I personally taste-tested a variety of Italian seasoning substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
The best substitute for Italian seasoning is to make it from scratch. You can also get away with using a simple blend of dried oregano and basil. You can also use fresh herbs, but you’ll need to use twice the amount. And if you prefer pre-made blends, try pizza seasoning, Za’atar, or Greek seasoning.
I made several batches of garlic bread to test different Italian seasoning substitutes.
The origins of Italian seasoning are debated, but it is a mix of dried herbs that creates an earthy, piney flavor with sweet, peppery notes. You can use it to flavor anything – from chicken breasts to sea bass, and even a simple vinaigrette.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Homemade Italian Seasoning||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Dried Oregano + Basil||1 tbsp Italian seasoning = 2 tsp dried oregano + 1 tsp dried basil||9/10|
|Fresh Herbs||Use twice the amount of fresh herbs||8/10|
|Herbs de Provence||Use half the amount|
|Pizza Seasoning||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Other seasoning blends||Greek, Za’atar, or Creole seasoning||8/10|
|Any Italian Herb||Start with ½ the amount, add more if necessary||7/10|
Homemade Italian Seasoning
Ready-made Italian seasoning is convenient, but making it from scratch is as easy as mixing everything in a bowl and it gives you complete control over the final flavor.
You’ll find tons of recipes online for it, each with its own personal touch. For example, my go-to version from Spend with Pennies has added red pepper flakes and garlic powder, which gives my Italian seasoning a more savory edge. But all homemade versions should start with five base herbs:
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tbsp dried marjoram (this is a less popular herb, so if you don’t have it on hand you can leave it out or swap it for another herb like parsely or sage).
You can mix everything in a bowl and leave it, but if all the herbs are different sizes I like to give them a quick run through my spice grinder to make things more equal.
Pro-tip: make a big batch of this seasoning blend and store it in an air-tight jar. It can last for up to six months on the shelf – yes, even without all the preservatives you’d find in the store bought stuff!
How to Substitute: Replace Italian seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with the homemade version.
Dried Oregano + Basil
If you don’t have all of the ingredients to make Italian seasoning from scratch, you can get away with using a simple mixture of dried oregano and basil.
These two are the poster children of Italian seasoning, often dominating its taste profile. Fewer ingredients will mean a less complex flavor profile, but you’ll still get that signature Italian flavor.
I mixed the two herbs in a 1:1 ratio, but did feel like the oregano slightly overpowered the basil. Next time I would go for a 2:1 ratio basil to oregano.
How to Substitute: Replace 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning with 2 tsp dried basil + 1 tsp dried oregano.
If you don’t have dried herbs to hand, you can use fresh herbs instead to make your Italian seasoning instead. Combine whatever you have from parsley (ideally flat leaf), basil, oregano, thyme, sage, and rosemary.
Fresh herbs have a milder flavor than their dried counterparts, so you’ll need 2-3 times as much, but I loved the freshness and color they gave my garlic bread.
Another catch with using fresh herbs is you have to add them towards the end of cooking to preserve their flavor. If you cook them too much, they become tasteless. This wasn’t a problem with my garlic bread because I was only baking it for around 15 minutes. But for soups and stews, toss them in just as you’re about to finish cooking for best results.
How to Substitute: Replace Italian seasoning with twice the amount of chopped fresh herbs.
Herbes de Provence
This is a French seasoning blend, but it’s made with similar ingredients to Italian seasoning including the five base herbs: thyme, basil, rosemary, marjoram, and oregano.
It also incldues tarragon, fennel and sometimes lavender, which brings an unmistakable floral note to your dish. Not everyone will be a fan of the lavender, and it does give this spice blend a pretty distinct flavor that’s different to Italian seasoning.
If your blend has a strong floral smell, start by adding half the amount of Italian seasoning called for and then taste before adding more. If there’s no floral smell, you can use it in a 1:1 ratio.
How to Substitute: Replace Italian seasoning with half the amount of herbes de provence.
Pizza seasoning, though crafted with pizzas in mind, is a delightful replacement for Italian seasoning. It’s made with a lot of the same herbs (e.g oregano, basil, and thyme), creating that familiar earthy, piney flavor.
But it also has other ingredients like paprika, onion powder, and black pepper, which gives it a deeper, more savory note.
This seasoning tasted great with my garlic bread, but like Italian seasoning, you can sprinkle it over anything. I especially love it over roasted vegetables!
How to Substitute: Replace Italian seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with pizza seasoning.
Other seasoning blends
The following seasoning blends come from different cuisines, but they use the same core herbs as Italian seasoning. However, like pizza seasoning and herbs de provence that all have extra ingredients which give them a unique twist.
- Greek seasoning: Greek seasoning uses oregano and basil, along with dill, onion powder, garlic powder, and sometimes cinnamon. It’s versatile, but it shines with seafood and gamey proteins like lamb.
- Za’atar Seasoning: Za’atar seasoning uses thyme, marjoram, and oregano but this Middle Eastern spice mix also includes sesame seeds and sumac, which add a nutty, lightly citrusy twist.
- Creole Seasoning Blend: This Louisiana staple uses oregano, basil, and thyme. But the ingredients also include cayenne pepper and paprika, adding a fiery, smoky kick to every bite. It’s great if you like spice.
How to Substitute: Replace Italian seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with your choice of seasoning blend.
Any Italian Herb
As a last resort, you can use any single dried Italian herb to replace Italian seasoning, be it oregano, thyme, basil, sage, or marjoram. A blend will always taste better, but one herb is better than nothing and will offer a subtle nod to Italian cuisine.
I used oregano for my garlic bread and it turned out great. It had an earthy flavor that paired superbly with the creaminess of the butter and the garlic. I started with half the amount of Italian seasoning just because one herb can become overpowering on its own.
How to Substitute: Start with ½ the amount if using oregano, thyme, basil, or marjoram. Start with ¼ the amount if using sage. Add more to taste.
Substitute to Avoid
I know I have creole seasoning listed as a substitute for Italian seasoning, but I would avoid using cajun seasoning. Despite their similarities, cajun seasoning lacks the prominent herby flavor found in creole. Instead, its flavor profile leans more peppery and can easily overpower your dishes.
Best Italian Seasoning Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tbsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Transfer the mixture into an airtight container and use within 6 months.