Here’s everything you need to know about Oregano. Like what is Mexican Oregano? What’s the difference between Mexican Oregano vs Oregano? What’s a good substitute for Mexican oregano and more. 

Five teaspoons filled with dried Mexican oregano. (For Mexican Oregano vs Oregano)

Mexican oregano and common oregano are both popular herbs that are used is many cuisines around the world. 

Five spoons filled with dried herbs.

What Is Mexican Oregano?

Mexican Oregano is a member of the Verbenaceae family which includes lemon verbena. It is typically grown in Mexico, as well as South America and Central America. It is a fragrant herb with leaves that are used for seasoning a variety of dishes like soups, stews, pozole, chilis, beans and sauces It has a unique flavor with hints of citrus and undertones of licorice.

What Is Greek Oregano?

Oregano (“Origanum vulgare”, which means “joy of the mountain in Greek) is actually Greek Oregano, but it is more commonly referred to as “oregano”, “common oregano”, “true oregano” and sometimes “wild marjoram”. It is a leafy green culinary herb from the Lamiaceae family (mint family) which includes spearmint, peppermint, basil and marjoram. This is a common herb used in Italian, Mediterranean, Greek and Turkish cuisines. It has an earthy and slightly peppery taste that brings warming flavors to Mediterranean dishes like vegetables, chicken, fish, soups, stews, sauces, vinaigrettes and marinades.

Oregano vs Mexican Oregano

  • Plant. Mexican oregano comes from the same plant family as lemon verbena, and the Greek variety is a flowering herb that comes from the same family as spearmint, peppermint, basil and marjoram.  
  • Appearance. Mexican oregano has larger leaves than the Greek variety and it is typically purchased in dried form.  The Greek variety is commonly purchased in fresh, dried, crushed and powdered forms. 
  • Flavor. Mexican oregano has hints of citrus and undertones of licorice and is used to season dishes like soups, stews, pozole, chilis, beans and sauces. The common variety has an earthy and slightly peppery taste and is used to season Italian and Mediterranean dishes like soups, sauces, stews, vinaigrettes and marinades. It can also be simmered in water and made into an herbal tea.

Four small dishes filled with different types of oregano for Mexican oregano vs oregano.

Substitutes For Mexican Oregano

If you’re in the middle of making a recipe that calls for Mexican oregano, but you don’t have any on hand, there’s a couple of substitutes you can use to replace it though the flavor won’t be quite the same

1. Greek Oregano

Many people who don’t have access to Mexican oregano will typically add the common variety to their dishes. Use the same amount of common oregano as you would use for Mexican oregano. (1:1 ratio).

2. Marjoram

Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is often used in Middle Eastern and European dishes. The flavor of marjoram is similar to Greek oregano, but more mild and less spicy. Use the same amount of marjoram as you would use for Mexican oregano. (1:1 ratio), and adjust to taste You may need to add more marjoram since it has a more mild flavor.

Substitutes for Oregano 

1. Marjoram

Marjoram has a similar flavor profile as oregano, but it is more mild tasting.  Use the same amount of marjoram as you would use for oregano (1:1 ratio) and adjust to taste. You may need to add a little more marjoram to your dish since oregano has a stronger flavor than marjoram.

2. Basil.

Basil has an earthy and slightly pepper flavor that is used in many of the same dishes as oregano. Even though it isn’t as sweet tasting as basil, it can be used as a substitution for basil in savory dishes like meats, sauces and salad dressings. Use the same amount of basil as you would use for oregano. (1:1 ratio)

3. Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning makes a great substitute oregano (since oregano is one of the herbs typically found in Italian seasoning). Use 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning for every 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and adjust to taste.

4. Thyme

Thyme will work as a substitute for oregano if you’re using it as a garnish in Italian or Mediterranean dishes.

Five teaspoons filled with Mexican oregano.

Where Can I Buy It?

Some grocery stores sell it in a section of the store where they sell other specialty ingredients like dried chiles and tamale husks. If your local store doesn’t carry any, then the next best place to look for it is at a Mexican specialty market or you can order it on Amazon.

How Do You Cook With Oregano?

Rub the dried leaves between your fingers to release the essential oils before cooking with it and chop fresh leaves to release these oils before adding it to a dish. 

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