’t find any Italian seasoning in the supermarkets. There, they generally use fresh herbs or individually select their dried herbs.
In many cases, Italian nonnas have their secret blend of dried Italian herbs, perfected curated for their recipes. With that said, don’t feel bad if you cannot afford to cook like a real Italian, nor if you don’t have the time.
Italian seasoning is a great little hack, and the blend is said to have derived from the ancient Greeks and Romans. While it’s not authentic, it is delicious and pretty darn nifty.
Okay — the real problem here is, what do you do if you run out of Italian seasoning? Most of us have had the unfortunate experience of picking up an Italian seasoning shaker, and witnessing the horror of it being empty, or almost empty.
It’s even more sorrowful if you’ve had a hankering for Italian cuisine all day. While Italian seasoning has a distinct blend of herbs and spices, you can use substitutions to get a similar, if not roughly similar, flavor profile.
With that said, let’s check out these herbs!
Dried Basil, Thyme, And Oregano
If the only herbs that you have in your spice rack are dried basil, thyme, and oregano, then you have a very close combination of what your branded Italian seasoning tastes like. While it is a sweet herb, it has delicious notes of mint and pepper.
Oregano has a strong flavor profile, so if you use it in excess, it can taste overly bitter. The key to blending these two herbs is to use a 1:1 ratio. If you have thyme, that’ll add more depth to your blend. It can add a delicious earthy flavor, that has slight undertones of citrus essence.
If you plan on using thyme in your blend, it’s better paired with roasted fish, chicken, and potatoes. It also is paired excellently with any lemon and garlic forward dishes.
So, you’ll need to use a different ratio if you want to add thyme to your blend. In this case, you’re looking at ¼ teaspoon of dried basil, ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme, and ½ teaspoon of dried oregano.
There’s nothing like some fresh herbs, and you can of course use these to substitute Italian seasoning. Not any fresh herb will do the trick, however. You’ll need fresh basil and fresh oregano to create Italian seasoning.
Another note to add is that you’re going to need a decent-sized bunch of both herbs, to work as a substitute. That’s because the flavor of dried herbs is much more concentrated than fresh herbs, so you’ll need to use extra fresh herbs, to get that level of flavor.
Another aside, when you’re using dried herbs, it’s best to let them simmer. This way they can impart their flavor. When it comes to fresh herbs, you don’t want to do that.
If they’re cooked for long periods of time, they will lose their flavor. It’s an easy fix though, just pop them into your dish towards the end.
DIY Italian Seasoning
This next substitution is really nifty, and you might even switch out your branded Italian seasoning, for your blend. This is especially useful if you already have these herbs in your spice rack.
If you want to make your own Italian seasoning, add place 2 tablespoons of basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram into a shaker. This will give you your basic Italian seasoning mixture.
Now, if you prefer, you can add some other herbs and spices. You could add some garlic powder, red chili flakes, or even a touch of pepper. I would personally avoid adding salt to this because it’s better to salt dishes to your liking.
If you really want to make authentic Italian seasoning, blend your mixture in a food processor, to grind them up finely. Easy!
Herbs De La Garrigue
Our next substitution is this lovely traditional blend of herbs grown in southwestern France.
This mixture generally contains basil, fennel, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaf, and mint. That’s a lot of herbs. However, if you look at the list, then you can see that a lot of the herbs are vital to Italian cuisine.
So while you won’t be making an authentic Italian, you can get a vaguely similar flavor profile. If you already have these ingredients, then stick with some of our other options on the list.
However, a lot of people have a wide range of seasonings, that they don’t know how to use. So, if you were ever gifted, or ever randomly bought herbs de la garrigue, it’s time to finally use it.
Herbs De Provence
Okay, if you don’t have herbs de la garrigue in your spice rack, you might just have herbs de Provence. This is a classic French blend made out of herbs that are traditionally grown in the Provence region of France. So, no, it’s not Italian.
However, like herbs de la garrigue, it can work as a substitute for your Italian seasoning blend. The reason it can work as a substitution is that it contains similar herbs to Italian seasoning.
It’s typically made with rosemary, oregano, thyme, marjoram, and savory. It’s usually paired with roasted dishes, such as chicken, or potatoes. If you have this in your cupboard, use a 1:1 ratio for substituting Italian seasoning.
This works as a good substitute for Italian seasoning if you can be flexible with the dish you’re making. That’s because it typically contains cayenne pepper, which definitely can pack a punch.
However, if you’re in the mood for some tasty, spicy Italian food, then this will work perfectly for you. Creole seasoning typically contains oregano, basil, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
It’s a good option if you have it in your spice rack, and could work well if you’re making an arrabbiata sauce.
