Herbs Substitutions Guide


Herb Substitutions: How to Substitute One Herb for Another in Recipes


Herbs add unique flavors and aromas to our dishes, but sometimes you might not have the exact herb a recipe calls for. Knowing how to substitute one herb for another can save your dish and add a delightful twist to your cooking. In this guide, we’ll explore common herb substitutions and tips for making successful swaps in your recipes.

Why Substitute Herbs?

  • Availability: Some herbs might not be available year-round or at your local store.
  • Preference: You might prefer the taste of one herb over another.
  • Allergies: Substituting herbs can help accommodate dietary restrictions and allergies.
  • Experimentation: Trying different herbs can add new flavors and excitement to your dishes.

Common Herb Substitutions

1. Basil

Substitute with:

  • Oregano: Similar in flavor, but more robust. Use half the amount of oregano.
  • Thyme: Milder than basil, but works well in Italian dishes.
  • Spinach: For fresh basil in salads or pesto, use fresh spinach leaves.

2. Rosemary

Substitute with:

  • Thyme: Has a similar earthy flavor. Use a 1:1 ratio.
  • Sage: Stronger than rosemary, so use half the amount.
  • Savory: A good match for meats and roasted dishes.

3. Thyme

Substitute with:

  • Oregano: Stronger flavor, use half the amount.
  • Marjoram: Milder and sweeter, use a 1:1 ratio.
  • Basil: Works well in Mediterranean dishes, but adds a different flavor.

4. Mint

Substitute with:

  • Basil: For a different but complementary flavor in sweet and savory dishes.
  • Cilantro: Adds a fresh, slightly citrusy flavor.
  • Parsley: Milder, but can add freshness to dishes.

5. Parsley

Substitute with:

  • Cilantro: Similar fresh flavor, use a 1:1 ratio.
  • Chervil: Milder, but works well in salads and as a garnish.
  • Celery Leaves: Adds a fresh, slightly peppery flavor.

6. Cilantro

Substitute with:

  • Parsley: Milder, but works well in most dishes calling for cilantro.
  • Basil: Adds a different flavor but works in many dishes.
  • Mint: Provides a fresh and slightly sweet flavor.

7. Dill

Substitute with:

  • Tarragon: Similar anise-like flavor, use a 1:1 ratio.
  • Fennel Fronds: Adds a similar fresh and slightly sweet flavor.
  • Thyme: Different flavor, but works well in many dishes.

8. Oregano

Substitute with:

  • Marjoram: Sweeter and milder, use a 1:1 ratio.
  • Thyme: Similar earthy flavor, use a 1:1 ratio.
  • Basil: Works well in Italian dishes, adds a different flavor.

9. Sage

Substitute with:

  • Rosemary: Stronger flavor, use half the amount.
  • Thyme: Milder, but works well in savory dishes.
  • Marjoram: Sweeter, but complements many sage dishes.

10. Tarragon

Substitute with:

  • Dill: Similar anise-like flavor, use a 1:1 ratio.
  • Fennel Fronds: Adds a similar fresh and slightly sweet flavor.
  • Basil: Different flavor, but works well in many dishes.

Tips for Successful Herb Substitutions

  1. Flavor Intensity: Adjust the amount based on the strength of the substitute herb. Stronger herbs like rosemary or sage should be used in smaller quantities.
  2. Fresh vs. Dried: If substituting dried herbs for fresh, use one-third the amount, as dried herbs are more concentrated.
  3. Taste Test: Always taste your dish as you go to ensure the flavor is balanced.
  4. Blend Herbs: Sometimes combining two herbs can replicate the flavor of another. For example, mixing parsley and thyme can mimic the flavor of tarragon.


Substituting herbs can be a fun and creative way to experiment with flavors in your cooking. By understanding which herbs can replace others and adjusting quantities accordingly, you can ensure your dishes remain flavorful and enjoyable. Use this guide to make confident herb substitutions and discover new taste combinations in your culinary adventures.