Homemade Italian Seasoning Plus Sage
Not everyone is going to have the same herbs and spices in their spice rack. So, if you have some sage, you could use this recipe as a substitute for Italian seasoning.
Sage is a great herb to use. It has a peppery taste, with some slight traces of lemon, mint, and eucalyptus. If you have rosemary, basil, thyme, and oregano, it’ll go well with sage. If you don’t have all of these herbs, just use the ones you have.
So, to make this seasoning you’re going to need: 1 teaspoon of sage, thyme, and rosemary. Then, you’re going to add two teaspoons of basil, with 3 teaspoons of oregano.
If you can blend all of these, then even better. If not, you’re still going to end up with a pretty decent Italian seasoning substitute.
If you have Greek seasoning, then you’re in luck, you’ve already got yourself a good substitute for Italian seasoning. Okay, the flavors aren’t exactly the same, but they’ve got some similar herbs, which can produce a similar flavor.
Typically, Greek seasoning will contain thyme, oregano, garlic, onion, parsley, and marjoram. While you won’t find garlic, onion, or parsley in Italian seasoning, it’s a pretty close call.
A lot of Italian dishes are prepared with onion and garlic, so it’s in the right direction. Definitely check the ingredients on the label, because not all Greek seasoning contains the same herbs.
Some brands add herbs such as lemon peel, nutmeg, and cinnamon. If this is the case, then you’re probably going to want to steer away from it.
However, if you choose Greek seasoning to substitute Italian seasoning, go with a 1:1 ratio.
If you have some pizza seasoning in your cupboard, this is a nifty substitute for Italian seasoning. Now, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “If I had pizza seasoning, I wouldn’t be looking on this page.”
However, there are definitely some of you that randomly bought pizza seasoning one day, forget about it, and it’s hiding in the back of your cupboard somewhere. If that’s you, go get it. It’ll work a treat.
Usually, pizza seasoning contains herbs and spices such as thyme, smoked paprika, garlic powder, sea salt, and onion powder. While it’s no replacement for the Italian seasoning, it really will give you a hint of the (Americanized) Italian flair.
If you’re making a simple Italian tomato sauce, then this will work well, or even a minestrone soup. If you plan on using pizza seasoning as a substitute for Italian seasoning, then stick to a 1:1 ratio.
Homemade Italian Seasoning Plus Black Pepper
Lastly, you can use homemade Italian seasoning with added black pepper to substitute Italian seasoning.
Black pepper is vital to pretty much any dish, Italian, or not. Black pepper has a spicy flavor, as well as a slightly floral flavor too. To substitute Italian seasoning with homemade Italian seasoning with black pepper, try the following blend:
1 tablespoon of basil, thyme, oregano, and black pepper. To jazz this up a bit, add 1 tablespoon of onion powder, or chili flakes. It’ll compliment the black pepper.
As always, give them a blitz in the food processor, if you can.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need All The Herbs You Mentioned?
If you want to make authentic Italian seasoning, then you will need to use all the herbs I mentioned in the DIY Italian seasoning.
However, if you’re just looking for a quick fix before you can get to the shop, then no, you can work with what you have. The more accurate the ratios I mentioned, the closer it’ll taste to the original.
How Can French, Or Greek Seasoning Substitute Italian Seasoning?
It’s not going to be a perfect replacement, but it can recreate a similar flavor if you’re making an Italian prepared dish.
Remember that Italian seasoning contains three core ingredients, basil, oregano, and rosemary. Thyme is often a crucial ingredient too.
Is Fresh Best, Or Dried?
If you have enough of it, then fresh is always best. If you don’t have a lot of fresh herbs, however, maybe opt for a mixture of both. Adding some basil on top of your dish will add that extra Italian jazz to your meal.
Okay, that brings us to the end of the 10 best substitutions for Italian seasoning. Hopefully, we’ve inspired you not to give up on your desired Italian meal, and to instead, be creative in the kitchen.
Even if all you have in your spice rack is basil and oregano, you’re in a good place. If you have added extras, like rosemary and thyme, even better. You can also be creative, add some garlic powder, add some pepper.
Also, remember that some Italian dishes are spicy. So if you have some creole seasoning, you can definitely work around it. Some Italian dishes are lemon forward too, so if any of your seasonings has lemon, maybe choose an Italian dish that requires lemon.
You might even find that your DIY Italian seasoning is even better than your branded, store-bought shaker. Or, it might encourage you to recreate other seasonings, such as herbs de Provence.
These are just some easy tips to use what you have. As always, add a small amount at a time, and then if it’s not quite to your liking, you can add some more.
It’s easier to fix a dish that has too little of an ingredient than it is to fix a dish that has too much of an ingredient. Don’t forget to salt, too. It helps bring forth the flavors of the other herbs, and the natural flavors of the ingredients you’re working with.
Thanks for reading!